The non-religious Settlement
Interesting comment piece in the Guardian this morning, which suggests that the post-Civil War settlement between the Church of England and the government and society involve a tacit agreement:
Safe though he was, the nice country vicar in effect inoculated vast swaths of the English against Christianity. A religion of hospital visiting and flower arranging, with a side offering of heritage conservation, replaced the risk-all faith of a man who asked his adherents to take up their cross and follow him. The nice country vicar represented a very English modus vivendi between the sacred and the secular, with the sacred, in swallowing many of its convictions, paying by far the heaviest price for the deal.
In exchange for a walk-on part during major family occasions and the opportunity to be custodian of the country's most impressive collection of buildings, the vicar promised discretion in all things pertaining to faith: he agreed to treat God as a private matter. In a country exhausted by wars about religion, the creation of the nonreligious priest was a masterstroke of English inventiveness. And once the priest had been cut off from the source of his fire and reassigned to judge marrows at the village fete, his transformation from figure of fear to figure of fun was complete.
I tend to broadly agree with that, although not with his next step - he wants to restore the fiery religion, I'd like to take this historical progression to its logical conclusion - get rid of the religion altogether, run the church as a community centre and choose a community worker to do the visiting, tea drinker and marrow-judging.
While I'm talking history, if you're a history blogger, watch out. The UK glorification of terrorism act comes into effect today. Be careful what you write about those Vandals....