Lay Anglicana, the unofficial voice of the laity throughout the Anglican Communion.
This is the place to share news and views from the pews.

Get involved ...

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.

12 comments on this post:

UKViewer said...

Today was a watershed of sorts for the Church! And perhaps this is a rant!!

With disdain and little backing, the authoritarian, undemocratic institution that is the HoB, issued a statement, without any internal consultation, stating a position that it not shared by the majority of its members.

While I have concerns about a redefinition of marriage, without the theology that would be required to be worked through to allow the church to debate it, I just think that the Synodical process has been bypassed.

The HoB say that they are the ‘mind of the church’ in anything to do with human sexuality (in the various papers written on the subject in the past 15 years). I am beginning to wonder exactly which church they are referring to, because it doesn’t resemble the church I belong to in any recognizable way.


What the Church did today, was to align itself with a narrow wing of the church and with the Roman Catholic church, in a position which is decidedly un-pastoral and is a disservice to those LGBT Christians in committed, long term relationships and civil partnerships, whose only wish is to be accepted for themselves as children of God.

My response is “not in my name”!!

So, I actually think that a new Viking Invasion might be a bonus, particularly if it brings with it some clarity and commonsense. And metaphorically speaking, bring home the danish bacon in terms of sorting out the human sexuality business once and for all.

12 June 2012 21:58
Lay Anglicana said...

Ernie, it is a sad, sad day indeed. I didn’t want to write an angry piece,which is why I wrote this. I think I feel exasperated and bewildered in equal measure. Maybe something good can come out of it? Please God.

Please will everyone complete the Home Office survey on same sex marriage:

12 June 2012 22:03
Pam Smith said...

I think it can.

Over the last few months it’s become apparent that there is a huge mismatch between the way the Archbishops and the House of Bishops believe they should be leading us, and how many of us believe we should be led.

Perhaps the Holy Spirit is blowing through the structures of our church and waking us all up to our responsibilities.

Change is never comfortable. I think many of us are very uncomfortable at the moment. Perhaps this is a positive thing if it brings about change.

Lay Anglicana said...

Thank-you very much for this, Pam. I do really think that we were offered a still, small voice but everyone was making too much noise for it to be heard. Now we have got to the whirlwind stage, it does seem very much as if the Holy Spirit is wondering what more needs to be done to get us to pay attention. So perhaps there will be a miracle.

I have just been ‘attending’ Compline at the London Internet Church, which I try always to end my day with, but particularly on days like this. Peter Kerridge’s comment on today’s reading from Mark is: ‘Jesus will always respond to our call, sometimes he will calm the storm and sometimes he will calm the child and let the storm rage’. This is not an occasion where any of us I think want to be individually calmed – so I hope what follows will involve using the enormous amount of energy that has been released for good. Only the Holy Spirit could do this. Let us pray…

12 June 2012 22:59
12 June 2012 22:20

Thank you Laura – it is an intriging suggestion! I have a friend who trained at the same Conservative Evangelical Theological College as me, but now ministers in Sweden. Last year he conducted his first same-sex wedding having made the intellectual journey, but not sure how he would feel.
Afterwards he wrote to me and said that thing that stood out for him that day was how natural it felt.
If only our church would be that brave – we would discover the same.

Lay Anglicana said...

Absolutely! I am only half-joking in suggesting we take lessons from the Danes. After all, their church is also the state church, as I understand it, and they seem relatively easily to have found a compromise which suits everybody. I particularly enjoyed the bishops being told on a Wednesday to draw up an appropriate liturgy for same sex marriage by the following Monday! See

13 June 2012 19:35
13 June 2012 18:14
Pam Smith said...
Lay Anglicana said...

Many thanks for this, Pam. I am a great admirer of Michael Sadgrove and what he has written is admirably clear. I had always thought of him as ‘senior management’ but he describes himself as a rank and file cleric, which is becomingly modest. But he clearly distances himself from the House of Bishops. It is interesting that he thinks it possible that the amendment might be withdrawn – I would have thought it unlikely, but hope against hope that his judgment is better than mine on this (which it may well be!)

Pam Smith said...

Many years ago we were choir parents at the same time as Michael and Judy – when Michael was Precentor at Coventry Cathedral – I’m sure he doesn’t remember. He was much admired, not just for his liturgical abilities but for his pastoral gifts.

I think the most shocking thing about the Bishops’ various pronouncements recently is the apparently abdication of the duty of pastoral care to anyone who dissents from their preferred solutions.

Of course it is right and proper that those opposed, say, to the ordained ministry of women should not be ousted from the C of E just because as an organisation we have changed how we see women. But where is the same care and concern for those who can’t in all conscience agree that the church should attempt to pass discriminatory legislation?

The House of Bishops have put themselves in an untenable position. Even if they can get the flawed legislation through Synod – and that’s starting to look unlikely – it’s highly unlikely that Parliament will allow it onto the statute books. So I would imagine that they are going to have to do something, or (more likely) encourage someone else to rescue them.

It’s starting to look as if the HoB has fallen prey to what’s known as ‘group think’ – whereby members are pressured to make decisions within the group that make no sense to most people outside it.

Lay Anglicana said...

Well, I am hoping that they appoint an Archbishop of Canterbury in the Mary Poppins mould, the sooner the better. In my fantasy, he arrives at Lambeth (complete with black umbrella of course) and just sorts everything out!

Pam Smith said...

Alas – I think at the time of his appointment that’s what some people were expecting of ++Rowan – rather unfairly because it’s surely beyond any one human to sort things out.

14 June 2012 15:54
Lay Anglicana said...

You’re right – I remember well thinking and hoping that he would indeed sort everything out. Ah well…

14 June 2012 17:25
14 June 2012 11:13
14 June 2012 08:16
14 June 2012 07:49
14 June 2012 07:17

Leave a Reply

We rely on donations to keep this website running.