A fleeting meditation on Edward Pusey, the rise of the High Church Party in Anglicanism, followed by a sharp digression into a Christianity that could be


While Edward Bouverie Pusey died on September 16, 1882, and this day is celebrated as a holiday in much of the Anglican Communion, the holiday itself is observed here in America on this day, September 18.

I wrote it down about six years ago. And much of the following was written then. Although, although I continue to be charmed by the title and keep it, I have walked the meditation lightly, to reflect the past six years.

I have always been fascinated by the Anglicanism stream of the High Church. And I must admit that I have always wondered why. My, as I like to think, mature spirituality is quite simple, Mahayana Zen Buddhism. I find the intuitions expressed first by Gautama Siddhartha, the development of the four seals, the intuition of the two truths and the three bodies of the Buddha, as well as its manifestation within Zen schools and in particular among koan schools. This with a bit of rational washing.

I remain infinitely grateful.

And yet Christianity still murmurs in my heart.

My little summary that I have of a physiology of faith probably expresses the contradictions as well as anything. I claim this Buddhist brain, this Christian heart and this humanist stomach. Buddhism is really my way of seeing the world. The humanist stomach, especially the rational and worldly sense, is how I experience the world. But, I persist in dreaming the world through Christianity.

This probably explains in some ways my decades-long association with Unitarian universalism which allows me to be who I am and to continue to explore where I need to.

Having said that, Professor Pusey …

Edward Pusey, Regius Professor of Hebrew at Oxford and Canon of Christ Church, for those who do not know, was the spiritual leader of the High Church revival within the Church of England in the mid-19th century. His reflections on fellowship in particular helped bring to life what some saw as a dying tradition.

What I find particularly funny to read about him in the Wikipedia article is two things. A persistent claim, especially in his youth, that he was a rationalist, despite his sometimes otherwise unconvincing claims, and a line in this Wikipedia article describing him as “more of a theological antiquarian than a theologian.”

It alluded to me something of the attractions I have for tradition. I don’t believe in a deity outside of the universe who travels through time and space to change the course of cause and effect. And with that the whole edifice of Christian tradition collapses. But, the shell continues to hold my attention. As I wonder about this, I realize that it is because the church itself is a repository of collective wisdom and hunches about reality. The main story is not factual, but it allows our dreams of connection, our dreams of reciprocity and responsibility to be expressed in story form, and in that sense continues to be true.

And maybe that’s why I find Anglicanism becoming a religion of history, of a way of life that can survive without belief in a literal God or, and I consider that to be the most problematic thing, without belief in souls advancing towards perdition or reward. In short, it becomes a particularly attractive form of a liberal Christianity that shows how we can live and how we can die.

A new middle way …

A religion that could be …

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