A recent report from the C of E tells us that cathedrals are “amazing” places doing awesome things. Leaving aside the inflation of language that I so deplore, it occurs to me to wonder how well ordinary churches would do if they had access to at least half the resources thrown at cathedrals.
One of my churches is about the size of a small cathedral, such as Derby, Birmingham, Carlisle. It is staffed not by several paid clergy, paid musicians, paid administrators, paid finance directors, paid fabric managers etc—none of these—but by one third of a Vicar—that is, girls and boys, me (only a third of me because I have two other churches, one almost as big). That’s it. End of. Its regular congregation is about 30 who give of their time, energy and resources generously and sacrificially.
Of course, I don’t begrudge the cathedrals their worldly success, and I’m not in the least envious. Not at all. Not one iota. It’s important for the C of E to serve, as cathedrals undoubtedly do, the people who already have so much. Ministering to the middle classes is what the C of E is for, after all. (On first typing that last sentence my autocorrect had not middle classes, but idle classes. I should have left it.)
I have a cunning plan.
In order that cathedrals might be even more successful, I propose that without further shilly-shallying at least half the parish churches in the country should be closed—I’m quite happy to make the decisions—so that even more funds can be directed to cathedrals to help them do even better.
Furthermore, the clergy of the churches that will under the Monkhouse plan be closed can be redeployed in Diocesan offices thinking up more initiatives and demands to dump on the fewer and fewer parochial clergy that are left. This will result in an all-round increase in job satisfaction and wellbeing.
My final thought on this matter concerns the press release announcing to the world this great joy, and all similar spin. It’s taken me a long time—dunce that I am—to realise what they call to mind. They are like media reports from Pyongyang. Similarities don’t stop there, of course, for it’s well known amongst North Korean cognoscenti that Kim Jong-il’s birth took place on a mountainside and was heralded by inter alia a bright star appearing in the sky.
I’ll get my coat. And my P45.
Mr Jones-Smith: your comment confirms all my prejudices about you and your ilk. Are you by any chance related to a certain Mrs Proudie of Barchester in the County of Barset?
Not that I need to bandy words about my distinguished lineage with you but she is the fruit of an illicit relationship between my late father’s uncle and a welsh ewe during an enforced period of exile for a misdemeanor with one of the family estate’s stable lads. At least we know how to conduct ourselves properly!
As someone who has laboured hard to achieve his place as a pillock of the community, and as one who freely gives of his valuable time to lead the feckless poor into the ways of industry and moral rectitude I write to protest most strongly about your blatant attack on the middle classes. May I say that without the example of double standards with which we imbue the nation that Brexit would never have been achieved and we would still be under the yoke of assorted wops, dagos and other Jonny foreigners. Your assertion that we are the idle classes ignores our slavish adherence to spending our every waking hour stabbing each other in the back in order that we might scramble over the bodies of the well intentioned to attain the recognition due to us as golf club committee members, conservative party activists, churchwardens and local councillors (of rural councils, of course). These positions are hard won. It is little enough to ask that the church as a leading private sector service provider and the guardian of establishment religion should pander to our need for self-agrandisement and provide entertainment which is commensurate with our inflated views of ourselves.
Clergy, such as yourselves would drag us down to the gutter to reside with those whom we have consigned to this ignominious sewer. May I remind you that it is because of the middle classes insatiable determination to outdo one another in the acquisition of material assets that the church commissioners’ investments in shopping centres and sweat shops are so richly rewarded and that you ingrates receive the piffling pensions upon which you rely for your pathetic and hopefully short retirements. As I said to my Lord Bishop the other day over a glass of chablis at the local Rotary, “Your chaps and Chapesses – which is a sign that the rot has set in to your gaff, just don’t know how lucky they are, subsidised living for a one day working week. It is time you took a tougher line and set them some challenging Key Performance Indicators. I can recommend an excellent firm of management consultants who will make those b*****s jump. With all that spare time on their hands no wonder they molest choirboys and assault organists. They should be like the rest of us and live by the 11th commandment – don’t get caught and if you do get a good lawyer”.
If I don’t see him at the next Lodge meeting I intend to write to the bishop and tell him that you are one rotten apple he should throw out of the barrel forthwith.
Mr Clive Jones-Smith (hyphenated)
Bella Vista (Barratts Neo-Georgian)
SN 0 BS