Subscribe
Notify of
guest
71 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
4 months ago

I once worked for a highly successful company that was brought to Administration by a new CEO. From the minute this ego arrived, head office visibly detached from the business.

Meetings we had about the service we sold were replaced with meetings about management. The top management board became dominated by the functions (HR, IT, Finance) with Profit Centre heads relegated to secondary committees. Sorry ladies but, as an aside, all these functional heads were women, who were visibly adept at managing this ego and not much else.

It seems to me we live in an age where people are starting to realise something is missing. There must be an opening for any organisation that can offer a sense of community and something worthwhile to believe in.

That may well need modern input. Any debate about how to reach inner city kids, develop localised community structures or just find and support the needy, must include people who understand social media and changing societal expectations. That’s just methodology. The core principle is to keep the organisation close to the people it serves.

It looks like the CofE is going the way of my old company. I hope Giles and his peers can find a way of turning it round.

Kevin Dee
Kevin Dee
4 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

“Most of the clergy I know inwardly grown and — because of their legal protections — just get on doing the stuff they have been called to do. We tend to ignore many of the smiley management-clergy who sit behind their Macs and offer structural and paper-based solutions to the tide going out on the sea of faith.” Mad but I think this basically reflects the corporate environment. Most people just try to stay quiet and do their jobs amidst a tidal wave of BS.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
4 months ago
Reply to  Kevin Dee

We were required to submit complex monthly reports for the board pack. These reports had to include action plans to get back on budget.

Since the budget had been inflated into la la land, any such plans were always just works of imagination. On page 5, under “other comments” I wrote “creating this fantasy has wasted another 2 hours of productive time.”

I submitted that every month for 4 months before anybody noticed. Fortunately I was close enough to retirement to not care.

Pity, it was a great place to work before the “heavy hitter” was parachuted in. Needless to say he went on to another captain of industry type job. Abject failure is never an obstacle once you’re in that magic circle.

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
4 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Targets, action plans, breakdowns of weekly/daily/hourly activity and similar horrors are simply failures of those higher up the hierarchy in middle/senior management to inspire and educate the workforce below them directly, by force of their own success/insights/skills.
The introduction of modern management practices can be seen, in hindsight, as the first stage in a process of dehumanisation of the workforce, of divorcing people from any sense of personal devotion, caring, responsibility or accountability for the work they do. A satanic keyword in this process is “flexibility”—tearing people out of any sense of individual control over some substantive meaningful content of their labour. From a spiritual point of view, this practice can be seen as stealing a person’s soul. Loss of soul = loss of human status.
The second stage of this dehumanisation is now well under way: the delegation by management of command and control to computerised systems designed to deliver authoritarian one-way diktat to an enslaved population.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
4 months ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

I’ve never seen it as a spiritual issue, but you are right; a modern corporate is a soulless place to work. So much effort directed at meaningless activity.

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
4 months ago
Reply to  Kevin Dee

…inwardly grown… no, this should read …inwardly groan
It’s a typo in the original article, but when quoting the article, it helps to put sic after the mistake, viz. …inwardly grown [sic]
This practice avoids passing on and perpetuating language errors, and serves to draw readers’ attention to the issue.

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
4 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

The core principle is to keep the organisation close to the people it serves.
No, the core principle is to keep the organisation close to God, or whatever name the Divine Source goes by in a particular place at a given time.
The organisation has no other function than to connect that Divine Source to the individuals who together comprise the people.
The organisation has no inherent core principle in and of itself. It is purely a more or less functional connector.
Management is not only the major parasitic blight affecting today’s secular world. It now infects the spiritual worlds too.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
4 months ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

I don’t think we are disagreeing. If the mission of the church is to connect people with God then one of its overriding “operational” principles must be to maintain a strong connection with the people.

The church now exists in an unbelieving society. How did the missionaries convert the unbelieving? I don’t know but it was certainly done by the missionaries on the ground connecting with local populations and not by the church bureaucracy.

Fred Atkinstalk
Fred Atkinstalk
4 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

There is a school of thought that says companies go through three phases – they are run by marketing entrepreneurs, then by accountants, and almost immediately thereafter by liquidators.

Though speaking from personal observation, I would run a mile from any company that put any value on its managers having an MBA. Pretending that ‘management’ is a stand-alone skill has been catastrophic for the NHS – it will be interesting to see how long it takes to bring the church of England to its knees as well. (no pun intended!)

