PREPARE YOURSELF FORANOTHER DISAPPOINTMENT

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.

Dear Justin.

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.

Dear Jonathan,

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,

Yours sincerely

Justin

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.

Comments

PREPARE YOURSELF FORANOTHER DISAPPOINTMENT — 14 Comments

  1. Great. Just what we all need, another, elitist, downtalking to others, snitty wimp (probably will shine a little brighter when sucking up to GAFCON thieves, thugs and hatemongers). Moan, gives me the creeps that England is still churning this kind of propped up/puffed up snob of a man out.

    • What really gives me the creeps is that the people still willingly accept the concept that we should be ruled by an elite bloodline. An Eton prime minister and an Eton archbishop of Canterbury at the same time and nobody proposes bloody revolution. Quite honestly, we are such gullible wimps we deserve to be treated with less respect than “his Lordship’s favourite labrador.”

  2. Oy. So sad and so petty. It just seems like the Church writ large doesn’t know what to do with people who are straight-shooters and tell the truth.

    • The thing is they know I can’t help but say what I think. They paid for the bloody psychiatrist’s report that confirms I’m a pathological moralist. It happens to be one of the few things that I like about my madness and I really was incredibly sad when I received his comments attacking my honesty. I have nothing else but my honesty and he tried to take it away from me.

  3. It makes me glad I’m a Yank and that the ABC isn’t a Pope.

    We elect our Bishops here and while it doesn’t always work out it gives us a say in who our leader will be. Of course the downside is that sometimes rather than getting the Bishop we need sometimes we get the Bishop we deserve.

    You are in my prayers MP.

  4. I get exactly what you mean. The CoE, like many big organisations, is extremely hierarchical and the people in important positions of power within it assume a model of leadership that is upwards looking. Pleasing peers and bosses is more important than pleasing the people on the lower ranks. By saying that he was offended that you would expect less from him is a clear indication of the boss taking a stance which would pre-empt any accusation of not taking your worry seriously. Hope this makes sense.

  5. I hate to agree with Peter Akinola about anything. None-the-less, his observation that one can find God without going through Canterbury may well be what the communion needs to recall as this new regime begins.

    FWIW
    jimB

  6. Oh dear! You should have spoken to me MP before you sent him your e-mail. I could have helped you write something truly manipulative, and in such a way that he wouldn’t have even noticed. Thats the funny thing about manipulation. When you’re being manipulated you wouldn’t know it would you? These boarding school types learn all about manipulation. It’s life or death to them in those school environments. There is so much sucking up and fawning and looking sideways at fellow pupils when someone says something authentic (ie off key) and sniggers and what not. Everyone know who is above them by one millimetre and who is below them by one nanometer.

    This Welby guy would be being manipulated day in and day out its just that he would have a huge blind spot for it. He would call the manipulative behaviour ‘good manners, good breading, right behaviour, good christian maturity’ etc.

    He would have a huge blind spot and you stepped right out from that, clear into his field of vision and he wouldn’t be used to that. Poor bloke I’m not surprised he looked at your e-mail for a week. He wouldn’t have seen anything like it! He wouldn’t know how to take it until. After a week of studying the exotic creature…”Ah Ha! I know what this is. I’ve heard of this. It’s called manipulative behaviour! Well I won’t be falling for that!”

    You stepped out of the blind spot and didn’t stay in the safety zone. Your were being what I would call, “honest”, “frank”, possibly a bit “earthy”, (and they don’t like that unless it’s late at night and tits and bum) and somewhat fatally, “overfamiliar”.

    You were forgetting, alas, to be manipulative.

  7. This story really makes me quite ill. If he honestly thought you were being manipulative, the sensible thing (not to mention the biblical thing) to do would have been to sit down with you and talk it out.

    My own fairly recent experience with having been severely mistreated by my bishop has really shaken my once firm commitment to catholic teachings regarding the three-fold ordained ministry. In other words, I’m having serious questions about bishops altogether. I don’t think it’s right for one Christian to have that much power over another.

  8. I was disturbed by Welby’s recent remarks regarding banking, business, and the economy. They were weasel words too easy on the greedy and shameless and the whole speech made me feel ill at ease and mistrustful. I found no underlying Christian moral compass, compassion or zeal.

    Reading this email exchange simply reinforces my impression and that makes me very sad. That a man may rise to the highest office in the Anglican Church while lacking the most perfunctory and common Christian fruits of the Spirit speaks very badly of the state of the Christian Church today.

    I feared that Welby was a stealth candidate meant to appease the angry Global South and vile-speaking Africans and who would not rock the class system and challenge the status quo at home. Looks like I was right to trust my heart.

    MP, prayers for you and trust that it is better not to be associated with such as he, no matter how bitter the injustice.

  9. I was disturbed by Welby’s recent remarks regarding banking, business, and the economy. They were weasel words too easy on the greedy and shameless and the whole speech made me feel ill at ease and mistrustful. I found no underlying Christian moral compass, compassion or zeal.

    Reading this email exchange simply reinforces my impression and that makes me very sad. That a man may rise to the highest office in the Anglican Church while lacking the most perfunctory and common Christian fruits of the Spirit speaks very badly of the state of the Christian Church today.

    I feared that Welby was a stealth candidate meant to appease the angry Global South and vile-speaking Africans and who would not rock the class system and challenge the status quo at home. Looks like I was right to trust my heart.

    MP, prayers for you and trust that it is better not to be associated with such as he, no matter how bitter the injustice.

  10. I thought I sent another comment but its not here. Usually its here twice so there you go. Basically the gist of it was that Rev Welby is about to become the highest person in the church while you, MP, as an unemployed priest are clearly amongst the lowest in the church. Now tell me, why would he want to help you, one of the least of Christ’s brethren?