Common Ground By Alan Jones

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Common Prayer on

Common Ground

By Alan Jones, Dean of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco

5-part Autumn Home Study 2008 • animated by Canon Jim Irvine

Session 1 • September 16 / 18 • Introduction 1

Session 2 • September 23 / 25 • Fundamentalism and Scientism 4

Interlude 7

Session 3 • September 30 / October 2 • Anglican Conversation 8

Session 4 • October 7 / 9 • The Promise of Anglican Orthodoxy 11

Session 5 • October 14 / 16 • Anglicanism’s Future? The Clue Is in Our Past 14

Holy Communion 17
Common Prayer on Common Ground – Dean Alan Jones

Session 1 – Introduction

The love of God enfolds you.  The light of God surrounds you.  The power of God protects you.  The presence of God watches over you.  Wherever you are, God is.
Text Notes

An Anglican Vision

This book is about my vision for living out this vibrant Christianity within the Anglican tradition. It is presented in four parts.

  1. Part 1 looks at the present climate that pits funda-mentalism against “modernism” and examine the ways each impacts the crisis in Anglicanism today. Both extremes display an excessive “rationalism” that’s entirely foreign to Anglicanism.

  1. Part 2 takes a look at the caricatures of Anglicanism as a manifes­tation of muddled and fuzzy thinking.

  1. Part 3 defines Anglican Orthodoxy (see its nine marks below). It can be a dangerous word meaning “right belief,” but it’s worth rehabilitat­ing—as an orientation toward a transcendent mystery, seen, in part, through the eyes of two archbishops: Peter Carnley, the recently retired primate of Australia who has served on and been co-chair of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, and Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury the best exponent of Catholic Anglicanism since Michael Ramsey. I am attracted to Rowan Williams not only because of his articula­tion of theology as a converting conversation with mystery but also because he is deaf in one ear. He has to listen carefully.

  1. Part 4 examines Anglicanism through the eyes of some of its greatest exemplars, with special reference to John Donne and the struggles of the seventeenth century.

Orthodoxy is an exhilarating truth that makes us happy! “To speak of orthodoxy as a truth that makes us happy is not always the first phrase that might come to mind because we have, sadly, come to think of orthodox belief as a set of obligations to sign up to, rather than a landscape to inhabit with constant amazement and delight of the discovery opened up.”

  • Rowan Williams,

“To What End Are We Made,” an unpublished address, April 7, 2005

Nine Marks of Anglican Orthodoxy
Here are nine marks of “orthodoxy” as I find it in the Anglican tradition. They will help point the way as we move through some very difficult ter­rain—the bumpy ground of present dissension in the church and the hostil­ity and sterility of contemporary culture.

  1. Orthodoxy invites reverence before mystery and the ability to hold the paradox of knowing and not-knowing at the same time in silence and in adoration. Orthodoxy opens horizons. It invites us to a banquet. It does not imprison us in a fortress.

  2. Orthodoxy sets limits by making a commitment to an ongoing conver­sation with Scripture, tradition, and one another so that we may con­tinually be converted, following the traditional Benedictine greeting, “Please pray for my conversion as I pray for yours.”

  3. Orthodoxy makes a distinction in Scripture and tradition between something that actually happened and something that is given us for instruction—like the Genesis account of Paradise or the opening of the Fourth Gospel. The point of reading the Bible is for communal and personal transformation.

  1. Orthodoxy understands, because of God’s infinity and essential unknowability, that revelation in the Bible and in creation must con­tain an infinite multiplicity of meanings.

  2. Orthodoxy, therefore, requires an openness to learn something new in a spirit of generosity and to be unafraid of new knowledge.

  3. Orthodoxy is convinced that doctrine is the beginning, not the end, of a conversation; knowledge of God and knowledge of self go hand in hand.

  1. Orthodoxy lives within the great stories of the revelation of God as mystery: in the incarnation, the redemption, and the communion of the Holy and undivided Trinity, which tell us that God is with us, God loves us, God calls us—without exception—into communion.

