Leadership, Archbishops and a Long Dead Dog

What on earth had happened to the concept of good leadership in this modern world? I read a piece yesterday saying that the elevation of Bunter Johnson to the prime ministership marked the first occasion that Britain has had three disastrous prime ministers in succession. Occasionally there have been two misfits in the role, but then someone has appeared on the scene to clear up the mess.

This time, we might well have to suffer this chaos of leadership for another four years and then pray that we get that proper leader.

And it is not only in politics. Take the Church of England for example. Their leader, Justin Welby, the current Archbishop of Canterbury would seem to be completely out of touch with reality. Two years ago he claimed to be ‘finding inspiration in the lead up to the Royal Wedding by listening to the grime rapper, Stormzy’ – whoever he may be.

As the majority of church goers nowadays are middle aged or elderly, that was hardly likely to appeal to their sensibilities. This was just a naïve attempt by a silly little man to endear himself to the urban young by appearing culturally and socially ‘cool’ – that fatally narcissistic middle-class condition that seems to affect modern political leaders, celebrities and tens of thousands of households across the wealthier suburbs of London.

Welby went to Eton, and then to Oxford and then onto an oil company where he served as an executive before being ‘called to God,’ so his enthusiasm for the lower ranks of a music genre that has been accused of glorifying violence, particularly knife crime, is curious.

But the man has form in this regard. On the day of his appointment in 2013, he painfully attempted to diminish the privileges he had enjoyed by calling himself stupid. He was trying to demolish the documented link between a privileged upbringing and prominence in public life – that well-trodden path of opportunity with minimum effort available to so many of Britain’s middle and upper classes. But at the time there was already an abundance of unimaginative and very stupid Conservative politicians, so Welby’s denial that his appointment was consistent with Britain’s habit of rewarding connections was generally laughed at. He should never have got the job in any case.

Instead it should have gone to John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York. Sentamu was born on the outskirts of Kampala and uniquely positioned to fill the role, given that his own calling was prompted by spending time in the hell of one of Idi Amin’s jails. Unlike Welby, Sentamu was not and is not stupid or privileged. Having trained as a lawyer, he arrived in Britain an immigrant, which even in 2013 should have counted for something – at the very least, to identify with the myriad complexities of building a multi-cultural society.

Sentamu actually cared about black people everywhere. In 2007, when the likes of Nkosozana Dlamini-Zuma and Julius Malema were refusing to condemn the leader of my own country Robert Mugabe, he famously cut up his dog collar on television in disgust at the behaviour of Zimbabwe’s President. Where was support from his superior? Welby said not a word.

The Coronabug pandemic caused more problems for the Church of England I’m afraid. Under government advice, many churches closed their doors and services were reduced to virtual affairs, embittering some parishioners for whom the Church is the central, binding feature of their lives. Whilst this was an acceptable response given the information available, many among the elderly, suddenly alone, vulnerable and confused, were startled to see some senior bishops emerge to involve themselves in highly-charged political issues, none of which had anything to do with faith.

When the dust was beginning to settle over these regrettable incidents, Welby again went on the stupidly offensive. He entered the debate on the removal of statues by suggesting that the identity of Jesus as a white person needs examination. Some statues, he admitted, would have to come down, before going on to declare that ‘forgiveness for the past is possible…but only if there is justice.’

What? I am Catholic so I am not sure what the Church of England teaches, but I was brought up to believe that the basis – indeed the bedrock – of Christianity is unconditional forgiveness.

Even during colonial times, the Church of England largely showed a love and respect for humanity that transcended belief and to an admirable extent, made up for the country’s problematic history. It was the first institution to acknowledge that there were serious problems with how small countries were being occupied and occasionally pillaged in the name of governance. To make peace with the brutality of so much of the world being conquered in its name, the Church shifted its focus to the role of the family, encouraging stability and reflection. Without shirking responsibility, it re calibrated and successfully distanced itself from the establishment.

In contrast to a former Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie who was awarded the Military Cross for two astonishing feats of bravery during the Second World War, Justin Welby lacks the courage to resist fashionable opportunism and now appears about as useful as some of these hopeless Democrat Mayors in America, stumbling their way through excuses and platitudes as their cities burn.

What distinguishes Welby, however, from rank and file establishment profiles selling out for popularity sake is that his burden is not some ideological stage he can jump back on, as and when it suits him. Misinterpreting the fundamental principle of Christianity is not simply an insult to the religious, but it is a threat to order that emphasises fairness. And any country without this order is a country that is in serious trouble.

As the country opens up for business and entertainment – to a certain extent – today, the madness of the Black Lives Matter campaign continues to seem ever more deranged.

Now we learn that the gravestone of a dog named Nigger has been removed in Warwickshire. The dog died in July 1902 and his memorial in Coombe Abbey Park – a popular cultural attraction – displayed his controversial name along with the date of his death.

Following complaints made last year, Coventry City Council refused to remove the gravestone due to property reasons, but it has finally been taken away following the worldwide protests sparked by Floyd ‘s death in the United States.

A council spokesperson said: ‘We can confirm the historical gravestone in memory of a loved pet was removed. Our stance on racism is clear and although the gravestone was from another time it is not appropriate today.’

Why don’t these mealie-mouthed officials just tear up all the history books and start again from the year 2020. Offence can be taken to almost anything, if taking offence is wanted and the situation is becoming ever more farcical. With a name like Lemon, I have been subjected to bullying and insults for a goodly part of my life but it has left no lasting effect.

We must either blank out history altogether or leave its monuments alone, whether they it be graves or statues before this country has no recognisable history left and becomes yet another banana republic like the countries of Africa and other places that have rewritten their history books..

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