Assessment: The Bare God – Wrestling for a Grace-Ful Humanity


Rowan Williams describes The Bare God as a “tremendously engaging and positive book”, and certainly it’s simply that. The writer, Vincent Strudwick, have to be no less than 84 years previous however he writes with the hearth, ardour and conviction of a person half his age. And the e book is a wierd amalgam of autobiography, Twentieth Century church historical past, radical polemic, and cri de coeur for a greater world, a greater church, and a greater end result for all, particularly the dispossessed, the poor and the struggling.What’s his e book about then? Basically, it’s in regards to the re-imagining of the position of the church, particularly the Anglican group (however his ideas prolong to all church buildings), within the fashionable world. Citing the concepts of Christopher Dawson that the church has had six totally different and distinctive ages – the Apostolic, the Fathers, the Carolingian, the Center Ages, the Renaissance and Reformation, and the Enlightenment – however {that a} seventh and really totally different age is now upon us. And, Strudwick argues, this new age is revealing the very actual inadequacies of up to date Anglican practises and beliefs each in the course of the Twentieth Century and within the current. Within the ultimate a part of the e book Strudwick does current some glimmers of hope, though I need to say I didn’t personally discover them very hopeful, as they appeared to me patchy: patchy in that he describes small, remoted actions and likewise patchy in that commendably they cowl an issue, however sadly solely in a piecemeal manner.The essence of what’s unsuitable with the Church is summed up in diagram within the chapter, In direction of A Very Odd Church Certainly. Right here now we have three sorts of response to Christianity: the standard, the liberal and the unconventional. There’s little doubt the place Strudwick’s loyalties are: the unconventional. So, for instance, within the sequence of contrasts he attracts, underneath the heading ‘Energy’, the standard desires ‘authority… mediated by a hierarchy’; whereas the liberal place is ‘about administration’; and eventually the unconventional desires ‘all contribute by participation and problem’. Or take the subject of Ideology: the standard need ‘Divine proper: it’s all ordained’; whereas the liberal sees ‘the market leads’; and the unconventional says, ‘battle have to be recognised and labored at’.It’s all very admirable and I particularly like his exhaustive and very fascinating notes that persistently punctuate the textual content. Strudwick is well-versed in not solely the historical past and traditions of the Anglican church, but in addition of different denominations, particularly Catholics, too. Even the Quakers get a point out (although not within the Index, bizarrely). When close to the tip of his very lengthy – and life time – tether with the Anglican church and its intransigent refusal to embrace radicalism, it’s to the Quakers that he, through Richard Holloway, turns: “Quakers believed in the authority of the inner light… and if the Bible said otherwise, then the Bible was wrong”. On prime of that Strudwick likes and cites regularly too the poets and literature. Fantastic – a small cornucopia of heaven for somebody like me.However that stated, there are some much less pleasing elements of this narrative. The autobiographical weave reveals somebody who has been on the centre of issues for a very long time, however presumably too obsessive about the centre. First, there’s a barely wearisome sense of name-dropping, particularly of all of the Archbishops of Canterbury over the many years however of different luminaries too. Then he additionally appears to suppose that re-hashing his notes or concepts from conferences held many years in the past goes to show helpful or fascinating. In his thoughts, clearly, he’s nonetheless preventing these fights, however what I believe we’d like is extra core summaries and transferring on to the place we at the moment are. A great instance of that is the place he repeats the ‘tips’ for the 1997 Quebec Convention the place the ‘Anglican Bishop of Quebec, the Rt Rev. Bruce Stavert invited’ him to steer with the title ‘Fashions for a Altering Church’ – after which half a web page of tips. The entire thing is simply too micro-orientated and the large image is considerably blurred by all this element; although, I don’t doubt Strudwick was more than happy to be invited to talk, as is evident in different examples.Maybe my largest criticism, nevertheless, can be that for all his power and enthusiasm for his Church, I’m not positive he actually empathises with those that disagree, or sees precisely the character of what he’s debunking. Because the e book progresses, we sense increasingly more how in tune with John Robinson’s ‘Sincere to God’ place he’s, and this place, after all, de-mythologises Christianity. It turns into obvious that Strudwick doesn’t imagine in miracles or in different core elements of the Creeds as historically understood, and there are penalties of this which I believe are vital.First, while he genuinely desires to assist the poor, he appears to not realise that the de-mythologised model of Christianity he’s advocating just isn’t one thing the under-educated – typically the poor – typically readily ‘perceive’ or ‘get’; and what – regardless of his assertion in regards to the personhood of Christ being central – this comes right down to is that why hassle with Christianity in any respect? We simply want to like folks and have loads of soup-kitchens? However the issue with that, it appears for Strudwick, is that he’d miss his cathedrals! Behind the unconventional, maybe, a traditionalist in some profound and uneasy methods.Furthermore, he writes, “Many were horrified by the sight of the bishops lining up in the House of Lords to vote against equal marriage, which had so much support in society at large, especially amongst the younger population that the church so desperately wanted to attract.” This can be a complicated problem, however one factor I believe is actually true: Christianity, and no different faith I do know of, has its insurance policies and beliefs dictated by widespread vote or plebiscite. Certainly, the Bible properly advises us to not conform to the considering of this world, however to be reworked by the renewing of our minds. For all of the evaluation and studying, I think Strudwick is solely a partisan: even his phrase ‘equal marriage’ begs the query upfront of figuring out if such a factor is true or unsuitable, or good or unhealthy. The early Christians went to their deaths as a result of they didn’t conform with what society thought proper and correct, however that does not appear to have occurred to Strudwick as even a religious chance, so fixated is he on getting folks into church and thereby re-vitalising it.There’s a lot to commend on this e book, and it’s actually an fascinating learn: I didn’t wish to put it down, though I discovered a lot in it which I assumed undigested, na├»ve and – sure – determined. However for an summary of the Anglican church within the Twentieth Century this can be a helpful and gripping story., regardless of getting overloaded at instances with finicky particulars.

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