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Should Anglicans Be Grapes Or Marbles?

This is the question posed by Dr Graham Kings, Bishop of Sherborne, in his address yesterday, 18 February, to Salisbury Diocesan Synod proposing the adoption of the Anglican Communion Covenant:

Do we wish to continue to have an organic Communion, like a bunch of grapes, or a disconnected Federation, like a bag of marbles?

 

Bishop Graham appears to think that the answer to this question is self-evident. But I’m not so sure. Even the use of the magic advertising slogan word ‘organic’ does not persuade me, nor would it persuade any other red-blooded Englishman or Englishwoman, to want to be part of a bunch of grapes. What would a human being that was part of such an ‘organic’ group look like? Well, the North Koreans are probably the best people to answer that one:

Would I rather be a marble? Infinitely! What would a  group of human beings that were part of a ‘disconnected Federation, like a bag of marbles’ look like? Luckily I don’t have to find a picture to explain that one. Look out of your window, walk down your street, go into a shop or, yes, a church. And what you will see are marbles. Tall ones, short ones, fat ones, thin ones, patterned ones, plain ones – do I need to go on?

Surely, if Anglicanism offers the world anything, it is the opportunity to be part of a group of people which does NOT impose a homogeneous way of life, but welcomes all parts of God’s creation to work together for the coming of the kingdom of heaven.

Marbles of the world, let us unite!

 

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The photographs of the grapes are by peresanz,  the marbles are by Olga Popova, both via Shutterstock

20 comments on this post:

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I thought Dr Kings was a silly man when I knew him in Cambridge, and I think him a silly man now. His amusing little contrast sheds precisely no useful light on the mess the Church of England has got itself into – more clever forms of words. What we need is the Christlike discipline of living with difference, not some sort of babyfood mush in which we pretend we are all the same, really, probably, if we stick our fingers in our ears and shout “lalala” loudly enough.

Lay Anglicana said...
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Thank-you for this, Richard. The use of metaphor can be very dangerous in the hands of those who have no real imagination! But you’re right, I am letting off steam and neither he nor I are really shedding any useful light on our present situation. But after yesterday’s amazing vote in the four dioceses, where all rejected the Covenant, I really believe that the great British people have decided that defending our threatened liberty is more important than the collateral damage of hurting Archbishop Rowan’s feelings.

19 February 2012 17:25
Alan Birt said...
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It wasn’t Christine Keeler that said, “Well he would, wouldn’t he”, it was Mandy Rice-Davies but as they were in the mess together, I don’t suppose strict accuracy is that important.

20 February 2012 00:19
19 February 2012 17:21
UKViewer said...
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I think that the Bishop is mistaken, but I would, wouldn’t I (as Christine Keeler famously said).

I can remember playing marbles and they came in various sizes and denominations – much like the Anglican Communion. You played the game, and invariably won or lost, but appreciated that the rules were made up by those playing, as there wasn’t a written rule book for marbles.

In fact, much like the Anglican Communion. To my mind, having a written rule book would have destroyed the game, taken the freedom out of it and would have taken the joy, expectancy and unpredictably out of the game. Very much like the Anglican Covenant.

If marbles are gathered together in one place, I suspect that a higher grade marble will try to convince them that he is better, with bigger ideas and more value. But if the marbles play the game by the unwritten rule book, their score in the game will be equal and as valid as that of the big marble. That sounds like the Anglican Communion, not the Anglican Covenant.

Lay Anglicana said...
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There isn’t a written rule book for marbles! You are brilliant UKViewer, I hadn’t even thought of that one. I like the parallel more and more. As you say, it sounds just what the Anglican Communion ought to be.

19 February 2012 17:28
19 February 2012 17:24
Claire said...
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Thank you for helping to keep the issue of the Anglican covenant in the public eye.

I like the fact that the Anglican communion has room for so much diversity. I still don’t really understand what the Anglican covenant would mean. Would it mean that if we had women bishops, and other Anglican areas objected, we would get into trouble?

Lay Anglicana said...
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I think the answer to your question is ‘yes’, but the fact that I have had to ponder it overnight illustrates the problem – lack of clarity and intelligibility!

