One of the great experiences of my life, and a very privileged one at that, was to live in Durham, England for three and a half years (1990-93). Among other things I soaked in the experience of belonging to the Church of England, the one true mother church of all Anglican churches, and imbibed its sometimes heady atmosphere. David Jenkins was the Bishop of Durham in those days. He had already reached the apex or nadir of his controversial remarks about the resurrection, so it was an education for me to hear him speak on a couple of occasions and find that he made perfectly good sense. A sermon he preached in St Nicholas' Church was among the half dozen or so best sermons I have ever heard. Since those days I have had a special interest in who the Bishop of Durham is. Until recently the office was held by a man as luminous in intelligence as David Jenkins and, arguably, as controversial in public life as he was, one Tom Wright!
Thinking Anglicans carries the announcement that Bishop Tom's successor has been announced and I have been very pleasantly surprised to see that it is Justin Welby, currently Dean of Liverpool. My surprise involves me admitting that I have been wrong about an aspect of life in the C of E: I had formulated a theory that deans never become bishops there. Tom Wright was Dean of Lichfield, so that was strike one against the theory. Now strike two (to my limited knowledge) has taken place. My theory is in tatters - I was wrong. The pleasant part of the surprise is that Justin was an ordinand at Cranmer Hall when I was in Durham. He was impressively looking like a future bishop then, and now he will be one.
Postscript: How well connected in English society can a man be ... the future +Durham is described thus in a comment on Thinking Anglicans: "Interesting choice. Probably a smoother operator and a "safer pair of hands" than N T Wright although without his academic distinction.
Educated Eton College and Trinity College, Cambridge. A strong interest in the ethics of the financial and business world, about which he has published a number of books. A former oil company executive.
Grandson of Rab Butler's daughter, son of Winston Churchill's private secretary (Welby's mother) and also son of an old flame of Vanessa Redgrave (his father), step-son of a Labour life peer.
Before he was ordained he was very active at Holy Trinity Brompton, a fierce evangelical church much favoured by the upper middle classes.
My impression is that he is something of a centrist.". The next ABC?