This (see http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/isle-of-man-news/unholy-row-as-former-lt-gov-targets-bishop-1-5609756 ) was a welcome relief from the Sefton Hotel row (see http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/business/cannan-says-sefton-deal-is-ill-judged-and-fundamentally-unfair-1-5603786 for example) which dominates the Manx press but does not interest me in the slightest.
Two unwanted political presents from
(at least one, thankfully, well past his sell-by date) taking a noisy pop at each other. You could not make this up. Westminster
A hissy catfight between two colonial relics over the future of the island’s campest High Gothic church. I’m only surprised that instead of the picture the local press used they didn’t just Photoshop the protagonists into Grant Wood’s ‘American Gothic’ painting.
Google it and you’ll soon see what I mean. Larry New would be a spit for the grump with the pitchfork.
Isle of Man Newspapers used only the bilge generated by both sides in this silly argument, and did no digging. This is a pity, as neither side wants us ‘heathens’ to really know what is going on.
To get to the root of it, just go to http://www.stmatthewsiom.org/ and note the prominent announcement that St. Matthew’s is “a Forward in Faith Parish under the Pastoral care of the Bishop of Beverley”. THAT is the root of the problem neither side will talk about in public. For some years now, this Anglican church has been unique on the island in having a special dispensation to, when it suits, take orders from another Bishop rather than any memsahib who might hold office under the island’s Bishop.
The thing is, the present Bishop of Sodor & Mann could be described as “conservative with a small c” .Think ‘Anglican Mainstream lite” – conservative but evangelical rather than high church, keeping the church status quo together, now willing to see women priests rather than look ridiculous in the eyes of the unchurched public but gays are still a step too far.
Forward in Faith, by comparison, are at best UKIP with a hint of Monster Raving Loony and probably far worse. Pouty, petulant, predominantly ex-public schoolboys who will take their ball home if the world won’t let them run things. For years they have been threatening to break away, initially to
(which doesn’t want them), then playing footsie under the table with the Russian Orthodox churches. Basically, anything it takes to let a bunch of silly boys carry on flouncing around in nice frocks, ringing bells, and chucking incense about. Rome
Oh, and they really don’t like homosexuality either, these beardy wierdies. Oh no, not one bit! Hate them more than women, the working class, believers in other faiths (don’t even go there on Jews or Muslims….) and commie subversives.
Two bishops back, the Manx FIF crew were tight with Anglican management. Nothing open, but the power behind the throne while the occupant was a permanently half-cut chum of Prince Philip (amicable enough though - as long you kept real life out of the conversation). He was replaced by an urbane careerist to whom nothing stuck – a real Teflon man – and who saw at once that these rabid smell and bell merchants would get him nowhere fast, so he quietly ditched them and got somewhere fast.
At this point the Manx diocese was really falling apart – losing worshippers faster than any in the
British Isles in fact - so no surprise that John Sentamu saw to it that the next area manager was a lad who would knock heads together and stop the rot. Which, to be fair, he has done. The process is inevitably painful for churchgoers as hard economic decisions are taken, but most factions in his church seem to accept is trying to keep things together and even, in the long term, give some room for various models of (cost-efficient) worship to develop. Paterson
Except for half a dozen or so deranged FIF fanatics who cannot cope with democracy, the 21st century, or the world in general because they have never had to deal with such distractions.
It is tempting to suggest the Bishop should just let them go, then consider what use would the building be when they have to sell up in the near future?
Sadly too few Manx Goths to finance a potentially amazing nightclub with a unique William Morris picture window. Perhaps some sort of S & M establishment to fuel the darker night-time urges of finance sector sickos? Real shame if it became yet another carpet warehouse.
More seriously, considering the government attempts to regenerate the quayside as an upmarket ‘development’, the particular history of some complainants with dodgy financiers and property developers (and that the only way to balance the diocesan books could be the sale of ‘surplus to requirement’ buildings) maybe the future sale of the church is all anyone is arguing about.
Now maybe that is the real story we are missing…..