Anarchist Priest – Living in the tension

By Gwen McAllister

Not long ago at St. Matthew’s Anglican Church where I am priest, a friend and parishioner good-naturedly called me out as a hypocrite: “You preach against hierarchy, but you’re an Anglican priest.”

It’s a tension in which I have found a rather comfortable vocational home, living in the messy “now” of Christianity in upheaval, working like so many others — in my small, local way within community — to reclaim the Christian faith tradition from Christendom and Empire. I do preach against much in which I am complicit: systems of exploitation and privilege, domination, wealth. Together with many others, I reach for much that is rare and precious in our daily context: sharing of resources, mutuality in relationships, a celebration of all that lives and our embraced interdependence.

I don’t frequently identify as an anarchist. It seems presumptuous: I don’t think I do enough to earn the title. And then, taking on that label sounds like it is too much about me and my identity, when in fact I live out my vocation and identity together with others as part of a parish community, a larger faith community, and a larger non-religious community of resistance. But also, “anarchist” is not an identity I hold to in the same way I hold to understanding myself as part of a vast and rich faith tradition. Yet faith has brought me to politics which in turn have contextualized my faith; each informs the other.

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