Friday, November 13, 2009

An easy lesson in creating a foreboding headline

Here beginneth the lesson:

(1) All Saints Day coming up

(2) Prepare sermon on the saints

(3) Write some interesting paragraphs in the sermon

(4) For instance this one (which I have broken down into smaller paras for ease of reading):

"One is indeed something to do with our contemporary anxieties. We need to tell the stories of the Saints to remind ourselves what is possible and within any Christian family.

"We need to tell the stories of those who have made God credible to us. And within our Anglican family we need to go on telling a few stories about those who have shown us that it is possible to lead lives of Catholic holiness even in the Communion of the See of Canterbury!

"We need to be reminded of what we have to be grateful for in the lives of those who within our communion and fellowship have lived out God's presence and made him credible here in this fellowship with these people. God knows what the future holds for any of us for any of our ecclesiastical institutions, but we can at least begin with what we can be sure of; that God has graced us with the lives of Saints; that God has been credible in this fellowship with these people.

"This church [All Saints Margaret Street London] with its very particular place in the history of the Church of England is one small but significant facet of that great mystery and that great gift. And at times when the future seems more than usually chaotic and uncertain, it doesn't hurt simply to give thanks."

(5) Do not for a nano second entertain the thought that the interest of journalists will lead to, say, 'Archbishop encourages believers with the thought that it is possible to lead lives of Catholic holiness even in the Communion of the See of Canterbury.'

(6) Hope like anything that journalists will pick out the language of the dark side of church life.

(7) Pick up your morning paper, The Times in this case, and sip your coffee with the satisfaction of knowing that you have not hoped in vain:

"Rowan Williams: Anglican future looks 'chaotic and uncertain"

(8) Ring the journalist concerned, Ruth Gledhill, and thank her for her interpretation of what you said, that in a world not knowing when and how it will come out of recession, whether Iran or North Korea or Pakistan will supply the next nuclear calamity, where the next earthquake/tsunami combo will strike, she has not been confused about the main point you were making, that the "Anglican future" is scary.

(9a) PS Give thanks to God that Ruth did not focus on the following for a headline such as "Archbishop betrays Buddhist sympathies": "It's that extraordinary realization of which we see a glimmer in the Buddhist doctrine: that the great Bodhisattvas do not enter into rest until they have brought everyone they can with them. That's why they keep coming back, being reincarnated to speak to more and more people. This, I believe is a glimmer of the same insight that the holiest, the most whole of God's children, reach that wholeness only in communion with us."

(9b) Allow only the briefest of flickers of thought that phrases like "chaotic and uncertain" might be performative language.

(9c) Forget that far away, Down Under, for example, we yearn for a different form of leadership of the Communion than represented by the language of "chaotic and uncertain".

(10) Perhaps this should be point number (1): become the Archbishop of Canterbury because people, and journalists, pay your sermons some attention!

Here endeth the lesson.

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