Democracy has struck again, and Donald Trump has been elected to be the next President of the United States. It’s always interesting to watch self-proclaimed liberals become so angry that they lose control of their critical faculties when faced with people who disagree with them. On this occasion it might even have been fun, had the stakes not been so high.
Laci Green, a video-blogger with a large following on YouTube and Twitter, probably deserves a prize of some kind. Late on 8 November she – it is her preferred pronoun, we checked – was keen to remind her followers, while a Democratic win seemed likely, that “Regardless of the outcome, we are *clearly* a deeply divided and broken country. So much work to mend, heal, and restore the U in USA.” Three hours later, when a Republican victory had become inevitable, she kicked off the healing process with “F*ck you, white America. F*ck you, you racist, misogynist pieces of sh*t.”
Perhaps it’s time for the General Synod to market those Shared Conversations stateside. Meanwhile, for a more nuanced analysis readers might like to turn to Christopher Wells’ thoughts on page 15. It’s very good to welcome Dr Wells to these pages; he is the Editor of what we affectionately like to think of as our sister magazine, The Living Church.
What now for traditionalists in Wales after the election of Canon Joanna Penberthy to the See of St Davids? It was inevitable that the next episcopal vacancy in Wales would be filled by a woman; and, given the agenda that has been so clearly visible in recent years, perhaps we should not be surprised that the customary requirement for the Bishop of St Davids to be fluent in Welsh was waived. On All Souls’ Day the Archbishop of Wales appeared outside the Cathedral to make the Urbi et Orbi announcement, which he said gave him “enormous pleasure” and was greeted with modest applause. When the camera panned around it revealed the news being enthusiastically received by a crowd made up of nine adults, a baby, and a traffic cone.
Inevitably, the wags have pointed out that St Davids will now have a Mother in Law, but not a Father in God. Since the retirement of the Rt Revd David Thomas as Provincial Assistant Bishop the Welsh bishops have had eight years to make suitable provision for this eventuality, and they have done nothing. If they do not provide vital alternative episcopal oversight now – proper oversight, that is, of the kind that has been asked for time and time again – then what has been suspected in many quarters will finally be laid bare for all to see: that the Welsh bench, for all its protestations, holds the faithful Catholics among its flock in thinly-disguised contempt.
The Mikado has come to town in time for Christmas; and GAFCON, like Ko-Ko, has got a little list. We told you they were cross, didn’t we? (ND, Editorial, Oct 2016). But there is more than one way to skin a cat, and we can only imagine what possessed them to draw up a document that would be instantly inflammatory the moment its existence became known. Given that it seems to consist merely of the names of people whom everyone knew were gay anyway, it is hardly a work of subterfuge and skulduggery; but it was always going to cause offence. It will now make even more difficult the work of those people, clerical and lay, who are trying to walk the tightrope between ministering faithfully and diligently to non-heterosexual people while at the same time upholding the discipline of the Church. On the upside, however, it does suggest a patter-song that must surely include the line “If you happen to be wond’ring whom the Vicar may have kissed – then we’ve got a little list, we’ve got a little list.”
And so 2016 draws to a close. For many people it has been a year of bitterness, recrimination, anger, and division – perhaps not a good year at all, by the world’s lights. But another light shines in the darkness; and we do well to remember that as Advent begins. There is, at least, hope once more in parts of Syria, where the circumstances of persecuted Christian communities seem to be improving slowly. Elsewhere, however, the persecution continues: in other parts of the Middle East, in China, in Sudan, in North Korea, in Somalia – the list goes on. The persecuted Church already has the prayers of a recent harvest of martyrs whose number is known to God alone; but it demands our attention, too – and not just at Christmas.