Tuesday, June 27, 2017

What does a member of the ACC say after you say hello?

I'm very, very introverted. I actually find speaking to people a bit of an ordeal at times, and making small talk is a bit of a tricky thing. Thankfully, I'm not alone: more and more people are coming out of the woodwork to declare their introversion proudly before scuttling back under the skirting board amidst a plethora of profuse apologies. Yet, in my new situation, I do have to make new friends and this includes explaining who I am as a member of the ACC.

That's a really tricky thing. I've mentioned the need before about how we need to explain ourselves however, it's not that easy, particularly with members of the CofE, or nominal members thereof.

When I am asked, I do try and say, "I'm not Church of England, nor am I Roman Catholic." I have to make that point straightaway. In the past, there have been members of the ACC who have deliberately confused people into thinking that they are Roman Catholic. Thankfully, that element has left the ACC and now pretends to be Roman Catholic in a whole group of ecclesiarchs pretending to be Roman Catholic. The ACC doesn't need to pretend to be either Church of England or Roman Catholic: it has its own identity, even if people don't understand that.

Of course, the major problem is that, in small talk, people just don't want to hear a potted history of the ACC, nor do I feel comfortable giving it. I do want to steer people away from the notion that we might be a protest group, breaking away from the Anglican Communion because of *insert heresy here*. If we define ourselves negatively like some independent groups of Anglican order, then people are going to get the idea that we are obsessed with sex and gender. Yes, we have to speak the truth in love. However, I've seen so many Continuing Anglicans speak the truth in sarcasm to the extent that people are going to see a group of people defined negatively. Speaking the truth in love means focussing on the object of that love, seeing where they stand and speaking directly to them, rather than at them.

So what do I say?

Here goes nothing...

Them: "Hello!"
Me: "Hello!"
Them: "Are you at St X's?"
Me: "No. I'm not Church of England. I'm not Roman Catholic, either."
Them: "Oh"

At this point, people usually walk off, probably of the opinion that I'm a barking mad, independent protestant minister seeking to convert the town into some crazy cultish antics. Not much I can do about that. I don't want to appear pushy otherwise I risk actually being a religious nut, pushing people away from the Lord, rather than inviting them to meet Him. However, what happens if the conversation actually continues?

Them: "So what are you then? Baptist? Methodist?"
Me: "I'm an Anglican Catholic."
Them: "Anglo-Catholic? I thought you weren't part of the Church of England."
Me: "I'm not. Anglican Catholic means that we have the best of both Churches, yet we're independent of both of them."

At this point, they will have walked off. Of course, I could say:

"I'm not. Being Anglican Catholic means that we're free to seek the original Christianity in Britain."


"I'm not. Anglican Catholics are English Catholics as opposed to Roman Catholics."


"I'm not. Anglican Catholicism is as old as Christianity here in the U.K, and that predates both the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England. We're only new in terms of organisation."

Again, nothing there to stop people from walking away, but these are a few ice-breakers which, I hope, at least show that we have some substance. We can't ever really get away from the question of why we're not CofE or Roman Catholic, but we should shift the focus onto who we are is better than constantly saying what we're not. The key thing, of course, is to be a human being and allow conversations to flow naturally rather than enter into a predetermined course of preconditioned sentences.

However, it is also worth knowing that members of the CofE are very antipathetic to extra-mural Anglicans now. Following the Jesmond Incursion and statements by GAFCON that they intend to remain in communion with Canterbury whilst consecrating bishops in Scotland mean that Anglican Catholics are going to struggle to have their voices heard above arguments between larger bodies. That's not entirely fair, but then the ACC and the CofE haven't exactly been best buddies. Indeed, I know that you will read some hard statements from me about the state of the Anglican Communion and why I am proud to be Anglican Catholic.

If we truly do speak the truth in love, then we will be listening to each other. The ACC needs to understand how petulant it sounds and how people perceive our stance to be isolationist. That's because they haven't lived what we've been through, that we have been burned on many occasion and suffered from the machinations of those with a lack of sincerity complemented with a surfeit of personal agenda. Likewise, the CofE needs to understand that its actions have wounded the Church and that tarring anyone who isn't liberal with a whole host of pejoratives merely makes us dig our feet in more.

We in the ACC may be stubborn and backward looking. We actually take that as a compliment! Accuse us of schism, misogyny and homophobia, and then we will be having a very awkward conversation indeed, and it won't be small talk!

Nonetheless, what an ACC member says after you say, "hello!" should always be, "hello! How are you?" and then let the conversation commence in whatever direction it needs to take.

1 comment:

Fr Anthony said...

Nice little article. The tendency is to launch into some way of justifying ourselves, when all the other person wants is small talk and could not care less about any Church or issue that interests us "specialists". You have reflected about this well. I tend to say something like "independent church of Anglican tradition", though all these words are emotionally loaded for the "neurotypical". We really perhaps need to return to the "disciplina arcani" as when Christians were still being fed to the lions or send to row the Emperor's galleys or work in the salt mines.

Brush up on your meteorology for fruitful small-talk conversations!