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
4 months ago

Yep absolutely my experience. Charismatic entrepreneur, accountant with an MBA, Administration.

The difference between the impact of charismatic leadership, and dreary managerialism on the morale of staff, even before the impact of the latter was fully felt, was interesting to observe

Last edited 4 months ago by Martin Bollis
Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
4 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Me too, already doing my best.

Stephen Walshe
Stephen Walshe
4 months ago

The religious census carried out in England on Sunday 30 March 1851 recorded 5.3 million attendances at Church of England services that day across the country. Today, weekly church attendance is well below 1 million. But there are a lot more bishops.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
4 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walshe

5.3m out of, what 14m or 15m population. Now 1m out of 55m or so.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
4 months ago

Indeed. How on Earth or in Heaven can there be a Christian position on Brexit?

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
4 months ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

The worst thing about it is you can be pretty certain the Brexit Bishop isn’t in favour of it.

Fred Atkinstalk
Fred Atkinstalk
4 months ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

Because people say “Jesus Christ!” every time it is brought up………

Last edited 4 months ago by Fred Atkinstalk
Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
4 months ago

This reminds me of the time when I was a factory manager. Lots of flowcharts, jargon, TLAs and nonsense but nothing about the customers.

Surely, any church is about the punters and only the punters? Isn’t the clergy there to help the people who turn up at the services? And only that single thing? There was not one word about the punters in the whole article.

Sue Whorton
Sue Whorton
4 months ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

William Temple said the Church ( Universal) is the only organization that primarily exsists for the benefit of others. There is a story in the Scottish section of the Times about withdrawing funding from 16 year olds in care. Where are the modern Barnado’s, Mary Sumners and others. Chad Varrah and the Samaritans? Rampton Hospital began as a Cof E charity. The big hospitals such as Barts. and St Thomas’s. Educating the poor, the prison visitors of the 19 th century. The Tolpuddle Martyrs were Methodist local preachers. Love thy neighbour as yourself. The hated and reviled Samaritan put compassion ahead of religious duty.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
4 months ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Not just those who turn up at services, but those who believe or would like to, who appreciate spiritual support or comfort from a person of faith. But that is simple at parish level, that is why the system has worked for so long, until Mr Welby left middle management in BP and introduced corporatism in the C of E

Fred Atkinstalk
Fred Atkinstalk
4 months ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I think you may have hit on one of the problems – once the local parish only cares for the people who turn up at services the rot has set in.

Some forty years ago, when I moved into a house on a housing estate, there came a knock on the door one day : “Hello, I’m the local vicar. I don’t really care if you are a churchgoer or not, but we at the church see ourselves as something of a hub for the community – we run mothers and toddlers, a scheme to borrow gardening equipment, various clubs, and we house the scouts, guides and brownies. You are welcome to visit and make use of these facilities, without any pressure to become a churchgoer” (I paraphrase.) People went there : some went to services, some only to regular fetes, concerts etc. I went there occasionally – I ended up being on the PCC. I know for a fact that the vicar kept his ear to the grond, and if there was an old or sick person in the parish – not a churchgoer – he would drop round. He actually cared
.
I have been living in my present house (in a nice village, big enough not to be a multi-church ‘team’ ministry) for more than 25 years. Not once has anyone from the C of E knocked on the door to say hello. We do get the parish magazine through the letterbox every few months, though it doesn’t paint a picture of an organisation that welcomes people. I did once go there to hear an organ recital : there were refreshments afterwards, and two distinct groups of people eyeballing each other – the parish types, talking only to each other and glaring at the visitors, and the organ anoraks, again talking only to each other and glaring at the home team. I stood there for about twenty minutes, and no-one spoke to me (obviously I was not a known member of either team) and in the end I had to ‘gatecrash’ one of the groups to have a chat (it was the church group) – they so clearly didn’t want to know, so in the end I drank my tea, left, and haven’t been back since.

At the other end of the village is a Baptist Church – they turn up quite regularly at my door to tell me what they are doing, and to tell me I would be welcome to visit – not really my type of church, so I don’t. But it strikes me they are doing the right things, unlike the C of E (though I am sure the local C of E would happily bury me in due course – for a large fee.)

