last chronicle

News briefing to the press from Lambeth Conference Supremo, Steve Blumenthal

l know what you lot will be writing. Ruth is probably well into My Lambeth Hell II and the rest of you will be making silly jokes about the 'Big Top', circuses and the rest. Now listen up.

This is too serious a matter to joke about. Lambeth 2008 is costing a mint and we are still 1m in debt. If everybody laughs at it the Americans won't pay for it, and that would be a disaster. So let's have some positive spin, ladies and gentlemen.

The 'Big Top is not a circus it is a powerful image of what this Conference is all about. The Anglican Communion is a 'Big Tent' in which all sorts and conditions of men, women and others can take their rightful place. And no jokes about hot air, either. If you had seen the bill for air-conditioning, you too would have decided against it.

Give Philip Aspinall credit for the marvellous job he is doing in the daily press briefings. It is no end of an achievement to come up with a commentary everyday of the proceedings of a Conference in which nothing is scheduled to happen.

We are particularly proud of our 'Indaba' groups. The proceedings are, of course, held in secret - so that no one, not even the members of one 'Indaba' will ever know just how successful the others have been. But 'Indaba' is a traditional Africa process which can take days and which can best be described as 'facilitated listening'.

Our groups are time limited so that nobody can say too much or listen too long. You will ask yourselves, of course, why Indaba Groups are so marvellous when Africa is in such a mess. But my firm advice to you is not to travel that route.

Speaking about secrecy (or privacy as I prefer to call it), you need to know that everything is private. /\)o lists of participants are available in case of terrorist attacks.

And one last thing. Don't even think of referring to the two sides of the wire fence across the Campus as East and West Jerusalem. Allusions to the Heavenly Ciry would be quire out of place.

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