Monday, July 11, 2005


It's General Synod time again and York campus is full of nice men in beards and nice women in floral frocks. I'm informed that today they are voting on whether or not to allow women to become bishops.

Amongst the highly convincing and logical arguments against the consecration of women bishops, is this one from the Bishop of Ebbsfleet:

"A woman bishop wouldn't be a bishop because a bishop is someone whose ministry is acceptable through the ages to all other bishops".

Errr.... yes, good point that*. It is evidently absurd to imagine that women could be consecrated as bishops when this might not be acceptable to long dead bishops from the 3rd Century or to hypothetical future bishops in the 31st Century - all of whom, presumably, exist in some kind of mystical bishop-continuum beyond space and time (to which the Bishop of Ebbsfleet clearly has access).

Bishops without testicles are just not on. No sir-ee. What a ludicrous proposition - one cannot possibly perform a bishop's tasks unless one has a miniature bishop of one's own between one's legs. We all know what flighty, irresponsible and intellectually inferior creatures women are. There is absolutely no way that one of those vain, giggling beings could ever take on such a challenging job - they'd only spend their time doing their hair in front of the mirror or gossiping about Eastenders or something instead of getting on with the important business of... well, whatever it is that bishops do.

Anyway, all of these high-falutin' intellectual-theological discussions going on right now in the Central Hall about what may or may not be acceptable to hypothetical bishops are far beyond the likes of you or me. We should leave it to the experts. Clearly one has to be an intellectual heavyweight, like the bishop of Ebbsfleet, to engage in meaningful discussion about whether or not the possession of a vagina somehow supernaturally disqualifies one from bishopy duties.

My mind works on a much lower level than those great men. In fact my interest in the activities of bishops is decidedly low-brow. I am only really interested in celebrity bishops, you see. Every year, during the General Synod week, I like to stand outside the meeting hall, with a pencil and notepad, bishop-spotting. I've seen the Archbishop of Canterbury (he always reminds me of Mr Tumnus from the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe - there's something decidedly goaty about him. He looks very much like a faun or a satyr - though without the animal legs, obviously, and without, I suppose, the priapic, bestial lusts), the new Archbishop of York and that bishop who had a TV series recently (the Bishop of Liverpool I think). I have, of course, seen numerous other not-so-famous bishops as well. If I may be so bold, I would go so far as to say that I have probably seen more bishops in the last 2 years than any other non-bishop would see in a lifetime! I've certainly seen far more bishops than any of you. HA!

I'm thinking about setting up a small business next year. What I'll do is I'll construct a hide on the banks of the campus lake and hire it out to people for say a tenner an hour, plus hire out binoculars, cameras and a handy bishop spotters' guide, complete with illustrations. It's a hobby waiting to happen. I could make an absolute mint.

* Incidentally, the Bishop of Ebbsfleet's phrase here may well be a contender for the world record on the number of times the word 'bishop' can be inserted into a (vaguely) coherent sentence.

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