Last edited 4 months ago by Fred Atkinstalk
Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
4 months ago

Possibly, but the fee is not large -the undertaker gets that .

Geoff Cox
Geoff Cox
4 months ago

What the CofE is doing is, to me, very reminiscent of the Conservative Party say 20 years ago. Although, I’ve never seen it written, my view is that the Conservative Party Central Office decided that the grassroots could “go hang”. Out went various local powers (eg to choose their MP) in came a lot of policies that the membership (had they been asked, would not have agreed with (eg mass immigration, LGBT agenda etc). The result is that once thriving local Conservative branches are now shells of their former glory – many simply do not exist. The Conservative Party may think they are doing well enough without their grassroots, but it is another step away from some sort of accountability.

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
4 months ago

Well, any Anglican who thinks Rome has “proper” bishops needs his lumps felt. We certainly USED to, but that day is done, at least for the moment. It looks to me like Welby has been doing an on-line course with the Jesuits. I suppose they’re as ecumenical in corrupting other churches as they are their own.

Simon South
Simon South
4 months ago

I find it interesting that throughout the article and discussion, that there is no mention of God? I read the comments with great interest and the oft used analogy of the Church of England as a “business”, led by CEO,’s rather fitting . As Chris Wheatley mentions in his response, this must be about shepherd’s leading their flock to the love and salvation of Christ and not the balance sheet, spreadsheet or internal politics surely? Is the Church of England a Church of God or an earthly bound plc?

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
4 months ago
Reply to  Simon South

No mention of God or of worshippers either. The entire organisation as described appears entirely inward looking because it has the funds, leisure, and surefire income to be so.
Parkinson’s First Law – people rise to their level of incompetence – is quite well known and clearly at work in the C of E. But so is his less well-known Law of 1,000: that any body numbering that size or more will find enough bureaucracy with which to preoccupy itself internally that it will detach from, and largely cease to engage with, the outside world. This article seems to describe such an organisation, to the point where it feels able to ignore both worshippers and worshipped.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
4 months ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Law of 1000 – thanks for that. I wasn’t aware of it, despite seeing it in action on a daily basis!

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
4 months ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Parkinson’s less well known Law of 1000: I had not known of this. Thankyou for a really valuable piece of information.
Strikingly, it fits exactly with some informal ideas of my own which I had formulated when trying to come to terms with the question of when representative democracy ceases to represent.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
4 months ago
Reply to  Simon South

I can assure you that in our parish, God is mentioned, and also Christ. Quite a lot, actually.
I can’t speak for Lambeth Palace of Church House. They are far away.

Last edited 4 months ago by Colin Elliott
Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
4 months ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

Our parish too.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
4 months ago
Reply to  Simon South

It used to be said that “The Church of England was the Tory Party at prayer”.
Today only my Spaniel is a regular worshiper.

Last edited 4 months ago by SULPICIA LEPIDINA
JR Stoker
JR Stoker
4 months ago
Reply to  Simon South

Giles is a godly man, he frequently muses upon Him (or Her or It) but his article here is to do with God’s servants on earth – the appointed type – and not so much about religion or faith. And that’s his point, the person in rectory worries about God, so does the person in the pew , but the staff at head office worry about systems and reporting and control and regulation and adherence to guidelines!

Simon Diggins
Simon Diggins
4 months ago
Reply to  Simon South

Giles highlights the Catholic v Protestant dynamic within the C of E but their is another axis, fittingly enough: state-authority moral authoriser, ‘The Established Church’ with HM, our constitutional head of state, at its helm, versus the Church as a site of individual experience, and fulfilment through, knowing God.

The ‘moral authority of the state’ vector has existed since pagan Roman times (indeed that was the objection of the Romans to Jews and Christians); the Roman Church inherited Zeus’s mantle.

Last edited 4 months ago by Simon Diggins
Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
4 months ago
Reply to  Simon South

Sad that, as I spend a lot of time trying to keep the rumour of God alive! Sorry not to have slipped it in earlier.

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
4 months ago

There’s an old saying that, once a man becomes a bishop, he’ll never eat a bad meal, sleep in an uncomfortable bed, or hear the truth. It’s a Catholic axiom, but true for every large denomination.

