Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 23 March 2022

Jane Shaw ViaMedia.News Gen Z, Authenticity and Religion

Fergus Butler-Gallie The Guardian Work of the devil? I think not. As a priest, I’m all for exotically tasty hot cross buns
“Marmite, mocha and blueberry: they may be commercially motivated, but they’re still a reminder of Easter’s importance”

Meg Munn Chair of the National Safeguarding Panel Safer Recruitment and People Management

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peter kettle
peter kettle
1 month ago

To pick up on one of Fergus’ points about hot cross buns: the Church is extremely lucky to have such visual publicity in shops and supermarkets all over the country! Does any other faith have a similar symbol expressed in his way?! Is there any way the Church can make use of it ‘missionally’ speaking?

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  peter kettle
1 month ago

Advent Calendars, Christmas cakes, pancakes and Easter eggs all serve to remind the unchurched masses about the Faith. Unfortunately they eat them without giving religion a moment’s thought.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  peter kettle
1 month ago

I don’t know how it is in the UK, but at Passover, every supermarket in the United States has an expanded kosher section, with matzoh and other “kosher-for-Passover” products.

peter kettle
peter kettle
Reply to  Pat ONeill
1 month ago

Thanks to both of you, but my point is that the cross on a bun is a specific Christian symbol central to the faith – that is why I wonder whether it could be used much more as a ‘missional’ tool in this context. The examples you both cite do not have such a fundamental or explicit connection.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  peter kettle
1 month ago

Or, and I know this is a crazy idea, let hot cross buns be a tasty pastry. And matzohs and “kosher-for-Passover” foods are specifically Jewish, to most people. Depending on which website one visits, England and/or the greater UK is between 53% and 59% Christian. Christians are free to practice their religion in England and the UK. Christianity is interwoven throughout English history. The government, I believe, is officially Christian, although at some point, Parliament has passed laws protecting freedom of religion for people of all faith or no faith. The British monarch is required to be Christian, or at… Read more »

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
1 month ago

Letting hot cross buns be a tasty pastry does seem a crazy idea in the British Isles. They are spiced buns, bread rolls with dried fruit and spices and a cross on the top. We woudn’t call that a pastry. I suppose from your post this is not the case across the ocean? The Queen, two days after her father died, swore to maintain the Protestant and Pesbyterian nature of the Church of Scotland. At the next opening of the UK Paliament she solemnly declared she is a faithful Protestant. At the Coronation she promised to maintain within the United… Read more »

Richard
Richard
Reply to  peter kettle
1 month ago

Many young people wear jewelry with a cross as part of the design. I imagine that to many of those who wear such jewelry, it’s just a design. Hot cross buns won’t be a missional tool any more than a necklace is.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Pat ONeill
1 month ago

Yep, and hot cross buns and other Easter foods are there for the same reason: They’re a seasonal food item that the grocer knows will be in greater demand.

Peter Misiaszek
Peter Misiaszek
1 month ago

I think connecting with Gen Z is a really tough slog. As a lay person deeply imbedded in church life, practice and employment, and the patient father of three teenage children, I can say that trying to engage with this generation of matters of faith is a challenge. It is not that they are avoiding conversations about God, and living a Christ-centred life, it’s that so much of what we see as normative practice, they dispute. Three challenges for us a church leaders involve regular worship, denominational identity, and inclusion. For my teens the time of worship – if they… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Peter Misiaszek
1 month ago

This is a sadly brilliant summary of the problem, Peter. The CofE is run by yesterday’s people for a present to which they are blind and for a future that they will not even try to imagine.

Last edited 1 month ago by Stanley Monkhouse
Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
1 month ago

Indeed. Comment of the year in my view. If the Church cannot make significant headway with this rising generation then it is through.

