WELL done, Jonathan Petre, who got the first clergy gay marriage
in the Mail on Sunday, and managed to have it plunge the
Church into a fresh crisis in his very first sentence.
One imagines by now that the process of plunging the Church into
crisis is something like tie-dying: first it gets all knotted up,
and then it is plunged into a bath of fresh crisis, and left to
marinate there for a while. Finally, when the knots are untied, a
startling pattern emerges - except, of course, that for the moment
the C of E is still so tightly knotted that it is just a dripping
Everyone else followed the Mail. There wasn't much left
to add: no one much was talking to the press except for the
rentaquotes. I did like the unnamed "senior traditionalist cleric"
in Petre's story who said: "This is a test of the authority of the
bishops and a critical test for Archbishop Welby." This is a lovely
way of pressuring the Archbishop, who is well aware that there is
absolutely nothing he can do to discipline an NHS chaplain, as is
the Bishop of Lincoln. Canon Pemberton does not even hold, or need,
permission to officiate in the diocese of Lincoln, though he has
one in Southwell.
TRAGICALLY, we couldn't get a quote from the best possible source,
the bees at Lambeth Palace. The Telegraph had picked up a
publicity plug for a new BBC series on bees and beekeeping, in
which the Archbishop had been interviewed. He told Martha Kearney
that his grandmother had taken up beekeeping, and taught him the
Kipling poem "The Bee-Boy's Song". From that he had learned: "You
must always tell the bees all the news.
"The bees knew more than anybody else. I assume they were
It's a line that has a certain poignancy in the life of a lonely
only child whose father was so full of secrets himself.
THE other piece of Welby news was an interview he gave in Canada
on last week's story about how Africans used Western openness
towards gay people as an excuse to massacre their Christian
neighbours. He looked to me like a man digging himself further into
an ill-considered hole: "I'm not saying that because there will be
consequences to taking action, that we shouldn't take action. What
I'm saying is that love for our neighbour, love for one another,
compels us to consider carefully how that love is expressed, both
in our own context and globally."
Indeed, which is why the actions of the Church in Nigeria and
Uganda are so damaging to the reputation of the Church of England.
Some people might fail to see altogether how they are expressing
"love for our neighbour, love for one another".
IN CHINA, there is no fundamental distinction between the
mainstream media and the unofficial sort. All alike are equally
subject to censorship.
This is what makes an article in the current issue of the
Washington Foreign Policy magazine so fascinating: it
looks at the terms most frequently used on Weibo, China's answer to
Twitter, and finds that Christian subjects are incomparably more
often mentioned than Communist or official ones (above).
There were, for example, 17 million recent mentions of the Bible,
compared with 60,000 of Mao's Little Red Book; 41.8
million mentions of "Christian congregation" as against 5.3 million
for "the Communist Party".
"The Underground Church" is not permitted to appear anywhere
online at all; so, to some extent, these results reflect the
judgement of the censors that talking about Christianity is an
acceptable substitute for talking about politics (except when it
AND SO to the wonderful Marina Hyde, The Guardian's
anti-celebrity columnist, and the only one who brings to the task
the scorn it deserves. She discovered that the Kardashians, a
family of professional and highly successful self-publicists, have
founded their own tax-deductible church. Its pastor, Brad Johnson,
had fallen on hard times after an adultery scandal at his previous
He was, in fact, working at a Starbucks. The Kardashians found
him there. "Somehow, Brad found the strength he needed to leave the
macchiato-making - one imagines the details are contained in his
book entitled How to Forgive Yourself and Others."
Here's my idea: we give a copy of the book to every member of
the General Synod.