While looking over reports of the final documents released at the closure of the Vatican Synod I missed another closure, that of The Llandaffchester Chronicles. When I noticed the new entry in my Blog List I looked forward to being cheered by a good dose of church satire as a welcome interlude. To my dismay it was not another hoot but the story of an 'insidious' closure.
There has been much concern at the Vatican Synod about the decline of Christianity in the Middle East and freedom of conscience in religion. Closer to home, a group of clerics in Wales has been equally worried about the decline of orthodox Christianity, falling numbers and the poor leadership in their now disestablished Church in Wales. One of the attributes of the British people has been the ability to laugh at ourselves, now all but killed-off by political correctness. In its short life of around six months, the amazingly popular 'Chronicles' provided an oasis in that barren world becoming the talk of vestries inside Wales and out judging by the many published comments, many of which were as revealing as the stories themselves. The attraction was the ability of readers to identify like characters with those used as illustrations of the points being made. So much so that according to friends on the ground, many were so spot-on they believed that there must be a mole in the Cathedral.
Built around a Barchester Chronicles theme the antics of Llandaffchester Cathedral's Dean and Chapter proved to be fertile ground but other dioceses did not escape, notably the Bishops of St Asaph and Swansea & Brecon. The main target though was the leader of the 'Bench sitters', AB "Bazzer" himself who was portrayed as ruling a personal fiefdom using his 'yes' men as supporters of his 'relevant to society' regime, not that 99% of society gave a toss for him or his religion. Those in the know suggested that the AB is interested only in his own opinion so any criticism implied or direct would be wasted on him. Others better qualified must judge that for themselves but one concern links him to the subject discussed at the Vatican Synod. That was the lampooning story of "Bazzer" dining out with Muslims in an inter-faith event organised with the Welsh Assembly. The joke was the AB's bid for greater status in Wales as the result of ever declining numbers in the CinW under his leadership. The lampooning raised serious points. The inter-faith story has since achieved greater prominence in other contexts, particularly in the Vatican where Middle East bishops were called to Synod.
No doubt the inter-faith idea of dining out was good intentioned using the Christian ideal of brotherly love, also quoted by the Anglican Bishop of Liverpool when he agreed to became patron of a large Mosque development there. One has to wonder whether these church leaders are aware of the difference between the Koran and Bible. Muslims regard Christians as inferior and are encouraged to use deception in favour of Islam. Receptive to criticism or not "Bazzer" should realize that engaging with his fellow Christians would be far more productive.
To The Chronicles team, well done thou good and faithful servants. Regardless of the merits of the site, I shall miss your humourous approach to the real problems in the church today. It is to be hoped that those happy to see your demise will live in fear of its resurrection. That may be enough for them to think again, but I doubt it. Perhaps instead we should watch this space.