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‘If It’s Not Pleasant, It Doesn’t Exist’

My grandmother never actually said this to me. But it was the leitmotiv of her life, thanks to which she lived to be 99 years old. I know half a dozen other nonagenarians, and they all have this in common: they do not dwell on the global economic downturn, global warming, or why that Mrs Jones down the road is such a bitch has a less than sunny disposition. They pour themselves another gin, play another rubber of bridge or go for a walk. They live without passion of any sort (well, they are in their nineties) but this includes love and hate. They are not passionately for or passionately against anything. They do not discuss politics, religion or sex, or indeed any other topic about which anyone might feel strongly. They do not show feelings in public (the mantra of this class is ‘No PDA’ – no Public Display of Affection).  To do so would be bad form. They do not weep in public, or ever evince any pain or self-pity. They offer no sympathy (beyond the most formal expression), and they shudder at the thought of sympathy being shown to them. By definition, they are not needy.

Of course, by the time my grandmother and her kind are in their nineties, they probably are needy, if only physically. For them this is the hardest part of old age, that they have to accept help from others and allow chinks to appear in their armour.

I sometimes think my kind of Anglican is like this. I have just learned that I am technically a liberal Anglo-Catholic – I have always thought of myself as plain old CofE but now see that there are many strands of worshippers who all self-identify as Church of England but whose worshipping style – and beliefs- are very different. Yesterday I attended (and will post about separately) a communion service led by a Charismatic Evangelical. My knee-jerk reaction was to wince at the emotional incontinence, but a part of me – normally severely repressed- also responded.

I think I could happily make the transition to The Episcopal Church (TEC) and feel at home. I was brought up to think that good manners are all-important, and TEC is above all the home of good manners: ‘After you’; ‘No, after you’. ‘No cake until you have had the bread and butter’. And so on.

But word reaches me that these good manners may stand in the way of common sense at the TEC General Convention to be held from July 5-12 in Indianapolis: agreeing with me that the current ‘sorry state of things entire’ of the Anglican Covenant is such that it definitely counts as unpleasant, and being unwilling to intrude on private grief,  some say it might be best not to discuss it all, and simply sweep it under the carpet.

Siren voices! Please, fellow Anglicans, do not listen to them! We have managed in the Church of England, diocesan synod by painful diocesan synod, to reject it. But the Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion regards this as merely a little local difficulty. Is he burying his head in the sand like the man in the YouTube video which illustrates this post? That is a matter of opinion.

But my fellow members of the Church of England and I are looking for a lead on this from The Episcopal Church. Please do not let us down!







8 comments on this post:

UKViewer said...

I think that the generation(s) you speak off, still exist, but are overwhelmed by the world around them, where rudeness, ‘matiness’ and wearing your heart on your sleeve are the norm.

The expectation these days that because we are all ‘individualists’ that we’ll share our feelings, thoughts and emotions as widely as possible. That seems to me to be asymptomatic of the generations that followed the ‘baby boomers’ (1945-1955).

But, in some ways, this new way is healthier for us all. Repressing things, only holds them inside and little annoyances can be held as a grudge from generation to generation. The CofE is much like that.

In the Army, you need to be controlled and in control all of the time on duty. Off duty, alcohol, entertainment and risky sporting activities were the outlet for all of those repressed feelings. Off course, even off duty, you needed to retain a level of common sense about what you said or did and who to, because big brother, in the form of a superior, was always about waiting for the chance to pick you up on your behaviour.

Lucky me, I’ve retired AND joined the CofE. I been able to let all of those repressions out an a big AAARRRRGGGGHHHH and lay them at the foot of the cross. I can now hug with impunity and enjoy people socially in a completely different way. Off course, I do it with decorum and good manners, but hug I will because having realised that I’m actually human, is a huge advance for me.

So, next time we meet, don’t expect a bear hug, but a peck on the cheek and a light hug will suffice.

Now for the TEC and the Anglican Covenant. I agree with you that they need to address the issue and not bury it in the long grass. Those churches who’ve had the courage to reject it, in reality on their behalf, deserve no less than a full and open debate and for the TEC to free itself from the rope that some members of the Anglican Communion seem to be trying to hang it with.


Lay Anglicana said...

Thanks UKViewer for this. I am sure the army must be one of those institutions which frown on displays of emotion (and I admit that several of my nonagenarians are service wives). Not my grandmother, though. She reached this philosophy all on her own!

I think you make a good point that a lot of the reaction against the Covenant in the Church of England was indignation at the idea it had been invented to ‘spank the Yanks’.

09 May 2012 15:20
09 May 2012 12:19

Thank you Laura for this tap on the shoulder (or thinking cap)…I´ve reproduced it in full at my blog…hope that´s ok. Mil gracias, Leonardo/Len

Lay Anglicana said...

But of course! I don’t want to presume to tell TEC what to do, on the other hand it is important to me…

09 May 2012 15:17
09 May 2012 14:45
John Scott said...

Me like your Grandmother !

Lay Anglicana said...

And me like you!
But my grandmother was increasingly hard to live with.

10 May 2012 20:01
10 May 2012 19:50
Charley Farns-Barns said...

Ah! This blog is getting more and more like the “Church Times” where you see words used properly that you’ve never used yourself. To wit “evince”!

Thank you Dame Laura, Charley F-B.

Lay Anglicana said...

And thank-you. I think (why do I feel my leg may be being pulled?)

14 July 2012 20:46
14 July 2012 16:58

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