Difficult times

The C of E is going through difficult times right now with the controversial discrimination against women bishops, and gay marriage.

Interesting series of letters recently on the subject of women bishops in the Observer.

Clearly the C of E has not yet reached the age of reason.

I particularly liked the suggestion in the letter from Jonathan Fulford of Bosham about local rural churches, and early christian worship making one ponder the meaning of it all.

As he suggests, the local bishop could do worse than visit some of these more modest places of christian worship and reflect. Problem could be the temptation of the power and glory that his massive cathedral imparts.

Plus of course all the exotic finery and flummery that goes with it.

The bishop is entitled to his views, but I doubt they will win votes in the politics of god business.

Whilse there is no doubt both small and large religious buildings, particularly those designed and built in medieval times, are amazing, especially in their historical context.

However this is also true of other religions as well as the christian version.

Chichester Cathedral is a very beautiful and impressive building; so is the Mezquita in Cordoba, despite it having been vandalised by the catholic version of christianity after 1236.

It is worth remembering that these edifices, both large and small, were not built by educated and enlightened workers.

They may have been designed by educated members of the upper classes in those far-off days, but the men and women who got their hands dirty in the process, and died in large numbers during the construction, were largely poor and illiterate.

The workers were brought up to believe that the landowner, or clergyman, usually on a horse, always knew best.

They also had to earn a living in order to eat, and the house they lived in was probably owned by the local landowner or the church.

Feudal landowners in those days had a well thought out process for maintaining power and influence – the first son inherited the estate; the second went into the military, the third into the church.

This historical arrangement may be related to the political connection of more recent years that refers to the C of E as the conservative party at prayer. It worked well then, not so sure nowadays.

No doubt the C of E will get round to understanding discrimination against women is not good for business in the long run. However this maybe too late for it to change the current trend.

This suggests more and more people in Britain would prefer a secular society.

Findings from the 2011 census for England and Wales have revealed the number of people who say they are christian has dropped dramatically from 72 per cent to 59 per cent.

Tom Paine

West Wittering