(Observer) Robert McCrum—The Church of England’s search for salvation

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In Racing Demon, David Hare's 1990 play about the Church of England, Lionel, a troubled priest in search of answers, makes a heartfelt plea. "God. Where are you?" he asks as the curtain rises. "There are an awful lot of people in a very bad way. And they need something beside silence. Do you understand?"

Twenty years ago there was an impending drama in the church, linked to faith. Now there's a full-blown crisis that reaches far beyond theology, and the church that tends to advertise a hotline to the almighty – after all, God is an Englishman – has a hard time making sense of His teaching in contemporary England. The General Synod of the Church of England met this month in York: once upon a time, it was all gas and gaiters, but now, when the delegates debate the issues of the moment – women bishops and same-sex marriage – they find themselves trapped in a hell of their own making.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)

4 Comments
Posted July 20, 2013 at 7:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Terry Tee wrote:

We all know that the Guardian and Observer are strongly liberal.  Even so, it is surprising that a journalist can produce an article without finding, it seems, even one traditionalist to put a reasoned and cogent point of view contradicting the liberal thrust of the whole piece, which seems to be the writer’s own point of view.  Whatever happened to objectivity, to giving the full picture, to high standards of reportage and analysis?

July 21, 7:45 am | [comment link]
2. Peter dH wrote:

This piece has clearly been conceived right from the start to shore up the image of women and gays as the bright hope of the Church of England (interesting juxtaposition by the way, in the light of the current campaign to force through a change on same-sex relationships on the back of women bishops).

As such, the Guardian isn’t only unbalanced here but also replete with unsupported assertions. Why are “gays and women… extremely well suited to promote such a [spiritual] mission” when the biggest black holes in church attendance are the men and the working class? Is it really true that after the vote last November “the traditionalists were jubilant”? I could go on. The least they could have done is interview a Susie Leafe or a Vaughan Roberts.

The interviewees seem happy to make it the church’s mission to provide (I quote) “a kind of invisible social and quasi-spiritual glue.” There was a time when we killed horses to make glue. Now, apparently, we’ve killed Jesus to make glue. These people might well be the next wave of new bishops. Lord have mercy.

July 21, 10:17 am | [comment link]
3. Terry Tee wrote:

Peter above pipped me to the post.  I have been quietly stewing since my first posting on this article.  It is just such a shallow piece with its assumption, inherent throughout, that if only the C of E will ordain women bishops and bless gay unions, people will flock back to the pews.  I am RC not C of E, and perhaps they are all out there waiting to reclaim their Anglican allegiance; but I doubt it.  Experience elsewhere seems to show that the more you water down Christianity, the less attractive it is to people.

July 21, 12:07 pm | [comment link]
4. driver8 wrote:

It’s a sad business when journalists are writing PR pieces for liberal catholics. No attempt at balance, no dissenting voices, no facts. Here’s one fact - there no evidence of which I am aware that suggests that the ordination of women as priests made a significant difference (positive or negative) to the growth, or, in fact, decline, of the CofE. Here’s another - persistent and marked numerical decline is compatible with altering the church’s teaching so that it more closely coheres with the mores of wider society (one might think of the acceptance of divorced and remarried clergy in the 80s, the acceptability of remarriage in church in the 90s, the acceptance of civil partnerships tout court for the laity in the 2000s).

I take is as a fact that Observer and Guardian journalists would feel vaguely more positive about the CofE if it adopted ethical views they seem to commonly hold. I wouldn’t however be holding my breath for a resultant influx of enthusiastic hacks to their local parish churches.

July 21, 3:51 pm | [comment link]
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