Thursday, September 16, 2010


Again apologies for the late post. I've now completed the third phase of transition, from wine country to high desert to Seattle to the UK. It's already autumn here, sun and showers sweeping in from the N. Atlantic. The soft yellow Cotswold stone of the ancient university buildings blazes with white light as the sun breaks through the dramatic backdrop of dark grey and black clouds.

The madness of Term hasn't started yet; it's not hard to find a seat in the library, and the streets can be navigated with relative ease. Merely walking into the Bodleian seems to trigger vital information: it's only my first full day and I've already been startled several times over—and no, I'm not going to reveal what it is until the paper is finished and delivered in July of next year!

The pope is here—yawn—I certainly agree with Stephen Fry and a number of other authors that he shouldn't have been accorded a state visit. He's here in part to beatify Cardinal Newman, which is a bit of a joke as in many Oxford circles he is remembered as being gay and of course there are no gay men among the Roman Catholic clergy! Doubtless the pope is also here to annoy Rowan, as well as outrage all those affected by the priest abuse scandal. One of the news programmes suggested last night that there are still a lot of clergy around who have served their jail time but have not been defrocked. It's also recently emerged that every single parish in Belgium has suffered from sexual predation by priests. One protestor says that religious have been complicit as well, holding down children while dreadful things were done to them.

While I was in Seattle the acting dean of the Episcopal church echoed many of her colleagues by saying in a pastoral letter that the churches are at a crossroads. The Diocese of Eastern Oregon is being dismantled and the parishes set adrift. There seem to be two blatant issues: entitlement and money. The clergy won't face that their sense of entitlement, their demands for huge compensation packages and their contempt for the laity are a large part of the problem (they seem to think that the reason the church exists is to support them); and the laity are finally being forced to face that the diocesan structure serves only the clergy. Oh yes, and there is the small additional problem that what passes for prayer seems to have become a commodity and many of the clergy don't seem to know what it might be even if they fell over it.

The formula is medieval: no money, no sacraments. And of course the clergy are too possessive to license people locally without forcing them to be ordained. Isn't it time we forgot about the structures and just took matters into our own hands? It doesn't cost anything to behold.


Anonymous Kimbaka said...

Just found this blog after reading your books. Your ideas are a fresh breeze I've long needed to shifting me out of feeling I didn't fit into considering that maybe there is something wrong with the dominant model of how we "do" religion.
Thank you for writing even in the midst of so much change. The rains have returned to the Pac NW and now is a great time to settle into some prayerful silence, sustained by your insights.

4:16 am, September 17, 2010  
Anonymous Ian Duncan said...

Look forward to further posts - best wishes for yourt stay in UK.
Yes your ideas really are a fresh breeze, though ... they make me think of the Cathars, not so much their dualism as their way of living

5:27 pm, September 17, 2010  
Blogger Bo said...

Great post as always!

9:12 pm, September 17, 2010  

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