There’s a great Bruce Cockburn song (are there any that aren’t great?) that begins with the line:
Knots in my muscles, too much traffic in my mind, traffic in my mind…
That just about sums up the inside of my head, too. While the world goes mad (US brinkmanship regarding debt ceilings, Libyan contortions, Syrian massacres, Zimbabwean injustices, deepening exposure of media corruption, England beating India at cricket…) life carries on as normal for most of us. For me that means huge investment of time in getting to know the people and places within the boundaries of the Diocese of Bradford. It is both encouraging and challenging, but it also raises huge questions about future development.
It also makes it difficult to sleep. Not because I am worried – I am not. Not because there is too much going on – although there might be. It’s simply because my head is full and alive with questions, thoughts, options, imaginings. All good stuff, but, in Cockburn’s words, “too much traffic in my mind”.
- How can the Church best serve the deverse communities of urban, suburban and rural West Yorkshire and the Dales?
- How can clergy best be deployed, supported, resourced and led in leading their churches and parishes?
- What will be the pros and cons of dissolving three dioceses and creating one new one (where the pros so far well outweigh the cons, in my mind)?
- How do we best capture the public imagination with the announcement of the good news of Jesus Christ for all people?
- How do we best allocate our resources in order to enable us to achieve our vision: to enable the church to resemble the Jesus we read about in the Gospels – to be a sign of the presence of God in the messy world?
- Nothing new or radical there, but the actual realities of a new (for me) context raise them in new forms and in different colours and with changing urgencies. So, life is not boring. The questions that look general have to be addressed in the light of the particular, and that is where it gets tough/interesting/challenging/stimulating.
There are other questions, of course:
- When will American politicians learn that their ideological intransigencies make for a dangerous game in a contingent world where most of us wish they would grow up and learn the art of compromise for the common good? Or at least learn a vocabulary that isn’t automatically inspired by the demonising of ‘the other’?
- Why did we ever get involved in Libya and why did we decide to back the rebels before they even have popular legitimacy there? Did we learn nothing from Iraq?
- What legitimacy does the UN (or the ‘international community’) have when Syria just ignores ‘demands’ that they stop killing civilians with heavy weaponry?
- When will African leaders (particularly in SADC) take responsibility for insisting on the rule of law in Zimbabwe where Mugabe increases his snook-cocking at his subjects, uses the police as his personal judiciary and allows the nightmare (and profoundly dim) Nolbert Kunonga to terrorise the Anglican Church there?
- Who cares about cricket? I never did understand it. Roll on the footie season…