MadPriest’s Law states that the moment you kid yourself into believing that things can only get better they invariably find some devious way of getting much, much worse (see Tony Blair and New Labour).
I began 2015 feeling unusually optimistic about the year ahead. At the beginning of December 2014 I had applied to the new(ish) bishop of Durham for permission to officiate in the diocese and this had rekindled my dream of getting my job back and giving my life some worth and meaning. I should have taken heed of MadPriest’s Law because, of course, things would not go smoothly and an unholy mix of episcopal arrogance, diocesan bureaucracy, fearful friends and my own impatience, pig-headedness and tendency to self-destruct, led eventually to me ending the year a lot worse off than I was at the start of it.
The fact that the bishop took over seven and a half months to process my application did nothing to enamour him to me. I was obviously well down his list of priorities even though I am supposed to be in his spiritual care. But it eventually came through and I did get to preside (though not preach) at one service, whilst everyone was on holiday, at the church I was then worshipping at. At this point I thought that I was on the cusp of a new future. I saw myself becoming involved in the deanery and so becoming involved in the diocese and wider church. Unfortunately my plan went pear shaped when the area dean of the church I was worshipping in refused to speak to me or allow me to be part of his deanery. On top of this, when I enquired to the archdeacons of the diocese about advertised appointments they did not even bother to acknowledge my correspondence. It was obvious that the permission to officiate was always going to be a worthless piece of paper as nobody with any authority in the diocese had any intention of letting me in. The door had been slammed in my face yet again.
All this pissed me off big time and sent me into the clutches of the big black dog again. I became obsessed with the abuse I had received from the important people of the Church of England over the last twenty odd years and I became determined to obtain an apology from them along with some sort of meaningful restitution. This was, of course, an unrealistic demand. Bishops, archdeacons and the vast majority of area deans are not made of the stuff who understand the concept of the Church being in the wrong or that the Church has a duty of care to any of its members or officers. You only have to contemplate how long, and how many reports and prosecutions it took to get representatives of the Church of England to even tentatively apologise for the horrifying amount of sexual abuse its clerics had inflicted on children and others over the years, to realise the futility of my expectations.
I then put the final nail in my coffin by refusing to agree to anything the bishop had to say to me about me being kept strictly confidential. This was self-preservation on my part. I have no friends in the church and I do not have the strength to go up against a bishop on my own again. I needed the protection of my internet community. I also do not have the strength to fight my corner anymore. I wanted an unreserved apology and spiritual restitution and it was obvious that the bishop was not going to offer that in a month of Sundays. Suffice to say, the bishop ignored my suggestion of a meet up, face to face, and has not been in touch with me since.
So, this new year I am without optimism because there is absolutely no hope of there being anything to be hopeful about in the twelve months that loom ahead of me. I shall continue to enter the national lottery because there is more chance of my numbers coming up on that than the Church of England giving me what I need and want it to give me.