Friday, 26 July 2013
Our Native Church
I'm rather enjoying this story - not, I hasten to add, for the embarrassment (he rates it 8 on a scale of 1 to 10) caused to Welby, who is patently a decent man, whether one agrees with his Evangelical theology or not. No, what I relish - and find reassuring - is (a) that the Church of England should have come up with a really rather bold and brilliant practical idea, and (b) that it should so promptly have dissolved into a fuzzy mess of embarrassment and ethical compromise. This is what we expect of our dear old national church, and we wouldn't have it any other way, would we? Imagine if the C of E was a thrusting, dynamic, efficient engine of social change - imagine if it was, Lord help us, popular, or fashionable... No, it wouldn't do. What we value - well, what I value - is 'the sweet mediocrity of our native church', the way it embodies something deep in the national psyche, a kind of good-natured, well-meaning, quiet decency, often more bumbling than efficient, liable to go wrong but somehow muddling through, distrustful of big ideas and aims, and all the time, at a mundane everyday level, doing good 'in minute particulars'. I fancy - or rather hope - that these apparently non-adaptive, anachronistic strains are in fact signs of deep strength, not weakness, and that they will endure.