  2. Orthodoxy is committed to prayer and worship, which is the only con­text that makes talk about God possible, and the belief that we are never more truly ourselves than when we are gathered around one table. Anglican orthodoxy begins and ends in prayer, in silence before the mystery. It is not anti-intellectual but insists on the joining of intel­lect with emotion, of praying, as the Eastern tradition has it, with the mind in the heart.

  1. Orthodoxy calls us to live a life of joy in the power of the resurrection as sign of hope for the world, and to serve others in the name of the one who made us and the conviction that God can be seen in everyone.

Common Prayer on Common Ground – Dean Alan Jones

Session 2 – Fundamentalism and Scientism: A plague on both their houses

The love of God enfolds you.  The light of God surrounds you.  The power of God protects you.  The presence of God watches over you.  Wherever you are, God is.
Text Notes

Seeking Mystery

Anglican tentativeness before mystery—rooted not in muddle but in awe—is a sign of strength, not weakness. There is, per­haps, one serious flaw: such an approach will never be popular or populist. Mystery doesn't sell well. Certainty does.

It’s easy to see what the two fundamentalisms of science (or better, scien­tism) and religion have in common. While one tries to deny narrative alto­gether, the other takes a narrative and renders it literal. Both are seduced by the promise of pure objectivity. Both seek strategies to avoid the flawed, hit-and-miss character of human experience and history and live in an uncom­plicated world of hard facts. Both tend to believe they have an exclusive hold on moral discernment. Page 16

The old theolog­ical maxim is “faith seeking understanding.” That means that rational dis­course is important—in fact, vital—but only as a way of understanding something we have already apprehended, not comprehended, by faith. Page 17

Desperately Seeking Orthodoxy

Whenever we come to a place of safety and settling, we call it “orthodoxy”—right belief. “Orthodoxy” of whatever stripe becomes an anchor for the tem­pest-tossed. No matter where you land on the political and religious contin­uum, you have the satisfaction of knowing you are right. You are orthodox.

“Orthodoxy” or right belief is one of those subjects that need careful handling because it is often a place where bomb makers hide. Christian orthodoxy is claimed by two kinds of believers: the noisiest are those who see it as the acceptance and affirmation of propositions in creeds, texts, and doc­trines. In effect, they are rationalists. For them, orthodoxy requires verbal assent to certain statements. At the extreme it is thought that, should Osama bin Laden on his deathbed accept Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior, he will go straight to heaven, while faithful and compassionate non-Christians will go to the other place no matter what. There is no doubt in my mind that a repentant terrorist can go to heaven, but the kind of orthodoxy that takes no account of the moral life but only of verbal assent is obscene. Judgment is a mystery and we leave it to God to judge between a hateful Christian and a Christlike atheist.

We cannot avoid the dark truth that Christianity, with Judaism and Islam, is marred and marked by violence. The chief rabbi of England, Jonathan Sacks, reminds us, “the first recorded act of religious worship leads directly to the first murder.” Cain kills Abel. And Father Timothy Radcliffe comments, “The Exodus of Israel leaves the firstborn of Egypt dead in their beds and their warriors drowned on the seashore. The Christian story climaxes in a brutal execution. Our faiths cannot be sanitized.” The question is: How can we tell these stories in a way that does no violence to others? We tend to take refuge in the superiority of our narrative and think of others as merely characters in our story. Father Radcliffe disturbingly suggests that “it belongs to the proper telling of our Christian story that it is not the only story to tell.” Page 19f.

