30 November 2009

Damp squibs all round

What a dismal wash-out as an entertainment - the 'Panel Discussion' in the University Church about 'The News from Rome'. Hard work, too. I expect it's because I'm so old and senile, but I couldn't actually hear everything that most of the distinguished Panel said, except for the words of Bishop Andrew Burnham, who spoke loudly and with clear enunciation and accurate use of the microphone. That made him sound a trifle assertive compared with most of the rest of them, which was unfair because he was simply doing his I'm-a-reasonable-man-and-goodness-me-I'm-certainly-not-a-bigot turn, which he does so well.

The Master of Benet's, Dom Felix Stephens (is the denomination 'Dom' politically incorrect now? We never seem to hear it) described himself as 'A benedictine liberal' and explained that the problem was that the chaps in Rome didn't understand England and the English. Twice he said that Rome would not have women priests and each time carefully added the adverb 'now'. His manner was rather like that of the late Cormac; of being an old dodderer who hadn't quite mastered his brief. I presume that in Felix' case this is a jesuitical affectation designed to lull us unsuspecting Protestants into a coma, because I gather he is a distinctly natty operator when it comes to finances. And he was certainly decisive enough when the Vicar of the University Church appeared rather unpleasantly to imply that a shortage of priests in the RC church might have something to do with it all.

Felix explained how much he loved the Church of England and simply adored her worship; gosh, I thought, Dr Dawkins last month and now Dom Felix; is there anybody who isn't just filled with admiration of the dear old C of E? From outside?

A Baptist woman called Myra Blyth (what had it got to do with her? We don't get asked to express our views about the internal affairs of the non-Conformist community ... thank God ...) had a delightfully Mummy-will-now-put-you-straight-on-everything manner. Not that she seemed to know much; she thought that the acceptance by Rome of married priests was some sort of doctrinal break-through, apparently unaware that there are tens of thousands of married clergy in communion with Rome. I didn't like her : she called the Pope 'medieval'. It's not so much that I feel defensive about the Roman Pontiff ... I'm sure he's capable of looking after himself ... but I dislike the use of the word 'medieval' as an all-purpose term of abuse.

The highlight of Canon Dr Judith Maltby's contribution ... Oh dear, I'm already bored with doing this post and I haven't got through the half of them. Good night, all. Oh; and, no, nobody mentioned that today was the happy 455th anniversary of Cardinal Pole reconciling England from heresy and schism. What an opportunity missed.


  1. I expect that most bloggers (myself included) were too busy reporting the 40th anniversary of the New Rite...

  2. Panel Discussion in the University Church

    Good Lord!

    How generous, how optimistic of you to take notice of such banality! Surely a work of supererogation!

    I live in a major American city where young women who 'get religion' convert to Islam, or Eastern Orthodoxy (of the sort in which women wear head coverings) or Roman Catholicism (of the sort where women wear lacy head coverings). I have never met a twenty - or thirty- something who has converted to a woman-empowering mainstream Protestant denomination. They simply don't. They aren't interested,

    In my megopolis, the women clergy are all in dying, intellectually dubious, aesthetically impoverished, and increasingly financially tenuous liberal *mainstream* (God only knows what *that* means) denominations. They are mostly in their 50s (with a few exceptions, who are also hospital chaplains). They look a lot like Roman Catholic nuns of the same age who are active in various urban ministries. You can tell them a mile a way (and shudder).

    Why shudder? Because there will always be some personal narrative about 'vocation' that begs sympathy or some account of victimization and a general projection of male vileness and churchly connivance in sexist oppression.

    Mind you, I have a woman as *ministry co-ordinator* in my own parish and she is pious and devout, effective, and better than anyone I have ever encountered in scheduling, arranging, facilitating, and generally getting things done. She has no pretensions.

    University panals are all about pretension.

  3. You have left us in suspense. Shall we ever know what the highlight of La Maltby's contribution was?