Another moment in an interesting week was the annual meeting between church leaders and the First Minister. He’s engaging and very well-informed in dialogue – and generous with his time. The subjects which the group brought to the conversation were marriage, vulnerable children and Christianity in public space.
Two reflections on the meeting.
One is that this kind of encounter is difficult because it’s hard for others not to assume that all church leaders agree about everything – or that there is a single ‘Christian voice.’ That in itself inhibits dialogue. The other is that I suspect that politicians are used to people turning up and putting very sharp points – or simply asking for the money. As you would expect, church leaders arrive and put points which are too nuanced for their own good …
The bright colours of callow youth invariably give way to a nuanced spectrum of indistinguishable arctic white…or something like that. I have rarely met a politician who was not nuancing somewhere around the truth – wherever that may lie..Now I’m nuancing around. Is not the world of the politician one which seems to imply the power of assertion over argument? Where is the truth? Ah, it is in the ineluctable perspicacity of the casuist; or, to misquote Mr Eliot : the ineluctable modality of the risible. There is a tendency among this lot to superannuated cliché: prefaced by an entirely unnecessary accented italicised “ A” to draw attention to what some might intone as the narcissistic hyperbole of bleeding obvious: There is á crisis: well, booby-do: have we all had our warm milk? Are we sitting comfortably? Now I know we ought…indeed we should- speak in respectful tones of our politicians: a worthy bunch of chaps steering the great ship of state…and I’m equally sure that we ought to ennoble as many as possible…Now back to nuancing: or in the parlance of the hoi polloi: Just pratting about, perhaps there are times when churches ought to dish it out in spades: but then we run the risk of not being listened to. Politicians are ever mindful of their own gravitas: they need nice people who will say yes: yes as the modus operandi of those who know their place or face an unpleasant manifestation of nuanced opprobrium. But some churchmen do have a certain tendency never to nuance when a perfectly good sock around the neck will do: the question is, who is going to be the more successful in steering the grey-suits away from the madness and advanced narcissism that seems to overcome even the most charming of the great and the good.
Peter – Thanks for the comment. But I think that, since you have cornered the market in polysyllabitude, I shall address you in monosyllables! Do you mean that we should ‘speak truth to power?’ I think ‘Yes’
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