A feral animal is one not now owned or controlled by anyone having returned to an untamed state from domestication. In human terms, it might be someone "abandoned by – or escaped from – society", "living outside the mainstream", "beyond the control of rules, regulations and accepted norms."...
A feral Christian might be described as one called by God to escape the captivity and domestication of the institutional Church. Jesus exercised his ministry on the edge of, or outside the religious institution in which he had grown up. Today there are increasing numbers of ‘feral Christians’ on the loose. Feral might also well describe the various tribal groupings to be found in the Anglican Communion, tribes that have been at war among themselves over women, sexuality and gender.
Christians with a feral ministry, living under the radar, away from the gaze of bishops who have sold their souls to yet more process and discussion about my sexuality with no commitment to significant change in church teaching and practice. I sense subversion in the air, people, lay and ordained, go ahead despite the bishops’ rules, blessing unconditionally and distributing sacraments lavishly, as is the way of Jesus before he was tamed by the Church.
Over the past two decades, I have felt more acutely a sense of Christian things falling apart. I find myself roaming about in once familiar places where I now feel less comfortable or welcome - and more free to roam around in taboo areas in thought and imagination.
My faith is rooted in my experience of God and the practice of Christianity as exemplified by Jesus, focused on unconditional love, wisdom, justice, truth, goodness, self-giving, compassion, and the glory of living life in all its fullness. I am a member of a feral tribe, increasingly marginalised in the church, continuing to flourish but under the radar, no longer valued by the church institution, sitting lose to creeds and dogma, deeply valuing the elusive, the Mystery, the not-knowing, the deep-down intuitive truthfulness of life.
Richard Holloway speaks about feeling himself to be part of a church ‘in exile’. Biblically this carries overtones of being cast out against one’s will, excluded from what feels like home, sent to a place to which you do not want to go and where you feel a stranger. To go feral carries a strong sense of call in contrast to exclusion, leading to a capacity for freedom and delight in what is being newly discovered. It is follow a vocation in which energies are released and visions flow abundantly, placing trust in the elusive, always present holy Mystery.
The Revd Colin Coward MBE
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