Faith at Altitude

Religion and spirituality in the shadow of Pikes Peak

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

I'm Baaaaack

Wouldn't you know it -- I leave on vacation and all heck breaks loose on my beat.

I'm sure I'll be writing much more on the situation at Grace Episcopal Church (or should we say "churches" now?) and the Rev. Don Armstrong in the days and weeks to come.

News of Grace's split didn't reach Great Britain, which is where I've been the last week or so. Some folks might find that surprising, considering that England is the home of the Church of England, the grand mum of the Episcopal Church and all other Anglican denominations around the world. Collectively, these denominations are called the Anglican Communion, and adherents hover around 77 million.

The Church of England is, frankly, one of the smaller denominations in the Anglican Communion these days. Like the rest of Europe, England is growing increasingly secular, and about 2 million people there are members, according to But the church is still integral to the island's history and culture. It's everywhere. The English crown jewels include golden spoons, which I thought was rather a curious addition to the crown and scepter and such. I asked a guard what the spoons were for, and he said they were anointing spoons: When a king or queen is officially installed, they're anointed with holy oil doled out by one of these spoons. Who knew?

English kings and queens are still considered the head of the church, and most of them are buried at Westminster Abbey, one of the church's holiest spots. The other biggie -- in London, anyway -- is St. Paul's, once the city's highest building. We climbed all the way to the top of the dome, which was cool in a rather tiring way.

But the churches gave off a dual vibe. The architecture of these places was breathtaking, and both Westminster and St. Paul's retained an air of reverence: We tourists weren't allowed to take pictures of the inside, and I surmised later that it was because these churches are still places of worship.

Yet they were also tourist attractions, and tourists aren't always that reverential. The climb to St. Paul's dome involved several flights of stairs, and a few climbers periodically cursed in various languages as they grasped their way up. Even stranger, there's a church-sanctioned cafe in the church's crypt, where you can dine around the last resting places of 18th-century British heroes.

But then again, faith is probably never pure, wherever you search for it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chuck, I am glad you are back. The reporting on the Grace mess while you were gone was terrible, biased, and somewhat inaccurate. I hope you can give us some relief to what has been printed up to this point.

9:16 PM  

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