Christian orthodoxy looks at the world through the prism of the three basic doctrines of incarnation, redemption, and communion. And Christian orthodoxy demands a moral response. Since we can say true things falsely, the test of anyone’s orthodoxy lies in orthopraxis (right behavior) in the moral life. Right believing results in the development of a certain kind of character. You cannot love God and hate your brother or sister. Worship (especially the Eucharist) and prayer are central in this understanding of orthodoxy. Faith, in the end, isn’t argument; it’s adoration. Page 20

We should be encouraged by the fact that the church, after all, has never been the gathering together of the like-minded. As Peter Carnley, the retired primate of Australia, puts it:

Christianity does not involve the gathering of people around some kind of beautiful idea that is uniformly shared. We come together as Christians not because we recognize one another as entertaining the same mind-set ... Rather, Christians are drawn together for no reason other than they are called together by the Word of God ... the person of Jesus Christ. Page 21

The Mystery of God at the Heart of Orthodoxy

Good theology is dialectical. No one has the last word. For some people, we are too tradition­al, for others, too “far out.” We seek, especially in these times, the not-to-be-­despised middle ground. We seek always to listen to one another in silence before the mystery of God. Page 24

Fundamental but Not Fundamentalist

I am also encouraged because we may be able to affirm some basic Christian fundamentals without being fundamentalist. We have to give up the claustrophobic comforts of sectarian religion—where there is no ques­tioning and no doubts and everyone marches along in a lockstep. This is called theocracy—the rule of God—and it assumes that there can be an end to dialogue and discovery. That’s why it's so attractive. Some believers, if they had their way, would outlaw unbelief. They assume, says the archbishop, “that there could be a situation in which believers in effect had nothing to learn ... the gift of a time of repentance and growth are set aside.” But it is this need for change, growth, and repentance that saves the person of faith from being a tyrant. This is the gracious work of the Holy Spirit. That’s a fun­damental and it is one that I heartily endorse. Page 27

Fascism starts with grievances taking root and then establishing a power base. Lewis Lapham, in his October 2005 edi­torial in Harper’s Magazine, cites Umberto Eco’s 1995 essay in The New York Review of Books on the shape of the fascist mentality. I was struck by his description of a way of thinking or habit of mind that seems very much alive today. Things like:

  1. The truth is revealed once and only once;

  2. Doctrine outpoints reason, and science is always suspect;

  3. Critical thought is the province of degenerate intellectuals, who betray the culture and subvert traditional values;

  4. The national identity is provided by the nation's enemies;

  5. Argument is tantamount to treason.

Fascist movements thrive on insecurity and we are insecure. And it hits close to home when people not only of the same religion but of the same tra­dition cannot speak to one another, judge one another without a hearing, and anathematize one another on hearsay or selective quotation. Page 38f
Interlude – a story from the Jewish mystical tradition.
Text Notes

This story from the Jewish mystical tradition sets the tone for our search for a credible and compassionate orthodoxy.
In the beginning before there were any beginnings and endings, there was no place that was not already God! And we call this unimaginable openness, Ain SophBeing–without end. Then came the urge to give life to our world and to us. But there was no place that was not already God. So Ain Soph breathed in to make room, like a father steps back so his child will walk to him. Into the emptiness Ain Soph set vessels and began to fill them with divine light, as a mother places bowls in which to pour her delicious soup. As the light poured forth a perfect world was being created!

Think of it! A world without greed and cruelty and violence! But then, something happened. The bowls shattered. No one knows why. Perhaps the bowls were too frail? Perhaps the light too intense? Perhaps Ain Soph was learning. After all no one makes perfect the first time. And with the shattering of the bowls, divine sparks threw every­where! Some rushing back to Ain Soph, some falling, falling, trapped in the broken shards to become our world, and us.

Though this is hard to believe, the perfect world is all around us, but broken into jagged pieces, like a puzzle thrown to the floor, the picture lost, each piece without meaning, until someone puts them back together again. We are that someone. There is no one else. We are the ones who can find the broken pieces, remember how they fit together and rejoin them. This is the repairing of the world—the mending of creation. In every moment, with every act, we can heal our world and us. We are all holy sparks dulled by separation.

