Two important articles, highlighted here.
Is religion an emotion or an idea? I think Catholic Christianity is primarily an image harnessed to some sacred scripture that, as a unified complex, ends up conveying both. It strikes one, forcing both a feeling and a notion not heretofore considered seriously.
(I had to print out this particular constellation and bring it to class to illustrate (1) the very existence of the Lamentations of Jeremiah and (2) the fact that these utterances were typically applied to the Christ, two items of complete novelty to my very well-intentioned students.)
But if one of these has to take priority, it must be the latter: ideas must trump feelings. But in our time, things are completely 'bass ackwards'.
I wonder, if we are serious about attracting men to church, if the solution is ... to challenge them by teaching the rich ideas and contentious debates from the Christian tradition. Clearly there’s no shortage of important questions to be debated. Is human nature as corrupt as Calvin claimed? Is the will as free as Wesley taught? Is God as transcendent as Aquinas believed? Are the Law and the Gospel as separate as Luther wanted them to be? Is Christ as fully present in the Eucharist as Iranaeus argued?
What this looks like, of course, will vary from congregation to congregation. For some, it might mean more intellectually rigorous sermons on Sunday morning, while for others, more catechetical instruction during the week. The essence though, is this: meet people’s needs — including their need to be challenged intellectually — instead of merely seeking to fulfill their desires. Take their minds as seriously as you do their souls and their growth as seriously as you do their salvation.
But church leaders have, almost completely, chosen instead to fail utterly "to exercise their unique charism as teachers, and to teach candidates to the diaconate, the presbyterate, and the episcopate a humanistic, scientific, philosophical and theological education."
Perilously ignore this necessity and then couple this fatal lacuna with a bunch of bossy crones and the results are, I fear, something that "goes without saying." These high offices are now so degraded that no wonder Sassy Sally in the pew thinks "I could do that."
The Church of England tests my loyalty sorely. My local church clergy 'team' is almost entirely feminised. In my neck of the woods, there is literally no escaping them, or their dumbed down approach to their 'calling'. To a woman they appear to be labouring under the impression they are running a Sunday school. That is how we are treated.
With their predictable pudding basin haircuts these female clergy are, in my experience, particularly graceless. "Sit down", not please be seated, is how we are addressed at the start of the service. Forget any idea of starting with a priestly procession behind a cross or a choir.
Regard for any aspect of the liturgy and the conduct of the services is scant and bears virtually no relationship at all to the Book of Common Prayer. Sentences from the scriptures, collects, general confessions, or absolutions are rarity between the Christingles and all the other modern service forms. I sometimes wonder if they know the order of service at all. And when we are treated to this rarity, few of these lady priests seem capable of projecting their voices, let alone able to sing. Sacred music has all but disappeared.
No wonder the pews across England sit empty. We are no longer made to feel as though we are "Dearly beloved brethren...". This is, I am afraid, the very discouraging female face of the modern Church of England
Since I've already crossed the line, I will now recall an anecdote that I cannot at present locate:
An Anglo-Catholic priest, upon encountering a pamphlet entitled "The Place of Women in the Church," bristled and barked: "On their knees: praying and scrubbing! And there is plenty of room for both!"