Remember when I used to blog here?
These recent months have been such that I haven’t felt the desire to keep up the usual rate of blogging fluff, nor have I wanted to blog about what’s been going on until arriving at some degree of peace. Which I do believe I have now found, though there’s no gentle way to ease into the present state of affairs.
So, here goes: I’m an Anglican now.
Shortly after Easter I realized that I needed to be very honest with myself about what I believed in and why, that if I did not attempt this, I would run the risk of losing my faith altogether. I hadn’t overcome the crises I thought I had. Christianity was becoming something external to me – a set of rules to be obeyed, an aesthetic vision to be admired, etc. My relationship with my Church had become one of mistrust and resentment, fueled more by a lingering sense of obligation than anything else. Something needed to happen; I couldn’t live in this sort of despair.
Long story short, after much prayer, reading and histrionics, I gradually came to the conclusion that I needed to let Rome go, that my faith needed to undergo its own reformation, as it were, if it was to survive. And I wanted it to survive, I didn’t want it to end like this.
Let’s be real: the gay stuff plays a part of this. I haven’t really been able to agree with the magisterial teaching on it for some time (or, perhaps more precisely, I’ve come to disagree with the anthropology behind its teachings here) – I mean not in the sense that I don’t like it, but in that I think it wrong and untenable. Some time ago, I asked myself to imagine myself meeting a woman I was 100% compatible with (something which I still consider rather unlikely) and going off to have a perfect marriage with her; would I stop being so bothered by the issue if I could escape it? The answer, so far as I could tell, was no: it still seemed like something would be wrong, that there were principles at stake beyond my own happiness or lack thereof. So being able to wrestle with this in a communion where there is more hermeneutical wiggle room is appealing. Nevertheless if it was just one localized moral issue, I might have stayed and tried to square the circle.
But it went in tandem with more general doubts about authority and doctrine that needed to be addressed, because I had lost that faith which enabled me to trust the Church as a teacher. Inertia and sentimental attachment had run their course, and were simply not enough fuel for the obedience required of me – it is immoral to submit to an authority you do not believe you have good reason to trust, even if this is well-intentioned. At the same time, I also feared slipping into a sort of relativism to justify where I was, another movement which more or less just boils down to the abdication of responsibility. I needed to approach my faith with intellectual rigor once again if I was to stop the rot.
All this brought me to grapple with the ideas of the Reformation. I found them on some key issues to be in the right, and I found a salve to my despair. And I do think, in this regard, that my time with Rome was theologically necessary in paving the way to this point; I needed to have lived sincerely as a Roman Catholic, to be intellectually and spiritually shaped in such a way so as to grasp at the Reformation. I was already, in my own way, groping towards those issues without being able to articulate them properly, and that in being articulated, they were necessarily brought to a crisis point (and, somewhat ironically, reading Pope Leo XIII’s infamous letter on the nullity of Anglican Orders and its attendant controversy proved to be something of a watershed moment for me).
Anyway, at this point I’m less interested in offering an apologia for my decisions, or in being polemical, than I am in being honest about them. I never succeeded in producing an account of my conversion to Roman Catholicism that truly satisfied me, not because I didn’t have reasons at the time, but because conversion is an all-encompassing experience which involves the totality of one’s life, which is difficult to sum up in a few short words. So it is with what I’ve been going through recently, which, when I look back on the recent year or so, has a lot of parallels with my conversion eight years ago.
And I do feel more honest nowadays. My convictions matter again, they have weight and consequence, and I no longer have my conscience scolding me for failing to act upon them. And it seems like my faith in Christ has been renewed; I’ve been reminded of how badly I desired him above everything else, I’ve felt those same pangs in my heart again.
It’s funny that at around the time I’ve come to admit that a relationship may be possible for me, I’ve also experienced again what convinced me in the first place to be celibate. But terribly fitting as well, because the things of this world, licit or otherwise, still do not answer to the heart’s ultimate desires.
Also it seems as though my love for theology as an intellectual discipline has, indeed, survived my masters thesis.