But when we meet, and talk and eat and make love, when we work and play and disagree with holiness in our eyes, seeing Ain Soph every­where, then our brokenness will end, and our bowls will be strong enough to hold the light, and our light will be gentle enough to fill the bowls. As we repair the world together, we will learn that there is no place that is not God!
When we meet, and talk and eat and make love, when we work and play and disagree with holiness in our eyes, seeing Ain Soph everywhere, then our brokenness will end. And the conversation can begin. Page 41f
Common Prayer on Common Ground – Dean Alan Jones

Session 3 – Anglican Conversation

The love of God enfolds you.  The light of God surrounds you.  The power of God protects you.  The presence of God watches over you.  Wherever you are, God is.
Text Notes

“The Anglican church is a tolerant, faintly detached and amused moth­er of lazily permissive standards, but she is a real mother, nevertheless. She does not hector or bully her children. She expects them to be mature and independent. There are certain house rules she likes observed in her home, a sort of minimal but important standard, but if her children break it she doesn't go into an operatic tantrum. She merely raises her eyebrows and wishes they had better manners. Anglicans are not persecutors or excommunicators. We tend to agree with Montaigne, that it is rating our conjectures too highly to roast people alive for them.”

Richard Holloway,

the former Primus of the Church of Scotland. Page 45

We affirm that anyone devoted to the discovery of truth needs to maintain “a sense of humor about the wisdom for fighting for victory or negotiating a peace.” Being right is important but there may, on occasion, be more important things than being right.

That ability to hold opposites together has any number of practical appli­cations for the church. One church I visited recently had a banner inside that proclaimed, “We are a pro-choice Church.” I am deeply repelled by that, not because I am against choice but because it excludes people—like me—for whom this issue is not only painful but also complicated. I am pro-choice but I am not happy about it. I want to leave room in the church for argument and conversation about all the issues about the sanctity of life that the question of choice raises. But we seem to have embraced a theology powered by resentful and toxic certainty. As Nelson Mandela said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

When I’m not careful, I can fall into the same trap. So I try—for Christ’s sake—to be an “inverse paranoid”—the opposite of a paranoid—and do my best to assume that everyone is part of a plot to enhance my well-being. I try not to be resentful about others being resentful. I have a passion for moderation. Page 47

Which Orthodoxy Is Orthodox?

Struggling with the Conversation

There are many rival orthodoxies with their clear rules for excommunica­tion. Each side tells the stories to suit their clientele. On left or right, there are no ambiguities, no areas of uncertainty. You can smell the anger and despair in the air when people feel that there is no community of trust, no saving word binding them together, no God worth believing in, no tale to tell. Perhaps it’s our lack of consciousness of this anger and despair that constitutes part of our predicament. As McIntyre predicted, we seem to be waiting for another—doubtless very different—St. Benedict—a strong and confident voice like that of the sixth-century monk, who offered not only a vision of community but an actual expression of it in a world that was crumbling. Page 51f

Problems with Liberal and Conservative Orthodoxy

One of the heresies of some “conservative” interpretations of Christianity is the idea that the gospel means the liberation of spirit from nature and, we might add, history. Hence Williams (following Rosemary Ruether’s Sexism and God-Talk: Toward a Feminist Theology, 1983) identifies two problems for twenty-first century Christians: dualism and hierarchy—the split between spirit and matter and the abuse of power. These are issues that conservatives, on the whole, do not want to talk about. Page 52

But there are issues the liberals shy away from too. Liberals, in general, don’t like to talk about the limits of pluralism. But pluralism can become a “repressive tolerance”; “an intellectually idle and morally frivolous prohibi­tion against raising uncomfortable questions about Christian truth.” Liberals don’t want to face the sillinesses of much of multiculturalism, which claims that all cultural practices are to be tolerated and valued. Even the most thoughtless are brought up short by a subject like the practice of female cir­cumcision. Page 52f

