Even now, in vestries, parish halls and pubs, small groups of interested parties are weighing up the options and making pronouncements about the need for one churchmanship to prevail over another. We must get 'our man' in.
The papers will pit imagined candidates against each other, taking bets on possible outcomes and painting things in broad brush strokes for easy identification - 'Catholic', 'Liberal' or 'Evangelical' - terms which are at best only understood by select church people and at worst, properly understood by nobody.
So in an attempt to clarify, or you may say, muddy the waters still further, here is:
The Idiots' guide to Anglican Churchmanship - the three main types, the highs, the lows, the complications and the mix ups.
Highs: Incense. Barring a really sore throat, I'm all for it. Why not use all your senses in worship? The sense of smell is the only one of the five sense directly linked to the emotional control centre of the brain. Which explains why I suddenly thought the presence of God had come upon me while watching my son play football the other day. In a garden nearby someone was burning fresh apple wood - it just smelt like divine worship.
Lows: Unhealthy interest in arcane nomenclature of ecclesiastical vestments. To cotta or not to cotta? That is (apparently) the question.
Grown men in lace......................................enough said.
Highs: Permission to use your brain.
In other disciplines the word 'liberal' has a proud pedigree - it means freedom after all - so why is it such a dirty word among some? I've concluded that it's a 'good' word in direct proportion to to the extent to which you perceive yourself to be in a minority, or in a group that in some way has been historically restricted. So 'liberal' has always been good news for women who feel called to Ordination. This fact alone complicates churchmanship considerably.
Lows: A kind of scrupulousness and over-sensitivity about the more extreme and invigorating expressions of worship. The liberal middle ground can feel a bit safe. There's a jumpiness about intense Anglo-Catholic passions on the one hand, and on the other, a nervousness about heartfelt evangelical/charismatic songs which contain any hint of penal substitutionary atonement, the wrath of God, the certainty of faith, Christian truimph(alism) and Jesus being 'altogether lovely.' Apologies if occasionally us more enthusiastic types just want to jump up and down and punch the air and shout 'Our God is AmAzing, yeh!!!!!' - it must be terribly embarrassing for you.
Highs: They can find books of the bible (even quote great chunks of it) without resorting to the index.
Lows: A bit wordy. You can feel like you have digested a lot of the same sort of food after 15 years of 35 minute sermons on the cross. Yes, yes, we all know Jesus died for our sins but what about mounting country-wide concerns about gross financial inequality/global warming/rubbish conceptual art/Britain's Got Talent?
Can you actually get Charismatic Anglicans?
Two word answer: New+Wine.http://www.new-wine.org/
Lows: A lot of the tunes are too high for ordinary people to sing: it goes back to the incense thing - after a while you just get a sore throat.
The Emerging Church
This is a biggie and complicates
everything still further.
Where else would you find 1970s former charismatics rubbing alongside LGBT campaigner, Peter Tatchell; Franciscan priest, Richard Rohr; Chaplain to the House of Commons, Revd. Rose Hudson Wilkin and sacramental Fresh Expressions? (plus an awful lot of Anglican clerics going around incognito, eating vegetarian falafel pittas.)
The edges are blurring...I even went to an Anglo-Catholic Charismatic conference in Hertfordshire last year - Benediction of the blessed sacrament with people lying all over the floor, 'slain in the Spirit.' Loved it. Came back very confused.
All of which is to say that eating just the pink liquorice all sorts, or just the black ones, or sticking rigidly to the stripy ones, can be a bit boring (OR sensibly safe - after all you know you like those ones, you've always liked those ones and you know where you stand with those ones...)
And is variety always a good thing? I'm a big fan of a well organised supermarket but sometimes I get bamboozled by all the choice.
Have you ever felt the need to vary your diet/restrict it a bit more for simplicity? Does anyone out there want to ditch labels and get on with just serving one another in Christ? Or is that hopelessly naive, even dangerous to the true expression of the gospel/Church undivided?
Over to you.