Sunday, November 25, 2012

Episcopacy and females

One of the cries of the Desert Fathers, the first Christian monks who fled the cities to set up shop in the 4th century Egyptian deserts, was, "Flee women, and bishops!"  The first group was a threat to chastity, while the second, who liked to ordain monks to serve them as priests, was a threat to solitude.

Reverend Obadiah Slope, no hero he, meets a final and fatal combination of women and bishops in this scene from The Barchester Chronicles. The ineffectual Bishop Proudie's decision to sack Slope as his chaplain is explained --literally unblinkingly-- by Slope's equally unappealing foe, Mrs. Proudie, known by all to be the unconsecrated but actual Bishop of Barchester. A study in dueling shadows.

And an image that the Church of England, which just saved itself, momentarily, from female bishops, might take to its cold and dusty heart. (To say nothing of advocates of clerical marriage.)



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