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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Wednesday, July 16, 2003
    Life, liturgy and socialism
    Interesting connections. A little booklet from Affirming Catholicism on The Legacy of Conrad Noel arrived today and was soon consumed; AC are one of the more positive, creative Anglican networks active today, due in no small part to Jeffrey John's many thoughful contributions to their life and literature.

    Noel was "one of the most eccentric, dynamic and radical priests of the twentieth century", a champion of "English catholic socialism". In examining his life and work writer Mark D. Chapman argues that "liturgy divorced from life is turning the church into an esoteric social club" and makes an impassioned plea for "a style of worship that is integrated with the demand for social justice". His conclusion sounds like it's from another era, but hold it and investigate it awhile, you begin to grasp its power: "Life, liturgy and socialism live or die together," he writes...

    This in turn took me back to Tim Gorringe's life of Alan Ecclestone ("Priest as Revolutionary"). Ecclestone was a student of Noel's, who devoted much of his ministry to working out his vision of Christian community (where there could be "no dichotomy between church and politics, church and daily life"), among the out of work miners of Frizlington and the steelworkers of Sheffield.

    And that got me my final reward: a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, which would seem bland if it weren't so profound:
      The Christian is not a religious person,
      but simply a human being, as Jesus was
      a human being, profoundly this-worldly,
      characterized by discipline, and the constant
      knowledge of death and resurrection.