[Archbishop] Williams, while insisting that there is a common hope and a common vocation for human beings, points out that the problem in a radically plural­istic society is that citizens increasingly withdraw from judgment. “The social system overall sees its job as securing a pragmatic minimum of peaceful co­existence between groups, by a variety of managerial skills and economic adjustments:” There are, in effect, no common values. Things are flattened out—the neutralizing of genuine political dissent, the system of palliative welfare benefits, the reduction of the franchise to an almost passive formali­ty. “Societies that are able to control their populations in such ways do not need the legitimization of ‘values’; they do not need myth or religion or morality.” We are managed. There is no conversation because there is noth­ing to discuss. It is settled. Style is everything. Cultural options presented as consumer goods. “Religious belief is no exception ... religious commitment is reduced to a private matter of style, unconnected with the nature of a per­son’s membership in his or her society.” Our abiding nostalgia for “values” becomes just window dressing. Conservatives rightly rail at the twin dangers of a consumer pluralism and the administered and managed society. Page 53

O my God, you are here.

O my God, I am here.

O my God, Alan is here.

O my God, we are here.

And always, always, you love us;

When we are good

with a love that makes you glad;

when we are bad

with a love that makes you sad,

but always, always, you love us!

Insofar as I have lived this prayer, I have found it good news, the antidote to the violence in my soul and a means of grace for the peace of the world. I pray that we all get the direction we need when we need it. God is always reaching out to us if we could see. Always, always, God loves us. I can see why an unbeliever would find this sentimental and annoying but puzzled why a believer should. Isn't it orthodox to believe so?

Whether we are liberals or conservatives or something in between, always, always, God loves us. And it is costly. Page 56f
Common Prayer on Common Ground – Dean Alan Jones

Session 4 – The Promise of Anglican Orthodoxy

The love of God enfolds you.  The light of God surrounds you.  The power of God protects you.  The presence of God watches over you.  Wherever you are, God is.
Text Notes

What are the marks of Bede Griffiths’ orthodoxy that resonate with what I have received from the Anglican tradition? The first and most important is the ability to see God in everyone. The second is the conviction that “the sur­render of the ego is the only way of life” and that “it’s the most difficult thing we have to do.” Page 63

A Generous Anglican Orthodoxy

In looking for a common language and common purpose—for a generous orthodoxy—we are not looking to found a theocracy or a form of theocrat­ic totalitarianism. We are looking for ways to love one another. Orthodoxy as theocracy assumes that there can be an end to dialogue and discovery. That’s why it’s so attractive. Believers would have the right to outlaw unbelief, as they have done in the past. Rowan Williams writes, “It assumes that there could be a situation in which believers in effect had nothing to learn ... the gift of a time of repentance and growth are set aside.” Page 65

John Henry Newman’s genius was to see that orthodoxy develops and changes. But how? What are its limits? If the church is a schooling in con­versation, then listening to one another in humility should be our highest priority. Humility before the mystery of God’s revelation in Christ might make us hesitate to pontificate prematurely about what is legitimate and what isn’t. “Orthodoxy,” therefore, has a distinctly moral character. It is val­idated by the way we treat one another. Revelation has a practical purpose—not that we should “know more” but that we should “do better.” The test of true knowledge is love. “Of what use is it if I discourse learnedly on the Trinity and lack humility and, therefore, displease the Trinity?” wrote Thomas a Kempis in his Imitation of Christ. We are given only enough light to move ahead. We're not told everything we’d like to know. Newman’s hymn comes to mind.

Lead, Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom

Lead Thou me on!

The night is dark, and I am far from home

Lead Thou me on!

Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see

The distant scene—one step enough for me.

That’s the humility of orthodoxy.

