Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Monstrous World! Dangerous Conceit!

Various people around here have been experiencing a weird disconnect between what the media are saying about this event and how it feels for those of us actually here. One member’s 90 year old mother, after reading inflammatory twaddle in her Canadian paper phoned specially to warn her son “Now don’t you go stirring up trouble!”

Nobody at breakfast this morning had seen the yeterday’s presser about Archbishop Den Bul and gays. The way we perceive him is in terms of the persecution of his church and Darfur, not gays. We do not have access to the pressers, but it seems to many of us that the correspondents are missing the point of this conference.

What of the words of the bishop in the Times video? We respect them deeply and look forward to hearing them along with everyone else’s in the context of indaba. The whole idea of indaba is to facilitate frank and honest speech like that. To make them the lead output of this event is leading to bizarre misrepresentation of the reality of it.

The press is sometimes making the news as much as reporting it, sometimes in the tradition of journalists who used to give out stones to Northern Ireland youths to provide pictures for the evening news. Shame on them. What is actually going on in here is generally delightful, global in scale, light of touch, with a lot of laughter, prayer and joy in one another. Journalists are naturally drawn to the extremes to make a story, but there is far more energy around the great unacknowledged centre.


Anonymous said...

On the day when the theme at Lambeth is "transforming society" and "social justice", I too am saddened that some only want to cause trouble. I have no doubt that the Bishops will be discussing social issues with openness and honesty, and I really hope we get to hear of the ways in which you collectively bring forth a vision of how our church can be empowerers of those who have no voice, and enablers of those who have no way to hear God's message at the moment. Good luck in there...

Simon Sarmiento said...


To see another, much longer, video of the entire episode in the press room, go to the ENS website:

I think you will then see that this episode was certainly not manufactured by The Times.

Erika Baker said...

Bishop Alan
I'm not sure who has the wrong end of the stick here. It does not appear to be a put up job by The Times at all, but the result of a press conference given to everyone at the media centre. Thinking Anglicans has links to the stories of a large number of journalists, as usual, The Episcopal Cafe's reporting is outstanding.

Huw said...

I had the same experience of disconnect this AM listening to National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" - and I'm not even at Lambeth! While it was clear the reporter was discussing the same event... there were such huge factual errors and omissions that I'd decided she was going on second hand reports of what others - also not there - were saying. *Sigh*

I'm glad to read your reports, Bishop - as well as the other Blogging Bishops. Although I'm sure there is some spin coming form some quarters, taken as a whole you are all providing a much better picture for us "out here".

10 years ago a common complaint on both the Gospel and Epistle sides of the nave was that the media were distorting things. I wished than that only option wasn't tighter media control: that was before Blogging where the answer seems to be *become* the media. (Mmm. You are the media could also translate into "you are the way". Something for your Bible Studies!)

badman said...

The Sudanese Primate insisted on this press conference, which the organisers were trying to discourage. It was his deliberate choice to put out his anti-gay understanding to the press and the world instead of working it through the Conference.

For that, the responsibility lies on him and not on the press.

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

Many thanks to all for corrections of view, especially for the other video of the event which explains the origins of this informal presser. I would not want to do anyone an injustice, and modified the post accordingly.

There is, however, considerable wonderment, shading sometimes into annoyance here among overseas colleagues at the way this whole event is being approached by many of the British print media, especially the Times. The perception is that this is one of the few countries in the world in which such an event would receive such partial, snide and downright nastyness, without any serious attempt to convey what it actually is, or is like, or is about.

For example, last night's address by the cardinal, which was a model of courtesy, thoughtfulness, and respect, well received, and with serious theological content, is spun out, from one sound bite which was not specific to any denomination, as a snide attack on the Church of England. This it simply not what it was or how it came over. How long, O Lord?!

Erika Baker said...


I have nothing relevant to contribute but I wanted to say that I share your frustration. This is not just about media spin, there is church spin, blog spin, commentator spin, everything is polarised, impersonalised, hardened ... that's why I was so delighted when you blogged about how effective the Indaba groups are. Bishop David Walker says the same on his reports from the blue tent, and I hope we will eventually hear more about this.

It's the one ray of hope there is... real people meeting for real conversations and changing real hearts and minds.
Wasn't that why the Listening Process was so valuable in the first place, and why it was so successful where it actually happened?

Keep listening! And keep blogging!

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

Thanks, Erica. God is personal — why can't we be? But we have real difficulty seeing the person not the issue or symbol. Jesus just seems to have walked through this stuff, say with the woman in John 8 whose story we were studying today.

My only other (honest and I hope not too depressing) comment is that I'm finding I have to do a lot more listening than in my normal day job, and it’s physically exhausting. We can all do with our day out in London tomorrow to protest slowness in attaining millennium development goals and see the Queen. So we're all dressing for a Protest March combo Royal Garden party. Like you do! But we can bond on the coach, and in the sense of being out on a jolly together. People are so cynical and reductionist about the ordinary things that bond us, and I find them so hopeful!

Anonymous said...

Dear Bishop Wilson,
Thank you so much for your blogs and especially your honesty. Your comment about having to listen much more than in your day job and how exhausting that is makes me wonder how much more tired than I am already if I did the same thing in my day job--and how it could change others' lives and how much I'd need God's help to do so.

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