- The doctrine of original sin happens to be true, and reveals itself esoecially at work, like it does among drivers. Bad stuff goes on everywhere and at all times. I met a postie recently, who told me his Union took a less than laid-back Buddhist attitude to his refusal to join in a recent strike. One of the worst and most disturbing example of bullying I’ve encountered was of a member of the clergy by a journalist from a national newspaper. So we’re all in this thing together. There is none guiltless, no not one — why should we wish to be deceived?
- Christianity is a social and personal means of redemption — a process of grace working through real people. Therefore this phenomenon does matter, and does, continuously, need to be addressed. Failing to engage with it denies dignity to the victim and the possibility of redemption to the perpetrator. G. K. Chesterton was right to say, in his quaint way, “we are sick and very sad who bring good news to all mankind,” but that can never be the last word. Jesus said “by this shall all know that you are my disciples, by the love you have... love one another as I have loved you.” That is the Gold Standard — not a discussion starter, but a way of life.
- Whistleblowing and transparency are essential weapons against abuse. They can never, however be the whole answer, because making them so puts most, if not all, the responsibility on the victim, as though it was somehow their fault. This is morally wrong, because it leaves control (with diminished responsibility) in the hands of the institution, not the victim.
- Therefore those who lead the institutional Church, fallen people that we are like everyone else, need to do serious intentional work to create a consistent culture of respect and justice within our own spheres of influence and authority. That defends the faith much more effectively than making snarky comments on atheist websites. Throughout the organisation, in every way, as far as lies in us, we have to express values that support human dignity. I have disussed this question carefully with some vastly able big hitters who have led particular UK public institutions through the transformation of their cultures of equality and diversity. This has convinced me that the only way we can transform ours is by producing and enforcing, in a publicly accountable way, routines that express these values. This will sometimes mean the organisation moving ahead of people. So be it. It’s only as this is done that decency becomes the shared norm in any organisation.
- The basis for real Church life is not Instutionalism. It’s repentance and faith. As I read the NT I ask “what kind of attitude to relationships would you expect in a community which existed on this basis, and was trying to do it now as a way of life together?” the answer is mutual accountability — each to the other, all to each, each to all, corporately to God. This is the NT principle that is sometimes quaintly called “mutual submission.” We all have eccentricities. One of mine is that when I put a new priest in, and they make their declarations and oaths, I often express publicly my view that this ceremony marks me as being as accountable to them as they are promising to be to me. Ministry is fruitfully exercised with mutual accountability — anything less is a control game that leads easily to abuse.
- Finally, please help me out. We are currently considering how to further the work of our Diocesan Committee for Racial Justice to advance Equality and Diversity best practice. The new Equalities Act will bring various strands together, and it’s important for our work to reflect reality and opportunity, and to be morally cogent and consistent with our values. This process of discernment makes me ask, “Prcatically speaking, what kind of a body, involving who, how, will best secure and advance in our diocese our accountability to values of equality, diversity and justice?” all answers, please, gratefully received...
Thursday, 7 January 2010
Dignity at work: Systemics
A few things are becoming clear to me from the excellent discussions we have been having on clergy bullying (of and by):