So today there was an important vote in the ruling body of the Church of England. In effect it was on whether to finally allow women to ascend to the highest ranks of the church hierarchy and become bishops, but because this is the Church of England it was actually a slightly more complicated vote. They were voting on whether to continue to 'debate' the introduction of women bishops for the foreseeable future or whether to cease debate and accept a compromise that would allow women to be bishops but let some church groups reject their authority in favour of a male alternative. Anyway, apparently even that fudge was a bridge too far for the traditionalists as the vote failed and the church will now continue to 'debate' the matter until the next time someone dares to bring the issue to vote at a future Synod meeting. I put debate in sarcasm air quotes there because really there is nothing left to be said. The failure of the vote partly reflects the unwieldy governing structure of the church which rivals the US in the ability of a small minority to block anything they disagree with. The motion needed to get 2/3 support in all three 'chambers' and in the end it only failed to do this in one. Whatever the mechanics of it though the result is the same, the church has failed to modernise to even 20th century levels and this was supposed to be the easy battle to win. Much more divisive is the church's current stance on homosexuality, especially among the wider Anglican communion. US branches of Anglicanism have already allowed gay bishops but much of the African churches are bitterly opposed and for the looks of things so will be enough of the current English church. The current Archbishop was a moderate who tried to soothe the divisions but ended up satisfying nobody. He retires this year to be replaced by a more hardline candidate who opposes homosexual acceptance within the church. The future for the church seems bleak, increasingly out of step with mainstream society, blighted by a conservative system of government and facing ever declining church service attendance. I'm not sure how much longer it can stumble onwards in it's current state before facing renewed demands for disestablishment.