Alan Storkey: The Church is more than an institution

An established institution is self-referencing ”” its values are defined around its own functioning, and its overwhelming energy goes into maintenance. It cannot actually do things because of institutional inertia, and its regulatory processes are so ingrained that they are no longer fit for purpose, because the purposes have been sublimated. More than this, establishments cannot see themselves from outside, and they develop a preoccupation with their own rules…

But the second embarrassment occurs because we have not noticed that we are externally disestablished. Often, established institutions per­suade everyone else to accept them, as lawyers have done with the mumbo-jumbo that purports to be English law. Whereas God managed to convey the important matters of the law in fewer than 300 words, and Jesus summarised them in a sentence, our lawyers and politicians are up to possibly 600 billion words in defining it, so that we will all get lost in the verbiage and they will be indispensable. Now that is a success­ful establishment.

But the Church of England has been externally disestablished. A five-per-cent attendance rate makes it a minority interest….

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