John Harrison
John Harrison
4 months ago

My parish is one of 5 in a ‘team ministry’ headed by one vicar at the largest church. When the previous ‘team’ vicar retired at the end of 2020 the new one was installed early this year – a gap of over twelve months. The other parishes in the ‘team’ are supposedly ‘run’ by ‘priests in charge’ who have no parson’s freehold and are appointed for a period of five years. They are people who have retired from other employment and are non-stipendiary, expected to work for sixteen hours a week in return for free accommodation and a small expense account.
The priest in charge of my small parish and the adjacent smallish parish retired before the ‘team vicar’ retired and has not yet been replaced. We were told that this wouldn’t happen until the new team vicar had been appointed so that he/she could have a say in the appointment. A third parish in the team ministry is in the same position. Services are conducted by one or two retired parsons who have no income, no support and no expenses out of the goodness of their hearts. The two vicarages are meanwhile let with the proceeds going to the diocese which, at the same time, continues to demand a monthly revenue from the parish. No parochial work goes on unless a retired parson hears of and is prepared to respond to a particular need again out of the goodness of his or her heart.
The diocese has increased the number of rural deans who have a stipend, a car, an expense account and, presumably, free accommodation.
Parochial work these days is expected to be conducted by local authority workers who are probably better paid than old fashioned stipendiary parsons used to be but who probably change jobs fairly frequently and are never around long enough to get to know and be known by local people or to gain their respect.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
4 months ago
Reply to  John Harrison

I recognise the situation.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
4 months ago

I always really enjoy reading Giles Fraser’s articles, despite being myself at best an agnostic. He writes very well. I find it astonishing that members of the clergy are joining unions; I thought it was all supposed to be a bit more transcendent than that.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
4 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

I find it curious, too, but maybe part of the trend towards looking at the CofE as a corporation which hires and fires employees.
No doubt the time will come when bonuses based on complicated formulae are introduced (you know; based on diversity, sexuality, climate change, pay equality).

Last edited 4 months ago by Colin Elliott
peter lucey
peter lucey
4 months ago

(From an unbeliever, of course!)

The Church of England can resemble a 1970s nationalised industry. The similarities are clear: confused leadership; apathetic middle-management; demoralised workforce; an air of indifference to customers; and all surrounded by enormous wasted capital. Notwithstanding Reverend Fraser, I find it hard to imagine that anyone inspired to preach the Christian Gospel would be drawn to the current Church of England. The answer to the Church’s problems, I suggest, would be as for British Leyland, British Steel, BT and the rest: privatisation.

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
4 months ago
Reply to  peter lucey

Do you mean disestablishment?

Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
4 months ago
Reply to  peter lucey

Very true, we persist because we love the Lord and the people, and without ambition, we sit lightly to the institution.

Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
4 months ago

‘inwardly grown’ Giles? I know you’re into psychoanalysis but surely you mean ‘inwardly groan? It’s what I did when I read there is to be a Brexit bishop. How ridiculously irrelevant can you get?

AC Harper
AC Harper
4 months ago

In business reorganisations are rarely successful without wholesale change first. There are too many existing managers maintaining their agendas and too many existing workers maintaining their Spanish practices. I don’t see why the Church should be any different.

Christine Thomas
Christine Thomas
4 months ago
Reply to  AC Harper

So that Cof E can continue on its merry way offering a viable ponti scheme to heaven by constant messaging of salvation through obedience to God’s representatives on earth? Just coincidence Henry VIII powers reinstated not to the Monarch but to their Chief Servant including, it would seem, belief in ability to heal the sick, bring comfort and security to all, merely by their visible presence making their progress throughout the land. The former Church of England now the template for the PM’s Church of Public Relations, dare one presume?

Mark Vernon
Mark Vernon
4 months ago

I suspect the decline goes back to the dissolution of the monasteries – the monent the church secularised in the original sense.

Monasteries and other religious houses were corrupt, no doubt, but in principle they existed to nurture the roots, leaving the worry about fruits to the secular clergy.

The “ecclesiological experiment that is the Church of England” has been, therefore, haunted by withering from the start. As Roger Scruton once pointed out, a substitute secular vitality was first found by healing the nation after the civil war. Then another secular source to tap came with being the church of the empire. Now, though, with secularism actively rejecting its religious wellsprings, the graft is discarded and dying.