Page 66

Practical Orthodoxy

Salvation isn’t the ultimate reward for believing abstract doctrines. Salvation is experienced through grace as our lives are “converted,” and conversion is an ongoing process. Doctrine is practical. It has to do with practice, with what the tradition calls “the experimental knowledge of God.” The doctrine of the Trinity, for example, isn’t just a cerebral exercise for theologians. It has enor­mous personal, interpersonal, and political implications. Page 66

Conversation is essential, but it should not be confused with superficial chat. The encounter can be passionate and confrontational or it can be affirming and nurturing. We know that mere exchange of information isn’t enough to bring us together. But neither is communication. We need, instead, the kind of conversation that leads to affiliation and alignment so that words can be translated into actions for the common good. Page 71

Reverent Agnosticism

The late Alan Richardson, the dean of York and my old teacher, told us that about many things—not everything—we should be reverent agnostics. We should stand before mystery and be willing “not to know.” To me, this is a Christian spiritual virtue, which many of my fellow Christians find intolera­ble. Labeling is believed to be essential. Black-and-white clarity is mandato­ry. W. S. Gilbert wrote in the operetta Iolanthe:

I often think it’s comical

How Nature always does contrive

That every boy and every gal

That’s born into the world alive

Is either a little Liber-al

Or else a little Conserva-tive.

Page 71

Seeking Peace

We are at war with one another. One of the challenges of Anglican orthodoxy is not only to establish a truce but to seek real peace among the many con­tentious factions. We can do this in a number of ways.

  1. First, our task may well be to act as a sign of contradiction by question­ing the underpinning of Western liberal democratic society as a fundamen­tally incoherent path to self-destruction that has transformed us from neighbors into consumers. …

  2. Next, we must realize that to be a person is to be in communion. In A.D. 374, Basil the Great in his treatise On the Holy Spirit, spoke not so much of three persons in one substance as three persons in one communion. …

  3. Next we need to renew our commitment in the Anglican communion to internal ecumenism. We would do well to pledge to each other that we would not be schismatics. Some will accuse others of sacrificing truth for unity, but I believe a greater truth is served when our primary commitment to Christ keeps us at the table. We need ways to demonstrate our love for one another and for Jesus.

Page 75f

Anglican Progressive Orthodoxy

The trouble is that in times of stress and controversy we cannot bear the paradox at the heart of our faith. We become impatient with the mystery at its heart. We are intolerant of contradiction. …

We are at each other’s throats when we should be on our knees before the Christian mystery. …

Anglican orthodoxy, therefore, begins and ends in prayer, in silence before the mystery. It is not anti-intellectual but insists on the joining of intellect with emotion, of praying, as the Eastern tradition has it, with the mind in the heart. Page 77

True orthodoxy requires freedom. Belief cannot be coerced. My first test of anyone's orthodoxy is a question: “If you were in charge, would I be safe? Would there be room for me?” Page 78

Common Prayer on Common Ground – Dean Alan Jones

Session 5 – Anglicanism’s Future? The Clue Is in Our Past

The love of God enfolds you.  The light of God surrounds you.  The power of God protects you.  The presence of God watches over you.  Wherever you are, God is.
Text Notes

I wonder sometimes if being an Anglican is a matter of temperament. Anglicanism is very English. Charles Williams, lecturing in Paris in 1938, claimed that the French have a tendency to say Yes or No and the English to say Yes and No! He told them, “I think it would perhaps be useful if we did not blame each other.” The English mind, with its passion for compromise, seeks a union of opposites, even when they seem irreconcilable. … It should be clear by now that, for me, heresy is a far less serious sin than schism. This is very English and Anglican. Page 83

Robert Runcie:

We must never make the survival of the Anglican Communion an end in itself, the Churches of the Anglican Communion have never claimed to be more than a part of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church. Anglicanism, as a separate denomination, has a radically pro­visional character which must never be allowed to be obscured. Page 87

Michael Ramsey:

For while the Anglican Church is vindicated by its place in history, with a strikingly balanced witness to Gospel and Church and sound learning, its greater vindication lies in its pointing through its own his­tory to something of which it is a fragment. Its credentials are its incompleteness, with the tension and travail in its soul. It is clumsy and untidy, it baffles neatness and logic. For it is sent not to commend itself as “the best type of Christianity,” but by its very brokenness to point to the universal church wherein all have died. Page 88

Voice of John Donne:

