Wednesday 19 January 2011

Chadderbox on the New Bishop

Adam Tilgate: Okay, er good morning and welcome dear listeners to Radio Chadderbox religion section. Em, when the dear presenters of Radio Chadderbox here learnt that I had some experience of, er, presenting Radio Whitsun, they asked if I'd like to have a go at presenting the religion section here. But, okay, I am a trainee so if you hear the experienced Lara Crofter beside me prompting me then that is the explanation. [pause] Okay, I am Reverend Adam Tilgate, a proper reverend and I have with me Reverend Lesley Bloke who still is a proper Reverend but she is only on the sofas nearby. Hello Lesley.

Lesley Bloke: [distant voice off] Hello again.

Lara Crofter: You should really introduce the new Suffering Working Bishop first.

Adam Tilgate: Okay, we are up in the north again but in a first we are actually also broadcasting to Reading and Oxford. Because up north, visiting the Archbishop of the North, also with us here, is the new to be Suffragan Bishop of Woking...

Lara Crofter: Oh.

Adam Tilgate: ...who is the Right Reverend Randy Proudie. So John Sendmehome is here too, now back in the studio proper.

John Sendmehome: That was as clear as mud. Actually, I've had a bit of a cold, as you might hear. I'm clear as mud too. And I went to the doctor, which was a bit like being on the radio.

Adam Tilgate: Okay; how come?

John Sendmehome: He gave me a medical and said, "You're dying and you don't have much time to live." I said, "How long have I got?" He said "Ten." "Ten what?" I asked, "Years, months, weeks?" and he said, "Nine, eight, seven..."

Adam Tilgate: Okay. Em, well you are still here.

John Sendmehome: It's like being on the radio isn't it. I thought you were just the driver.

Adam Tilgate: Er, no, not this time, though Lesley Bloke got her car locked in a car park overnight. We had to get a taxi. Okay Randy Proudie, you were already a bishop before this appointment. Tell us something about it.

Randy Proudie: That's right. I have been abroad. I was part of a team in Africa under Bishop Mountaineer Anus, and he was appointing his various bishops to various places and said, "You have got the Horn."

Adam Tilgate: So you've had direct experience of Anglicans and Christians in, well, the Horn of Africa and Ethiopia and so on. You've been out and about a bit.

Randy Proudie: Ethiopia and around the Horn, yes.

Adam Tilgate: Okay. But now you are coming to Woking and places around. Okay, we'll have our first record now and it is The Incredible String Band and The Half Remarkable Question.

Randy Proudie: Apparently a favourite of the Archbishop of Anglicanism.

Adam Tilgate: Gosh, I was just about to press the button then. Yes it is. Okay, here it is.

[Incredible String Band Cousin Caterpillar plays with a gap of silence after it has finished]

Adam Tilgate: Okay, well that wasn't The Half Remarkable Question, so I'd better leave that to asking the new bishop.

Randy Proudie: Are you going to be one of my clergymen?

John Sendmehome: Do you know that all things are possible except skiing through a revolving door?

Adam Tilgate: Er, what? No, I'm not, but she might have been. She once said she wouldn't mind having a job in Berkshire.

John Sendmehome: Barking mad, more like. When does a dog go "moo"? When it is learning a second language.

Lesley Bloke: [At a distance] Too late now. Anyway, I'm a clergywoman, bishop.

Adam Tilgate: Okay, em, there is this welcome you have received from more conservative members of our Church here in England, in the Church in England, and this is what I want to ask you about.

John Sendmehome: They love me.

Adam Tilgate: No, er, Randy Proudie.

John Sendmehome: A missionary said to a woman he fancied, "Let's go and spread the word, and the word today is 'legs'."

Lara Crofter: Archbishop. Can you put a sock in it?

John Sendmehome: Lara my love: don't take life so seriously; after all, no one gets out alive.

Adam Tilgate: Okay, Randie Proudie: why do you think the more conservative type has welcomed you?

Randy Proudie: Probably because I was beginning to understand and appreciate more of the context, aspirations, challenges and values of Africa and cultivate an international Anglicanism.

Adam Tilgate: You wrote to this effect prior to the 2008 Lambeth Conference, when bishops gathered from all over the world, to affirm the process of developing a Covenant based international Anglicanism.

Randy Proudie: I did and about the contrast between the West and the South. Christianity is growing in the Global South whereas relativism is growing and even among some clergy here I might add. You only have to read some blogs not a million miles from where I am going. So many in England dismiss religion as a source of moral guidance, appealing to conscience or cultural mores. Whether relativist or not, clergy end up inward-looking, becoming guardians of beautiful buildings, preserving ancient churches and the Church's liturgy as another museum piece. Those who react against seem to produce conferences, and reports: so full of ideas and hardly any result. Religion, even if expanding, ends up being little other than about self-fulfilment and we have such little fellowships, however valuable in themselves.

Adam Tilgate: Okay. Aren't you though imposing other cultural mores on, say, the United Kingdom?

