Why I Could Never Be: Anglican

Church of EnglandI was over on Challies.com the other day, sifting through the Jeeby drivel, when I noticed a post by Tim Challies called, “Why I am not…“. I quickly put down my grape Nehi, clicked the link and I was all, “now, hold on just one god dang minute!” The post was outlining a series Tim is going to embark on writing. A series about why he is not atheist, Muslim, etc. A series I had been thinking of writing myself before I saw this post! Granted, Tim and I would likely have vastly different approaches to writing such a series, me being an utter goof, and him being of a more serious persuasion, but the idea was similar. Timski did get to posting first, though, so I hand the flame to him. Tell us why you’re not all of the things you’re not, Tim and tell us good.

I intend still, to write this series, but it’s going to be about why I could never be something or other. Why I could never be Catholic or Muslim or a man, or a Steelers fan or Norwegian or… well, maybe I’ll just stick with religions for now. In any case, you clever fuck, you get the idea.

Today, I’m going to tell you why I could never be an Anglican.

There was a song we used to sing back in eighth grade social studies (history to those of you who don’t bleed maple syrup). It went like this:

I’m ‘Enery the Eighth, I am,
‘Enery the Eighth I am, I am!
I got married to the widow next door,
She’s been married seven times before
And every one was an ‘Enery
She wouldn’t have a Willie nor a Sam
I’m her eighth old man named ‘Enery
‘Enery the Eighth, I am!

My best friend dressed up as the serial-husband-King and sang this in front the class with a whole lot of arm swinging. It was over. We all had it stuck so damned stubbornly, we feared we’d have to return to Popsicle by The New Kids On The Block just to get ‘Enery out of our fucking heads.

GM aside: I now have both songs trying to cancel each other out in my head. *tops up grape Nehi with Jager*

As you know, Henry the eighth had a marriage fetish. He loved getting married, but he didn’t like the idea of polygamy, so he also loved the idea of divorce or annulment. It was 1530-ish when Henry was married to the homely Catherine of Aragon. She couldn’t give Henry a son, so he wanted the marriage annulled. He demanded an annulment from the Pope, but was denied. This prompted Henry to split the Church of England from the Catholic Church. He announced that the new leader of the Church in England would be the king. This split with the Papacy swirled around the central idea that kings had a divine right; that they were subordinate only to God himself, who blessed them with the right to rule. There is every reason to believe Henry would have split the church from the Vatican regardless of his marital status, however, this is how it happened. The catalyst for the Church of England’s split from the Catholic Church was the dissolution of a marriage.

In essence, the Church of England is the church of divorce.

While I see no need to be all sentimental about marriage and sharing your relationship with the state, it’s not exactly a selling point that the Church of England’s entire reason for independence was to grant divorces. Well, that and to bestow a divine right upon kings so obviously not worthy of any such thing.

“I belong to the church of divorce and magic crowns.”

Yeah, no thanks. I’m good.

Henry went on to marry six wives and banish or behead them when was finished with them. He stuck his divining rod into just about anything that walked, talked and wore a petticoat. This was the first true leader of the Church of England. This man supposedly had an audience with the God who had bestowed divine right onto him. A god who, apparently, took no issue with Henry repeatedly destroying his family, murdering and punishing his wives and using his power to bed as many ladies as his body could handle.

You know me, kids, I am all about getting your freak on as much as one needs to, but do it honestly. Don’t cheat on someone who is expecting you to be faithful, right? No reason we need to hurt each other with our sex. You know, unless you like that sort of thing. I don’t have a problem with open relationships, polyamory or even consensual polygamy. But Henry was doing none of those things. When he wasn’t killing his wives, he was certainly destroying them in other ways. All under the watchful and approving eye of the god of the Church of England.

This is not a god worthy of my worship. It’s not a god worthy of any respect. A god I’d have any chance of getting along with, wouldn’t offer beheading as a solution to anything.

While I know that since these times, the Anglican Church has expanded beyond the Church of England, this is all part of its roots. I have too much respect for people, their lives and their loves to worship at an altar made of murder and deceit. These are the main reasons I could never be an Anglican.

Those and the fact that I don’t fucking believe in God.

Were you an Anglican? Could you ever see yourself being one? Why? Let me know in the comments.

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  • Chris R.

    As a former fully confirmed member of the Anglican church, we should thank old ‘Enry as an unforseen side effect of his drive to have a son & heir, we have a open quite secular democracy, that help give rise to wonderful nations like Canada, imagine if the catholics had kept power or even worse the Puritans had landed in Canada. We certainly wouldn’t be as open as we are about our disbelief of religitard balderdash. Long live secular humanism ,Bollocks to religion.

  • Colin Fairweather

    Hi there. I’m an Anglican priest, and quite flattered that you are giving the Anglican communion a hard time. In defence, I guess I can only say that Anglicanism as an institution, a range of theologies and a way of being Christian doesn’t really have any bearing on the historical circumstances of its origin. (Should pacifists refuse to use microwave ovens because they were first devised as military weapons?)

    It was only a couple of decades ago that Anglicanism developed any leeway in its divorce policy, so the idea that we’ve been a divorce-happy institution for hundreds of years simply isn’t true. In all my years of being an Anglican, both lay and ordained, I can’t remember Henry VIII ever been held up as an ecclesiastical or theological point of reference.

    Henry didn’t have a Protestant bone in his body – he was interested only in asserting political autonomy from Rome and being ’emperor’. Anglicanism only really came into its own in the reign of Elizabeth, when people like Richard Hooker sought to synthesise Catholic and Reformed elements together in a single church. I suggest if you want to bash Anglicanism, go for the line that it is wishy-washy, compromising, all-things-to-all-men, and can’t make up its mind what it is. This is guaranteed to touch a nerve far more than the whole Henry VIII thing.

    Of course, Henry VIII was an awful being, as are we all. Churches are human institutions, and as such, fallible. I guess you would argue that awful people must witness to an awful God, and that’s fair enough. I would argue that God isn’t answerable for human wickedness, doesn’t approve of it, even (or especially!) in His church, and can work to bring about His kingdom despite this. Mind you, I’m a Christian and an Anglican too, so I would say that, wouldn’t I?

    Carry on fighting the good fight.