Meanwhile, whilst the debate is going on about Collaborative Ministry vs ministry that is collaborative on the post below, Chris Blethers seems to be shaking her head in weary sadness, noting the difference between her education bloggers and church bloggers. She characterises the latter as ‘self-aware, sometimes outrageous, often critical, and the comments snippy, defensive, brittle, caustic’.

She has a point. I’ve gone futher in a comment on her blog by alluding to the fact that I enjoyed being active politically because the people I met in politics were generally nicer and certainly more honest than people I meet in the church. Indeed, I rememember saying as much to +Idris only last week when we were on route from Gothenburg back to Glasgow. (If I remember rightly, his response was to open his mouth, close it again and then open it once more to say, “oh”).

It is worth noting in passing Kirstin’s point, that the thing which started this debate off here was the suppression of discussion which should have been had in an open meeting. Debate will out these days.

Some of the things that Chris is referring to go back to the nature of what theology is. Theology is what arises from that old joke about getting two rabbis together and getting three opinions. It is an inherrently disputatious discourse. (Like the Law, perhaps?)

There are those who would disagree, of course, and thus prove the point. The reflective, sit-around-a-candle theology that we were exposed to in our priestly training (back to that again) was supposed to be an alternative to the argumentative style of theology I was taught at university. Of course, the response of an argumentative, disputatious, debating theology to sitting around gazing at God in your navel will always be to pick holes in it.

And so it goes.

[My apologies for that horrible mixed metaphor – picking holes in your navel is a ghastly image to offer to the world – perhaps someone can do better].


  1. vicky says

    I love mixed metaphors 🙂

  2. I wonder if the problem might lie in the nature of the perceived job you guys have to do. Most punters still expect Christians ( and therefore the clergy especially so) to be gentle, sweet and mild – do they not? So you don’t tend to let off steam in the course of your public ministry, but rather tread softly, hold the coats, avoid taking sides and keep smiling. Whereas in the classroom I could explode when necessary – thereby releasing all sorts of tensions – and no-one thought it other than part of the job. The customers even enjoyed it, if it wasn’t their turn. I may return to further navel-gazing at my own place … unless Good Works get in the way in the form of Christian Aid envelopes. 😐

  3. kelvin says

    One thing politics has over the church that is worth thinking about is that in the church there is no concept of loyal opposition. If you criticise anything at all, for many the whole edifice comes tumbling down.

  4. Zebadee says


    A long time ago I came to the conclusion that I am part of the opposition and remain loyal.

    You are ,as usual correct, to criticise is to threaten and the ‘Tower of Babel’ will fall. In fact the sky will fall down as well.

  5. I once gave up picking my belly button for lint. Not a mixed metaphor, but a very poor pun!

  6. Isaac Asimov, familiar to many as a noted scientist and author, once told a story about a Rabbi Feldman who was having trouble with his congregation. It seemed they could agree upon nothing. The president of the congregation said, “Rabbi, this cannot be allowed to continue. Come, there must be a conference, and we must settle all areas of dispute once and for all.” The rabbi agreed.

    At the appointed time, therefore, the rabbi, the president, and ten elders met in the conference room of the synagogue, sitting about a magnificent mahogany table. One by one the issues were dealt with and on each issue, it became more and more apparent that the rabbi was a lonely voice in the wilderness. The president of the synagogue said, “Come, Rabbi, enough of this. Let us vote and allow the majority to rule.” He passed out the slips of paper and each man made his mark. The slips were collected and the president said, “You may examine them, Rabbi. It is eleven to one against you. We have the majority.”

    Whereupon the rabbi rose to his feet in offended majesty. “So,” he said, “you now think because of the vote that you are right and I am wrong. Well, that is not so. I stand here” –and he raised his arms impressively– “and call upon the Holy One of Israel to give us a sign that I am right and you are wrong.” And as he said this, there came a frightful crack of thunder and a brilliant flash of lightning that struck the mahogany table and cracked it in two. The room was filled with smoke and fumes, and the president and the elders were hurled to the floor. Through the carnage, the rabbi remained erect and untouched, his eyes flashing and a grim smile on his face.

    Slowly, the president lifted himself above what was left of the table. His hair was singed, his glasses were hanging from one ear, his clothing was in disarray. Finally he said, “All right, eleven to two. But we still have the majority.”

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