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Posts Tagged "Schism":

Time To Invite Back the Vikings?

Just when you think the Church of England could not dig itself any deeper into the mire, it miraculously finds a way to do just that.

What on earth can we, those of its members and supporters who do not come from the planet Mars, possibly do to dig it out this time?  One priestly friend is praying for a miracle; she is probably right that there is almost nothing ‘on earth’ that we can do. But God helps those who help themselves and I think it may be a little unreasonable to think that He can turn this very ungodly mess  back into something approaching a Church of God. Maybe He is in fact leading us to schism?

While holier people than I work out the answer to this question, I do have one last, desperate suggestion to make. If we cannot manage our own affairs, let us seek to be colonised once more by a people who have just sorted out this whole question very amicably: the Danes (or Vikings, as I am calling them for the purposes of this post). There was widespread press coverage all over the world, but let The Copenhagen Post tell the story:

Parliament passed a law legalising same sex marriage [on 7 June] with 85 votes for, 24 against and two abstentions… Same-sex ceremonies may occur as soon as June 15 should the nation’s bishops, as expected, come up with a ceremony by Monday that can be used to wed same-sex couples in church. The new ceremony was needed after bishops ruled that the current one can only be used to wed heterosexual couples. But while same-sex and heterosexual couples will be wed using different rituals, their marriage status will be equal…According to the church minister, Manu Sareen (Radikale), today’s law change is “historic”.“In 1989 people were given the opportunity to register their partnership at city hall,” Sareen told Politiken newspaper. “But now that we have given them the opportunity to get married, we have lifted the level of equality to a whole new level compared to 1989. Couples of the same sex will be put on the same footing as couples of different sex and that is a huge change.” Sareen added that allowing vicars to decline to marry same-sex couples meant that parliament was not infringing on the Church of Denmark’s right to make its own theological reading.

Very enlightened. Perfect outcome. Why should we not do the same? Well, at this rate it might take us a century to catch up. At this point in classical drama, when the plot had got so tangled that no one could see how things could possibly work out, playwrights invented the deus ex machina, a contrivance whereby external intervention was  used to untangle the mess. Denmark, benevolent society that it is, has just such a body, Danida, formerly called the Danish International Development Agency. All we need now is to persuade them that, exceptionally, they put it to use in developing a fellow Western European nation.  (We might of course have to produce some Danegeld to pay for this, but it would be well worth it IMNSHO.)

I know the first Viking invasion gave them rather a bad name (for raping, looting and pillaging, not to put too fine a point on it).

But that was after they had been cooped up for weeks in a long boat. The 21st century version would, I am sure, choose Easy Jet, and  be only slightly irritable as a result. A pint or two of lager and half a roasted sheep ought to mollify them sufficiently to be able to deal with the powers that be at Lambeth. And after all we don’t want them too amenable, the whole idea is to let them show who is boss.

Thanks to recent television showings of Borgen and The Bridge, most people have already learnt a few basic words of Danish. Tak, BBC Four!
Of course, I must point out that there is a danger in inviting hordes of Vikings to re-invade, and that is that they may not want to leave. As Kipling pointed out,

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we’ve proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.
It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray,
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say:
“We never pay any one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost,
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that plays it is lost!”

But I live in a hamlet called Ibthorpe. This is a Viking settlement adjoining a royal Saxon manor. As my house is on the border of the two settlements, it is reassuring for me to be able to tell you that the two populations live in complete harmony. Our church guide explains:

 In 994 a joint Norwegian and Danish force led by Olaf Tryggvason and Sweyn Forkbeard attacked Essex, Kent, Sussex and Hampshire. The King and nobles paid £16,000 danegeld, a sharp increase on the first geld paid only three years earlier. Ominously, the Scandinavians then took up winter quarters in Southampton, while the whole of Wessex supplied them with provisions. News evidently filtered through that the allies were not inseparable and a formal deputation was sent to Olaf. Aethelred received him ceremoniously at Andover, where Olaf was confirmed by Alphege, Bishop of Winchester. Aethelred had been staying in his hunting lodge nearby (very probably in adjoining Hurstbourne Tarrant). Accompanied by English clergy, Tryggvason then returned to Norway, established himself as king and converted his country to Christianity.

So, what do you say, Bring on the Vikings!



The main illustration is from Mary McGregor’s book of 1908, Stories of the Vikings, and portrays a somewhat camp Leif Ericsson. Via Wikimedia.

The second illustration is from shutterstock, by Danny Smythe.

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