Sunday, 25 November 2012


In all the fuss over women bishops, there's been some suggestions that it's about "ambition". The image of a "stained glass ceiling" has been floated around. Women, says one line of thought, are fighting for their rights just like feminists in the workplace. The implication being - how un-Christian. Feminism, it suggest, is a bad secular thing, that should not be allowed in Church.

It's the ultimate defence of the patronising, of course. It suggests that women - sweet, fluffy, unworldly creatures - would be exhausted, even maybe made less womanly, by their association with the struggle up the corporate ladder. They should be patting the hands of parishioners, mopping fevered brows - maybe indulging in a little jam-making. Men, of course, are already so sunk in the sin of ambition and politicking that they might as well keep up the struggle, past the stranded female Archdeacon as she deals with housing (an appropriate female concern), and on to the dizzy heights of episcopality.

And a first response to that would be - well why shouldn't women be as ambitious as men, come to that? Why should the "Angel of the Hearth" of Victorian myth be stuck as the "Angel of the Vestry" of these new Elizabethan times? If being a bishop's a dirty job but somebody's got to do it, why shouldn't a woman do it? We don't make the Church a new society by making it less fair even than the Boardroom.

Or we could look up that spiritual hierarchy - may be the way God sees it, it's certainly the way we do - and see what's at the top of the ladder. It's not a bishop's palace, with flunkies and portraits of predecessors on the wall. This ladder leads all the way up to the top of a hill. And then it stops being a ladder and starts to be a tree. And then, as we near the top, we realise it's not just a tree - it's a cross.

That ladder should be a ladder of servanthood - where each rung is for the people who have managed to be the servants of those below it. And it strikes me that, on the whole, women are pretty good at being servants. After all, practice makes perfect.


  1. You lot took much better in dresses than male bishops anyway.

    By the way, are you allowed to drive the family car?

  2. PS - rather than blogging, shouldn't you be busy now with Srir-up Sunday, or are you leaving it till Waitrose Wednesday?

    Women, eh?

  3. That should be Stir-up Sunday

  4. PS - Ambition didn't stop Madonna...

    1. It would appear that very few abstract nouns do. Decency, modesty and concern for innocent onlookers being just three.

    2. I fail to see the relevance of abstract nuns...

  5. Is ambition wrong - no I don't think it is. But more to the point is the calling of a human with boobs less of a calling than the human with a willy? Having acknowledged that the boob wearers do indeed have a calling and assuming the calling came from God, how do we have the right to say that only half the people He called are called to the Episocopate? Surely that decision is His not ours? And BTW I believe Tabitha was called as a disciple so boobs were okay two thousand years ago as well :)


Drop a thoughtful pebble in the comments bowl