Anglican energies

This post will veer, you’ll notice, between the sublime and the faintly ridiculous. I have often wondered, when dealing with the clergy of the Church of England, how it is that such palpably intelligent and thoughtful people, many of whom are not wimps in the least, manage to accomplish so little in the world. Some of this is no doubt a result of evil and sin, which are tough enemies. But even when the clergy are on the side of evil and sin, which tends to be where journalists meet them, they’re not very energetic allies. And when they are, the libel laws forbid suitable comment.

However, I am impressed by the energy and determination of the Rev’d David Johnston, who has taken his former employers, the diocese of Liverpool, to an employment tribunal for sacking him after he entered a relationship with his secretary. He was at the time—you’ve guessed—the press officer. She was single; he was not, but claims his marriage had already broken down. The Sunday People claimed otherwise, and was forced to retract and pay him damages. At this point, the Bishop rehired him, and then resacked him, apparently because of the vigour with which he aired his grievances at a grievance meeting. This should have been private, he says—what’s the point of a grievance meeting where no one dares say what they mean? On this basis, he is suing the diocese. But he hasn’t stopped there. He spammed all the religious correspondents—even me—with the news, and then set up a web site so everyone could watch the progress of the case.

In other news, I managed to finish recording the Viking slavery programme, despite being deaf in one ear at the time; the other took the brunt of my producer’s demand “That was great, Andrew. Now can you give me ‘the gift of sexual access again’!”

Talking of which, my wife is reading a social history of the British Empire, very strong on public schools. I particularly liked the headmaster of Clifton College, who defended his focus on games with the question “What do French boys talk about?”

I have also read two serious stories, which need posts of their own: Conrad’s The return, and Jessica Martin’s account of life as a junkie’s mother, which will be largely, and wrongly, ignored by the world, since it appears in a volume of thoughtful essays by Anglican priests about what the Church of England can do today.

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