Church and state normally take it in turns to face my wrath, but this week they both deserve a mention: First, the Church. Yesterday at the Church of England Synod, a majority of priests voted to allow women to become Bishops. As women have been ordained for decades now, it seemed to most rational beings to be the next logical step.
The people, however, didn’t see it that way. The logical corollary of ‘women can be priests’ was, in their rather strange minds, ‘only men can be bishops’. How this conclusion was reached, in as close a representation of double-think as I can recall from recent years, nobody is quite sure.
Destroying the Church
Rowan Williams went on the usual news outlets to express his 'sadness' and 'disappointment' like some train company spokesman offering condolences after a suicide. I couldn’t help but think that he would have been a little more disappointed if he were a female priest. Still, always look on the bright side life. The damage this has done could destroy the church or harm its reputation for years.
Playing the democrat?
My own views on an established church with guaranteed votes in the legislature (with which they exempt themselves from equality and employment legislation) aside, this does tell us something about the structure of the church. An organisation that is clearly not democratic should never try to play the democrat in these disputes. Priests and Bishops are promoted and appointed arbitrarily, so they should not vote as if their role was some kind of representative ‘finger on the pulse,’ if you will.
Time for a sex change
As it is, Bishops will continue to look maler and paler. The quickest route into becoming a Bishop if you are a senior female priest is probably getting a sex change. No, really, it will take years for the church to get their act together so, sorry, but that’s your best option. In the mean time, I continue to imagine what job descriptions must look like for new Bishops.
'Responsibilities include: Praying, preaching… the ideal candidate will have considerable experience of urinating standing up'.
Now, the State. Prime Minister’s Questions today, normally heartening for those of us who favour a strong debate, was weak. There just isn’t much to argue over with international affairs. Cameron offered to keep “putting pressure on the Israeli prime minister.” Aside from that, it was essentially half an hour of watching little Eddie Miliband get a kicking from the school bullies. Plenty of 'hear hear' and cries of 'more!' as Cameron finished one answer that really struck a blow. Usual turgid debate over whether or not the awful turnout last week in the PCC elections was a judgement on the government or the opposition. Nobody really cares though. Apathy reigns.
Descended into farce
MPs of Government and opposition alike, bray coarsely at the slightest indication of what some might call humour, and the issues are never decided by a single question anyway. The entire affair has descended into farce. Alice, played by yours truly, watches as the Queen of Hearts, played by John Bercow, screams 'Off with their heads!' and yells for order, only to slump back into his throne as the poisonous babble of unbridled arrogance and pride rises again. As the Gryphon tells Alice, 't's all her fancy: she never executes nobody, you know'. Maybe Bercow could learn a few lessons from the example of the Queen of Hearts about people management.
I find this boorishness frustrating. Across the world, our help is needed, and at home the obvious course seems to go unnoticed. Only this week the students march again against a Government they feel they are a million miles from.
Westminster truly is the place where ignorant armies clash by night.