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Synodical Rhapsody - Eve's Commonplace
Synodical Rhapsody
One of the dubious pleasures of my PhD has been to read the proceedings and related papers for sessions of the Church of England’s General Synod since 1989. Having also attended some of these sessions, and indeed produced some of the papers there debated, it is an act of nostalgia to be reading back over the years to divine themes, trends and noteworthy shifts in emphasis. I think to the untrained eye reading Synod debates is even more tedious than reading Hansard, but instead I am struck with an overwhelming feeling of pride and gratitude. These debates have an inevitable tabloid flavour, with each speaker vying with the next to include an ever-more tear-jerking story about the plight of a ‘victim’ of whatever situation is under debate, but the stories serve to illustrate the genius of the presence of the parochial church, about which Tim Jenkins has so eloquently written. Speaker after speaker brings to the rarefied atmosphere of the chamber the colour, flavour, and often stench, of the Body of Christ internationally, refusing to let the neatness of bureaucracy or the cosiness of middle-class decision-making overcome this messy reality. I am doubly struck by the Archbishops, whose speeches bear witness to the uncomfortable, frightening and exciting reality of the Christian faith, and its relationship to the other great faiths and peoples of this travailing world, keeping Synod theologically grounded from the top down. Maybe it doesn’t make any difference whether or not the Synod passes a motion. Maybe it doesn’t make any difference whether the Met Office issues a weather forecast. But someone, somewhere, takes their umbrella, just in case, and uses it to shelter the old lady at the bus-stop.

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