Colin Coward has just posted the following on the Changing Attitude Facebook wall.
I've not reported on the meetings with James Jones, (+Liverpool) and Sir Tony Baldry, because a lot of information was exchanged, much of it sensitive and helpful for Changing Attitude. Tony Baldry was very positive and optimistic about the reforming effect Justin Welby will have on the Church. James Jones was more sober.
What follows is my comment on the post.
James Jones is a man whose judgement can be trusted. He is also the bishop of the diocese in which the new ABC was once dean. At the end of the day Justin Welby is about evangelism. He eschews the pastoral and is not an imaginative thinker. You say something nice to him and he thinks you are "being manipulative." He trusts no one except his wife, probably due to being sent off to boarding school as a child and even farmed out to relatives during the Summer holidays. We may get some calls from him for economic justice but that may well be all. He does not change his mind easily. He is a stubborn as a pig, has been imbued with the conceit that it's his genetic destiny to rule and has to win at all costs. His politeness and self control is very much on the surface.
When Justin Welby arrived in Durham Diocese barely over a year ago now I had very high hopes that here was a good evangelical along the lines of Bishop James Jones. Sadly, I was soon disappointed. The man is paranoid and if riled, deeply offensive.
A few months ago I asked him to help me level the playing field in respect of a vacancy I was applying for in the diocese. He didn't like the idea of that, which is okay. But at the end of my email I wrote the following.
One thing I am certain of is that you are part of my story and that if you clear off to Canterbury in the next few months I very much doubt that my story will have a happy ending in the foreseeable future. There are things about the timing of all this which lead me to tentatively believe that God has a hand in it.
It took a lot for me to write that as I'm not a very touchy feely person. So, to say that I was gutted when I read the following comment on his reply would be a vast understatement.
The paragraph about clearing off to Canterbury is frankly manipulative, as I am sure you will see if you read it again, and I will ignore it.
So I replied, protesting my innocent from deceit.
I am not being manipulative. I was telling the truth. I am extremely worried about you disappearing so soon after you have arrived. I would have to wait another year before a new bishop was appointed. That is a very frightening and depressing prospect as far as I'm concerned. From my point of view I was paying you a compliment, saying I wanted you to stay. I did it in a light hearted way. How you can turn that into some sort of Machiavellian insult I just don't know.
He ignored me. So later that night I sent him another email.
I am really extremely cross and upset about your accusations. I am not one to open up to people. But I wanted to tell you that I trusted you and that I thought you were part of my story. I wanted to tell you that I would be sorry if you left so soon. I thought it would make you happy to know you had won my trust. But you fling that all in my face with the accusation that I am trying to manipulate you. What sort of a world do you come from in which every request for help or attempt to reach out to someone is regarded as some sort devious attempt at mind control?
Why can't Christians ask each other for help?
Why can't Christians offer to help each other as readily as they offer to help people outside of the church?
What is the point in your evangelism if there is no love in the Church?
To which I received the following reply.
I am sorry that you are upset. However, I spent a week looking at your email, and pondering over it, and the fact is that it comes across as manipulative, I am sure unintentionally. So do your more recent emails.
Active ministry in a local community is very demanding indeed, I think the most stressful thing I have ever done. As I say I do not interfere in appointments at the first stage, and you are welcome to apply, but I think that if this email exchange is so difficult for you how will you manage to deal with its pressures?
I tetchily replied.
Perhaps if you didn't spend a week anaylising every email and just took them at face value you wouldn't discover so many "unintentional" sub-texts in them and would be able to converse with people normally instead of viewing every discourse as a game of wits. I have absolutely no idea what the point of being unintentionally manipulative would be. It seems to me that the whole point of being manipulative is to have a conscious outcome in mind.
To which I received the following classic "ruling class" put down.
I spent a week thinking about yours because it is important. I am surprised that you would prefer to have it treated as less than that. I am now going to concentrate on other matters,
There is a postscript.
At the beginning of December a parish priest in Durham Diocese wrote to Justin Welby (who, at that time, was still Bishop of Durham) to enquire about the possibility of my attachment to that priest's congregation. For various reasons, not least my great respect for the priest concerned, it may well have been a good placement. However, he has not replied and is from this week no longer effectively the bishop of Durham. This means that I will not have another chance of getting my priesthood reinstated until the next bishop is appointed which will, no doubt, take at least a year.
It does seem grossly unjust that an ordained priest can be effectively defrocked without any disciplinary action. It's like a doctor being barred from practicing anywhere for no other reason than the area health chief doesn't like him.
It also doesn't seem fair that, once again, those who hunger for a "nice" Archbishop of Canterbury who will love them and smooth troubled waters, will be greatly disappointed.