Thursday, 19 November 2009

Anglicans, Anglican'ts and Anglicuckoos

There is a moment in the otherwise-dire Once Upon a Time in Mexico, where Johnny Depp’s character asks a henchman, “Are you a Mexican, or a Mexican’t?”
I want to steal that idea to say how tired I am of the Anglican’t. You know the kind — the member of the Church of England (often one of the clergy) who hasn’t got a good word to say about it. Bishops are useless, Archdeacons execrable, the parish system an obstacle to gospel ministry, the parish quota an imposition, the priesthood unspeakable, the sacraments unnecessary, the Prayer Book a relic and modern liturgy a waste of space.
Now of course, there are many things wrong with some, if not all, of the above. But oddly enough, when you go to other parts of the Anglican Communion than our own, they have the same structures yet they are growing healthy churches in expanding dioceses.
I said to someone just the other day, it is rather like comparing armies. They all have footsoldiers and generals. They all have a bit of gold braid and a bit of ‘square bashing’ — but they vary hugely in their effectiveness and performance. The key is not having generals or getting rid of lance-corporals. It is in what you do with these things.
In the same way, such problems as the Church of England has are not because of bishops, parish boundaries, or any of the other things per se about which Anglican’ts complain.
So enough with the constant whingeing. If you think its that bad, why not go somewhere else? There are other boats, and there are plenty of fish out there to catch. And hey, it might actually be more fun.
But then we come to the Anglicuckoos.
What is one to make of someone who is adamant that a bishop should be accorded the functions and authority ascribed to them in the Church Fathers, but who does not give a hoot (or a cuck-oo), for what the Church Fathers believed about Christ, heaven, hell, salvation and damnation? What is one to make of clergy whose ascribing to the Declaration of Assent means, in effect, they merely acknowledge that the Creeds, the Prayer Book, the Thirty-nine Articles and the Ordinal express what people believed when they were written, but have no definitive status for what Anglicans should believe now? What are we to make of those who revel in the orders of the Church and the performance of its liturgy, but sit light to its doctrines and whose manner of life is scarcely any different from the local teacher or social worker?
The Anglicuckoo is, ultimately, far more of a problem, not only because they absorb the energies and resources of the church, but because they can actually rise high in its ranks. It would be bad enough if they were confined to preaching and teaching for a small congregation — for even small congregations in 'insignificant' parishes need the word of life. But sometimes they are actually responsible for the selection, recruitment, training and deployment of other clergy. And, like its ornithological namesake, the Anglicuckoo is jealous about the nest.
So let us hear less from the Anglicant’s. But if you hear an Anglicuckoo, keep away!
John Richardson
19 November 2009
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  1. I thought Anglicant was the song of the Anglicuckoo!

    Mark B.

  2. .. or make that Anglichant.

  3. Are you sure you stole the word "Anglican’t" from Johnny Depp, and not from me, in a post in July, or from my source Ruth Gledhill, or from her source? But perhaps we used the word in a slightly different way, to refer to Anglicans who won't sign up to the Covenant.

    On your definition I suppose I am an Anglican’t, and perhaps proud of it. In my defence I will say that I am not a member of the clergy. And it's probably just a matter of time until I take your advice and leave.

    I guess you are now determined not to take the same advice which I gave to you. But what will you do when the Anglicuckoos have completely taken over the nest? Even if you aren't actually pushed out of it, you are not going to be fed. So why stay?

  4. This is a slippery way of saying that you own the nest and anyone who disagrees with you is an intruder. Others have an equal, if not better, claim to own the nest and see the Reform people as intruders.
    This is especially easy to understand when you remember that a lot of evangelicals have explicitly dismissed the Church of England as a good or convenient boat to fish from, not having any loyalty to the church as it really is, but trying to reformulate it in 16th and 17th century terms.
    Frank, Merseyside.