Friday, January 13, 2006

The Continuum in England

In my travels through the blogosphere this week, I "met" Fr Anthony Chadwick, the TAC chaplain of St. Martin's Chapel in Mouilleron en Pareds, France and the host of another blog, Civitas Dei. I put the following question to him, and his answer follows. I would be interested to hear from people in the UK as to what their thoughts are on this matter.

Question:

I have always been mystified by the fact that so few disaffected Anglicans in Britain even know about the Continuum, much less ever having given any consideration to it, as an alternative to going over to Rome or to Orthodoxy. And that is evidenced by the almost imperceptible Continuing presence in the UK.

Answer:

For England, I can only go by my occasional visits and what I read in the press. The Traditional Anglican Church in England under its Vicar General, Fr. Brian Gill, is doing well. Last October, I went to Evensong in a lovely chapel of a stately home in Yorkshire, where the local TAC parish regularly worships, and found more than sixty people attending.
The TTAC is acquiring real churches in England -- Lincoln and Portsmouth in particular -- and snowballing in its development. The quality and dedication of its clergy and laity are impressive.

Unlike the Americans and people in the "Third World", who adhere to a church because they believe in it, most English and European people take the attitude that society expects them to belong to the official establishment or nothing at all. What is going to be important is to have the Continuum looking like something very official and mainstream -- because it is nothing other than mainstream Anglicanism, just as we knew it as choirboys, altar servers or children with our families. Without that, people are just shameful about joining anything "marginal" and just won't come to it.

Few people go to Orthodoxy, because, though Orthodoxy is mainstream and official, it is considered as something exotic for foreign people -- Greeks, Russians and Middle Eastern people in particular. There is no canonical Orthodox western rite provision in England or Europe.

Another thing people like is intolerant fundamentalism -- it gives them more emotional security. This explains the success of the larger Roman Catholic traditionalist societies and "happy-clappy" Protestants, who feed on peoples credulity for "conspiracy theories" (blame something other than oneself, and one gets that nice glowing feeling of self-satisfaction).

The Continuum is simply classical Anglicanism, and demands nothing other than faith, dedication and an upright life -- those ideas don't fit in with today's consumer mentality.

European Christianity is dying and the USA will eventually follow. We are returning to the first centuries of the history of the Church. Our priority will be ourselves to live as Christians and show that we are happier and better people on account of living an edifying life and believing in something other than money! The days of filling pews and large numbers of people at church services are over. We have to find a new way to bring the Gospel into contemporary life, and of course welcome any who want to come to our liturgy or simply see a priest for any reason. It is the present Pope's vision of a shrinking Church, but gaining in quality what it loses in quantity. The churches of the future European continent will be small chapels and rooms in houses, and the Christianity of the future will be pre-Constantinian.

3 comments:

LutherPunk said...

That is a very powerful last paragraph. I have struggled with what that would mean personally to me and my family since we are dependent on that pay check we receive from my parish. There are days when I am ready to abandon the ELCA and others when I am much more skeptical.

But I agree that one day the big churches will be relics, and we will be offering the sacraments in small chapels.

Death Bredon said...

Another "dirty little (open)secret" for the low number of defections to the Continuum in England (and America too) is that defections are usually led by leaders, like priests; but when your anglo-catholic priest is homosexual, he is not likely to lead the congregation to Rome, the Orient, or the Continuum.

Despite his diplomatic and charitable oversight, your English commentor is basically right. As futher defections are only going to come at an individual level, a massive increase in public awareness of the issues and the option is required.

Warwickensis said...

Will someone involved please ask the TAC to set up a parish in Kent in England.

It would be wonderful to have them here.