Only chaos can redeem the Church

Sep 16, 2021 by

by Giles Fraser, UnHerd:

[…]  Unfortunately, the Church of England learned very little from its encounter with Occupy. Just this week it was unveiling a new plan for its future organisational structure, and it is a doubling down on the whole centralising tendency that has been going on for the last 30 or so years. Just as protest movements were out there “taking the knee”, Church leaders were poring over their spread-sheets and flow charts.

Organisationally, the Church of England is a mess of overlapping and competing powers — bishops, synods, councils, pension boards, parliament, parishes — which is a real irritation to the pathologically tidy-minded. Formed as a shotgun marriage between two very different, perhaps incommensurable, approaches to religious authority — the Catholic and the Protestant — it’s little wonder the Church of England is an organisational hotchpotch.

Calling for greater “clarity”, this new plan announces that there is a “considerable confusion… about decision-making authority, a lack of understanding about which decisions different bodies are empowered to make and how those decisions are reached.”

So this review proposes a new body to take over most of the central functions of the Church. And inevitably it has an organisational flow chart and an acronym CENS – the Church of England National Services. Now there’s a rallying point to stir the blood and drop the faithful to their knees in wonder!

It’s as if the Church has decided to invest in Blockbuster Videos just as everyone else is switching to Netflix. All over the world, decentralised systems are on the ascendency. The Taliban have seen off the US Army. Blockchain technology has allowed radically decentralised crypto currencies like Bitcoin to flourish. eBay may have a CEO, but its real power lies in the millions on mini-encounters between buyers and sellers.

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