While in the Co-op yesterday I passed the local bishop in the bread aisle.
I suppose the very presence of a bishop in a supermarket is itself evidence of a humbler new approach by the current Anglican area manager. His careerist predecessor ignored and was unknown to the entire population until he could sneak back off to London, and his predecessor was so old school he was never seen in public unless in full regalia, and I suspect he didn’t even know what a supermarket was as his wife dealt with ‘domestic matters’.
I may mock, but I seriously pity the task of any well-meaning Manx cleric as they just cannot win. It isn’t the disinterest of us rationalists which defeats them: it is the rapid ageing and dimming of the local Christian community.
Just before heading to the Co-op I’d quite by chance seen a passage in a P.G. Wodehouse short story which nicely sums up their predicament.
Wodehouse, always a shrewd judge of clergy, says of one of his regular characters:
“The task of composing a sermon which should practically make sense and yet not be above the heads of his rustic flock was always one that caused Augustine Mulliner to concentrate tensely. Soon he was lost in his labour and oblivious to everything but the problem of how to find a word of one syllable that meant Supralasarianism.”
(Gala Night in Mulliner Nights)
On re-reading the prominently featured ‘Easter sermon’ in this week’s local free paper to see if there was an ounce of sense in it (there wasn't, see http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/Bishop39s-Easter-message-condemns-39digital.5152937.jp) I thought of that.
And today things descend into pure farce as the poor man goes paddling at Peel along with the freaks who put both the fundament and the mental into fundamentalism. See http://www.manxradio.com/newsread.aspx?id=34732 for more while it’s still up there.
It’s all very sad. Twenty years ago I worked on the little Peel paper and loved the town’s uniqueness. When I moved back here I wanted to live there, but now I thank my wife for talking me out of it.
The rot set in when Manx Heritage’s plastic 'history theme park', the House of Mananan, went up and the entire road system was ‘rationalised’ so that tourists could drive in to H of M, then out again to shop with Jesus at Stepford Central a few miles away without meeting a Peel resident. Businesses shut, property prices fell and the power balance shifted.
In my day community power may have been in the hands of Methodists and Anglicans, but they had a small town decency about them.
Just as a small example, there was one camp as a row of tents little guy who did all the flower-arrangements for big church events. He and his partner lived openly together in a town of under 5,000 before the Manx legalisation of male homosexuality and …nobody at church mentioned it. They were grateful for what he did to brighten up the church, and what he did elsewhere just wasn’t their business.
Then, so many businesses shut even the charity shops had to amalgamate. The nastier, US backed fundies moved in, buying seafront properties, opening ‘community facilities’ which have charitable status, pay no tax and force the closure of real youth and community projects.
In my second short spell on the town paper I was sent to interview raving lunatics who claimed to be curing AIDS and leprosy on their ‘foreign missions’, other nutters who home schooled their kids to keep them safe from ‘communists’…… It was so unbelievable and unprintable even my editor (himself an Anglican lay reader of conservative mind) turned white in horror.
These are the folks now running the town, and with so much political clout they can put on their Bampots on the Beach shenanigans and effectively close a seaside town to the general public on what should be a major public holiday.
Just go elsewhere. Even on the Isle of Man there’s no need to spend your hard-earned holidays at a fundamentalist freakshow.
13th April addendum
I just couldn't resist pointing out http://www.manxradio.com/newsread.aspx?id=34737 . You can tell the newsroom is still on holiday as the religious broadcasting gang who fill in on Sundays have slipped in the days old 'fantasy finance' sermon to try and fluff things up. Hilarious stuff -though as I've never met an evangelical who could count past ten you can't take the crowd figures too seriously.
2 years ago