Only secularism is withering too. Therein lies a scary kind of hope…

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
4 months ago
Reply to  Mark Vernon

“leaving the worry about fruits to the secular clergy.”

I think you will find that the Monasteries also had plenty to worry about ‘fruits’.
The 1535 Valor Ecclesiasticus revealed that about 55%* of the wealth of the Church was in the hands of the Monasteries, which numbered just short of 900** establishments, of which 10 were Cathedral-Priories. By comparison the Secular Church numbered something like 9,000 Parish Churches, a small number of Collegiate Churches and 9 Secular Cathedrals.

As to corruption the Monastic Church was no more corrupt than the rest of the country. Thomas Cromwell overstated the case as a necessary tactic to discredit the Monasteries.

(* Essentially they owned about 4.5 million of the very best acres in England.)
(** Including the Mendicant Houses.)

Last edited 4 months ago by SULPICIA LEPIDINA
Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
4 months ago

Fascinating. Thankyou for the detail.

Mark Vernon
Mark Vernon
4 months ago

Yup, corrupt.

Fred Atkinstalk
Fred Atkinstalk
4 months ago

I must be getting old – or senile.
I actually agree with something written by Giles Fraser.
Mind you, I think his evaluation of the Roman Catholic bishops’ power over the clergy is tinted by the rose-coloured spectacles of the outsider – or perhaps based on watching Father Ted? (Ok, I admit that Lenny Brennan is my kind of bishop.)
I also felt there was a strong element of ‘leave me alone – I’m doing a good job’ and I had an uncomfortable feeling that the teachers took, and take, exactly the same view – irrespective of how badly (or sometimes well) they perform.

William Perry
William Perry
4 months ago

The power of RC bishops over their priests really is as absolute as Giles says. If anything he underplays it. Yes, the clergy do technically have the power to appeal to Rome but it’s unlikely to do them much good.

By contrast, while CofE clergy do take an oath of canonical obedience to their bishop, it is qualified by the phrase “in all things lawful and honest”. That gives plenty of scope for clergy to claim that the bishop is not lawfully empowered to impose his will, or that in doing so he is not acting “honestly”.

Fred Atkinstalk
Fred Atkinstalk
4 months ago
Reply to  William Perry

I stand corrected. Pity the bishops didn’t use that power to control the paedophile element, though (which I don’t believe is widespread, but one is too many.)

Liz Walsh
Liz Walsh
4 months ago

I can recall enough phrases from the old Common for Holy Bishops (used in Anglicism monastic worship) that I feel very sad, reading this. Possibly there was a fragment reading “…and in times of trouble, he was taken for the sins of the people…”? Rather a different view of the role than the current ideas about Brexit Bishop, Covid Bishop etc. Is it only because these posts are being created within the stained glass jungle that they are called Bishop, and not Commissar?

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
4 months ago

What on earth is a Brexit bishop? If it’s not intended as irony, then may I assume it is intended as a counterweight to the anti-Brexit bishops?
(Post script; Brexit has been likened to the Reformation, so maybe there’s some sense in it after all.)

Last edited 4 months ago by Colin Elliott
Martin Smith
Martin Smith
4 months ago

Yo Giles, I need a list of your key deliverables on my desk 9 o’clock tomorrow morning.

Last edited 4 months ago by Martin Smith
John Shelton Reed
John Shelton Reed
4 months ago

“Inwardly grown”?

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
4 months ago

I think he meant ‘groan’, but it added mystery.

Last edited 4 months ago by Colin Elliott
Zorro Tomorrow
Zorro Tomorrow
4 months ago

For an organisation headed by a supreme being with a 2000 year old workshop manual ignored and manned by gays and celibate socialist witch doctors it all seems an irrelevant contradictory club to me. What happened to the biker vicar who ran the youth club in the good old days?

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
4 months ago

“Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?”

