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“ A captivating story that draws you into the lives of Bob and Richard, where a working class, Church of England upbringing deeply influences their passage through the world of corporate business.”
These words come from one of the reviewers on Amazon of Where’s Sailor Jack? In late 1945, I was christened in St Chad’s Church in Poulton-le-Fylde. I was confirmed in Southport in the early sixties as a regular attendee of Christ Church in Lord Street. Janet and I married in 1987 in St Michael’s, the parish church of Blewbury in Oxfordshire. Unless lost at sea, I’ll be buried according to Anglican rites in Poulton Graveyard on the Garstang Road, along with my four grandparents and two parents.
Of the three churches, Christ Church was low and envangelical, with the other two middle of the road or a bit higher. Back in the sixties, evangelicals did not take a literal truth approach to the bible. A middle of the road church didn’t have to be wet. A high church didn’t have to camp it up with too much genuflection and incense, at least not in Lancashire.
Since the reformation, my family has always been Anglican, the dubious origins from Henry VIII proving no barrier to faith. I have a direct ancestor taking a moiety in a pew in Heptonstall in 1680, not long after the Book of Common Prayer’s adoption. None of the next generation down in the family has followed the path though. To them, either Christians are seen as born-again and thus gullible or God-bothering anachronisms. And not without reason. The evangelicals make the bible a rule book, leaving no room for the Holy Spirit to work. The liberals usually seem to fail to make their social concern translate into practical policy. If the high church reaches out to the world, the sniggers drown out its over-rich message. This next generation down of the family, who studied mainly in the Humanities, accuse me, a physicist, of irrational belief. They ignore the quantum of uncertainty; they ignore Godel demonstrating that the world cannot contain its own explanation. They categorically dismiss the beautiful world of allegory in the hope of salvation for all and in the profound idea that the human can become the divine.
But if Anglicanism fails and schisms into three tiny pieces, who then can keep alive this most insightful of faiths in England? The Free Church or the Catholics? I can’t see it. The former will be too intolerant and the latter’s preference for superstition over allegory too fanciful. And both start with public perceptions shaped from the personal failings of their members.
The world looks in no better shape. To add to the problems of the Reformed and Catholic churches, the orthodox world has links with unchristian nationalism. But then the dove was never free. Caged within these institutions, the Spirit can still do its work in the hearts of humans.