Thursday, 8 June 2017
The Pilgrimage of St Mary Aldermary.
This will be a short article as I am not quite sure of what happened here.
I visited St Mary Aldermary originally for the coffee. The Church of England has a huge property portfolio and very few believers and I wanted to know how it was dealing with the problem.
I chose the City as it is very small and yet has around fifty churches- each of which is too beautiful to pull down and too expensive to maintain on the churches present income.
The Church of England answer is in running cafes and social enterprise ventures from its churches. This is sometimes mindlessly rejected by small 'c' conservatives but it is in fact a return to the medieval roots of these institutions. The Church of England also seeks to make each individual church as different from the other as possible. In this way they hope to widen the net a little and have a church for every taste.
This particular church became a monastic community and I was intrigued. Unfortunately they do not dress as 'proper' monks and I wish they did.
Moot is a new monastic community that aims to intelligently combine traditional patterns of service with a practical and non religious approach to the good life.
I came for an evening service that promised to be quite short and to end in the pub afterwards. The ideal way to have my questions answered!
I entered the church slightly early and wandered round admiring the building. I was spotted by one man with a black high collar shirt that I assumed to be a vicar. He was friendly in the usual Church of England way and yet he was also himself in a way that was not 'churchy' at all. I found myself enjoying a genuine conversation with him almost immediately. He told me that he believed the God of the old testament may be suffering from bipolar syndrome and suggested I join him for 'the Holy shit'.
This consisted of some meditative chanting designed to get monks off to a good nights sleep. I found it restful but nothing more.
Inevitably this service included the burning of candles for the latest Islamic terrorist attack. I was invited to pray for peace but internally I was shouting at God no! Do not give me peace!! Give me victory!!!