THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND IN TERMINAL SELF DESTRUCTION

THE STAINED GLASS CEILING FIRMLY IN PLACE.

What a mess the Church of England has put itself in ! Mind you, looking at the origin of the Church it is not to be wondered at. Founded to circumvent problems of marriage for the outrageous Monarch, Henry the Eighth, the very foundations of this branch of Religious administration are far from secure or perfect. Yet for all that, most Brits of origin represent themselves for passport purposes at least as "Church of England". Many now actually attend church but 3 times in a lifetime, for Christening, Marriage and Death, although civil ceremonies now have taken over those roles for many.

However, there are none so blind as those who cannot see and thus, the C of E has blundered on oblivious that to more and more of the people it has become an irrelevance. Like many other organisations past, present and no doubt future ,formed by mankind, it has become so consumed with gazing at its own navel that it has completely overlooked what it is supposed to be carrying out.

The ruling body, the Synod, is made up of the great and the good of the "membership". Thus, the Bishops, {the top brass}, the Clergy, {the foot soldiers} and the Laity {the people who make up the congregations} meet to decide on what is best for the Church and all concerned with it. Currently, they have managed to get their cassocks in a twist over the matter of women in the church as leaders. No wonder that this should happen in an organisation formed by men to serve the wishes of a man would be a not unfair assumption. However, the problem is deeper than that.

Since the 1960"s the often strident voices of Feminism have been heard in every part of this island. As with everything the result has been good in parts and not so in others. The Church of England in a desire to be thought modern, some time ago agreed to ordain women as members of the Clergy {Priests}. This flew in the face of tradition and teaching and to date had made no significant difference to the role of the Church in the lives of the people in any way. Thus, women in the Priesthood had neither advanced nor detracted from it. True, feelings in some quarters ran high against the introduction of women to positions of authority in some way within the Church. Strange that when you consider the current head of the church is one Elizabeth Windsor better known as Queen Elizabeth the Second ! Thus, this organisation, formed to do God's Work , if we forget Henry the Eighth for a minute, embraces women as members of the congregations, priests and as the ultimate head of all it does. The curious reader will see a gap here of some significance. Essentially after the foot soldiers there is a void until the Queen is reached, in lay terms, middle and senior management, or in the case of the church, Bishops.

Women in the C of E can thus now work as priests but as confirmed by vote of the Synod, cannot aspire to become Bishops. I must confess here, to being not totally sold on the so called equality of the sexes. My personal belief is that men and women are different and have different roles to play in significant areas. However, for the life of me I cannot see why a woman cannot be a priest and why a woman who performs well as a Priest cannot become a Bishop. I oppose glass ceilings in all professions and this stained glass ceiling now reinforced, only confirms my view that the C of E is in terminal decline and many of the reasons for that are self inflicted.

The most curious thing to emerge from the Synod was not that the margin against was small, {6 votes} but that, by all accounts most Bishops and Clergy voted in favour whilst it was the Laity who were most against it. Strange also was the fact that one of the most visible and articulate voices against this aspect of progress for women came from a female, representing other female members of the Church. For once, the Sisterhood sang not from the same hymn sheet !

The arguments against women Bishops seem to be at best contrived, seeking to use Biblical references as a drowning man clutches at a straw, or downright fatuous, as expressed by a male Bishop who opposed the motion because the Church was not an organisation but a family and in a family, men and women have different rules. With insight like that one may be forgiven for thinking we may not really need Bishops of any gender.

So, the stained glass ceiling is in place, and apparently it will be at least 5 years before the matter can be revisited. One feels for the ex oil Executive just appointed Archbishop of Canterbury and thus the CEO of the declining Church. ONE FEELS HE WILL NOT APPROACH HIS TASK AS A FAMILY LEADER BUT AS THE MAN BROUGHT IN TO TURN ROUND A SHIP THAT HAS BEEN STEADFASTLY HEADING FOR THE ROCKS FOR A LONG TIME NOW . Some ship, some rocks.

IN ACCELERATING DECLINE SINCE 1945.

In 1945, I was 5 and World War Two ended. I knew not then as I now do, that with the end of the war, the wind of change was to sweep through Britain and change the pattern of life for ever. My father returned from active service and he and my mother resumed family life as pre-war. My father was a Detective in the Police Force and as a result, my mother was a Housewife as spouses of those in the Police where not allowed to work. Crazy but true, though the women who had worked throughout the war were soon to get that archaic rule expunged.

I was brought up in a small village, some 2 miles from a larger village. Our village boasted a Methodist Church, whilst the more imposing Church of England edifice was in the larger one. As a result, each Sunday, I was packed off to Methodist Sunday School both morning and afternoon and accompanied my parents for C of E evensong. C of E services, being aimed at adults were dry, boring affairs to me and the rituals strange and imposing. Sunday School with the Methodists were all together of more interest, plus they also offered the opportunities to take up other activities. I first "trod the boards" as in a nativity play and later in a full blown concert which was an event which gave me the first thrill of holding an audience, as I had a scene where I was alone on the stage. Marvellous ! All this made me much more of what I am today than ever my birth noted C of E ever did. I espoused the Methodist work ethic and maintain that to this very day even if I did not, as I matured, buy in to all the Wesleyan diatribes

I mention the above purely to confirm that my membership of the C of E has been, throughout adult life, purely observatory and thus, I have no real insight into the way the Church has kept up with the times and social change since 1945. However, I do know that not long after the end of the war, as political disappointment grew, so did the dissatisfaction of many with their birth church. The C of E seemed largely oblivious to this and ploughed on the same furrows as in the past. It failed, like the even more bullying Roman Catholic Church to understand that the masses had changed. Better education caused questions to be asked of church leaders both locally and nationally which they were ill equipped or unable to answer. As a result, a more educated and confident generation voted with their feet and walked away, not from the force for goodness but the institutions put in place by men to ensure their compliance.

The role of the C of E in the fabric of British society has diminished to such an extent that today, the decision taken by the Synod on potential women Bishops is only of amused or frustrated interest depending one which point of view is held. There is a large void for most where the C of E used to be. In diverse Britain, the Muslim population are to be seen in large numbers rushing to Friday prayers and at other times in the week. Not so the churches for the indigenous population. The void has not been filled by any alternative force for Good, only by Mammon, Bacchus and their like. Maybe it was meant to be, but one cannot help but feel that a complacent and bigoted approach by the people in charge has placed the C of E in an escalating downward spiral, as confirmed by their recent decision, and that the task facing their new Archbishop is an impossible one. I said earlier that he had to turn round a ship that had been heading for the rocks for many years. Maybe I should have said he has assumed control of the Titanic as the iceberg looms ever closer.

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