Dear Archbishop Justin Welby,
Your enthronement in the Church of England job this morning prompts me into sharing some of my ecclesiastical wisdom with you. I am, after all, a slightly more experienced Archbishop. True, as Archbishop of Southover Bonfire Society, I only work one day a year but I have already given the top sermon and under what is generally accepted to be much harsher conditions than any lad in Canterbury will ever face down.
Not that it matters who is the hardest Archbishop. It’s not a competition. I wish you all the very best, as I’m sure you do me. You must be pretty good, what with having only worn the Bishops slightly less impressive pointy hat for a year and been an oilman before that. So from Archbishop to another, here’s a couple of tips to theological success.
First up, I’d advise getting used to crowd situations. I’m not sure whether you’ll ever have to deal with them very much in the dark but let’s assume you are. All around you there are people, your very congregation, making mischief with your manliness, so much that you can go deaf and as well as mad. My advice here is to wear ear plugs. Or perhaps you’ll skip through the crowds, in your somewhat gentler flock.
Secondly, you’ll be called upon to wax lyrical about spiritual shit on important occasions. Down here in Southover, we commemorate martyrs who gave up their lives, after much cruel punishment, for the right to read the Bible in English, instead of Latin. Their collective punishment reminds us most painfully of all the struggles around the world, for liberty. They died at the stake for what we believe in. Obviously, I have to admit that here our spiritual messages depart. Your predecessors have all (okay, I haven’t checked but I reckon it is all) blessed soldiers going off to murder people. Let’s be clear about that, the law says that it is murder but the soldiers have the ‘defence of war’. Sure, they might well be fighting in a just cause but it is their success, their glory that gets blessed, not their deaths. Allow me to be blunt here, if I might be so bold, your message here is there’s that commandment ~ thou shalt not kill ~ and, face it, you’re going to bless that. It doesn’t make any sense. Why not switch into not blessing wars and killing and all the bad stuff?
Well, I can’t chat all night. I’ve got a few other ideas but hey, perhaps you’d like to give me some tips on constructing good speeches. I didn’t get much of mine out this year. Frankly, it was too noisy. That said, my Commander in Chief (Have you got one?), said I could have amplification next year, so that could make a difference. All the same, I really could do with some help. Perhaps a consultancy role for yourself? You could come this year (its on a school night, I know, but I guarantee Lewes would give you a right and proper welcome), kick about around the town for a bit and then come up for a view from our clergy stand. Then afterwards we could have an Archbishop’s conference to discuss best strategy and tactics. Tennis rackets or giant strengthened leather cuffs? Grills or boarding underfoot? I’ll tell the other Archbishops in Lewes (there’s seven of us down here, sorry to brag) and put some diary dates to avoid aside. That’s great then, I’m looking forward to hearing from you already. A consultancy. Just imagine it.