Thursday, 3 November 2011

It is a long time since I have been proud of my inherant Anglicanism.

I have, over the last forty years, made several attempts to divest myself of it, with varying degrees of success. However, the last 72 hours have transformed, not only the Church of England, but, far more interestingly to me, how I feel about it and relate to it.

On Tuesday I indulged in a little bit of old time religion and heard Mass at All Saints, Margaret Street.

It's not an easy kind of religion, but the intention is sincere, the tradition honourable and the music.... well the music was sublime. We prayed, we sang and we listened. We were exhorted to challenge aggressive secularism by the preacher. He was right there. Fundamentalism, whether it comes in the form of the Taliban, George Bush or Richard Dawkins is scary. Really scary. I believe in my doubt. It's what keeps me going. Lord, preserve me from certainty.

On the way home, I stopped at St Paul's. I spoke last night of how that affected me. So much so I returned to the Cathedral twice today.

The first time to give a bag of books to the library that has been set up at the camp. I'd chosen a bundle of books on earnest political and economic subjects. They were received with gratitude and the request that next time, could I bring something 'entertaining'. Smutty novels it is then. I love these people.

They are doing stuff. They are transfiguring themselves. They are changing their world and they are changing mine.

After I'd dropped off the books I was happily sitting on the steps of the Cathedral when the Daily Assembly took place. I was ready to get cross, and to be honest, rather hoped to be. But fuck me, they did it right.

The first speaker was Michael. He is the cleric responsible for music at the Cathedral and spoke to invite all those present to come to the Mass of All Souls' later that day. He was heard with enthusiasm by everyone and embodied the radical change in the Cathedral's position that has come about in the last 72 hours. Next, we heard from members of the various working parties from the camp. Please don't urinate in the Cathedral precints. Let's all eat together, rather than apart. How will the Camp respect the Cathedral's observance of Remembrance Sunday? By this point it was crystal clear. The Cathedral and the Campers are not at loggerheads. They are, at last as one.

Finally, having been back at the bookshop for the afternoon, I returned to the Cathedral for the Sung Requiem for All Souls'. Durufle knew his God. His setting of the Mass, sung by the choir and played by the City of London Sinfonia would have stirred the heart of the most aggressive secularist. Can you have joy in grief? Yes. You can. Protestors, bankers, the committed and the curious were at that service. Some received the sacrament and some a blessing. Some came with faith and some came with doubt. But my goodness me they were all there.

I am at last, proud to be an Anglican.

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