Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Testing the limits of power and polity


[sydneyanglicans,net] 19 Jan 2009--"(This really happened) Rector to new parish councillor: “I think parish councils are totally unnecessary. I like to make all the important decisions.”

When I look at the way in which many clergy manage the administrative polity of power and decision making in their parishes, my mind goes back to a rather interesting interaction in Robert Bolt’s A Man For All Seasons between Tomas Moore and his soon to be Son in law William Roper about the rule of law. Roper is impatient with Moore’s reliance on the law rather than going straight after his enemies and accused him of even giving the Devil the benefit of law.

More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ‘round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?

This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down (and you’re just the man to do it!), do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?

Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

(A rather English, and may I say Anglican, attitude to the rule of law in human affairs.)

It seems to me it is too easy for clergy effectively to abuse the rule of law in their parishes for all kinds of good reasons but with long-term bad consequences."

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