Randy Proudie: The hope is that the shift in Christianity's centre of gravity in the world and its vitality in the Global South may be seen to have secured the future of the definitions of Christianity and, indeed, the vitality of the Anglican Church even in the West. However, if that southern Christianity is so strange culturally to the West, then the future of Christianity here in the West remains bleak. But then I think we must press on regardless but all the time take a step back to see what people are saying.

Adam Tilgate: With or without a result?

John Sendmehome: Hey a man performing circumcisions was short sighted. He got the sack.

Randy Proudie: The Gospel of the divine word in Jesus Christ has to be inculturated, of course, so that people can receive it in their daily discourses. I need to listen to those discourses. However, if that culture has no proper space for it, then it goes unheard. Instead we have the language of human rights, human rights that produce, for example, feminism and gay equality, though of course I need to be with people where they are and not necessarily preach at them.

Adam Tilgate: Doesn't postmodernism give a space for the Christian version, and that version might include fundamental equalities?

Randy Proudie: There was a liberalism of the nineteen sixties that has become a postmodernism of the noughties. It should be easier to have our story among the others rather than a blanket secularisation, but the competition of different stories has swamped the Christian version and Christians here have become submerged in the surrounding culture, then they have found it increasingly difficult to communicate their own and been susceptible to the values, opinions and priorities of the age such as feminism and gay equality. Clearly, the values of the surrounding culture have permeated the Church, although I am here to listen and not to impose.

Adam Tilgate: Okay. But, this is the problem. You are setting up what you call the Gospel against progress made in human relationships.

John Sendmehome: A man asked a woman if she slept on her stomach. "Yes," she said. So he asked if he could. He said he loved every bone in his body including his. He also said he had the hot dog and she had the buns.

Randy Proudie: Is Christianity historical? Obviously we believe it is an intervention in history. Christianity thus takes history seriously. However, we must make a distinction between giving a Christian understanding of what happens through history and the mistake of sacrilising the sociological forces of history, dominant forces that become misinterpreted as works of providence and even redemption. Jesus de-sacralised all power. The cross is about sacrifice and atonement, and it judges all the human institutions that shape history. We cannot baptise every cultural form. The Church should not assume that the ordination of practising homosexuals, or the blessing of same-sex unions is right, in that the forces of culture are only rarely the work of divine providence or redemption. However, I don't want to preach at people.

Adam Tilgate: Okay. I think we should play a record. Elvis Costello and Oliver's Army, to mark the current unemployment rate reaching two and a half million on some already dodgy statistics.

John Sendmehome: I could always count on my wife. She wore beads around her neck.

[Oliver's Army plays]

Adam Tilgate: Okay. Elvis Costello, I think. He did a good song called Veronica about dementia. Real world issues then. Okaaaaay. Em, you were saying the Church cannot sacrilise sociological changes, but aren't there theologies, actual theologies, that come to a different conclusion?

Randy Proudie: Take Marilyn McCord Adams who thinks that the Church's sex and gender policies have been abusive, and the Church itself is abusive. She wants the Church to be more like a liberal State and less like an organic body so that people have space to develop as individuals. Of course the Church is often imperfect and behaves badly in reality. But that needs reform and renewal and certainly not through being heterodox by splitting the divine side of the Church from what she calls its human, institutional side. She's an ordained Anglican priest after all and is dismissing the biblical model of the Church and it is outrageous even if I listen carefully to different arguments.

Adam Tilgate: A biblical model as informed by tradition, surely. I mean, okay but these theologies are open and variable and discussed.

Randy Proudie: You sound a bit liberal yourself. Inevitably, her theology, like so many others, is actually a debate about human rights and the right of individuals to pursue personal happiness. And the Church with its receptive ear should not be about that.

Adam Tilgate: And thus conservatives of our Church like your appointment.

Randy Proudie: What is at stake is nothing less than the credibility of the Christian Gospel and of the Anglican Church itself, both of which impact upon the effectiveness of her mission, nevertheless that mission can be me just being alongside people and keeping relatively quiet.

John Sendmehome: Judas the disciple was painting the synagogue to help the folks there and he kept thinning the paint. Some of the rabbis in charge were getting fed up, because it wasn't covering anything any more. So Jesus came up to Judas and said, "Judas, repaint and thin no more."

Lara Crofter: Did you enjoy your first interview there, Adam?

Adam Tilgate: Oh is that it? It was okay. Illuminating.

Lara Crofter: You should finish by introducing the weather - oh, but bye bye to people in Berkshire who go back to their own programme.

Adam Tilgate: Bye. Er, it was okay when we were coming. Oh, George Hudson and the outside line.

Lara Crofter: Where is he?

Adam Tilgate: Where are you George?

George Hudson: I'm on Doncaster station waiting to go to Leeds. The skies are clear so it'll get colder later.

Adam Tilgate: Well I think Lesley's got an appointment and then we'll have to rescue her car, so I think the next programme is....

Lara Crofter: Mine.

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