Being a misfit is a somewhat uncomfortable and lonely thing to be but being a confused misfit makes me begin to wonder if I really am beginning to lose my marbles. Surely I must be misinterpreting much of the stuff I read online. “They”, whoever the They of the day may be, couldn’t be that daft, could they?
This week three things have convinced me that either “They” are that daft, or the media are stupid enough to misinterpret what is being said. And where God is concerned many if not most do seem to be, if not stupid, then woefully ignorant.
On AncientBriton’s brilliant blog he had a photo of Putin, with the Pope, under the heading “Defender of the Faith”. A week ago Putin was a murderer and now he’s a Christian saviour. Don’t laugh – read on.
“According to Pope Francis, Putin is ‘the only one with whom the Catholic church can unite to defend Christians in the East.’” If that is true perhaps he, (Putin, not the Pope) could then be persuaded to come here and defend Christians in the West. (He’ll have to be quick if he wants to save the Church in Wales.) The only troubling thing about this is the fact that the report comes from the Assyrian International News Agency about which I know nothing, and the photo comes from Sputnik about which I can only guess. What is certain – it’s in the Guardian – is that the Pope is in Cuba as I write to meet Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church. Perhaps His Holiness is hoping to pick up a few tips. If you have ever watched a Russian Orthodox service on You Tube you will see packed churches like we can only dream of. I don’t understand what is going on, some of it seems OTT but those services leave you in no doubt that their God is definitely a bit special and wholly worthy of all the glory and honour and worship of which they are capable.
Which leads me on to my next cause of confusion. This from the Daily Telegraph. “The Church of England takes first step to relaxing clerical dress rules in an effort to become more relevant to the 21st century.” A local vicar always wears Doc Martens and jeans. How much more under dressed does she need to be? Who the blazes are the morons who come up with these ideas? In the last 40 years nothing, absolutely nothing, has brought people flocking into church. The more “relevant” to secular life the church becomes the less relevant it is to people’s lives. Which brings me back to Patriarch Kirill. Can you imagine him in jeans and a T shirt emblazoned with “God loves U”? I would have thought, if our churches had any sense, they would institute Dressed Up Sundays instead. I rather fancy wearing a mantilla.
My third bit of confusion was caused by the following headline in the Daily Telegraph. “Christians are now a minority in Britain like persecuted Roman Catholics during the Reformation say top clerics”. The top clerics are Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Bishop Richard Chartres. I hope they didn’t say exactly those words. Undoubtedly they’re right that Christians are in a minority but I don’t think that even the combined forces of Richard Dawkins and the entire National Secular Society contemplate burning either cleric at the stake or hanging, drawing and quartering anyone else. Such horrifying persecution is certainly happening in other parts of the world and I can’t help wondering how many of us “dressed down” Anglicans would actually die for our faith.