Life, Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and Afghanistan: 7 December

Sorry for missing a posting. We’ve moved house for the sixth time in seven years. I’m no longer Interim Minister in Bilston, but a Writer in Derbyshire, looking for Anglican parish church jobs.

One American friend replied to my change of address notification asking if I was to become a Roman Catholic. That’s where I began my Christian life, as a child. I slipped into teenage Deism and came back to Christian faith through Anglicans. Then I had to decide whether to continue as a Catholic or to keep with my new Anglican friends. The Anglican Church won because it is more English – an important root for the son of an immigrant.

A lovely lady from the church in Bilston was praying for me in my last week. She saw me standing upright in a shower of bright light, wearing my cream coloured robe, with a stole (priestly scarf) round my neck. The stole was white with yellow crosses at the ends. She hadn’t seen me wearing my real white stole, which does have yellow crosses on the ends, with red embroidery on top. She was amazed when I showed it to her, just as she had seen, except for the red embroidery. The yellow cross is a Canterbury, Anglican, cross. Her vision confirms for me that I am to continue a priestly, Anglican, ministry.

Will there be a large exodus from the Anglican Church to the Roman Catholics? No, only a small one. Call me cynical, but the price of transfer is too high. Congregations will have to move out of their buildings, or rent them at a market rate from the Anglican Diocese. They will have to pay the costs of their own bishops and 25% more for their priests, having moved out of Church Commissioners subsidies. In the end, few will find they can afford it. But their traditional Anglo Catholic views and wishes will not be tolerated in the C of E as much as they have been, because they have a good Christian alternative home available. Strangely, the Pope’s offer may work out to be the death knell of Anglo Catholicism, unable to live on either the Roman rock or the Anglican hard place.

More troops in Afghanistan! Our grandchildren will be paying for this folly for years to come, both in national debt and in increased Muslim militancy. Our troops will not come out ‘soon, when the Afghan army and police force are strong enough.’ They will either stay for 20 more years or scuttle out as the Americans left Vietnam. This is not the way to defeat terrorism.

Our politicians have allowed themselves to be terrorised. The government say that Afghanistan must not become a ‘safe haven for terrorists again.’ The whole policy is based on fear of what Bin Laden etc could do next. This is precisely the attitude that Bin Laden wanted Western governments to adopt. As long as our leaders act out of fear of him, he is winning. Instead we need to say: ‘A free society, a free world, is a vulnerable world. The terrorists will not make us afraid. We will not use their military tactics against them, as they want. We will act according to justice, patiently seeking out and bringing to trial ‘terrorist’ criminals.’

Sensible thinking on Afghanistan can be read, as usual, on the Tikkun website.

Roger Harper

PS I’ve just read my Bible reading notes for the day. Jeff Lucas, in Life Every Day, writes: ‘Fear is normal. But may we not be dominated by it.’ Amen.

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