Overtakers and undertakers
A WEST LONDONER’s letter tells of a shocking case of dangerous driving, involving a student driver, a speeding sports car, and the death of a pedestrian who was thrown 15 feet into the air in the collision.
Our correspondent, Antony Porter, of W9, considers the sentencing lenient, is surprised that no ban was imposed, and wonders what thought was given to the effect on the victim’s family and friends.
“We are told that the youth now suffers from ‘survivor’s guilt’,” he writes. “But surviving what? Not being sent to prison? Not being banned?” These are some of the issues, he suggests, that need the attention of a Bishop for Road Safety.
Though I can see how a cartoonist might revel in that idea, it isn’t so strange now that there is a “lead bishop” for all kinds of everything. Indeed, a bell goes off in my head which takes me back to the archives.
Sure enough, there is road safety, coming up again and again in the Church Times in an era when you might think, from Genevieve, that Kay Kendall and Dinah Sheridan, wandering about in the middle of the highway, were the only problem.
But in that era of relatively little regulation, road safety was one of the earliest campaigns to come out of Christian Action’s busy little HQ in Amen Court; and, in the 1960s, the Religious Press Group, to which the Church Times was affiliated, took up the cause with a vengeance.
So a bishop with this portfolio would be speaking from a tradition.
DURING this brief peruse, I spotted a 50-year anniversary that ought not to pass without mention: Canon C. B. Mortlock’s death on the last day of October in 1967.
I always think of him if I go into St Alban’s, Holborn, in London, since he is portrayed in Hans Feibusch’s vast mural on the east wall.
Mortlock, a City of London incumbent, had contributed, as “Urbanus”, a series of “Roundabout Papers” to the Church Times since 1920. Feibusch illustrated a book of them, Inky Blossoms.
In what looks like his last finished piece, “More Bishops Wanted”, Mortlock is hearing echoes of Hensley Henson (perhaps they were already coming from the Other Side), and ponders the difficulty of defining what exactly is required in a bishop.
How hard it is, he also says, for the rank and file of the clergy when those who are elevated to the bench seem to have “attainments not markedly different from their own”.
In the 21st century, the C of E seems only too sure what it wants of a bishop, and how to get it. So let’s hope that Mortlock was right about the hand of Providence. There was, I was told, something for the CT still in his typewriter when he died.
Minding the gap
GROVE BOOKS don’t always excite, but I notice, courtesy of recent obituaries, that authors who were pioneers in that series of often useful booklets are now passing to their reward — and it must be in heaven, because they can’t have been paid very much.
One of the current titles to catch my eye is Enabling Succession* by Ian Parkinson, CPAS’s Leadership Specialist in Theological Education.
Evangelicals, especially at what are known as Important Churches, seem to have a bee in their bonnet about this whole issue; but I think they’re right to let it buzz around a bit, though not at any price. The rest of us could probably do with giving more attention to the subject.
We’ve all seen a place that was built up by successive priests laid to waste in one incumbency. Equally, most of us, I think, have seen how in an interregnum the laity can seem to evaporate from the building.
It seems unlikely that every church wants a “succession” culture in which everything is stitched up by the exiting incumbent; but I have to confess that a vision of competent PCC secretaries and churchwardens lined up behind one another to the crack of doom doesn’t give me the creeps that Banquo’s descendants gave Macbeth.
The irony for me is that the first parish I lived in was under CPAS patronage. It was said that a crucifix on one of the graves had scared the society’s choice of Rector away, and the right of presentation had lapsed to the Archbishop of Canterbury.
In consequence, Canon Pike (St Augustine’s College, Canterbury, Durham L.Th., 1911), who retired about the time that I was entering the world, had run it according to his own rather different lights since 1939. He even faced east, I believe.
*Grove Books, L28, £3.95 (CT Bookshop £3.55); 978-1-78827-008-3.
Ban it, anyway
THE Church Times apologises for suggesting during August that North Korea had a “hydraulic bomb”. If it were only that!