Thursday, 4 October 2007

Don't point it's rude.

I am angry with the leaders of my church for the way the present situation has been allowed to develop. I am angry with their proposals for change and their passive acceptance that we need to circle the wagons and plan for a tough time. I am angry that there seems to be no hope or belief that things can get better; that we can begin to turn things round and win converts. I am angry that they are prepared to write off the vast majority of the population of my country who, by their reductive actions, they believe will never join us. I am angry with the historical laissez-faire of past generations of laity and clergy who failed to follow the Gospel exortation to evangelise and, instead, relied on large families to produce the next generation of believers and Ireland to send us priests. I am angry that my fellow Christians in the pews have been ignored and patronised; but I am also angry with the alarming passivity of so many of them. I am angry with the elitism and parochialism of many parishes that create barriers to true involvement by other parishioners and I am angry with the lack of faith in Christ that underpins our present situation. I am angry that we have a church that appears to be seperate from the Holy Spirit and the power of that Spirit. I am also angry with my self for being no different.

So what next? The review will do its thing and buildings will close, priests move etc.: that seems inevitable at this stage. But suppose we decided to walk in faith; what then? Suppose we began to pray earnestly and take our faith more seriously? The present situation is your last wake up call, so: WAKE UP! Whether we have a faith to pass on and whether we have anyone to pass it on to is largely to do with us: the laity. Now is our moment; now, maybe, the Holy Spirit is shaking our slumbering spirits.

Creative writing(part 2)

Anyway, to continue. The message that I get from the feedback forms and the feedback to the feedback (I think) is that the "consultation" (when you see quotation marks you know that something fishy is suspected) is not a consultation in the sense that a wide and extensive number of people have been consulted on a genuine, your-opinion-really-counts-and- we -are -genuinely- open -to- ideas basis. A plan was in place and probably has been for some time. The details weren't there but the broad strategy was clear. The consultation was a smoke screen. True the ideas about what your parish could do better or differently were welcome, but there was little if any chance of any alternative to the structural changes that will eventually be agreed. The consultation has barely scraped the surface of popular opinion with small numbers of people meeting, contributing and then forms being completed by priests or parish council. I would be really interested to know how many people have actually been involved in the process. What is the ecclesiastical version of cannon fodder?

But does it matter in the long run? Does it matter that we are a declining force in the country and have been for some years? Does it matter that those who steered us into the iceberg are the ones trying to get us floating again? Well, yes it does. And I will tell you why I think so in the next post when I have got my breath back and had a lie down.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Creative writing(Part 1)

I was thinking about Fit for Mission, like you do, and I went onto the Diocesan web and found the parish submissions and the review team response. Believe it or not this was the first time I had seen a parish submission form, completed or otherwise, and I was impressed. Whatever talents or lack of talents the writers of these documents have, they are not lacking in abilty when it comes to creative writing. Put it another way they are masters of spin to rival Alaister Campbell at his peak. I read some of the docs from my area and, apart from an interesting similarity of style, they revealed information, activities and plans that came as something of a surpirise to me. So glowing were these fictional narratives that for a moment joy filled my heart when I thought how successful, enterprising, imaginative, appealing etc. etc. the local churches are; that there would be no need for any change here: in fact we could probably sort out the rest of the Diocese. Why, I thought, we must have lines of men waiting for a place at the seminary; with more women joining religious orders than there are in Tesco on a busy Sunday; converts were hiring coaches to get to RCIA meetings and plans were being drawn up for new churches to take the overspill. Then I banged my head and reality checked in.

The truth is that these accounts are not representative of reality. One parish talks about prospects of evangelisation through the attached CATHOLIC primary school. Ignoring the fact that this is not Biblical evangelisation and the amazing observation that we should need to evangelise those attending a Christian, Catholic school, it leaves out the fact that the priest of the parish said to his (very small) review group that what went on in the school was nothing to do with him. Needless to say this did not find its way into the written submission.
Pause for breath(see creative writing 2).