Tuesday, 22 September 2009

The Bishop of M & S

I woke up this morning with a nightmare realization: all those bishops, to a man + a handful of women, at Lambeth last year were wearing DRESSES! Beards and frocks - isn't there a fundamental cultural dissonance there, somewhere? I know they call them 'convocation robes', or if they're really fancy 'vestments', but that doesn't change the fact that they look like maternity dresses from the 1970s. The odd thing is, if you look at the group photo of the spouses at Lambeth, they seem a perfectly normal group of women (+ a handful of men) - even if a lot of them appear to buy their clothes from Marks and Sparks....

Our admirable local bishop, Stephen Cottrell - who, by the way, is the exception that proves the rule, apparently without a hair on his head (he's quite trendy, with what, I think, is a No 1 haircut) and certainly no beard - hit the headlines briefly. The BBC reported, 'A senior bishop has said the Church of England must shed its middle class "Marks and Spencer" image to target "Asda or Aldi" worshippers.' (Note to the reader: area bishops aren't normally ranked senior. I wonder if the BBC knows something....) Actually I reckon it needs to shed a bit more than an M & S image. That's not nearly so weird as bearded men wearing dresses and being enthroned to the accompaniment of Victorian music, like church princes. Why has no one the courage to break the mold? Do bishops make a promise not to rock the boat before they're appointed? Bishop Stephen hit the nail right on the head: 'Jesus got us started with church simply. Like this - sitting us down in groups on the grass and telling simple stories. Not simplistic. But certainly not complicated.' What on earth HAS happened? If the Church returned to the pattern that Jesus modeled, people might be impressed. Though I believe that means more than a change of image; it means a change of heart.


  1. Dear Aunt Agony,

    Yesterday I came home from M&S with new clothes. I was really excited about them. My husband is not a bishop. Does this matter? Should this matter? Am I normal? Should I care?

    Yours, thrown into confusion,


  2. Dear Mary

    Try not to worry. It sounds to me as if you're quite normal for a number of reasons:
    1 Your husband's not a bishop.
    2 You probably bought from the Per Una range.
    3 You like shopping and you are a woman.
    4 If you dressed in Aldi products, you'd look pretty silly.

    I wonder whether you are C of E anyway. Even if you are IT DOESN'T MATTER. The C of E is probably the most confused church on earth.

    So my advice is, Don't panic and enjoy you smart new clothes. I'm sure your non-episcopal husband thinks you look lovely in them.

    Aunt Agatha

  3. Dear Aunt Agatha,

    Oh I am so relieved. I know I can trust you when you say it is alright because somehow you knew all those things like that I bought Per Una...and I agree with you completey that if I dressed in Aldi products I'd look pretty silly.

    I will definitely ask you again when I have another problem.

    Yours unconfused again and grateful,


    PS Thank you for telling me it doesn't matter even if I am C of E. That would be a great weight off my mind if ever I was.

    PPS My husband, even though he is not a bishop, does think I look lovely in my new clothes. (Well I told him straight he wasn't allowed not to.)

  4. Dear Mary

    I'm so glad that's helped.

    Aunt Aggie

    PS I don't have shares in M&S.

  5. But you have other shares which are priceless.........