Ian Houghton
Ian Houghton
Reply to  Peter Misiaszek
1 month ago

We shouldn’t be looking to the Church as the solution when, in fact, it’s part of the problem. People, whether we describe them as Gen Z, 20s to 40s, UPA, rural or anything else are just that – people. Made in the image of God; body, mind and spirit; each knows the joys, sorrows and contingent experiences that life brings – and in which God is revealed. So for me the question becomes one of how to engage, and then how to dialogue with people in ways which make it possible for them also to begin to discover what we… Read more »

Peter Misiaszek
Peter Misiaszek
Reply to  Ian Houghton
1 month ago

I think we are all lamenting the death of the inherited church and the birth of something quite different. And I don’t know exactly what that is yet. 2040-2050 will be the decade of demise for the vast majority of Anglican churches in the West simply on the basis of demographics. What is is left – about 30% of the present manifestation in my diocese – will survive only because they’ve done something different to set it apparent from the ones that didn’t make it. The good news is that about 1/3rd of parishes have figured out how to remain… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

Absolutely fascinating article by Jane Shaw, with lots to ponder. I will definitely get and read the book. Things I noted: The need to ‘start from scratch’, and the disquieting thought that you have to know an awful lot in order to participate intelligently in an Anglican service. Hence the need for spaces where people can start from the beginning. The way online and offline life is integrated – I have seen this even in my children who are much older than the GenZ group. While the older generation in the church debate the legitimacy of online worship, many GenZers… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Tim Chesterton
Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

I question the idea that “you have to know an awful lot in order to participate intelligently in an Anglican service”. That is true, I think, only if the presider or the parish (or both) are unwilling to welcome and assist newcomers by providing some fairly easy instruction with an order of service booklet that includes instructions on when to stand, when to sit, when to kneel (what we call “pew aerobics” in my parish), how and when to approach to receive the Eucharist, etc. Actually, come to think of it, you don’t even need a printed order of service… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Pat ONeill
1 month ago

Pat, you are talking about ‘participation’, not ‘intelligent participation.’ I’ll give you one example of what I mean. The entire lectionary system assumes you already know the general layout of the Bible. In the season after Epiphany, for example, we read 1 Corinthians, but it’s split over the three years, so even if you come every week, for two of the years you’re still starting in the middle of the letter. Listening to the readings intelligently requires that you know what an epistle is, who Paul was, what the psalms are, who ‘He’ is at the beginning of a gospel… Read more »

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

OK, a couple of things. In our parish, we don’t announce the reading of the Epistle as such; it is, “A reading from Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth” (or whichever letter is being read). I presume we all know what a letter is. As for the psalms, I’m pretty sure even the least of the religiously literate among us know of the 23rd Psalm and therefore have some notion of them as a form of poetry. And, again, in our weekly order of service, the full text of each reading is provided to the congregation and (to my… Read more »

Alastair
Alastair
Reply to  Pat ONeill
1 month ago

Pat
While many people have basic literacy, may I suggest you are mistaken if you think everyone understands how such words are connected in a service or the meanings of them?

Daniel Lamont
Daniel Lamont
Reply to  Alastair
1 month ago

I agree, Alastair. You are on the ball. Pat is making a whole series of assumptions, at least in a UK context. I am sure that many literate people under the age of 50 do not know of the 23rd Psalm. People may or may not know what a letter is (though for many it is an obsolete form of communication) but Paul’s Epistles are a particular kind of letter and are only fully comprehensible if you understand the context. Fifteen years ago, I found teaching, say Donne’s religious poetry, very difficult because the concepts were incomprehensible, not just unfamiliar,… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Daniel Lamont
1 month ago

Exactly!

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Pat ONeill
1 month ago

Pat: I think you have a very unrealistic idea about just how religiously illiterate the average unchurched person is (through no fault of their own). Over and over again, with newcomers to my church, people have been very surprised when I have shared with them that the psalms are ancient Hebrew poems and prayers passed down through Jewish and Christian history. And I know lots of people under 30 who don’t know the 23rd Psalm, let alone what a psalm is. I know this, because I often write songs based on the psalms and take them to my local songwriter… Read more »

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

Perhaps we have reached in this discussion a major difference between the UK and the US; the US remains a far more religiously active population (for good and bad, unfortunately) than the UK.

Religion remains a topic of discussion on our Sunday morning political shows, for instance, and religion often plays a part in even our entertainment–not just on the US equivalents of “Vicar of Dibley,” but also on our cop shows and legal shows and sit-coms.

