Friday, 25 April 2008

Church politics...

Dear Reader,

After another wonderful week of work at the Diocesan Council, the Bishop feels the need to let it all out...

Whilst those who work in business can expect to be at the end of a little office politics from time to time, I wonder if it gets anything like as vicious as Church politics? A few years ago, the Diocesan Council introduced a delightful approach called 'relative appraisal', under which, at the end of the year, the performance of priests, monks, nuns and bishops is assessed against that of their colleagues. The result: a race of 'survival of the fittest' which would shock a piranha! Whilst our Scientologist neighbours across the road have simply to be from public school / Oxbridge and be able to at least pretend to be gay in order to receive a top 'box marking'; and our Calvinist friends who share some of our block have to be able to spell properly (though not, of course, add up or store records correctly - that would never do...), we are required to bullshit for a living.

When, therefore, our flock wonder why our finance department holds its funds at the Northern Rock and invested in an Equitable Life pension fund, our maintained schools seem unable to teach pupils, donations meant to care for the poor so often end up in the hands of the lazy, feckless and/or criminal, and the costs of caring for the sick and elderly in Church hospitals / hospices has risen enormously with little apparent benefit, they need to bear this in mind: we have become so adept at bullshitting that:
  • Many of us believe the bullshit ourselves.
  • Even if we don't believe it, only the foolhardy (here, unfortunately, is the Bishop's problem) dare to point out that it is brown, sticky, comes out of the back end of a cow, and doesn't smell very nice...
  • At which point, the foolhardy are told that they are not acting in a 'collegial' fashion, are simply ignored or are bullied into shutting up (or, in the Bishop's case, a mix of all 3...).
  • And only the BS experts stand any chance of ever making it into the College of Cardinals - hence nearly everyone aims to be a BS expert, rather than focussing on their vocation, be it developing better ways of helping the poor, improving standards of teaching in maintained schools, running the Church's investment portfolio in the best way possible, etc.
  • Thus, the Diocesan Council, which is supposed to be committed to 'diversity', actually only attracts one-dimensional, 'cookie-cutter' 'yes-men' (and 'yes-women'), exacerbating the problem of low stipends which means that the Diocesan Council is disproportionately upper-middle class (or higher), and has no staff (even those from ethnic minority backgrounds) who have any experience of the social problems faced by the poorer members of our flock. This is why their answers to every challenge always involve more control by the Diocese and higher tithes.
  • And those who are genuinely committed to their vocation move to another Diocese, join another Church, or turn to alcohol.
Where will the Bishop end up?

God bless you for listening... Now, where's that nice bottle of communion wine... :)


Saturday, 5 April 2008

Appraisal for beginners

Dear Reader,

Sorry I haven't blogged for a while - it's appraisal time at the Diocesan Council, and therefore time to write my objectives for the past year, so that the Bishop (Senior Grade) can fully appraise my religious activities and fitness to continue my Ministry.

Not that this will tell me anything new...

1. The Bishop is very strong in his study and analysis of the Bible and other religious texts.
2. The Bishop gets on very well with most members of the Diocese (although he must resist making up nicknames for staff from the Vatican Bank, even if only in private: it shows a lack of Christian charity and respect for the cerebrally challenged).
3. The Bishop provides appropriate support to the priests and nuns in his pastoral care.


4. The Bishop sometimes expresses views that do not fit with orthodox thought - 'whilst this provides welcome challenge in some contexts [i.e. 'we wish he would shut up and stop with his nonsense about 'evidence'!'], the Bishop must take greater care in how he expresses such views.'

Translation: if the Bishop wishes to retain his current role, let alone become a Bishop (Senior Grade), he must not challenge the views of his colleagues, especially those that are more senior, and therefore infallible.

Thus the traditional Church Orthodoxy is preserved, unaltered and in all its glory, throughout the generations (well, since the 1960s at least). Unless, of course, it conflicts with the latest views on 'social justice', gender, class, race, and sexuality (together known as 'Liberation Theology') from those renowned experts at Neasdon University*.

At least the Bishop has the consolation of a decent bottle of altar wine to look forward to this evening..... no wonder many of his predecessors ended up like Father Jack...

*Formerly, The Neasdon College for Morons with a single Grade C in GCSE Media Studies.