by Jane Kelly
Being a member of the Church of England is to belong to a strange club, or so it seems to me. All the rules have changed since I joined as an infant, or rather since my parents imposed their religion onto me (something which is now discouraged). There is no escape from the new ethos of the place and even the flannely Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is zealous in his mission to drag us all, no matter how recalcitrant, into the modern, post-Christian age.
Like most persons of the liberal Left he is keen to eradicate the last vestiges of the evil Victorian age. Growing up in the 1960s I continually heard, particularly from the BBC, that the era of unparalleled prosperity which followed the Battle of Waterloo was in fact a shameful time of destructive imperialism, racism, misogyny, hypocrisy, poverty, ugly architecture, repression and stodgy food. Welby has now returned to that well-worn theme, this time seeking out perhaps the last bastion of the old ways.
In a sermon to the Mother’s Union in Winchester Cathedral, to celebrate 140 years of their support for motherhood, apple pie and Christian family life, he told them that gay marriage is now a reality “whether we like it or not.” He argued in the Lords against gay marriage, but has now decided to settle with it. His message to the women was really all about accommodation of one kind or another. His intellectual tool was a crosier rather than a crowbar, but it had the same effect: to remind them that a Victorian golden age of traditional family values was only a sad “myth.”