A lack of religious awareness in the US would leave you out of the common discourse much of the time.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Pat ONeill
1 month ago

Good point, and I wouldn’t like to comment on the US. The only thing I have to add is that Canada is far more like the UK than the US on this issue.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

Perhaps a consequence of so much of the American founding story being tied to religion in one way or the other….right into the mid-19th century with the “exodus” story of the Mormons.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

Agreed, Jane Shaw’s article is excellent. What brought it home to me was when my nephew told me he had moved house, including one house sale, one house purchase, all associated administration, including sorting out the mortgage changes, solely on his mobile phone, sending pdf documents as attachments to WhattsApp messages. And whilst he can do that we received our faculty last week for rebuilding our church clock. The faculty was a nice piece of high quality paper with a wax seal attached, and signed by a high court judge. Apparently Salisbury Diocese is a bit short of cash, but… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Simon Dawson
Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 month ago

Isn’t Ruth Arlow Salisbury Diocesan Chancellor? She isn’t a High Court Judge, although Chancellors do have the handle ‘Worshipful’. Maybe there is some extraordinary circumstance to your church clock but I would be surprised if a High Court Judge was involved. Sorry to be pedantic, but this is also relevant to the other current thread about correct clerical address. The media, including the BBC, frequently get it equally wrong about the judiciary.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

Sorry, my mistake, this is what I was told at the PCC, and thanks for the correction.

But I still stand by the point about the costly and inefficient process.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 month ago

Electronic conveyancing has been around for some time, and it largely depends on having a national Land Registry database with individually numbered and identifiable titles – although, as it happens, I have a house which I purchased before registration was compulsory (in Hampshire) and thus not registered. Almost everything in the faculty procedure is a one-off. It’s not comparable. I agree the sealing wax could be dispensed with, and largely has been in the rest of the legal world.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 month ago

Second reply: Well, I was also partly mistaken, and should have known better having seen online faculty applications. The C of E website sets out how this can be done, but I guess it’s still possible to do it in the old-fashioned way as well. I think there must have been something special about your clock. Some work on clocks is exempt from faculty requirements, as I discovered on renewing acquaintance with lists A and B in connection with the arguments about the Rustat memorial at Cambridge.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 month ago

I was rather surprised to see your comments about the lack of computerisation at Salisbury Diocese faculty system. A quick look at the website shows it has an online faculty system, as I think every diocese does now.

The world of legal documents is a mystery to me but I expect the faculty paper when approved came from the Registrar – in other words the solicitors who act as the ‘check & balance’ in this – not the actual diocese.

Daniel Lamont
Daniel Lamont
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

I have read the book and found it by turns fascinating, illuminating and disturbing as I realised that, as a nearly 80 year old, there is great gulf fixed between GenZ and mine. I last taught an undergraduate class in 2008 and even then I felt that the differences between us were begining to make it difficult to be an effective teacher. The book is excellent and I recommend it.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Daniel Lamont
1 month ago

A few years ago a Mennonite friend and I were trying to arrange some workshops in our city for people who were interested in discussing issues around Christian pacifism. We consulted my daughter (who was then about thirty). She said to me, “Dad, you’re doing it the wrong way around. My generation starts the conversation on social media, and then, if it gets really interesting, organizes a face-to-face meetup to take it further.”

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

Did you inquire of your daughter where and how on social media such a discussion is begun? How the potentially interested are contacted to participate?

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Pat ONeill
1 month ago

Pat – in my experience it happens two ways.

  1. Informally – a group of people who are already connected on social media start having a conversation about something. After a while etc. etc.
  2. Formally – I share a topic on our parish Facebook page or on my own social media pages, and invite people not only to join in but also to share it on their own social media pages and invite their friends. After a while etc. etc.
Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

Either way, you only reach people who in some way are already involved in a discussion; you’re not reaching anyone who isn’t aware there’s a discussion to be had.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Pat ONeill
1 month ago

That depends how many Facebook friends you have. My parish list has about 240 people on it (all ages included), but 445 people are currently following our Facebook page.

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