This is just plain funny. This fellow is a C o E cleric too. Where did he go to school again? It's as bizarre as it is dismissible.
As the CofE's top man, Justin Welby must cope with our infantile projections
Last week I had coffee with an old priest friend of mine who now helps select people for ordination. Would we do it all again, we asked ourselves? Neither of us were confident that we would.
I loved Rowan Williams. Still do, in fact. I know that might seem over the top. But intellectually, it was true. He could do no wrong. And perhaps that was part of the problem. I was one of that generation of students at Oxford who were taught by him. Looking back, it is now clear that many of us massively overinvested in his charisma and intelligence. And when he later objected that there was an almost childlike dependence that many Anglicans had on the archbishop of Canterbury, he was absolutely correct. As Justin Welby will soon discover to his cost, being the subject of projection is no fun at all. First they build you up. Then they knock you down.
Archbishops of Canterbury no longer have any real executive power. Even Rowan Williams's modest idea of creating a pan-Anglican legal body to deal with doctrinal dispute in the communion came to nothing. The CofE may be both Protestant and Catholic; but it is Protestant enough not to do popes or anything like them. But like many religious organisations, it still thinks in terms of "Papa" – to spell it out: both the pope's nickname and the child's word for father. Which is why no guide to surviving the church is complete without a serious study of Freud. All too easily, the church can be emotionally and spiritually infantilising. For some, that almost seems the point.
For example, there are many people in my parish who still insist on calling me Father Giles. I really wish they wouldn't – not least because the Black Country wags in my first parish soon cottoned that it sounded quite like Farmer Giles, which stuck. But my dignity aside, the real problem is that it references a strange and unhealthy sort of dependency. Freud was not wrong when he explained the need for God in terms of the child's need for a father figure. Not, I would argue, that God is simply a product of this need. But it's certainly the case that the whole knotted ambivalence of the Oedipal imagination bears down on the relationship between a priest and his parish – and even more so on that between the church and its top man. Man being the operative word.
What better reason can there be to have women bishops than this? And when it finally happens, it won't just be a blow for justice. It will mark another rite of passage in the church's centuries-long maturity. I apologise to my Catholic friends for saying this, but the Reformation has always seemed to me to be about theologically growing up. It was a necessary adolescent trauma in which the church breaks free of its unhealthy dependency upon Papa.
But as Mr Welby is now going to find out to his cost, this Reformation remains a work in progress. Progressives like me did it to Rowan Williams. And his own evangelical tribe will do it to him. We still project all sorts of needs and fantasies upon the man with the big mitre. And then we despise them for not giving us what we want. The church is where adults revert to children.