Tom Frame, A House Divided: The Quest for Unity within Anglicanism

(Acorn Press: Melbourne: 2010)

Love this book or hate it, agree or disagree, you have to give Tom Frame credit for bravely putting his own life on the line – for that is how it feels when you read A House Divided.   I myself am profoundly grateful, for Tom Frame’s book is inviting the reader into a conversation the Australian Anglican Church desperately needs to have.  Most dioceses recognise the need for change and across Australia Bishops are calling Anglicans to renewed prayer and mission.  Many parishes are heeding the call and trying new things and re-engaging with their community.  There is life in local gatherings where Jesus is honoured in all they do.  Institutionally however, it seems a different matter.

Clergy depression and poor health is common.  Bishop’s are burdened with untenable workloads which prevents them from having appropriate knowledge and care of their clergy.  There is mistrust of the Diocese from individual parishes and agencies and Synods have become a political playing field for church parties that most Anglicans do not relate to or care for.  Surely it is time to work out how to do things differently so that the new life in the parishes can flourish.

Tom Frame argues that if the Anglican Church is to growth into the challenges of Mission and Ministry in the twenty-first century, it needs to “re-imagine” it’s Synods, Episcopate and Dioceses and revive it’s intellectual life.  He outlines suggested reforms for each of these in a thoughtful and thought provoking way.  Frame’s particular reforms may end up being a ‘straw man’ but if that is the case, we are still indebted to him for it.  They are real options which deserve consideration, though it is difficult to see enough people willing to concede enough personal power for them to win support.

As a Gen-X Anglican, Frame’s suggestions resonate with my concerns for dismantling the tower of power which the episcopate has come to represent; rescuing spirituality from the grips of institutional religion; and rejecting the narrow approaches to theology which undergirds the evangelical verses liberal dichotomies pulling the worldwide Anglican Communion apart.  If you care about these things, it is worth the time and effort to read A House Divided yourself.

3 thoughts on “Tom Frame, A House Divided: The Quest for Unity within Anglicanism

  1. PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE

    Dear Chelle

    Thanks for your kind and generous words about my latest and last book.

    I am glad that you found it worthwhile reading.

    Epiphanytide blessings

    Tom

  2. Dear Chelle,
    I found Tom Frame’s, Losing My Religion to be one of the most insightful Australian Christian books secularity & faith, so I will have to add this one to my pile too. In regard to your comments on bishop / clergy stress, burnout, workload, I fear that most are pedalling so hard there is little time / energy and resource to properly re-evaluate. In one sense the ‘everyone is busy’ phenomenon is a general experience, as are the foibles of not-for-profit enterprises. I suspect the following exacerbates the challenges:
    (1) limited professional (and often personal) contact with broader networks, professions and sectors;
    (2) a numerically small institution which stifles fundamental innovation –related to (1);
    (3) lack of financial resources to systematically review and address issues.
    At a Diocesan conference not long ago (1) and (2) were vividly illustrated as I watched young clergy nonchalantly ‘write off’ a speech given by a business leader. This man had, in 20 years, generated the equivalent of a large Diocese of branch offices (very community-oriented & engaged). So many filter ideas and people through a very specific grid of issues – in some networks this has reached Pharasaical proportions. So how can clergy ‘tear down walls’ between the present and the future, between them and others?

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