I tackled a man of the cloth”€”though Russian Orthodox, not Anglican”€”on this empirical point. He: “Why, we have Mary’s word for it. The Mother of God could hardly be lying to us, could she?” Sometimes the clergy are not very helpful.

All that remains of my marriage of convenience”€”or habit, sentimentality, and civilizational solidarity”€”with Christianity is the monthly diocesan newsletter they still send me. I didn”€™t bother with it much when attending church, yet now I read the whole thing with an anthropological fascination. Here is a report from St. Cuthbert’s Episcopal Church in the nearby town of Selden:

An interesting annual event is the Blessing of Automobiles. As in annual blessing of fleets in seashore communities, the blessing of automobiles involves prayer for the safety of the drivers. Additionally it raises the profile of St. Cuthbert’s….

I was once shown a book”€”one of the Gospels, it was”€”that had belonged to St. Cuthbert. The saint died in 687 A.D. after a life devoted to God’s service. The book survived somehow, ending up at Stonyhurst College’s library in northern England. I was teaching at a school nearby and accompanied a rugby team to play at Stonyhurst. The school gave me a dinner and showed me around the library.

A book, a Gospel, nearly (at that time) 1,300 years old. How many books were in England in the seventh century? Now they are blessing automobiles in the guy’s name on a continent he never dreamed of.

Continuities, civilizational foundations, personal recollections. Did I fret too much about the Creed? I was an Anglican, after all. They don’t insist on your actually believing anything. Sir Martin Rees, a British astronomer, told Richard Dawkins that he attended church “as an unbelieving Anglican…out of loyalty to the tribe.”

That’s my tribe, too. Perhaps I’ll drop in at St. John’s one Sunday.

 



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