Skip to main content

Tentative about tents..

Ok: so my little preamble is that Church of England clergy are asked to show respect for one another by not pulling down other clergy or parts of the church. In reflecting on that- and trying to genuinely honour my brothers and sisters in this strange calling that I haven't said too much about the St Paul's stand off.

Today I was heartened in a strange way that Giles Fraser felt he was able to resign. I feel heartened that on first comments his diocesan Bishop appears to be exercising appropriate care over his staff and is perhaps going to see him alright.

But I am sad at the wider situation. As I type there appears to be something going on (riot vans or something nearby). I can't help but feel a little glum about what has happened- but there is a strange sense of inevitability about it all.

Because St Paul's Cathedral lives right on the fault line of several dilemmas faced by the Church of England. The first is that of having a place of worship that is also a tourist attraction. It comes with the territory for big old buildings. And it creates problems wherever it lands. What is our responsibility? Is the Church of England the keeper of buildings or is it a worshipping community? Over the last twenty four hours a number of Christian friends have made it very clear what they think, that the church is not about buildings. But buildings have kept the church present in communities all over the UK where the rest of the church has retreated. St Paul's is not one of those places, but it is a complex issue.

Second: St Paul's is in the heart of the City of London. The City of London is the most closely packed set of vested interests in the country. It is profoundly intimidating, bullying business has ruled the roost since the cathedral was built and there are some very strong influences and influencers. I have attempted ministry there and its scary. I would rather live and work in the poorest, most violent 2% than there. Anyone seeking to represent Jesus amongst that intimidation needs our prayers.

Third: St Paul's embodies the tensions that an historically established church faces. There are some in the Church of England who believe we have a divine right to public voice etc. It is a journey for many to realise that that is simply no longer the case. Christendom is over, but our nation has not quite rejected it. In church circles all over the country we are trying to work out a new role. Some are further along the curve than others and in any high profile place of worship these tensions live out. They are worse because of the essential breadth of the Church of England.

I'm not launching a defence of St Paul's: this has not been a success on any level.

However, I am also aware that there are some forces at work that may be taking the protestors for a ride. There is a danger that the views of the protest are being hijacked. An unholy alliance of city interests and radical secularists would want nothing more than the protest becoming about how mean the church is. It diverts from the real injustice- that a very few have made a big mess and refuse to clean it up.

Anyway- I am withering now.. Maybe more thoughts later.


Popular posts from this blog

NO MORE MAGIC BULLET- or why I have stopped watching the West Wing

I love the West Wing. It still rates as one of the most well informed and influential series of the genre. Its speeches have been stolen by people who have osmosed its hope for a better way of doing politics. When we watch it today it holds a very particular kind of resonance because it demonstrates a civility that has been drowned in a sea of hate. It has positive images of a wrestled out faith, is rich with camaraderie and pith and is just good telly.
But its bad for me. 
It pains me to admit this, but the West Wing makes me think I can change the world in a way that is simply not helpful. 
It holds out the present hope that the world can turn on a single conversation. With the brave statement or right turn of phrase one might change the debate, and in turn might change the world entire. The moment in the Oval where they realise that if they take no credit they can save social security. The moment where Donna remembers to pay welfare payments. The realisation that all the NATO people a…

Oxpresidentgate and a Crisis of Generosity

Its been an interesting start to the year for the third sector. As we all get to grips with GDPR (more later), we have been subject to increased media attention as first we reeled from President’s Club revelations to the far deeper impact of this week’s revelations about Oxfam (and others).
There is much that can be written. Undoubtedly there are some in media and politics who will seek to exploit the 1/3 of us who don’t think aid should be sent overseas to change policy off the back of bad behaviour by some people. We could face a drop in giving to international development, as supporting Oxfam is no longer seen as acceptable (like buying a plastic bag). I suspect this will recover at some point, possibly in different form.
However, there is a deeper moral crisis for third sector organisations and my fear is that Christian charities are not immune.
To explore this let me go back a month. The President’s Club- where charities were set to receive significant amounts of money from an…

A very dull post about what I do with my time...

Each year I take a calendar month and record what I do in it. I break each day into twenty minute chunks and note down what happens in each twenty minute block. I don’t do the same for designated Sabbath time (nor do I note each bit of time outside of the beginning and end of a working day, no-one needs to know how long I clean my teeth for).
I categorise each thing that I do (an imperfect science) with a view to getting a handle on what I do with my time. 
This year I did the audit in November (as clergy I always avoid doing this in Lent, Advent or August). 
So- what did I discover?
I work around 55 hours a week. (thats up one hour from last year) That work is spread over five and a half days. The only sabbath day that was interrupted by work was about processing a painful meeting.  Of 26 working days, I worked 12 evenings.
In terms of what I do:
In November 17% of my time was taken up with prayer, reading and learning. Thats a slightly false read as I had a 48 hour away time in there. Prayer…