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
4 months ago

Traditionally, the role of the bishop is to be a vicar to the vicars, to support the frontline pastorally, and to maintain sound doctrine within the church.
Yes, the secularisation of the church. It’s almost as if our bishops have been to a half-day management seminar at McKinsey and have suddenly seen the light as to how the church should be more efficiently run.
…the smiley management-clergy who sit behind their Macs and offer structural and paper-based solutions to the tide going out on the sea of faith.
Rev Fraser raises the fundamental issue here. Let’s face some facts:
# Modern western democracies were founded on the principle of separation of Church and State. This was originally to protect the newly nascent state from domination, control and takeover by the previously ruling forces of religion. Today, the situation has reversed; separation of powers is now needed to prevent the dominant State from taking over the Church.
This separation of powers was never fully realised in Britain, since the CofE is still an established Church: politics and religion are intertwined here, and have always been so. It is incorrect to say that when the CofE was established, politics crept into the previously free sphere of religion. No. Rather, the reverse was the underlying truth: religion was constrained into the free sphere of politics. Thus, the CofE was founded for secular, political reasons: overtly, to satisfy the uncontrolled sexual lust of the monarch for exploiting women, but under the surface, to free up royal powers for an almighty land grab and the increased control that came with it. The secular was the power base. Religion was made to serve its ends.
What we are seeing today is nothing but the latest revamp of this ancient practice. The CofE is being remodelled to serve secular ends.
# To combat this takeover of religion by the materialistic secular mindset, Rev Fraser’s principle of subsidiarity is a necessary but not sufficient condition. On a material level, devo max will work. All power to the parish! Abolish the hierarchy of “smiley management-clergy” with their “structural and paper-based solutions”. Subsidiarity max will save the church buildings, the office of parish priest, and the funding of such.
But it won’t, in and of itself, stem the “tide going out on the sea of faith”. Here we must ask, what is to replace the traditional role of the bishop, who is a “vicar to the vicars”,”supporting the frontline pastorally”, “maintaining sound doctrine”? If we are to reestablish grassroots parish activity as primary, whence comes the spiritual authority to “guide the flock”?
It is here that the stream of modern esoteric Christianity may be able to offer some help. I work out of the modern spiritual path offered through the teachings of the late Dr Rudolf Steiner (1865–1925). Steiner was a high initiate in the western spiritual tradition. On this path, we are offered spiritual guidance—exoterically, via a “spiritual friend” or advisor, who is there for us should we ask for help, but who never imposes on our freedom to decide our life course for ourselves. But we are encouraged in every way to develop our own spiritual faculties, thus increasingly becoming able to receive inner guidance directly from spiritual sources. This is esoteric, as opposed to exoteric, guidance.
It has been my experience to note the sometimes radical discrepancy between the “corporate” initiation priests receive, via laying on of hands or similar means of direct transmission, and their corresponding level of personal initiation. I have listened to words of sublime wisdom issuing from the mouth of a guide who then reverted to a normal personality quite shocking in its lack of development. (In this distinction lies much of the explanation for the apparent cognitive dissonance of the priest who can conduct an efficacious mass then go on to abuse the altar boy.)
So perhaps the way forward here is to improve the level of personal spiritual achievement of the parish priest, who will then be better able to act as guide to his/her flock. Relying on corporate transmission of spiritual authority demands external hierarchy, which leads to current ills. A commensurate increased emphasis on personal spiritual practice might sit comfortably with enhanced abilities of the priest in this direction.
It can be seen that this model sits in direct contrast to the current CofE model. This new model de-emphasises and devolves organisational structure and external authority to the parish level, while raising into prominence the spiritual teaching, practice and pastoral care. It enriches and renews from within. The latter current model hollows out existing external structures in order to pour into them a renewed and invigorated bureaucratic secularism. Spiritually, the pentecostal evangelical leanings of the current Archbishop of Canterbury are no more than the most fundamentalist, hence materialistic, form of would-be spirituality.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
4 months ago

The instinct for bureaucratization is buried deep in the human DNA.

James Chater
James Chater
4 months ago

Apologies for the bluntness& ignorance – it’s been a while since I attended a local church regularly – but is it not just a case of ‘needs must’? Would not a ‘para-church’ be doing more for local people by ‘getting out there’? Of course a local parish church is not analogous to an outlet of a high street brand, but if they – the buildings, what they represent – are irrelevant to many, or worse, repellant, the ‘overseers’ have a duty to make the Faith known in other ways, don’t they?
Of course the decline has been happening for ages and as we know, the CofE has suffered more in comparison with other denominations because of its ‘latitudinarianism’, arguably. Therefore can Archbishop Welby be blamed for utilising his background administrative skills to the full?
(What, priests joining Unite – talk about ‘political’?)

