I’ve been reading Richard Holloway’s ‘Leaving Alexandria’ during the last week. If you haven’t got hold of it yet, I suggest that you do. I’ll write more about it when I get to the end.

I’m not at all convinced that Richard lost his faith – indeed he may have held onto it more firmly than those of us who have allowed the institution to encroach rather more on our soul-space than he did. And he clearly found the challenge of being an institutional representative of faith very difficult. A poacher determined to remain as a poacher. Not a problem unique to Richard Holloway but common in some respects to all of us who live in the tension between ‘professional’ ministry and personal discipleship.

I noticed in one of the press reports that he described the church as ‘cruel’. And it is. And most of us who are worth anything have a sort of love/hate relationship with it. The church undoubtedly brings out the best in people. But it all too easily does the opposite. And it can certainly be cruel in its treatment of those who entrust their working lives to it in ministry. I have the tee shirt on that one.

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