The Covenant draws heavily on Scripture for the first three sections, which set out what we believe. The problem with this is that even the Devil can quote Scripture in support. Bits can be taken out of context, juxtaposed and so on. If we sign, we commit ourselves to obeying Scripture without, as I see it, the application of reason and tradition (Hooker’s formula – despite the fact that the Covenant includes this, it then goes on to ignore it). The argument about the role of women in worship is alive and well in many denominations – the so-called ‘complementarian’ view – supposing that came to be part of the accepted Anglican rules, the Church of England could be thrown out on the grounds of having women priests, let alone bishops. (Ditto licensed lay ministers, readers of the bible, anything except brass cleaners and bottle washers presumably).

20 February 2012 09:58
19 February 2012 19:36
Savi Hensman said...
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Grapes are easier to crush than marbles.

Anyway, if the Communion is organically connected, why do we need quasi-judicial processes (but without the clarity of the law) to keep us together?

Lay Anglicana said...
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Absolutely, Savi! And of course sanctions are very much part of international relations, aimed at coercing states into modifying their behaviour, usually without success. Now where have I heard that idea recently? I know – Section 4!

20 February 2012 09:52
19 February 2012 20:01
John Scott said...
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Grapes make excellent wine if trodden on! I can see the metaphor’s appeal to some bishops. The problem with marbles of course is you can too easily lose your marbles. LOL.

Lay Anglicana said...
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I suppose my question would be, who gets to drink the wine? Probably not the grapes!

John Scott said...
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The Bishops of course in their palaces, House of Lords, Athenaeum etc etc etc Boo Hiss, LOL.

Lay Anglicana said...
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Hiss and Boo!

20 February 2012 11:15
20 February 2012 10:47
20 February 2012 09:49
20 February 2012 05:21
JCF said...
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Such a False Dichotomy (Kings frames the choice as).

Christ is the Vine, we are the branches: that’s been True for 2000 years, quite sans (this) Covenant!

Rather, I think it’s the Covenant that would render us hard (and lifeless) like marbles. It’s the “bonds of AFFECTION” which unite us to the True Vine, not a piece of (political!) paper.

No thank you.

Lay Anglicana said...
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Thank-you, JCF, I was rather enjoying thinking of myself as a large, colourful, shiny marble, but you are quite right, of course, marbles are also hard and lifeless. There is also no inter-connection between them, they just knock each other about. The trouble is that very few metaphors stand up to sustained inspection! I think you are right, the bishop was basing his metaphor on the many biblical parables of Christ as the vine and us as the branches. Truth is always complex. I still think that the ‘many mansions’ of heaven must mean that we are allowed to be infinitely varied while being connected by bonds of affection.

20 February 2012 09:45
20 February 2012 09:22
Colin Coward said...
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Bishop Graham’s metaphor was pretty stupid and meaningless – marbles or grapes – we are all connected, animate and inanimate objects, by the energies which hold all creation together. Graham argues from a lack of trust in God who has created all, energises all, fills all with Spirit, blows where she wills, and grants freedom to make mistakes and get it wrong.

I happen to think Bishop Graham is dramatically wrong on the gay issue. He has campaigned against me in the diocese without once making contact with me or my Rector to find out the truth for himself. He models a disconnected church himself, allowing prejucice and projection to rule over relationships and heart connection.

The Covenant is not relational and thank God it looks as if the Church of England is going to reject it. Alleluia!

Lay Anglicana said...
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Thank-you for commenting, Colin. I know it is very naughty of me, but I play that North Korean piece whenever I need cheering up. The thought that this is what the bishops might see as organised Anglicanism is too giggle-making.

‘He models a disconnected church himself’ Quite!

20 February 2012 17:29
20 February 2012 17:21
UKViewer said...
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Good to hear that so far, 10 marbles have rejected being put into the straight jacket of a written rule book.

Only another 12 to go to ensure that the proposed rule book will never be accepted in the CofE.

21 February 2012 22:31
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Well, Bishop Graham didn’t get his way in Salisbury. There’s hope yet for the Church of England. Thank God for the Faithful Laity!

Lay Anglicana said...
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Thank-you so much, Father Ron, for the encouragement. We live in hope (and prayer!)

22 February 2012 00:53
22 February 2012 00:51