I have just had a nice day off reading a novel that I bought as a duty-purchase at a church bring-and-buy thing recently. Kingdom.Com by Thom Braun is described as a hilarious satire, but like the best of its genre, it has the odd profound moment mixed in. There are some dire puns - an advertising agency called Angel, Fear and Tredwell; the heroes are Marianne Maddeley (a vicar) and Robin Angel; their child, Theo is born in a stable. The plot is fairly predictable and seems to bypass some pretty basic facts about the Church of England within the wider Anglican Communion, but for all that a couple of times I found myself pausing to reflect on what it said...
Pages 208/9, the heroes are at preview of a new theme park where Lambeth Palace once was...
Robin put his arm around Marianne, conscious of how much she desperately wanted to the see spiritual positives in all of this.
'That sounds like a cue for our next experience, ' he said. 'Do you think you can face The Virutal Last Supper?'
Marianne looked distinctly concerned by the prospect. The skin around her eyes was taut, and she was biting her lip.
'I can't say I'm looking forward to it, ' she said, 'But I can't not do it. It's just that ...' She paused, 'it's either going to be the future's answer to the Eucharist, or...'
'Or its going to be a travesty.' She breathed heavily. 'Or even a blasphemy. Which ever way,' she continued, 'it's hardly something I'm able to feel comfortable about.'
'Do you want to sit it out?' asked Robin as gently as he could.
'I couldn't,' she replied. 'We have a duty. I have a duty. This place, this whole approach, has somehow come about because we tried to stop a small parish church from closing. To some extent this place represents the future - or at least a future - that we and everyone else, it seems, have chosen. Whatever else may have changed, I'm still an ordained church minister. I have to go on hoping that the new way is a positive way. So, no, I don't want to sit it out. Until I've had the experience, I will not know.'
'Will not know what exactly?'
'Where God is in any of this.'
Good questions to keep in mind in anything churches consider being part of, theme parks, pub congregations or even traditional Sunday services...
On Page 247, in the closing paragraphs...
In whatever else I do, I've got to remember that its not my ministry. It's not even the Church's ministry. It's really God's ministry...
Indeed it is.
Kingdom.Com by Thom Braun was published by Canterbury Press 2003.