Donne was not only a Christian; he was an Anglican. This is an impor­tant particular, since he lived out Christianity in its Anglican form. The spir­it of Anglicanism is best discovered in the lives of its most distinguished practitioners, but while there are those who equal John Donne, there are none who surpass him. He expresses Anglicanism at its best, not the woolly con promise of the via media, but the comprehensiveness, the compassion, and the liberality of the via regia (the royal way). In his life and in his writings, he lived out the theology of Anglicanism—incarnational, pragmatic, functional, earthy, but always aware that this world has a transcendent reference. … Donne lived through the decades from the Civil War, the execution of a king and an arch­bishop, to the persecution of the church; lie lived amid the extremism that was Anglicanism's cradle. The choices were Geneva or Rome or the rational­ism of the new science. Anglicans, then and now, reject all three. Page 89

Seventeenth-century Catholicism wanted to explain everything. Donne called it quomodo (“this is how it is”) theology. He loathed quomodo theology that eviscerated mystery by a too-neat explanation and flattened out all untidy paradoxes. “He that can finde no comfort in this Doctrine ... till he can expresse Quo Modo, robs himself of a great deale of peaceful refreshing.” Page 92

Theology, as explanation, stultified the mind. “Rome has spoken, the mat­ter is settled” doesn’t sit well with Anglicans. So Donne preached: “To come to a doubt, and to a debatement in any religious duty, is the voyce of God in our conscience: Would you know the truth? Doubt, and then you will inquire.” For Donne, we live within the mystery of God, which cannot be objecti­fied. But within that mystery we can question, probe, examine, and come face-to-face with the mystery that is ourselves. Page 92

Beloved, there are some things in which all Religions agree: The worship of God; The holiness of life; And therefore, if when I study this holinesse of life, and fast and pray, and submit my selfe to discreet, and medicinal) mortifications, for the subduing of my body, any man will say, this is Papisticall, Papists doe this, it is a blessed Protestation, and no man is the lesse a Protestant, nor the worse a Protestant for making it. Men and brethren, I am a Papist, that is, I will fast and pray as much as any Papist, and enable myselfe for the service of my God, as seriously, as laborious­ly as any Papist. So, if when I startle and am affected at a blasphemous oath, as at a wound upon my Saviour, if when I avoyd the conversation of those men, that prophane the Lords day, any other will say tome, This is Puritanicall, Puritans do this, It is a blessed Protestation, and no man is the lesse a Protestant, nor the worse a Protestant for making it, Men and Brethren, I am a Puritan, that is, I wil endeavour to be pure, as my Father in heaven is pure, as far as any Puritan. Page 93

Donne believed that the task of the church was to make Christ visible to the world. If Rome wanted to impress Anglicans with her extravagant claims, she should first set her own house in order.

Let me see a Dominican and a Jesuit reconciled, in doctrinal) papistry, for free will and predestination. Let me see a French papist and an Italian papist reconciled in state papistry, for the Pope’s jurisdiction. Let me see the Jesuits and the secular priests reconciled in England, and when they are reconciled to one another, let them presse reconcil­iation to their Church. Page 94

As the great rabbis observed some eighteen hundred years ago, when a human being makes many coins in the same mint, they all come out the same. God makes every human being in the same mint, in the same image, his own, and yet we all come out differently. The religious challenge is to find God's image in someone who is not in our image, in someone whose color is different, whose culture is different, who speaks a different language, tells a different story, and worships God in a different way. This is a paradigm shift in understanding monotheism. Page 104
The poet W. H. Auden wrote:

The Catholic faith ... while it condemns no temperament as incapable of salvation, flatters none as being in less peril than any other. In the same way [a Christian] has to make his public confession in a church which is not confined to his sort, to those with whom by nature he feels at home, for in it there is neither Jew nor German, East nor West, boy nor girl, smart nor dumb, boss nor worker, Bohemian nor bour­geois, no elite of any kind; indeed there are not even Christians there, for Christianity is a way, not a state, and a Christian is never something one is, only something one can pray to become. Page 104
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