Everybody is permitted to reproduce this column - but with a Health Warning:
NOTHING IN THIS COLUMN SHOULD BE RELIED UPON AS FIRM EVIDENCE FOR ANYTHING.
All facts or opinions expressed
herein are purely interim. They are constantly under review by our team of
experts and will be revised upwards as necessity demands or occasion permits.
Nobody should EVER AGAIN write articles which criticise
the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church , whose written English has all the delicacy and sensitivity of Patience Strong,
and a copy of whose recent sermon to the American House of Bishops
can be had (on the provision of a sae)
815, Second Avenue NY, NY 10017
NOW JUST LISTEN UP!
* * *
EASTER IN THE CofE is far less fraught than it used to be, I can tell you.
Do you remember the bad old days when David Jenkins used every available festival to DENY ALL? We have much more control now. (And for that I suppose that I must take some modest credit.)
My system of 'Lead Bishops' is working swimmingly (apart, that is, for the occasional glitch). Will you believe that when the list went out some joker noticed that there was no lead Bishop for Death?
I ask you, do these people have no sense of humour at all? Naturally we gave him the job. Now I am expecting calls for a Lead Bishop on Breast Feeding, which Vivienne will fill nicely when the time is ripe.
LEAD BISHOPS are our principal weapon in establishing HOMOGENEITY (which is our newly adopted Post-Lambeth, Post-Oporto, Post-Collegial position). Post-Collegiality, as I see it, frankly admits that Anglican bishops are never going to agree about very much, and so allows one bishop at a time to speak for them all. Since each bishop in turn gets the sole right to be opinionated, everyone is more or less satisfied; and the press is far less confused. And since the whole system is administered through the Office of Public Enlightenment, it is far easier to CONTROL.
There have been teething troubles, of course (like the little spat between Chesters and Scott-Joplin); but once a generation of new bishops has been introduced, for whom the Lead Bishop System was one of the stated terms of their preferment, everything I am sure will settle down nicely.
Though, with the current furore in the States, I anticipate having to keep the Lead Bishop on Same Sex Exploits on a pretty short rein.
* * *
Alas, when I wrote last month that Frank Tracey Griswold III (Grizzy, or just 'PB', to us afficionados) stands in no need of a Spinster, I spoke (as too often) too soon.
It seems that even the great man himself feels the need of some smooth-tongued young press attaché to spruce up his image. And judging from recent examples of his prose style, posted on the Internet, the need is urgent.
Try this for size:
For all bishops.
My dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am deeply grateful to you all for making our most recent House of Bishops meeting such a rich and deep experience. Your good spirit, and care for one another and the Church we seek to serve, made our time together one of extraordinary blessing and hope as we look to the future.
Following the Sunday Eucharist one of you observed that I had preached with a particular intensity. His comment led me to confess that as I stood at the ambo and looked about me I found that I was caught up in an overwhelming affection for you all, and suddenly realized that my ministry among you has been, as Ron Heifetz taught us, to establish a holding environment - a force field - in which each of you can find room and the Risen Christ express himself in and through you. What a gift God has given us in one another, including our various understandings of the working of God's grace...
In Christ's love,
Frank T. Griswold
Presiding Bishop and Primate.
I think we can all agree that a letter like that could do with a little tightening up. Nobody expects an Anglican Primate to be clear and decisive; but limp-wristed sentimentality is not an option either.
From what Jack and Jumbo said about her gritty performance in Oporto, I think Grizzy could do with a little help from his wife, Phyllis. Wife as Spinster: it's an idea which just might catch on!
* * *
I like 'force-field' though. If only, in Grizzy's case, it had a little more apparent force.
That's what I like to think that we at the Office of Public Enlightenment are setting up: a force field; a field of force which keeps the Press (and scepticism) at bay; a cordon sanitaire which protects our beloved Church from the snide negativism of those bitter traditionalists. We are busy turning the CofE into a haven of optimism and positive thinking, where the only permitted doubts are theological.
AND WE WILL SUCCEED.
* * *
Finally, you will want to hear how we are getting on at Anglican Novelties plc, after all our problems.
Mercifully, the ABC managed to get a consortium of businessmen (who had just been put through an Alpha course) to pay for all the 'tainted stock' we had to write off as a result of the Lucy and Pete enterprise. So the way is open for us to be daring and entrepreneurial once more; which we are doing with a new range of merchandise based on the ever-popular Carey Bear.
(Carey Bear, incidentally, has now received the Royal Warrant, and - though not quite as popular at Highgrove - has been espied proudly seated on the back window-ledge of a certain Rolls Royce! He is expected to be on our shelves for some time to come! )
'Oporto Primates 2000' is a beautifully hand-crafted series of little furry collectables which builds up into an educational array of thirty-eight, each complete with cope and mitre and Spouse in distinctive national costume.
'The Deans and Queans Collection' is an up-to-date, gay-friendly range of cathedral 'Dolls' from across the world (one of which even has a cute little devil's tail!). This is a set that every child will want to collect!
Each 'Doll' [price $1500, or near offer] comes in its own distinctive neo-gothic presentation case.
William Badger is the Public Enlightenment Officer of the Archbishops' Council. He is a Canon of Chattanooga.
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