Anglicanism... and Anglicanism Lite
Back in the 1980s, when Coca-Cola executives made the colossal blunder of changing their secret formula without adequately testing the market, the maladroit pairing of "new" and "classic" Coke prompted some whimsical musings from a writer at the Wall Street Journal, who made the light-hearted suggestion that Catholicism might try the same sort of marketing techniques. The Church might offer a "new" Catholicism, with guitars and liturgical dance, the writer suggested. Then keep the traditionalists happy with "classic" Catholicism: plenty of Latin and incense. Lackadaisical Catholics might enjoy "Catholicism Lite," and proponents of liberation theology would swing toward "Catholicism Free."
The Journal column was a joke, and a good one. (I'm sorry that the column appeared before the internet era, and I can't provide a link. Maybe some enterprising reader can help us?)
The Church of England, on the other hand-- permission to speak freely?-- risks becoming nothing more than a joke, and no longer even a good one. Believe me, I enjoy a joke, and my Anglican brothers have provided me with plenty over the years. But there's no fun to be had shooting fish in a barrel. Silly Anglicans, pompous Anglicans, fussy and illogical Anglicans: all of these have been legitimate objects of fun for Catholics since the time of Henry VIII. But utterly absurd Anglicans? Anglican leaders who make no pretense at logic? They're no fun at all, and I protest!
A full generation has passed since another wag, at National Review, observed that the remarkable thing about Anglican statements of faith was that they were couched in language so vague that no one, from Pope Paul VI to Mao Xedong, could say with any certainty that he disagreed. Now we've moved beyond that level of incongruity, approaching the limits of the absurd.
Today's headlines bring the news that the Archbishop of Canterbury foresees a two-track future for the Anglican communion. Anglicanism and Anglicanism Lite, so to speak. But the implied comparison with popular beverages does not hold up. Bud and Bud Lite are recognizably products of the same brewery. The tastes are similar; the marketing campaigns are coordinated. Consumers of each product are looking for the same thing: the taste of beer.
With the Anglican communion, on the other hand, the "consumers" of the two different types of Anglican religion are looking for radically different things. No; more than that: the two types of Anglicans want to eliminate each other! Since the difference is most evident on the question of homosexuality, we could say that one "track" envisioned by the Druid Archbishop sees homosexual unions as an abomination, while the other sees them as a sacrament.
An abomination, a sacrament. A toxin, an antitoxin. The Christ, the Antichrist. You can choose sides, and cheer for your favorite. But really, folks, don't claim to be on the same team. Or, if you must, don't ask me to take you seriously anymore.
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