Lent 2012: Day Sixteen

Hebrews 3:4 For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.

This passage reminds me of the recent debate between Rowan Williams and Richard Dawkins. I remember Richard saying that he saw the idea of God as messing up the picture of the world. But Rowan described God as the framework in which creation, existence, is held. That holds things together. And I liked that.

It’s International Women’s Day. And for the third and final episode of BBC’s “Catholics” tonight, the topic was on women.

Throughout the episode tonight I’ve been saddened by it. And rather confused. The camera-crew have introduced us to a few devout “Cradle Catholics”, but mostly of women who feel in some way separated from the Roman Catholic Church. One in particular brought tears to my eyes. She was brought up as a Roman Catholic, and when she fell in love and married, her husband left her. Eight years later she sought out divorce, falling in love with another man and marrying him. They spent several happy years together, but he died. And since remarrying, with the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching on divorce and marriage, she was excluded. She goes to Church on occasion but does not receive communion. She is sad that the Roman Catholic Church has stood in the way it has, against the beautiful love that she felt, and against so many others. Of course the Roman Catholic Church is not always like that. But it can be.

Other women highlighted the flaws of the Papal authority – some were “downright evil” as one woman put it.

Another woman said: I don’t think children understand what their first communion is, and I think we all struggle with the concept of the Eucharist being actual flesh and blood to begin with, but we get used to it.

It saddens me. And I can’t tell you how many times I found myself shouting at the television, saying, “Become an Anglican!!”

The Anglican Church has its problems. But tonight I’ve seen so many, too many short conversations with women who feel lost and alone and excluded by an authoritarian system. And I see that the Roman Church has more problems than the Anglican. The Anglican is debating whether to allow women to be bishops. Whether or not they are accepted soon or at a later date, we’re in conversation. And that’s something. The Anglican Church doesn’t allow two people of the same sex who love one another to get married. That’s a huge problem. But we’re talking about it. I can’t get my head around the Roman Catholic Church. I have friends who are Roman Catholics, but none that are devout. None that go 100% with the Pope. And not many who agree that priests can’t marry.

The camera-crew did ask why Roman Catholic and not Anglican, and there was never a criticism. Simply, I was brought up this way. I don’t understand.

We’re all different and I respect diversity. I respect those with other beliefs. But surely, if you have the beliefs of an Anglican, why not be an Anglican? Or rather, find a Liberal Christian Church. There’s a wide spectrum. I want to find the woman who lost her husband and was excluded by society and I want to welcome her to the family of my Church and give her a big hug. Why must anyone feel alone?

We need to talk more. We need to love one another more. We need to stop isolating people.

Perhaps I sound like I’m being too critical. But maybe we need that. Maybe we need to stop settling for average and start trying more for heaven on earth. I’m criticising the Roman Catholic Church, but I’m also criticising the Anglican Church – my Church – and I’m ulitmately critcising any system that tells anyone that the love that they feel and the natural beauty they have been blessed with is anything less than holy.

God is love. And those who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. (1 John 4:16)

I still dream and will always dream of a Church, of a world, where complete equality exists. And although saddened by the sight in tonight’s programme, I am in some way heartened to know that there are women in the Roman Catholic Church who hold on to the hope of the God they know to be true.

We build our churches. But God must be our framework. Is He? Is She?

Hebrews 3:4 For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.

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