Review of 'Church of England
The State It's In' by Monica Furlong

Book CoverHere are some quotes and notes taken from "The C of E: The State It's In" by Monica Furlong (2000). This book is a history of the Church of England, its foundation, the endless conflicts between itself and other Christians and eventually of its final establishment with England, and then about its modern decline in the face of secularism. It also explains the structure of the Church of England and the conflicts within it.

I agree with Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Runcie who describes this book thusly: "The best book on the C of E that I have read for years"

First published in GB in 2000 by Stoughton. All quotes taken from the paperback first edition, 2000.

Opening words: "I belong to a church [Holy Trinity Church] in SE London that was burned down in an arson attack in October 1993"

"The sight of a fireball shooting along its roof, branded people's memories. The church lost roof, floor, windows, seating and nearly all its contents. What was left was a badly charred stone shell, a blackened ruin"

It occurred "after the departure of the previous Vicar and before a new one had been appointed. The new Vicar, Tony Rutherford, came..."

Introduction p1:
"The Church of England is between a rock and a hard place, and there are bitter pills to be swallowed. The most painful fact with which it has to deal (along with other churches) is the all-round drop in numbers: churchgoers, those on the electoral roles, numbers of baptisms, confirmation, church weddings - all have dropped steadily since the 1930s, with consequential loss both or morals and of income. Much is made of the increase in the numbers of ordinands (those training for the priesthood), but this, the only good news on the table at the time of writing, seems an odd criterion of renewed life - many chiefs and few Indians will scarcely solve the problem."

  • Used on Religion in the United Kingdom: Diversity, Trends and Decline

    Introduction p3:
    "Children who do not come from churchgoing homes - as I did not - now grow up largely ignorant of Christian ideas in a way unimaginable half a century ago. [...] The comments about religion by journalists in the press and on television [...] suggest that even the basic Christian ideas are no longer understood by university-educated people, still less by others. Indeed even churchgoers can reveal an ignorance of the main elements of Christian belief."

  • Used on Religion in the United Kingdom: Diversity, Trends and Decline

    "Gerald Arbuckle, a member of a Roman Catholic religious order, writing with feeling about the struggles in his own church, has coined the useful phrase "loyal dissent". Dissent, says Arbuckle, is vital for a living church since it 'proposes alternatives' and it is only by looking at alternatives that a body can evolve creatively"

  • Used on: The Satanic Community: Expect Disagreements Between Satanists

    "[During the reformation] One of the most striking changes of thought occurred in the attitude to the dead. 'Funerals in late medieval England... were intensely concerned with the notion of community [...] in which living and dead were not separated, in which the bonds of affection, duty and blood continued to bind... The dead [...] remained part of the communities they had once lived in'. [...] Now these ideas changed. The evangelicals were uncomfortable with any suggestion that the prayers of the living 'might affect any change in the state of the dead' and while the first Prayer Book allowed for prayer for them, the second ruled this out. 'In the world of the 1552 book the dead were no longer with us'
    [MacCulloch states] For modern Western Christians [the Eucharist] is primarily the service of the living, when those who love the Lord gather to give thanks, to make offering and to celebrate with him. For the late medieval Church, the mass had become as much something for the dead as for the living; it had broken down the barrier between life and death in a very particular, concrete sense. Behind the crowds of the faithful in a medieval parish church jostled invisible crowds, the crowds of the dead. And they crowded in because the Church maintained a model of the afterlife in which the mass could speed the souls of the faithful departed through purgatory. A gigantic consumer demand of the dead fuelled the services of the Church"

    Earlier, author states that the after death insurance policies that were guaranteed to speed you through purgatory were expensive to the populace.

    "Behind the repudiation of the ceremonial by the reformers lay a radically different conceptual world, a world in which text was everything, sign nothing. [...] It would take centuries for the Church of England to acknowledge and try to recover what it had lost [...]. In its place text ('the word') became in its own way a different sort of worshipped image, one which sometimes excluded feeling and the deep movements of the unconscious mind which ritual had faithfully fed. It is not, of course, that poetry or powerful preaching cannot express feeling, but that part of our human consciousness is pre-literate, both historically and in our personal childhood experience, and the whole of our experience cannot necessarily be captured by words. It may be important to lay wordless experiences alongside the wordy ones, as in music, colour, form, movement and smell."

  • Used on People Need Dogma

    "In 1967 the Homosexual Law Reform Act was passed, not without resistance from the churches"

  • Used on The Battle Between Monotheism and Homosexuality: Religious Prejudice Versus Equality

    "The turn of the century has seen a decline in the numbers of clergy, though there has been a recent small upturn. By the year 2000 the Church will have around a thousand less clergy than it had in 1980 - around ten thousand."

