A Betjeman moment

I was encouraged today, at the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, to have drawn to my attention John Betjeman’s Septuagesima, which includes:

So other Churches please forgive
Lines on the Church in which I live,
The Church of England of my birth,
The kindest Church to me on earth.
There may be those who like things fully
Argued out, and call you “woolly”;
Ignoring Creeds and Catechism
They say the C. of E.’s “in schism”.

Lines in praise of woolliness… They echoed this morning’s sermon, in which the preacher pointed out that we manage to stay together despite our different views of, and activities associated with, earlier controversial issues like the remarriage of divorced people and the ordination of women, and he ended with the image of the Second Coming and Christ asking what we’re up to at the moment: ‘What are going to say? “Lord, we are confused: should we split? Because we can’t agree on sexuality.” “Pardon? What are you talking about?”‘

I don’t think I’m doing a very good job of summarizing here, but I hope the point comes across. Why is it this issue, not marriage after divorce or the ordination of women, which is presented as the Crunch Issue? Why can’t we apply a bit of Anglican woolliness to it and accept that we don’t agree, and get on with doing the work of Christ in the world? Again, what do we prioritize: truth or unity? In terms of the first issue, marriage after divorce, I just get on with it, although if my husband was testing his call to ordained ministry and came up against an objection to him offering himself because he’s been married before, then maybe I wouldn’t feel so relaxed. I probably need to go back to read the debates on this older issue (which now feels like a non-issue) to remind myself of how it played out at the time… Back to Google!


About fluff35

I blog on a range of subjects arising from various aspects of my life. On https://theretiringacademic.wordpress.com, I focus on my reactions to early retirement and think about aspects of teaching and research which I hope will be stimulating to those still working in higher education. On https://shared-conversations.com, I blog as an authorized lay preacher in a pretty standard parish church of the Church of England, who needs to write in order to find out what she thinks. I took part in the Oxford/St Albans/Armed Forces C of E 'Shared Conversations' in March 2016, worked on the Living in Love and Faith resources from 2017 and was elected to General Synod in October 2021, and continue to try to reflect on some of the issues. On https://mistakinghistories.wordpress.com I share my thoughts on various aspects of the history of medicine and the body. I have also written for The Conversation UK on https://theconversation.com/profiles/helen-king-94923/articles
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