Hot on the heels of its designation of St Mary-at-Lambeth as the first ‘eco-church’, our increasingly political Church leadership (I use the term loosely) has now updated one of its biggest relevance-chasing wheezes by appointing a new bishop for climate change:
‘The Bishop of Norwich, Graham Usher, has accepted the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury to lead the Church of England’s Environment Programme with a charge to lead bold, deliberate, collaborative action across the Church to tackle the grave existential crises of climate change and biodiversity loss’.
Well, it’s always good to see the right priorities being er, prioritised, isn’t it?
What we see here is yet more evidence of the woke, idiotic, short-sighted ‘issue-centric’ obsessions of those who claim to lead the faithful in our national Church. There is little evidence, if any, of an effective understanding of the spiritual issues facing the world, but rather a succession of socio-political bandwagon-jumps perpetrated to make the good ship Church of England look as if it is relevant – to those who do not belong to it.
Bishop Graham, who is no doubt a very nice chap, will apparently work with “the Mission and Public Affairs department to lead the Church of England’s Environment Programme, including the commitment to net-zero carbon impacts across the Church by 2030 set by General Synod in February 2020″.
Good grief. Lots of the usual nice, fluffy words there (although they missed the opportunity to include ‘innovative’ and ‘transformational’, which are always a good bet). What any of them actually mean in practical terms is open to debate. I assume the net-zero carbon impact will be achieved through the Church being totally empty by 2030.
Plus, of course, there is the wholesale, witless acceptance that climate change is the biggest issue facing us:
Making the announcement, The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: ‘The crises of climate change and biodiversity loss are the most grave and existential we face: as human beings, as a Church and as a global community….We are already seeing the devastating effects of climate change around the world, and we know that the poorest and most vulnerable are bearing the greatest burden’.
Care to provide any concrete examples of the last sentence there? No, thought not.
Leaving aside the fact that once the ABC has identified us in his statement as human beings, there is little point in also identifying us further as the Church or the global community (I’m not aware that any non-humans belong to the Church or the world population), our great leader is simply wrong about the ‘gravest existential threat’ we face.
Surely it is now obvious to even the meanest intelligence that the most serious ‘grave and existential threat’ to the world’s population is from infectious diseases? Has the Archmuppet not the wit to recognise that uncontrolled pathogens are our greatest challenge? I feel confident in saying this, as I make my living in biosecurity, training scientists around the world in how not to accidentally release germs that could kill us all. Oh yes, and in how to prevent undesirables getting hold of said germs as well. Given the facts about accidental releases from many of our own US and UK high containment labs, I can assure readers that climate change is way down the list of credible threats to our survival right now.
Climate change has been going on since the origins of the Earth. Over the last 100,000 years or so, humans have managed to adapt to this pretty effectively – or none of us would be here. But a quick glance at the history of infectious diseases provides plenty of evidence of humanity’s powerlessness in the face of new and evolving diseases. Thank God for vaccine technology. And for scientists.
All of this is self-evident to the thinking man and woman in the pew, but apparently not to those on high. Bearing in mind that this climate-change-bishop announcement is just the latest in a long line of politically-motivated statements, we could easily be forgiven for thinking that the CofE’s clergy and bishops have turned themselves into a political party who would rather focus on their perceived fashionable issues than the things that really matter today. This month the Archbishop Cranmer blog pointed out that in the December 2019 General Election (UK):
‘A whopping 40% of Anglican clergy voted Labour (remember, this was Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party), and 26% voted for the Liberal Democrats’.
For non-UK readers, Jeremy Corbyn, the then-leader of the Labour Party, represented himself clearly as being politically somewhat to the left of many Communists. He was widely accused of anti-semitism, openly supported terrorists and refused to sing the National Anthem at a World War 2 commemoration event, amongst other things. His closest political advisor was a Stalin-apologist who says that the number of deaths under Communism has been ‘inflated’. Yet 40% of Anglican clergy apparently voted for Corbyn. Had he won, he would have been our Prime Minister and been responsible for the response to Covid-19 in the UK. Thankfully, Labour lost the Election:
‘Labour’s catastrophic night saw the party sink to a worse defeat than 1983, with the Tories securing their largest majority in more than 30 years’.
See that comment there? The Conservatives, who tend to be well-represented among Anglican congregations (but not exclusively), secured their largest majority for more than 30 years. How has the leadership of the CofE fallen so far out of step with its membership? How can we reconcile the fact that 40% of our clergy (at least) voted, by choice, for a man who thinks the totalitarian state is an acceptable form of government and seems to hate all that ‘Middle England’ stands for? How is that reconcilable with the Christian faith?
Further evidence of the politicization of the Church’s leaders can be seen here:
Archbishop Welby: ‘This will be a key year for the UK’s approach to climate change internationally: In June, we will be hosting the G7. In November, Glasgow will host COP26. The Environment Bill will be coming to Parliament. Now is the time for bold, deliberate, collaborative action….The pandemic has foreshadowed the chaos and destruction that will follow should we not cease our exploitation of the environment, our greed for finite resources and the neglect of our interconnected nature on this precious planet.’
Am I the only person in the pews who sees pronouncements such as this as a problem? If the bishops and archbishops put half as much energy into speaking publicly about the true mission of the Church, we might stand some chance of seeing people come to know Our Father. But no, they would rather polish their credentials in the eyes of those who are outside the Church, in an effort (doomed to failure) to make the Church look ‘relevant’ and inviting. How about considering the thoughts, feelings, beliefs and values of those who are inside the Church? Isn’t that part of pastoral care, encouragement and edification? We can look at ‘issues’, by all means, but how about a bit of spiritually-guided prioritising?
It is obvious that the archbishops and their followers are seemingly intent on focusing on all the wrong priorities, revealing their own lack of understanding of the real issues facing the Church. They want to be left-wing politicians. Why don’t they just put their money where their mouth is, resign their livings and stand for Parliament? Answers on the usual postcard, please.
Can we expect to see any improvement in this situation soon? I doubt it. So in the spirit of facilitating cohesion and standing alongside our great leaders in their woke ivory towers, let me volunteer to do a bit of PR for them. May I offer the following press release on behalf of the usual suspects at Church of England Central Command….
‘The Church’s current focuses for action aim to facilitate the institution in becoming an effective, energistically conceptualized catalyst for change through delivering long-term, high-impact, sustainable holistic outputs at every opportunity. Through varying programmes of intrinsically compelling engagements with a range of under-represented actors, while being consciously aware of our white privilege and guilt for everything from civilisation up, the Church seeks to engineer growth strategies through a synergistic dynamic model of cultural self-denigration, while resource-maximizing solutions and paradigms leading to transformative annihilation’. End.
Oh yes, and net-zero carbon impacts by 2030. Don’t forget that.