Other organisations running low on cash…

… include both the Society of Friends (Quakers) and the Church of England. I had a lot of conversations about the latter at the American Academy of Religion, and was almost surprised by how upset I got.

Quaker heresy: I realise that I care a lot about the Church of England continuing to be there. Partly, of course, because it employs some of my friends and provides a religious “home” for many more of them, but more importantly because of what my friends do; being the church people can go to when, for the first and perhaps only time in their lives, they need a church. And being there for them.

I mean, we’re there for anyone as well, but (because of what we’re like for lots of other good reasons) “anyone” doesn’t find us, and we don’t have the resources (of all kinds) to deal with everyone. We don’t, in general, for example, bury just “anyone”. (And actually if all that the more “findable” church did was – be there for bereaved people, whatever their religious beliefs, who find they need to do something at the end of a life – that would itself be an enormous gift).

Well, I think about this, and other reasons I care a lot about what happens to the Church of England, and I keep coming back to what I realised while I was studying theology (in a majority-Anglican context): viz. that some of my friends were called to be Anglican priests (I mean, not just sincere in thinking they were called, but really called), and I, as far as I could make out, was equally called to be something that’s supposed to exclude a separate priesthood and (historically at least) an established church. 

So, as far as I can make out, there are in the world not just different-and-complementary vocations, but, apparently, contradictory vocations. And that’s just on one example (though my blogroll honours a range of different vocations – you should read these people 🙂 ) and before we’ve even begun to talk interfaith. And the contradictions, for me at least, are not just puzzles but also profound and ongoing sources of blessing. (Incidentally: I receive blessings at communion services. It seems to acknowledge the “this-doesn’t-make-sense-yet-but-God-brought-us-all-here-and-here-we-are” aspect of the situation).

Added on rereading: Looks like this ties up to the Graham Swift post, below. I didn’t realise I had so few ideas.


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