Canon Ronnie Harpoon, the chaplain to the Bishop of Barchester and a member of the Church’s General Synod, has written a controversial post, suggesting that the famously tedious legislative body should be allowed to vote itself out of existence.
In it, he writes: “Don’t tell me that three-hour debates on financial management motions are purely God’s business. Satan clearly has a hand in it all as well. Especially when the air-con’s conked out.”
“I can’t believe that at the moment when all a human soul wants is for it to end, God stands in the press gallery and says: ‘No my child, it is my will that you suffer just a few more days.’ That is pure fatalism and superstition.”
He adds: “When the Established Church is nearing the end of its life there are now many societies where they kindly take it to the legislative knacker’s yard. That is not the case in England.
“Just when you might think we need our freedom, the most the Synodical Government Measure 1969 takes it away from us. Just when you might think that God would most honour the freedom he has given us to wind the whole thing up, 900,000 selfish buggers take it away from us by still going to church on Sunday.
“If ever you’ve attended General Synod you’ll know the refrain: ‘please, dear God, please help me to die’.”
Invoking the Christian concept of free will, Canon Harpoon goes on: “Even people who would use language such as ‘God has a plan for the Church of England’ don’t actually mean that everything that Synod does is His will. Of course not. The will of God? Throughout our lives we make choices and many of them are life and death choices. To flog all our property at the bottom of the market or constantly argue about sex or spend hours debating which outfits we wear and when. For all those things we choose and we also take responsibility.”
Synodical government remains legal in the UK. The Church of England continues officially to support the current Synod set up, though some church figures, including anyone who’s sat through a session, have said they are in favour of sticking pins in their eyes rather than do so again.