Wednesday, 21 November 2012

The women bishops disaster

Well, surprise, anger, despair, bafflement, a suffocating blanket of why-did-I-expect-anything-else, on this subject. I was lifted out of this last night, shortly after the news came through, watching two small boys blowing up each other's Lego models. Who could watch that and not think that spiritual leadership is a distinctively male quality?

But then, I'm a scarcely-repentant Protestant who doesn't really believe in bishops at all. So what do I know. Two slightly more considered thoughts.

One: this is certainly a disaster, but it's primarily a constitutional disaster - the product of a deeply obscure and dysfunctional decision-making process in the Church of England. It's not so much the supermajority requirement - something that pushes us to consensus is not a bad thing. But making it impossible to revisit a deeply urgent issue for five years is simply ridiculous: this needs to be resolved. And it also brings out how problematic the House of Laity is. This is a very indirectly elected body, and I believe relatively few of the candidates make their positions on the key issues plain to the electors. This isn't democracy in action; it's not clear that the lay representatives actually represent anyone, no matter the fine personal qualities of the individuals. If this fiasco exposes the essential illegitimacy of the body and of the process, then it's achieved something.

Two: we do, as a Church, actually deserve this. The bitterness, lack of goodwill and hairsplitting failures of generosity with which the debate has been conducted on both sides - including by me - has not been a model of Christian decisionmaking. A little repentance all round would not go amiss at this point. It might make the resolution of the issue a touch easier too.

1 comment:

  1. Firstly, who ever said religious institutions were meant to be democratic?!
    Secondly, I've no right to make any comment - as a Catholic, and as a catholic woman who, despite the relatively rational part which absolutely believes in equality in all things, still struggles with the whole notion of women priests. Whilst at the same time thinking it was a shame the result was not to have women bishops. Confused? Yup...