and not content

Personal commendation is the best form of advertising and in todayís crowded market all the Churches quote their own endorsements.

As part of the Establishment the Church of England has always been good at bringing its own to the fore. Public figures have become Anglicans without ever knowing it.

Senior churchmen will claim Charles Dickens as one of our own. An artist of international standing. Not much of a churchgoer, but then we donít really care for dull pew fodder. Dickens celebrated goodness and the Supreme Being, so put him down as CofE.

Then remember Darwin, last yearís celebrity. He too is very distinguished. He frequently went to church, even if he didnít go inside the building. He agonized about belief. So, of course, put him down as CofE (hons).

And what about todayís leading figures? Surely Richard Dawkins must be pressed into service. Heís an Oxford professor so he could be a Canon of Christ Church. He talks a lot about God. He engages with the issues. Surely he should be down as one of us.

Of course, he doesnít believe in God, but isnít this just a Fresh Expression, a new way of being church which we should learn from rather than doing nothing and being negative from the sidelines (though a former Scottish Primus might question Dawkinsí novelty)?

Does Richard Dawkins know what danger he stands in? The chill embrace of the Anglican Establishment waits around the corner to damp his atheistical fires and claim him as her own. In the world of personal endorsement the CofE knows itís not what you believe but how famous you are that counts.

Josh Butler ND

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