Thoughts from an active pensioner who is now somewhat past his Biblical "Use-by date"

"Why just be difficult, when with a little more effort you can be bloody impossible?"

Monday, 26 December 2011

My Proposed New-Year Message to the Archbishop of Canterbury

I have read or listened to a number of speeches and sermons lately and, as a Christian, I have found those from outside the Church of England to be more relavent that those from within. Having heard a recording of the Archbishop of Canterbury's Christmas sermon, I am far from impressed and feel that, as a change from my writing to politicians from time to time, I should perhaps turn some attention to our church leaders and have been thinking of writing to him along the following lines:
In your Christmas Sermon at Canterbury, you stated that
The most pressing question we now face, we might well say, is who and where we are as a society, Bonds have been broken, trust abused and lost.
I can broadly agree with that statement, but then you went on to compare this summer’s rioters with greedy bankers, and I found it difficult to comprehend exactly what point you were trying to make. Such people represent just a small fraction of one percent of our population, and are, in my view, largely irrelevant when discussing the nation’s problems.

I personally believe that you, and indeed many of our senior Bishops and Clergy are totally out of touch with the reality of what is happening in this country, and I would, with respect, like to draw your attention to the King James Bible, Matthew 7 verse 3.

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beame that is in thine own eye

This, I believe, is the crux of the issue. Your assertion that ‘Bonds have been broken, trust abused and lost.’ applies as much, if not more, to the leadership of our Christian Church in this country as elsewhere in our daily lives. Whilst you and your bishops are prepared to address various political issues, generally from a left-wing perspective, you have all singularly failed to address the matter of attacks on the Church and its adherents in this country by what I would describe as a combination of militant atheists and politically correct officialdom.

At a basic level we have Christians being hounded by their employers for wearing or displaying a crucifix; we have an employee being told not to wear a tie with the “fish” symbol as it "would be wrong to show his religious affiliation”, whilst a fellow worker was permitted to wear a turban, which presumably does not! We have a nurse being reprimanded for being willing to offer a prayer on behalf of a patient, and of course the positions of “Sister” in hospitals no longer exist, presumably because of the religious connotations derived from the old Orders of Nursing Nuns. We have a local Council being challenged in court over the centuries old practice of saying prayers prior to a meeting whilst others gave up without a fight.
At a more political level, we have the various issues relating to homosexuality; firstly there was the issue of the adoption of children by homosexual couples and now the matter of homosexual “marriage” (an oxymoron if ever there was one). I cannot recall any senior cleric addressing either issue, presumably for fear of being considered to be politically incorrect. Nor has the Church spoken out about the large number of unmarried heterosexual couples living together and raising what are, in Christian terms, illegitimate children.

In the past, such matters would not only have drawn strong condemnation from the hierarchy of the Church, they would have been addressed from virtually every pulpit in the country as they would have been seen as an attack on the Church and its beliefs. Now they seem to be ignored, with the majority of our clergy seeming unwilling to speak out on matters of real concern to their flocks. It is for these reasons, amongst others, that I believe it is the Church that has "broken the bonds and lost the trust" of many Christians, rather than the reverse.

I would suggest that it is time that the Church returned to what, in modern parlance would be described as its “core business”, that of preaching and teaching Christianity with the objectives of inspiring existing Christians, attracting converts to Christianity and defending our religion and its members against attack. To my mind this is not being done, and I therefore believe that you and your fellow bishops are failing in your duties.

Finally, I would commend to you two recent speeches
Firstly the Christmas address by Her Majesty the Queen, Supreme Governor of the Church of England, in which Her Majesty seems to see a far different world than the one seen by yourself, and which I believe to be the more realistic of the two, and
Secondly that given by our Prime Minister at Oxford a few days previously in which he said, amongst other things, that
 “…… we are a Christian country. And we should not be afraid to say so”.
Unusually for a politician, he is prepared to say so, whilst many of our bishops seemingly are not!
Perhaps a little more polish is required, but in broad terms is summarises how I feel about the Church of England at this time.

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