Monday, 19 July 2010


Following from the last post and my weariness with internal church politics, I read this quotation from Hilary Cotton (Vice Chair of WATCH - Women and the Church) on elections to a new General Synod in September: "We've got some work to do to make sure people stand for this Synod who are going to support this legislation, and to give them the story so far." (Church of England Newspaper 16th July) Which stands nicely alongside the ginger-group's advert of the week before: pictures of women bishops from the USA and round the world with the strap line, "Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church" - which of course echoes Revelation 2 and 3. That particular line seems to me entirely inadmissible in contemporary Christian debate - as it stands above contradiction and implies an obdurate resistance to God on the part of people who might beg to differ. Of course WATCH are not alone in political manoeuvring and claiming divine irrefutability. Whatever your view, that's just not the way for Jesus' followers to carry on, is it?

I've been reading Dinner with Mugabe by Heidi Holland, a fascinating study of power politics at its raw edge, and was struck by this quote: "The individual who inspires the politics of paranoia is often caught up in a primitive psychological defence that guards against depression, emptiness or meaninglessness." In other words, people who start campaigns demonising others are often trying to exorcise their own demons. "Ironically, the enemies from which such people most passionately distinguish themselves are those to which they are most closely bound" (page 205).
On a more, and unexpectedly positive, note, I was listening to Desert Island Discs on Saturday morning on which the castaway was Dr Gwen Adshead, consultant forensic psychotherapist at Broadmoor High Security Hospital. (By the way, I love the theme music with the seagulls' mewing overlaid. Brilliantly evocative! I'm so glad the BBC has never tried to change it.) You'd have thought that working with acutely disturbed criminals, such as the Yorkshire Ripper, would have given her an entirely jaundiced view of life. Actually it's given her an entirely realistic one.

Kirsty Young asked her about the unpredicability of life, "Do you think our expectations culturally right now are at a point where we expect too much happiness?"
Dr Adshead's reply was:
"Yes. I do. I sometimes wonder whether we don't prepare enough for the 'slings and arrows of outrageous fortune'. Or rather I think we don't understand that pain and suffering, and rage and distress, are as normal a part of life as the happiness and the joy." (Desert Island Discs 17th July) Well said! Get real. Life doesn't always go our way. 


  1. Food for thought and some inspiration to help with next Sunday's sermon ( James and John's Mum wanting them on Jesus' right and left) many thanks.

  2. Pleasure, Pat. Sorry I won't be there to hear you. But that incident does illustrate out human ambition-ness, doesn't it? It's interesting that Jesus' reply as well as ruling it out of order in the kingdom also speaks of suffering on the way as normative.