One week on from the General Synod's vote on women bishops and the story has fallen off the radar of most of the media. The sound and fury has moved on – for the time being, at least – to the next batch of 'stories'.
Here in Vienna I have been asked by people from all faiths and from all over the globe about what happened. I have been rather surprised by the sympathy offered! It has also offered an opportunity to try to explain how the Church of England works – not easy in any language. But, even here it was a matter of curiosity rather than concern or passion. (Although two people from two different countries asked what credibility our politicians have when they couldn't manage to reform the House of Lords – i.e. themselves – and have questionable electoral democratic legitimacy… which I thought was interesting.)
The big story occupying the media mind now is the publication of the Leveson report on Thursday. As with the announcement of the name of the next Archbishop of Canterbury, and with the General Synod's vote on women bishops, we can't imply wait for a fact to be revealed; no, we fill our time and energy with speculation, pre-judgement and attempts to head off outcomes that might just make us feel a bit wobbly. Patience is not a virtue valued by a 24 hour media monster hungry for any sort of feeding.
Well, I couldn't find any mention (in my cursory digital search of the UK media) of the good news that last night saw leading Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus from across the globe sitting together at the launch of a new International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue in Vienna. Religion is frequently portrayed as the source of a host of problems in the world; images of genuinely warm relations between religious leaders clearly isn't news. It doesn't fit the 'conflict narrative'.
Yet, last night was genuinely remarkable – even to veterans of the international interfaith circus. At the Hofburg we listened to sharp speeches by (among others) the Foreign Ministers of Saudi Arabia, Spain and Austria; the Chief Rabbi of Moscow, the head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue at the Vatican, the President of the Muslim World League, the Ecumenical Patriarch, and the Secretary General of the United Nations. They didn't duck the challenges and they mostly said something worth listening to.
It is easy to take for granted a warm handshake between a Saudi minister, a Chief Rabbi and a Cardinal, but just a few years ago such an image would have been unthinkable.
Now it isn't even worthy of a mention in the news.
I am not moaning about this – just pointing it out as a phenomenon. If anything, I guess I think we just ought to be a little more media literate – just as some of us wish the media were a little more religion literate. So, when Leveson reports on Thursday we should be a little cautious about the special pleading of the press when they find their integrity questioned and their trustworthiness doubted. The preemptive strikes are almost embarrassing – best satirised in Roy Greenslade's Guardian column today.
An intelligent debate about press freedom (and associated matters) would be really welcome. But, I am not holding my breath. Too much self-interest, too much self-protection, too much special pleading – not unique to the press, but powerful factors nonetheless.
Oh well. I'll just get back to good news stories about religious harmony and cooperation. This morning I had breakfast with a Jewish academic, a Muslim statesman and a Shinto priest. How weird is that?
Back to Blighty tomorrow.