Sunday 29 January 2012

Radio Chadderbox in Jamaica

Lara Crofter: This is a networked interview from Lara Crofter of Radio Chadderbox interviewing the Archbishop of the North of the Church in England, the Most Reverend John Sendmehome. I'm not in Wykkyfish but, well, humm, Jamaica. Lovely!

John Sendmehome: She volunteered and that was even better.

Lara Crofter: Oh I get it. I've not heard that one before. You're a bit of a joker, we know that, keeps things from getting too serious: but tell me about your past. A big family?

John Sendmehome: Apparently if your parents never had children the lacklihood is you won't either.

Lara Crofter: I hadn't thought of that, like big and small families down the generations. True though. You are from Kenya?

John Sendmehome: Nah nah, Uganda. So many children yah see at Christenings look just like their father, when it's a pity they don't also look like the mother's husband; but I'm pleased to say that I look like no one on earth. Like I did a christening recently and she insisted to me he looks lack her working class man because the baby was bald, sleepy and uneducated.

Lara Crofter: But you didn't always do christenings. You were a lawyer?

John Sendmehome: What? Ahkay, let me tell yah. I grew up in a village and was often wandering off, so my mother changed my name from Luzim to Sendmehome. This way adults from various surrounding villages started bringing me back rather than using the big stick and telling me to clear off. She kept asking, "Where is Canaan?" and people would say, "In the Bible." So my first name was also changed from Canaan to Canu but since I was an adult I have answered to the simpler name of John.

Lara Crofter: Can you tell me...

John Sendmehome: Nah, John now tell yah. They say spare the rod and lose the child; I had a happy unspared childhood. I thought about Rowan instead of but that's also a girl's name. So many children in England tell me, you knah, that until they were fifteen they thought their name was Shutup.

Lara Crofter: You were successful. Well, I don't know. Perhaps I am working class or female.

John Sendmehome: Mah parrents paid for my school, but when Idi Amin became King of Scotland I thought I'd better go quick and see Scotland and so I moved to London and Cambridge as I soon preferred the Chach in England to the Chach in Scotland. Yes I have climbed or rather been pushed up the ecclesiastical grassy poll and now I am Archbishop of the North and represent an acceptable face of what they call radical inclassavity because there is acceptable and unacceptable yah see in ecclesiastical circles. But I still do christenings, just as ah still do burials and cremations.

Lara Crofter: But racism, that's a nasty feature of life. Has racism ever affected you?

John Sendmehome: Well the difference between cladgy, who are not racist because they prah a lot, and lay papple, who can be racist given the behavioural athics of secular society, is that some cladgy might call me shit but others in the laity have gone that bit further materially in their physical hattred. Racism denigrates people by category, by surface label, and no one shad do that but it has happened and badly and you have to deal with the difficulty and the pann it brings.

Lara Crofter: So radical inclusivee... inclusivity... and what is acceptable and unacceptable. I mean, here we are in the West Indies. So did the Church say yes to slavery and now only relatively recently has seen it as an evil, so, er, what about other forms of inclusivity and like valuing all human people. See, my brain hurts now and I might be thick, but it doesn't mean all women are thick. You favour marriage reform? Mr Cameron says gay marriage will strengthen bonds in society, and he's in favour because he is a Conservative.

John Sendmehome: See, Idi Amin as the King of Scotland. That's the sign of a dictator because you can't overturn the history and traditions of Scotland lack that, and in the same way David Cameron cannot overturn marriage, which is dependent on traditions and what sociatties, lack Scotland, understand. Marriage is between a man and woman.

Lara Crofter: So like gay people and relationships but they don't have the difficulty and pain that it brings.

John Sendmehome: Well friendships are good for everybody and so we said okah to Civil Partnerships.

Lara Crofter: Men and women together can be friends but they can't enter into Civil Partnerships. I thought the idea was gay people could kind of get married in a civil sort of way.

John Sendmehome: You can't have a situation where a man can ask another newly wed man in the hotel how he left his wife in the morning, and he says "smoking" and the other says, "Wow, really, mine was just a bit sore." I mean, we are tacking differently here: the State has no way of gifting marriage to anybody, you know it is not the rall of government to gift marriage.

Lara Crofter: I thought that's what they did do. Like, I got married in a civil ceremony and I can't then come down to your Church and get married again to someone else, much as I might want it you know. Not that I would but the government says I can't.

John Sendmehome: Yes it's lack the Mormon who says I wouldn't want my daughters to marry you. It's but strong traditions and what the people like working class people have long thought. Most of society actually sees this as a most ardered thing. So we said Civil Partnerships can be set up as lack civil marriage in that they should have no prayers - they are not marriage.

Lara Crofter: So a civil marriage is not a marriage then? It's just a friendship?

John Sendmehome: Nah the government, the State, says it is a marriage. So it is a marriage withat prayers. Look I am trying to find an aggament to refuse gay marriage or whatever it would be called. It can't be as good a marriage as the one I can do when I move my hands about and say magic wadds. Well, let's try the aggament from what lots of people think it all as about. I mean it's a big job to turn that around. Lots of entrenched attitudes, lack mine.

Lara Crofter: People have changed their minds, and quite quickly.

John Sendmehome: Lack as if gay people are not human beings - something that some cladgy, who are not racist, matt say, even if the lay people under secular society have changed their minds: well, look, that language doesn't work but all ah am saying is that the State should not redefine marriage. Set against tradition and history, dictators have tried to do it; even Idi Amin didn't dah that so why should David Cameron or Nick Clegg dah it or who's that other one? Social structures have been existing for a long time and the State cannot overturn them.

Lara Crofter: Who is controlled by tradition and history, who can't overturn social structures, if the time seems right to change? Isn't there an argument about new women clergy and bishops like you except they are women?

