Posted by: rogermitchell | September 17, 2010

A sigh of relief and a good day!

My kind supervisor decided that I needed more time to complete my writing up to best effect and he and my director of studies have applied to the Uni board on my behalf. So it looks like the final final deadline is 31st March 2011. I have to admit that IS a relief. So I’m doing yet another rewrite of my Living with Empire Today material! While walking and praying into it today I was once more pondering the way that contemporary life is undergirded by a theological genealogy that flows right on from Christendom. And although I thank God for the pope and archbishop’s assertion in Westminster Abbey earlier this evening that faith belongs in the public square, and archb Rowan’s clear statements that the churches are not looking for dominance and leadership is only ever service, there is no getting away from the way that their dress, titles, religious paraphenalia and above all their mediatory role still undergirds hierarchical rulership and sovereign power.



  1. Despite, as you say, all their paraphernalia, there was quite an emphasis on service (the ‘last shall be first’ passage is an example)…I wondered if they were setting the stage for something coming up.

  2. I think they are stuck with their own geneology too. I am sure there are many in the church who really, really want to just serve and seek a forum and safe space from which to work. However, I suspect once inside the hierarchy with all its suffocating history and long list of unresolved sins, they either simply shut up and try to hold on or get corrupted.

    Here in Italy there is almost a paralysis in people that is rooted in all this stuff. It works outwardly in hierarchy – for everything. Italians may be your best friend in 10 minutes, they may invite you into their family in another 5 minutes and it is all wonderful. They are generous and loving people. But the structures of the church and of society stifle innovation and constrain movement. And many Italians despair of it.

    I’ve spent the past 2 weeks teaching in summer school for the Milano Politecnico here. Ilove the students,I wrestle with the backward looking architects who have no idea of how to guide a student on what is a large site and essentially a problem of landscape architecture (that would be me). But everything, I mean everything including the approach to the buffet table each night is stifled and paralyzed by the insane focus on hierarchy and honoring it. So we have the top level, and another level under that, and the guests, and the teachers, and the tutors, and hidden inside the studio groups of students are doctoral students who are also leaders and on it goes. Absurd and impossible to get anything done as each as to assert his place.

    We had a model of this 2 nights ago. A fellow who is probably one of the top landscape people in Europe arrived to give a presentation. It was an amazing presentation. It was exactly what the students needed. I sat in my seat and felt affirmed (I had been saying all this stuff all week) and rejoiced that the students had seen this. Then the Italian MC stood up, announced he would give a presentation (this is at 10:30 at night) that no one could tell him no and proceeded to engage in a breathless monologue for 90 minutes in Italian without translation. It was abuse. But since he is who he is in the hierarchy no one could say otherwise. So I cannot complain when students stagger in late the next morning.

    It would great if the catholic church actually modelled something differently. Perhaps it would be a step forward into God’s freedom for Italy.

  3. P.S. I note that research demonstrates that a flatter organizational model produces more innovation. So hierarchy really does paralyze an organization and inhibit movement when needed. c.

  4. Good news!

  5. The queen deliberately met the Pope in Scotland where she is not ‘head of the church’ and yet monarch, to avoid the question in England where she ‘is’ both. The coming of the bishop of Rome to England raised too many constitutional and theological issues they didn’t want to face.

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