Notepad on Life

December 16, 2009

Dear Archbishop of Canterbury…

Filed under: Church — - @ 1:24 pm
Tags: , , ,
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams
Image by chrisjohnbeckett via Flickr

I was pleased to note your censure of Government attempts to marginalise Christians last week. It suggests you are feeling quite bullish as Christmas approaches and I trust you will therefore be receptive to my suggestion for slapping down another form of anti-Christian behaviour that I feel has been marginalising us for years.

I decided during a particularly grim encounter at my own church last Sunday morning that I can no longer keep silent on the scourge of the limp clergy handshake.

So sadly familiar have I become with this peculiarly Church of England trait that I can now see it coming a mile off and so it was with Sunday’s celebrant – fingers slithering towards my hand like a tentative brood of vipers, grasping the tips of my index, third and fourth fingers and administering not so much a shake as a tremor, before slithering back from where there they came.

Repulsive doesn’t begin to cover it. Peter Mandelson can probably do better than this.

Is this how John Wesley greeted the faithful, I ask myself? St Paul? Martin Luther King?

If a battle-hardened Anglican like me can finally be driven to despair by such awful PR, what do you suppose it does for the ‘floating voters’ out there: to encounter a man of God who clearly equates shaking the hands of his flock with picking up a dog turd?

Such social ineptitude has no place on the front line of evangelism and I believe the Church has to address it. The whole gay clergy thing is a massive red herring: effeminate handshakes are the real enemy in our midst (and the two are by no means always the same thing).

“Treat each handshake as if you’re grasping the very gate of heaven itself” – introduce that as an article of faith at theology college and we may finally start to get somewhere. And a purely backroom job for anyone not up to it.

My best wishes for Christmas and 2010.

Yours faithfully,

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