30 May, 2012

Churchy Book

Michael Hampson

Funny thing: The last book i read i ordered almost as soon as i had finished it as a gift for JAG, and this one i was thinking about ordering even before i was done, both for myself and as a gift for Lynne. Not certain at this point if i will, for either purpose, both being perhaps a little unnecessary, but certainly odd that two books in succession should have that effect on me, the same effect. This one, too, i started reading while i was in the library, keeping out of my flat, which was very cold that day, no heat and all; and i enjoyed what i read, obviously, so took it out, too. 

Hampson is in some ways analogous to me: He is just a few years younger than i, with some similar experiences (and some different, very different), including growing up and coming across the Charismatic movement in the late Seventies or early Eighties, becoming a minster (though in my case, of course, Baptist, not Anglican), and then leaving the ministry though still feeling some draw to it, and still wanting to be able to be active in the church.

Clearly, the biggest difference between us is that Hampson found it necessary to leave the ministry because he is a homosexual, and found that he was not welcome in the Church of England, despite the official position of the Church (which is akin to that temporarily of the US military, “don’t ask, don’t tell”), particularly with reference to John Jeffries, who was forced to withdraw his name from consideration for Bishop of Reading because of his orientation, although he had made a pledge of abstinence. Hampson does a very good job of explaining as he is easy to read and easy to understand; he explains the structure of the Church of England, deriving that structure from its history, and its theologies, both in the past and the present, how he was drawn to it, as well as how he became driven from its ministry, both because of his orientation and because of the actions of certain of his superiors within the hierarchy.

He also lays out a manifesto, a suggested structure for the future (not that it has any hope of being accepted ~ at least voluntarily), which would, in his view, accommodate different views, and put the Church back on its true path of finding and serving God. As i have no allegiance to the Church of England nowadays, this is another difference between us, but i can see that his ideas have merit, and are, to be sure, thoroughly and cogently explained. Altogether, an enjoyable book.

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