Clergy attitudes to 'folk-religion' in the Diocese of Bath and Wells.
The concept of 'folk-religion' has functioned as both a mission interface, and
as a clerical category of self-absolution in the face of secularisation and
marginalisation. The attitudes that clergy bring to'folk-religion', its beliefs
and praxis and the effects of longitudinal change within the religious
Zeitgeist, are the main concern of this study. Data on clergy attitudes to
'folk-religion' from the 1988-1990 Rural Church Project (RCP) provide an
empirical basis for replication and extension of the RCP questions on 'f olkreligion'
to the Diocese of Bath & Wells. The latter takes the form of sixtyone
in depth semi-structured interviews, together with a small sub-sample of
Anglican and other mainstream clergy working in Glastonbury. Chapter One
critiques the RCP, introduces the concept of 'folk-religion', and proposes a
descriptive attitudinal taxonomy, the strong-negative - non-differentiator
continuum. This both defines the range of clergy attitudes to 'folk-religion'
and provides a heuristic model which, in conjunction with a quantitative
instrument (the Clergy Attitude Scale) is elaborated in Part Two when the
Somerset data are subjected to in-depth analysis.
The latter is approached through the concept of differential-reflexivity. The
attitudinal pattern to emerge is contained within a nexus of psychological,
sociological, and theological constructs. Earlier models linking clergy
attitudes to 'folk-religion' to churchmanship are modified, as is the
understanding of the function of 'folk-religion' as a clerical category of selfabsolution.
Chapter Six considers evidence of longitudinal changes in both
the meanings and representations of 'folk-religion' as they impact upon
clergy attitudes and pastoral praxis. Chapter Seven discusses the impact
which the leitmotif of Glastonbury has upon the meanings of contemporary
representations of the sacred. Chapter Eight suggests that the key underlying
theological attitudinal signifier is to be found within the different ways in
which a soteriological meta-narrative is implicitly used by the clergy in the
formation of attitudes to 'folk-religion'. The way in which the study extends
knowledge, its significance for missiological modelling, and further research
possibilities are discussed in Chapter Nine