  • Used on Religion in the United Kingdom: Diversity, Trends and Decline

    "A report on youth published for the General Synod Board of Education in 1996, which says that 'the total Sunday attendance at Anglican Churches amongst 14- to 17-year-olds is 60,739', a drop of 34.9 per cent since 1987. [...] If the same rate continues to apply, there may be no young people at all in the Church in twenty years time. The report goes on to say that this does not just apply to church services - a similar drop has also been observed in church organisations."

  • Used on Religion in the United Kingdom: Diversity, Trends and Decline

    "In 1994 there were 86,000 weddings in Church of England churches - a third of all weddings. [...] In 1984 [...] there were 111,248 marriages."

  • Used on Religion in the United Kingdom: Diversity, Trends and Decline

    "In the twenty years between 1980 and 2000 the Church of England suffered a 27 per cent decline in church membership. The Roman Catholic Church suffered a similar decline in the same period in mass attendance. Methodists, Baptists and others suffered decline too, though in all the churches, it must be said, there have been significant successes in certain churches and particular enterprises. The only institutional church which has continued to grow has been the Orthodox Church - Greek and Russian - where demand for churches exceeds supply, mainly because of immigration from Orthodox countries."

    "There is a rather touching footnote to all this, which is that people questioned about how much they go to church, give figures which, if true, would add up to twice those given by the churches."

  • Used on Religion in the United Kingdom: Diversity, Trends and Decline

  • Referenced on Religious Stats

    "'Catholics', the largest group, estimated to number about a million by the year 2000 are declining the fastest, but what demands notice is that charismatic Evangelicals, still one of the smaller groups in the Church, are growing rapidly - by around 6,000 every five years. Evangelical Christians, according to the nomenclature of Religious Trends, are also growing and moving up towards the half million mark. These last two groups are undeniably success stories numerically."

  • Used on Religion in the United Kingdom: Diversity, Trends and Decline

    "God in the Genes
    A BBC television series on twins in July 1999 produced some interesting evidence from the huge research project on twins by Dr Bourchard of the University of Minnesota. [...] The twins, now grown up had identical genes but had had different upbringings, often strikingly so in terms of class, wealth and education. In spite of separation, and different nurture, the life resemblances were shown to be extraordinary. [...] One of the most interesting findings was that both twins either were or were not religious, which Bouchard felt was a strong, if not conclusive, argument for the fact that 'being religious' has a genetic component.

    If this is the case one must assume that in the 'ages of faith' when virtually everyone claimed Christian allegiance, some simply went along with it and picked up the universal jargon, rather as an unmusical child in a musical family could scarcely fail to learn the musical vocabulary even if untouched by music at a deeper level.

    Yet it seems as if we now have the opposite situation - that of living in a society in which the practice of religion [...] seems to matter little, which poses problems for those who have a religious gene."

  • Used on The Causes of Satanism and other Alternative New Religious Movements

    "When [...] is the Church going to have the courage to celebrate the creativity of its homosexual members, who are more discriminated against than black people or women? For those gay people who wish to be ordained there is only one way to get through the initial interviews, and that is the humiliating one of keeping their sexuality concealed. [...] It is painfully easy to remain in the closet ever afterwards, thinking that at some future date there will be an opportunity to come clean, only the day never comes. The Church, of course, encourages this silence. A description of a nervous breakdown, Jim Cotter's book Brainsquall, reveals what a terrible price gay clergy have been required to pay for such a double standard.
    Sometimes it seems as if the Church is almost the only body left which cannot deal with homosexuality. It is possible to get elected for Parliament as an openly gay man or woman, possible to be made a cabinet minister, possible for many eminent people to be quite straightforward about living with another man or woman. [...]

  • Used on The Battle Between Monotheism and Homosexuality: Religious Prejudice Versus Equality

    "Change, of course, is inevitable. Just as the change of the status of women in society pushed the hand of the Church to ordain women; just as the change of the status of black people in Britain makes it imperative that they are seen as full members of the Church with their own distinctive contribution; just as the change in marital habits makes churches accepting of second marriages, so change in this field [homosexuality] too is inevitable. Maybe not this year or next year, but before too long, the Church is going to have to get up its nerve (and it is not in a bold frame of mind) and accord homosexuals full status within the Church, because, like black or women, they are increasingly refusing the meek and silent status enforced upon them."

  • Used on The Battle Between Monotheism and Homosexuality: Religious Prejudice Versus Equality

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    Furlong, Monica
    (2000) The C of E: The State It's In. First published in GB in 2000 by Stoughton. All quotes taken from the paperback first edition, 2000. [Book Review]

    © 2015 Vexen Crabtree. All rights reserved.