Well, well, well… the Verger's hosing down the Vestry and choir stalls, and Easter is over for another year. Christ is risen indeed, and Biblical Christians everywhere are nibbling chocolate eggs and enjoying the warm smug feeling which accompanies the certainty that there’s nothing whatsoever syncretistic about their faith.
So now that all the Holy Week sacerdotalism is concluded, I know that like me you’ll all be glad to get back to the real business of the Church: bickering about homos and – if you’re of either a lunar-evangelical or über-catholic persuasion, or just happen to be very insecure about the size of your genitals – women. Not to mention the Very Important Question facing all Anglicans at this time: who’s going be the next person to enjoy a bounce in the big bed at Lambeth?
I know that some of you have very thoughtfully suggested myself as ++Rowan’s obvious successor, and I quite agree with you that doing justice to the role of Archbishop of Canterbury requires a degree of wisdom, Biblical Learning, and modesty which I alone possess. Not to mention the ability to schmooze at the very highest levels while still pretending to care about the faith of those who can’t even spell Beaujolais nouveau, let alone enjoy a refreshing tipple in a private box at Royal Ascot – something I’ve no doubt Our Lord would Himself enjoyed had He not been so foolish to incarnate in 1st century Palestine.
Yet – and I am aware of the grief this will cause Sinners throughout the Communion – I have already felt called to decline the offer which will inevitable come. Not only does ++Rowan’s resignation coincide with a particularly strategic development in ministry here at St. Onuphrius. (we have just installed a sauna in the Rectory as part of our mission to Australian ex-gay hucksters, but as a Christian I’m really not prepared to compromise my faith by growing one of the sort of beards which appear to have become de rigueur for English Bishops of my age and ethnicity.
Which, of course, now leaves the field wide open, and as you’d expect speculation is already running rife. First favorite has been the Bishop of York, although in my opinion that’s really only because he’s the only one the bookmakers know – probably on account of him being the easiest to recognize (he doesn’t have a beard).
As anybody who knows Merrie Olde England as well as I do will tell you, however, in this particular race +John Sentamu is never going to mount the winner’s podium and spray champagne over the pretty Anglo-Catholics responsible for stage-managing the enthronement ceremony. He’s got a great deal of popular backing, I’ll admit, and Anglicans throughout Africa would be whacking each other with machetes for joy at the news of his appointment, but the plain reality is +Sentamu isn’t going to be the one.
Nor is the certainty with which I break this sad news to you just based on my own inerrant intuition. Rather it stems from my exhaustive observations of the nation and people of Great Britain. (Alright: I can’t claim to have studied the Scots in any depth, but I have rented Braveheart, and once got arrested with football hooligans on Glasgow. And before I met Consuella I would quite often on warm windy days wear a kilt.) For decades I’ve been an avid subscriber to delightful glossy magazine much cherished by the class of Englishmen responsible for appointing the Archbishop of Canterbury – no, I’m referring to Country Life, not one of those other British publications featuring either naked proletarian northern girls frolicking naked in baked beans, or middle-aged Tory politicians dressed as chorus girls.
If, as I do, you regularly perused Country Life (one can never read too many “Situations Vacant” advertisements for butlers) it would eventually dawn upon you that whether one is studying the weekly images of girls in pearls, or committing to memory a guide to the best bluebell walks in Britain, persons of Bishop Sentamu’s – I’m trying to say this as tactfully as only I can - hue don’t figure prominently. In fact, I believe I don’t ever recall seeing anyone of African, Indian, or Asian ancestry featured among the glowing portraits of British landed gentlemen and their womenfolk. Which is not to say such things don’t occur in Britain, just that, for reasons I can’t quite explain, the black youths of, for example, Bradford, or the charming young unemployed ladies with whom I once conversed outside a tattoo parlor in Hull, prefer not to actively participate in the sports of polo and fox-hunting.
No: I’ve no doubt that Lord Stickley-Polkinghorne and his delightful debutante daughter, Lucia, would have absolutely no qualms about enjoying the personal company of those of a different racial persuasion to their own, and so the absence of any pictures of them or anyone else of their class in the company of black friends should be attributed to nothing more than journalistic oversight. After all, one only has to look at any picture of William and Kate’s friends at their wedding to see how England’s upper classes have embraced British multiculturalism.
Consequently I really don’t foresee Her Majesty having any problem with someone of Ugandan ancestry presiding at future Royal events. In fact there’s just one, small, tiny, insignificant, miniscule difficulty which I fear will forever keep +Sentamu from moving south: Prince Phillip. Although given the current precarious nature of his health, and the likelihood of him having at least considered the possibility of his funeral being the next monarchical extravangza, I can’t believe he’d really have any objections to matters being presided over by +Sentamu. Would he?
I’m Father Christian and I teach the Bible.