A report was once written about a young lieutenant in the British Army which damned his future career with the following beautifully succinct piece of faint praise.
“Men will follow this officer. If only out of sheer curiosity.”
I don’t really understand why the doings of the Church of England hold any meaningful interest for me. It’s like a horse race. I have a detached interest in which horse wins but since I’ve backed none of them, it really doesn’t matter very much. I find its politics worldly, its missiology often flawed and clumsy and many of its higher-minded proponents especially those for whom the Church is a golf club with incense, faintly repugnant. Women bishops? Who cares. Gay ‘marriages’ – half of the high Anglicans I have ever met have had more than the aroma of left-footedness about them and very competent pastors some have been. Let them hold hands if they want to, but don’t put the imprimatur of the Church on a piece of paper for which its seal was never intended.
In short, all of the above notwithstanding, I also happen to know many good, solid, valuable souls for whom adherence to it, in some form or another, is as natural as breathing. Cynicism is the disease of the modern age and hope is its cure, so let’s leave the bah humbug behind for a moment and suspend disbelief that the C of E is not short of leaders, just followers.
|Noddy and Big Ears
Which brings me to John Sentamu. Brought up in Uganda as a Manchester United supporter – come on, you Reds – and after a legal career found his way to the top of the heap in the C of E as the lady-in-waiting for Lambeth, the Archbishopric of York. He’s not signed up for the election committee to replace RW, so the smart money is saying that despite being a black man from Kampala and a thoroughly nice bloke, by all accounts, he’s up for a move to Canterbury. If he doesn’t get it, everyone will say that it’s because snobby toffs in London aren’t too keen on a coloured bloke for the top job and he’s being a bit sniffy and old-fashioned about gay marriages. He’s also been criticized for his ‘African chief’ mentality which has been likened to tribalism, which might not sit well in the corridors of power. H’m. At least you’d know where you were with him. Some kind of wishy-washy with clean hands and impeccable diplomatic credentials he ain’t. Good for him. He’s smart, unafraid to say what he thinks – a populist and a strong antithetical candidate to swing the pendulum back from Rowan’s high-minded but remote tenure.
John S is being backed at 6/4 while London’s Richard Chartres – the beaten favourite last time out is at 7/4 and Nick Baines, Bishop of Bradford is at 5/1. All might change with the dark horse coming on strong in the final furlong in the form of Graham James, Bishop of Norwich. Good game.