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The Church of England still seemed an essential part of Englishness, and even of the British state, when Mrs Thatcher was elected in 1979. The decades which followed saw a seismic shift in the foundations of the C of E, leading to the loss of more than half its members and much of its influence. In England today 'religion' has become a toxic brand, and Anglicanism something done by other people. How did this happen? Is there any way back?

This 'relentlessly honest' and surprisingly entertaining book tells the dramatic and contentious story of the disappearance of the Church of England from the centre of public life. The authors – religious correspondent Andrew Brown and academic Linda Woodhead – watched this closely, one from the inside and one from the outside. That Was the Church, That Was shows what happened and explains why.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2361 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Continuum; 1 edition (28 July 2016)
  • Sold by:  Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B019WRPC72
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray: Not Enabled
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

Customer Reviews

How do we get back from here?

One person found this helpful.
 on 1 December 2017
By Hereward the Wakeful
Excellent book outlining how the Church managed to shoot itself in both feet by alienating significant portions of lay society – particularly an entire gender! – by forgetting that one of the foundation stones of Christianity is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, an ethos which includes charity and toleration. Perhaps some of the old men of the Church, those that counted at the time the book focuses on, forgot that Christianity did not spring up ready-made in 30/33AD but has evolved throughout its history and while its position has rightly altered over many things, female clergy being a case in point, their blindly self-destructive struggle against sensible change has caused massive damage to society’s view of the Church’s relevance to ordinary lives. How do we get back from here?

Excellent witty analysis

 on 22 August 2017
By Lotta Continua
Brilliant assessment of the failings of the Church of England that charts the refusal of senior clergy to respond to change. Funny, charming and important

Carthartic and funny and above all true-

 on 28 October 2017
By Amazon Customer
Carthartic. At least I can now see clearly why I fell off the wagon and took up yoga. The reviewers who have given the book a low score all have theological positions that rather demonstrate the argument of the book. I am absolutely delighted that this book came to exist. It’s a secular miracle!

Tide Table

One person found this helpful.
 on 11 September 2016
By Thistle
For an outsider at least this book provides plenty of food for thought on why the waters seem ever to be receding for Anglicanism. The combining of effort by the two authors, each with their own, differing experience and expertise, provides some measure of cross-referencing for the discussion of subject matter that is plainly still pretty raw for most of the (surviving) actors involved. It is perhaps part of the peculiar nature of religion that human failing and failure should be so clearly exhibited in and by it. Perhaps it is also part of the peculiar nature of Anglicanism that such failure sits so publicly and uneasily with the exercise of power, something many other religious movements seem to discover, and then devote much effort to suppressing. The authors here then attempt, with some success, to map the currents in ways that may illuminate the questions those of faith (and their disbelieving neighbours) ought to be asking if they really do want to see the tide turn.

Rivetting combination of pertinent sociological analysis mixed with amusing gossip, not all new!

11 people found this helpful.
 on 1 August 2016
By Anthony Archer (awarcher@compuserve.com)
It’s actually very good and should be compulsory reading for all bishops and certainly all General Synod hacks like me. It lurches from Andrew Brown’s gossip (do we really have to have the late Gary Bennett, the late Derek Pattinson and John Habgood served up again?) to Linda Woodhead’s thoughtful sociological observations of a Church that has become wholly disconnected with the nation and community it is supposed to serve. And it does hark on about David Jenkins faith, or lack of it. Strong on lay discipleship, pro-HTB (broadly), very anti-Rowan, slightly less so Carey, pro-Welby (or at least his instincts). On bureaucrats, pro-Philip Mawer (in a sentence), anti-Willliam Fittall (in a paragraph) and rude about Caroline Boddington (somewhat unfairly in the case of these last two I feel). Two final snippets: “The evangelical model of ministry teams, where laity and clergy work in a genuine partnership, is one of the greatest reasons for their success. Even pastoral care needs to be done very largely by the laity: that is what following Jesus means in practice to many of those who still care a lot about it.” And: “Perhaps in a hundred years’ time, today’s disagreements over sexuality and feminism will come to be seem just as much culture-bound and just as little about the essentials of Christianity. But unless both sides concede – or, better, freely grant – that the other is actually Christian, there will soon be no one but historians to care.”

Readers of a certain age will recognize the similarity in the title to a well known satire and felt that it best to look at the

 on 2 January 2017
By Mr. M. Parnell
As someone who has been an active member of the Church of England throughout the period covered by this book it was interesting to read about the personalities that led the Church during these times. Half way through I became depressed at the rate of decline and wondered where are we now. Readers of a certain age will recognize the similarity in the title to a well known satire and felt that it best to look at the revelations that this book brings as satire. Perhaps that is the best way to look at content of the pages.

like the authors

One person found this helpful.
 on 14 February 2017
By Peter K
Although I had heard of most of the situations and circumstances written about in the thirty years or so of this study, I found it fascinating to read such in-depth and informed accounts of some of the ‘behind the scenes’ factors. It is one of those few academic books that I found hard to put down. I am not sure I agree with all of the authors’ suppositions about how the Church of England has staggered into decline and was surprised there was no mention of ‘safe-guarding’ failures, but a fascinating read, even though it left me overall despairing for the state of the Church. Thank goodness that, like the authors, I do have faith that God is bigger than all our human politicking and scheming.
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