The worldly widowhood of the Church of England

Sorry, bit of a rant coming…
As I am on lots of ‘green’ mailing lists, it hasn’t escaped my notice that the General Synod is about to debate climate change. This is, on a generous reading, about twenty years too late. If we had done this in the mid-1990s it would have been a timely move. Doing it now, however, is catching a bus just after the engine has failed. People are now getting off this particular bus.

Which of course is no problem at all if it is the right thing to do. We are – as the Gospel reading set for tomorrow tells us – to be salt and light in the world. We are to be distinctive, not following worldly values.

Yet this General Synod actually seems to me to be doing precisely the opposite of what we are called to. The aphorism is that ‘a church that marries the spirit of the age will be a widow in the next’. This time around it seems that the church is actually deciding to marry a dead body straight off, without getting the benefits of a living period first.

The worst thing is that the Church is missing the more important issues. If we look at environmental questions and social justice questions then we need to pay attention to the issue of the Limits to Growth more generally, recognise that we are crashing into them at great speed, and start taking steps to prepare people for coping with what is taking place. Most of all – and here I have an interest of course – we need to ground it in a much broader spiritual vision. To narrow down our attention to the one element of the green perspective that is increasingly (and rightly) being seen as profoundly mistaken seems doubly unfortunate. Yet again the Church hands over its thinking function to worldly authority, forgetting that ‘love God with your mind’ is in the first commandment, not the second. It’s not quite fiddling whilst Rome burns, more like knitting blankets when the house is on fire.

Ah well. The floods that are coming may well wash the CofE away. That too may be God’s will. Rant over.

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