The aptly named gutter press has itself dominated news headlines for weeks now. My guess is it will go on to do so for many months yet. Like many reading this, I too have found elements of this pernicious spectacle disturbing. Some of the allegations being bandied around are just too upsetting.
But what I have found even more disturbing is the complete lack of moral leadership to help see the country through this unholy mess.
Moral – Leadership – Unholy Mess?
These are loaded words!
The word “moral” (we don’t hear it very often these days). The Oxford Dictionary’s definition of the word is fine…moral means being ”concerned with the distinction between right and wrong”. I think we all need to use it a bit more!
I think a good case could be made for saying that in the last couple of decades the West has become increasingly obsessed with money. Such obsession will ultimately lead to extreme moral lapses like hacking into the phone of a dead girl in the hope of a scoop. A scoop which will, in turn, lead directly to increased revenue returns for the paper that captures the story. It’s all about money!
MP’s expenses, Bankers bonuses, footballers’ wages, Utility Companies that add “extras” on to every bill, finance companies that advertise on main stream day-time TV unsecured loans with interest rates at over 1,000% APR, and phone lines that cost 40p a minute while you are kept on hold…
…and programmes like the Apprentice, where the person who makes the most money, wins i.e. core personal values come a distant second to an ability for profit generation. These are supported by any number of other programmes that inform us how to make money on our houses and antiques. Not to mention the never ending cycle of lottery programmes and the get rich and famous so called “talent” contests.
Can I stress at this point that this is not a “hark back to some glorious by-gone age” post. It is merely an expression of my belief that capitalism has gone a bit too far.
In the game of Chess, Bishops can make sweeping diagonal moves from one side of the board to another. I am not a chess historian, but one can guess that Bishops were seen as a moral force that could manoeuvre themselves to take a side-ways glance at society and change the game play.
I have been waiting for one of our Archbishops to enter this recent media frenzy with some wisdom and insight. I have explained here why I am not a Christian (broadly speaking I can’t believe in God) but having spent years working for the Church Commissioners and the Diocese of Exeter I have picked up a quiet respect for our senior clerics.
But on this occasion I have not seen either of our Archbishops enter the fray.
Where are you Bishops?
Well it may be that I have simply missed what they have been saying. But I’ve checked their websites and twitter accounts.
The Archbishop of York seems very concerned about Chris Evans’s forthcoming eye operation and proud of the work of his gardener. The Archbishop of Canterbury’s website shows that he seems a tad pre-occupied with Christians in the Holy Land. Fair enough some might say, but it hardly seems a priority just now. And on the News of the World, nothing.
A cynic might suggest that because the Church of England owns nearly £4m worth of shares in News Corp and over £5m of shares in BSkyB that they have handcuffed themselves into silence.
What I do know is that the people of the UK provide our Archbishop’s with Palaces and libraries and chauffeurs (and gardeners) and a secretariat to give themselves time to think. It’s not too much of ask that in return they provide some moral guidance at times like this.
Do we have Bishops or mere pawns? It’s a question worth asking.