This week has been the most difficult I ...

First published 25th November 2012

This week has been the most difficult I think of my ordained life. Though I feared some years ago that a final vote on women bishops might fail in the House of Laity, when it happened I was mortified and to some extent, I still am.

I shall be giving further thought to this at next Saturday's Diocesan Synod (which, when it voted on the Women Bishops' legislation did not register one vote against the Measure). What I want to reflect upon is the understandable, but ultimately unhelpful and increasing use of excessive language in our culture at large.

This week there has been much in the Media, aside from the Women Bishops' issue, about the unregulated and abusive language used on Facebook and Twitter. Anyone it seems can say untrue and dreadful things on the internet about anyone else and get away with it. Anarchy reigns it appears!

Our media is equally guilty, forcing anybody and everybody into outrageous communication simply to grab a headline or a rating. Anger is very often understandable, but the use of wild and excessive language, rarely is helpful.

In our ongoing discussions about where we go with Women Bishops, we maybe need to bear this in mind.

As somebody who thinks about language and communication quite a lot, I can recognise two opposing tendencies within myself. The first is to be tempted into the use of excessive language simply to be heard in the heavily distracted world in which we live.

The second is to step back and see how we find a way through our differences. Jesus tells us that peacemakers are blessed, and as far as I can recall, never talks about campaigners!

On this issue that absorbs the Church of England, anger is what I feel and what many feel. If we don't feel that anger and express it, we shall get stuck somewhere in the process of seeking a way through all this. Scripture reminds us that anger of itself is not wrong, but becomes wrong when we allow it to lead us into sin.

However, our desire to move this issue forward, and that right soon, will be scuppered I fear, unless we can work through our anger and our temptation to use excessive language.

How aware I am of the teaching of the Epistle of James in the current climate, "Does anyone think they are religious? If they do not control their tongue, their religion is useless and they deceive themselves."

For God's sake speak up, but remember to speak well!

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