The Curmudgeon


Monday, July 05, 2010

Thou Shalt Not Abstain from Lying with Mankind, as with Womankind

The endearing faction of a minority religious sect is crying to heaven once more over the tortured moral issue of whether a celibate Christian male should be disqualified from high office in the church if he happens to practise his celibacy with regard to other males rather than, as is proper, practising his celibacy in a fashion that would get him admitted to any bed-and-breakfast in the country. Seven years ago Dr Jeffrey John was appointed bishop of Reading, whereupon the same endearing faction of the Anglican church threatened to take its endearing qualities elsewhere. The Archbishop of Canterbury, as he usually does when faced with this sort of blackmail, asked himself what Christ would have done and, in a flurry of high-flown verbosity about tolerance and mutual understanding, made haste to fire John and appoint somebody else.

Now there is a vacancy in Southwark, for which two names must be presented by the Crown Nominations Commission to Daveybloke, who will present one, presumably the Saviour's personal choice, to the Queen - who will rubber-stamp it as she rubber-stamps everything that happens to be sufficiently ludicrous or insignificant for her constitutional role to encompass. A conservative evangelical group, which calls itself Reform in much the same spirit as one of our three parties of big business calls itself Labour, has already "warned the church could split" (or, in Standard English, threatened to split the church) should John be appointed. Someone called Chris Sugden, an experienced splitter in his own right, has told the BBC that clergy and parishes who feel defiled by John's authority will go off and find a real man to obey in Nigeria or somewhere. Someone called Ray Skinner gave mention to "North America, with its shrinking liberal Episcopal Church, and growing orthodox Anglican Church": a most relevant point given the Saviour's well-known democratic teaching that the more people agree with you, the righter you are.

Rather bizarrely, Britain's leading liberal newspaper reports all this mean-minded insularity under world news, presumably because somebody mentioned the United States. Although Reform, Chris Sugden and Ray Skinner are all quoted extensively, not a single voice was found to speak in John's favour. It is not clear whether this is due to Britain's leading liberal newspaper finding some comments more sacred than facts, or to the brand of moral courage practised by liberal Anglicans.


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