Wednesday, June 10, 2009

God is Back. Do we know this Down Under?

Ruth Gledhill interviews John Micklethwait, one of the co-authors of a recently published book God is Back which is upbeat about the revival of interest in religion today. This excerpt from her post is, perhaps, especially notable and worth thinking about:

"Basically there seem to be two choices for both Catholics and Anglicans: find complicated answers to complicated problems and emerge with Graham Greenish styles of catholic Anglicanism and anglican Catholicism. Or follow the present Papal model, which Micklethwait described as a 'two-speed Catholic Church' with an inner core of orthodox believers and an outer core who 'travel along for the ride.'

There could be room, he thought, for a sophisticated Christianity which sounded a bit 'David Jenkins' to me, but which would seem to mean embracing God and doubt at the same time. But he admitted that the evidence suggests religions succeed when they go in the other direction. He kept apologising for talking in terms of brands, the market place, bottoms on seats, but he couldn't help it. He is after all editor of the Economist.

Given all the problems with the covenant, maybe theologians and canon lawyers are not ultimately the right people to be trying to sort out the mess in the Anglican Communion."

What would a two-speed Anglican Communion look like? A two-speed Catholic Church is nevertheless a world church with one Mass, that is, everyone is going in the same direction in worship and in doctrine expressed through the words of the liturgy. We cannot yet do that.

More to the point Down Under, in New Zealand and Australia, do we know that 'God is Back'? Could Micklethwait and Wooldridge have written their book based on research here? Possibly. Certainly we have many churches and church leaders pragmatically concerned with 'bums on seats' knowing that when the last seat is emptied, that's it, for there are no established churches here (and, in New Zealand, our charities law requires each church to have a specified winding up clause in respect of the loot.)

Is God back Down Under? What do you think?

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