John Sendmehome: General Synod, at is contralled by tradition but can avverturn things. Well it goes through the dioceses and then needs two thirds, except the Covenant doesn't need two thirds as that might be too high a haddle. See, we are also widerning our observance of social and cultural structures through bringing in the Covenant. Archbishop Rowan Tree cannot see any ather future than having the Covenant, and this will surely not allow us to have gay marriage or bless with prayers civil partnerships, so we don't want marriage outside that wadder tradition and prejudice in the world that makes us think of as if marriage where we have prayers you know.

Lara Crofter: You're afraid the State might demand you do marriages. At the moment the Church has to marry anyone on its doorstep. Like there's your marriage and I like that, and there's civil marriage and I like that. Which one is better?

John Sendmehome: Ah no. General Synod, and lack the Archbishop says it as a body should 'read the ordinal' and take its cue from bishops. Look, we are just trying to stop others extending marriages. If people want religious registrations to lack marry them, then the present dictatorship says it will require an application to the registrar to have the worship place authorised and then the ahganisation will have to give approval, and in ahh case this means General Synod only and not bishops or anyone else. So gay friendly cladgy cannot jump the gun.

Lara Crofter: Then I can't see the problem, but may be I am a bit thick. It's then just other religious groups: Unitarians, Quakers, some Jews...

John Sendmehome: It's rather almost lack somebody telling you that the Chach, whose job is to waship God, will become an amm of the Ammed Fasses as if they must take amms and fight. You're completely changing tradition when you do that.

Lara Crofter: But my point is no one is asking you.

John Sendmehome: We ah the State Church. Does this not count for annathing anymore?

Lara Crofter: But people getting married with you has for a long time been a convenience; I mean your Church isn't much working class who use your churches like public conveniences.

John Sendmehome: Ah, yah, well that's a different matter. The Chach must do more to avoid its leadership being solely whatt and middle class.

Lara Crofter: I mean your Church was upper and middle class wasn't it, isn't it?

John Sendmehome: I don't want whatt whacking-class parishioners just being relagatted to making tea after services.

Lara Crofter: Don't women do that?

John Sendmehome: Yah. But to tackle all that I think we need to replace books with DVDs and audio books, because the simple people cannot read. We need DVDs showing whaah gay people cannot actually marry. We need support groups for single mothers and whaah they should marry men. I don't think we need theological books at the back of chaches with all that mumbo jumbo confusion but let's have cladgy tacking away for MP3 players in whatt whacking class pockets to help them disadvantaged think like me.

Lara Crofter: Or like Rowan Tree.

John Sendmehome: Does anyone manage to think lack him? Nah, we want inclassion: lack they put me on to chair the committee for minority ethnic Anglican concerns, just ethnic lack, and we mad progress but that now seems to be going backwards because black whacking class people and a lot of women who had been raised Anglicans are now joining Pentecostal churches. That’s a huge drain and I don't want to have to replace them with gays.

Lara Crofter: I fancy a walk. I've not been here before. Thank you then, is it Canaan, no Canu?

John Sendmehome: Simple John will do.

Lara Crofter: Thanks simple John. Over to the studio in Wykkyfish.


Anonymous said...

This is all very well, but making jokes about the CofE is rather obvious: surely what you need to be doing is popularising your Unitarian message! You need to tell people who you are and what you stand for, because most don't have a clue! That's surely more meaningful than knocking the CofE over gay rights. The CofE is already more liberal than many other denominations, and it can't really go much further without losing its 'broad church' tag. If that's insufficient for you, you might as well just campaign for disestablishment.

In any case, Mr. Cameron is committed to gay marriage, and if he, as an Anglican himself, doesn't care what Dr. Sentamu et al have to say about the matter, then maybe the CofE is pretty much irrelevant as far as this is concerned. The govt will make its law without their input.

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

He (the real Sentamu) keeps trying to park his tanks on our lawn, so to speak. The Unitarians are favourable. I do favour disestablishment, indeed the State Church is so far out of step with society and politics that it ought to shift out - then it might becomes the sect that Sentamu and Williams are trying to achieve, though one at least would call it 'Catholic'.

Anonymous said...

However, society is now pluralistic, not uniformly liberal in theological perspective. And (bar a few intellectual types) the most liberal, secular people
don't seem to be crying out for an ultra-liberal church to speak up for them...

The most liberal churches have not fared well in the face of burgeoning secularisation. The CofE leadership may be now be aware of that, despite earlier impressions that the Church was going to be dominated by liberal theologies. The clergyman/bishop who's 'more or less' an atheist is a standard CofE 'type', isn't it? But the leadership, despite a certain intellectual sympathy for those views, doesn't want the church to be identified with them exclusively, because they don't fill the pews. Yet to go too far in the other direction would also be publicly damaging to the Church....

Whatever the CofE decides to do, it's likely to continue to decline overall. My bet is that the strongest congregations will be evangelical (outside of certain high church enclaves), even though the congregations with the best PR will be more liberal. The CofE will continue to hire gay priests despite, paradoxically, facing accusations of homophobia, and smaller denominations will continue to be ignored by the public consciousness.

Disestablishment would change the game in some way, but it's not precisely clear how. Some American sociologists say that disestablishment would liberate the CofE (and other churches) to become more dynamic and more sensitive to the British 'market' for 'religious goods'. But who knows? Most British people are critical of both orthodox and liberal religion - both are given as excuses for them not to attend church. Disestablishment might not change that basic attitude.

My view is that church culture probably has an equal, if not greater impact on church growth than evangelical/liberal issues. My hope is that disestablishment would be most useful in helping to change church culture.