I got back from a great Meissen Commission meeting (in Wittenberg) late last night and have been catching up on the news from the Pope’s visit (as well as emails, correspondence, paperwork, etc.). Tomorrow I’ll be at the consecration of three new bishops at St Paul’s Cathedral in London. The juxtaposition of these experiences sent my mind off at a bit of a tangent.
The Pope clearly went down better than many had thought (or hoped). But, now he has gone, life carries on. Someone pointed out to me that he was in the air on his way here while I was in the air en route to Wittenberg and he was in the air on his way back to Rome as I was in the air coming back form Berlin. Spooky…
But, what I wondered was this: does he ever get do do anything that broadens his horizons or fires his imagination? And I don’t mean Benedict in particular, but the office of Pope. The demands are infinite, the pressures massive and the walls of the Vatican high.
The three bishops being consecrated tomorrow will find that their world changes and it takes some getting used to. The big danger is that we become so churchy and preoccupied with churchy things that we lose the things in life that also feed us. When I became a bishop I virtually stopped doing music – no time for regular rehearsal or playing. Not inevitable, but that’s what happened. So, I have had to work hard at listening to new music, watching films and reading more than theology. The new bishops will have to find their own way, but they shouldn’t neglect their own nurturing.
One of the things that fires me up (and, I think, feeds my ministry) is finding new bands or being pointed towards old stuff I never really listened to. At the moment I’m loving Franz Ferdinand and watching The Wire. I have just finished reading Chris Evans’s autobiography alongside Hans Küng, Terry Eagleton and Tom Wright.
But, how does the Pope ever get the space to watch good theatre, hear new music, watch good films or relax with good fiction? There might be a simple answer to this and it is possible that he has cracked the challenge and has a wonderfully developed ‘hinterland’ that feeds him and fires him. But I wouldn’t bet on it. (The Archbishop of Canterbury does read a huge amount and has an amazing memory: he also knows some interesting and surprising telly stuff.)
Here’s my recommendation to the Pope, the Archbishop and the new bishops: they might not like it, but it will introduce a new world to them.
Tim Hain lives in Surrey, is an interesting bloke and a damn good guitarist. He has also invented a fusion of Blues and Reggae which he calls ‘Bleggae’. He plays loads of small, localised gigs, but he deserves a bigger audience. It’s fun, it’s thoughtful, and it makes you want to dance.
If you bump into the Pope, pass on the link…