Last edited 4 months ago by James Chater
Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
4 months ago
Reply to  James Chater

What makes you think that Welby has any administrative skills? All I’m aware of is that ‘they’ ordered my parish church, which is normally unlocked every day, to be locked up for a very long time.
Should an archbishop’s appointment be based on administrative skills? I believe not, and nor on political skills.
What administrative skills are required by the archbishop? My parish is autonomous, except that almost all of its income is transferred to the dioceses. It’s ‘voluntary’, but isn’t. The rector must be paid, but (a) he’s now divided between six parishes, and (b), if we had to become self-sufficient, then let’s have back all the resources accumulated to our parish over hundreds of years be given back to us.
Some of the administration of the church is conducted by the Church Commissioners, which were established in 1948. I’ll say no more, but more could be said. Some administration and records which used to be the responsibility of the parish were transferred to the diocese, but subsequent enquiries couldn’t be answered because none of the records could be located.
What has clearly happened is that a bureaucrat paid out of pooled funds justifies his/her existence by suggesting that something which has evolved and worked should be ‘modernised’, and become consistent and logical. Staff are recruited. Changes are made. But then mistakes are made, and not noticed, because the people who care are no longer involved.

James Chater
James Chater
4 months ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

(Surley even a priest, let alone an archbishop, should not be appointed without administrative and ‘political’ skills?) I am out of my depth here, with a hazy grasp of CofE history, but I’d say with its ancient heritage, its understanding of ‘Church’ as the ‘body of Christ’, individual parish churches have never been self-reliant autonomous organisations. If an archbishop should not be a ‘CEO’, should individual parishes behave like little ‘papacies’ or ‘mamacies’, where it’s ‘luck of the draw’; that he or she presiding, is either overly ritualistic or dumbed-down Bible-mesmerised?

Last edited 4 months ago by James Chater
Mike Wylde
Mike Wylde
4 months ago
Reply to  James Chater

They were indeed little kingdoms of their own. If the parish felt that the vicar wasn’t any good (incompetent, wrong sort of vicar) then they chucked him out and got another. There were a series of others involved, Churchwardens and a Parochial Parish Council. Technically, I believe, below the vicar but with ways of dealing with issues.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
4 months ago
Reply to  James Chater

Wow! You have actually let this comment stand! Bravo!

William Perry
William Perry
4 months ago
Reply to  James Chater

There’s nothing inherently “political” about clergy joining a union. Just a matter of ensuring that one has proper protections at a time when it appears that certain bishops are intent on eroding or bypassing the ones that have historically existed. (If you’re balking at the fact that it’s Unite – well, that happens to be the union which has an organised and resourced clergy division.)

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
4 months ago

It’s all very well, but who cares, and why?

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
4 months ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

People who read articles like this, as well as the kind of people who write them. In short, people who belive there is a God. Is there anything else we can help you with?

Last edited 4 months ago by Francis MacGabhann
Jon Redman
Jon Redman
4 months ago

Yes, yes. My point is why would anyone who believes there is a God bother with the Church of England. It’s a leftist salariat patently uninterested in God or His worshippers. It could scarcely be less numinous; it’s a feuding bureaucracy.
It’s as though there were a society for the preservation of HMS Victory. The ship is crumbling into dust and visitor numbers are falling off a cliff, but the SPHMSV spends its energies and money feuding and squabbling, on reforming and redesigning and realigning itself, on apologising for the history of the ship, and on lecturing actual and potential visitors about their privilege, racism, and carbon footprint.
Preserving, nourishing and expanding interest in the nation’s naval history, or even just increasing visitor numbers, are nowhere among its objectives or actions.
If we had 1,000 words here on the internal machinations of the SPHMSV, I would also have commented “who cares, and why?” and this would not be a comment on the obvious unimportance of HMS Victory, either.
Are you with me?

Last edited 4 months ago by Jon Redman
Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
4 months ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

I am now, since you’ve made your point clearer. I imagine some people DO think the C of E is important. Roger Scruton wrote an entire book on this. It’s called “Our Church” and it’s quite small and readable. I recommend it, even though I’m Catholic.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
4 months ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

“the obvious unimportance of HMS Victory,”

Particularly as only about 3% of what we see today was actually at Trafalgar*.

(* An unnecessary naval skirmish off the coast of Spain in 1805, for those unaware of the event.)