Friday, June 15, 2007

A little time for meditation

On my way to an interview yesterday morning, I passed by our fine city's beautiful Anglican Cathedral. So back the Anglican cathedral. It perhaps uses the least amount of billboard advertising (unlike the Catholic, Methodist and Baptist churches) because, I think, it is just not doing that well. This thought was vindicated yesterday when, as I walked by the church, I saw a little sandwich board advertisement which read:

Open 9am - 5pm Service Sunday 10am Come inside for quiet meditation

Quiet meditation? Is it not me but when a cathedral parish simply offers up room for 'quiet meditation' something is very wrong with that church. Is prayer too fundamentalist or traditional a term? The sign simply smacked of metaphysical emptiness and desperation on the part of church leaders. Not that the term 'meditation' is particularly bad, but I'm sure you'll agree that is much more fitting of New Age paganism or even facile North American Buddhism than Anglican Christianity.

What I think is particularly sad is how this pithy little sandwich sign represents the theological and institutional crisis of the Anglican Church. It is widely expected now that the church will become increasingly factionalised in the coming months, with Archbishop Rowan Williams decision not invite several 'conservative' prelates while inviting all but one of the 'liberal' prelates to the upcoming Lambeth Conference only exacerbating a terrible situation. Already North American parishes under the Episcopal banner are contemplating schism, and indeed some have even split and joined under the leadership of Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria. Some Anglican priests have even, and quite publicly, attempted to reunify their entire parishes with the Catholic Church. And here in quiet Victoria, amidst all the confusion, chaos and division, our local Anglicans are prepared to offer you not a place for prayer per se, but for quiet meditation.
Ironic, isn't it, since prayer is the only thing that's going to save the Anglican Church.

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