I came across this interesting article in the NYTimes this morning. It about the process underway in Britain to “re-imagine” the way that the House of Lords is constituted.
I was particularly struck by this passage of Bagehot’s writing quoted in support of leaving things as they are…
For his part, Lord St. John of Fawsley quoted the 19th-century journalist and essayist Walter Bagehot in urging all deliberate consideration. ‚ÄúThe reason is that all important English institutions are relics of a long past; that they have undergone many transformations that, like old houses which have been altered many times, at first sight would not be imagined,‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúVery often a rash alterer will pull down the very part which makes them habitable.‚Äù
Assuming the Episcopal Church is allowed to continue in the Communion at least long enough to join the voices around the table working to construct the new form of governance for the Anglican Communion, I hope that those working at the task might reflect on the quote above.
I find it kindred in spirit to the old adage that is drummed into the head of new rectors when they begin their ministry in a new congregation: “Don’t change anything until you understand why things are the way they are.”