Live: a lesson in moral reasoning

One of the Church of England’s most senior bishops has compared the consecration of a gay bishop in America to the invasion of Iraq. Tom Wright, the bishop of Durham and the fourth most senior in the English hierarchy, said both events showed Americans were prepared to act “how they please” with disregard for the rest of the world.

The Times.

By Jim Naughton

Bishop Tom Wright last night compared his inability to find a parking space near his home to the firebombing of Dresden. Wright represents an influential block of bishops who believe that the Anglican Communion may fall into schism because its prelates are insufficiently solipsistic.

“Just the other day, this woman with a flock of children left her Land Rover right in front of my house,” Wright said, in an interview with the Café. “She knew exactly what she was doing, but she went ahead and did it. I liken it to engulfing a citizen population in massive cloud of billowing flames, don’t you?”

Wright, whose reputation as a Scripture scholar stands him in good stead during his frequent forays against various adversaries, said he has petitioned the city of Durham for a personal parking place, but to no avail.

“I’ve considered pursuing it further,” he said, over lunch at an Iraqi restaurant, “but there’s this terrible business with the dry cleaners. If they are going to shrink a man’s waistbands they may as well just fill a ferry boat with babies and sink it in the Channel. It comes to the same thing.”

Pushing himself back from the table, the bishop eyed a plate a marinated olives and shook his head. “Putting a dish like this in front of a man is rather like running an oil tanker aground in a wildlife sanctuary, don’t you think? Or herding innocent people into rat-infested jail cells where they feed on roaches and sleep in puddles of their own urine.”

Wright will offer a session on moral reasoning at the Lambeth Conference next week. “Originally I was intending to explore experiences of exile,” he said. “For instance, I missed a connecting flight on a recent vacation, and as I sat there stewing in the departure lounge, what should come to mind but the Lost Boys of the Sudan. Do you see it? My experience was their experience, only without the international outcry.”

Eventually, however, Wright settled on another topic. “As Christians we are called to share one another’s burdens,” he said, “and I am not getting the help I deserve.”

“We have yet to explore the myriad ways in which this is about me.”

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Category : The Lead

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  1. I penned a long comment, but your sign-in requirements led me so far around so many barns that my comment got lost. Oh well. Not the first time. That’s why I’ve mostly given up on commenting here. I’m happy to comment in my own voice and “own” my remarks, but your architecture is almost impossible to navigate.

    Suffice it to say, I found these comments of Wright ludicrous.

    I regret that your sign-in procedure is so ponderous that comments get lost after the several steps that are required.

  2. Ha..Lisa, I did the same thing a comment ago…it drove me nuts, er a tad over the edge, to keep following the yellow brick road of to registration (only to be told that there was someone else/me using my e-mail address)…anyway I think Bishop Tom Wright better not park his comments here…we Americanos are such a thoughtless-of-others lot (only a few months longer it seems).

  3. C. Robin Janning

    Surely this must be a joke, albeit, not a very funny one. I do try to be open to another’s reasoning and viewpoint. But this leaves me speechless with dismay.

  4. MelAhlborn

    Solipsistic – I looked it up. From sol·ip·sism /’s?l?p?s?z?m/ –noun

    1. Philosophy. the theory that only the self exists, or can be proved to exist.

    2. extreme preoccupation with and indulgence of one’s feelings, desires, etc.; egoistic self-absorption.

    Compliments of

  5. Thanks Mel — I was too lazy to look it up – just went by context. Just glad I was not drinking my ice tea while reading this.

  6. Brie Dodson

    This IS a satire – right?

  7. Liz Zivanov

    What I find especially curious is that we are unable to tell if this is or isn’t satire. I can’t tell either! What does that say about our perception about this particular bishop?

    Oh my.

  8. Um, isn’t he supposed to be off praying with the other bishops?

    Do you think perhaps he gave this interview to the Telegraph before Lambeth started? (Which doesn’t invalidate Mel’s contribution.)

  9. Wow! Jim. My man! I am so impressed. You is like me but with an edukashun.

    –Jonathan Hagger

  10. revsusan

    Jane … he talked to the Times yesterday.

    Jim … you have OUTDONE yourself. Bravo, Bravo, Bravo!

    – Susan Russell

  11. His solipsism is a bit over the top, even for a bishop. Are you sure you aren’t making this up?

    – Cynthia R. Chase

  12. Kit Carlson

    Maybe if you printed this on April Fool’s Day, people would realize that it was satire …

    You should visit Jonathan Swift’s grave while you are there. He would be proud the tradition of over the top satire is not yet dead. (Remember he recommended solving the Irish problem by eating their babies.)

  13. Roger Mortimer

    “… this leaves me speechless with dismay.”

    Surely you can manage something a little more apocalyptic, C. Robin Janning.

    In fact, it’s very funny.

  14. The Patriarch of the West

    All satire aside, does Bp. Wright remember that Great Britain is a member of the “Coalition of the Willing” and both a participant and supporter of the Iraq war? Has he never heard the name Tony Blair? It may only be a splinter in his eye, but it came off of the log in ours.

    – Roger G. Elliott

  15. Heidi Shott

    We need more satire in the Episcopal Church…that it’s not instantly recognized as such means we need lots more of it.

    Brilliant, Jim. I stand on the rocky coast of Maine and bow in your general direction.

    Heidi Shott

    ps comment tip: Sign in before writing your post rather than when you’re ready to send.

  16. All the comments are appreciated, including criticisms of the “choice architecture” of the comments software. That will take time and money to improve.

    In the meantime, Heidi’s reminder is well taken. If one could just remember to check whether one is signed in some frustration could be avoided. We realize that’s easier said than done, and it’s on our wish list of desired improvements, too.

    — The Team

  17. Bishop Wright’s point may have some merit, but it is obliterated both by his rhetoric and his purpose.

    John R Wood

  18. tobias haller

    Amen to needing a more regular dose of satire in our regimen. It beats a punch in the abdomen.

    The analogy of TEC’s election of Gene Robinson with the US invasion of Iraq is a travesty of the thought process. If Wright really believes these are analogous — and isn’t just trying (and failing) to be clever — he has failed to grasp the serious nature of the NT view of slander.

  19. Roger Mortimer

    My money would be on the Iraq analogy being shameless grandstanding on Wright’s part to stir up any strain of Anti-Americanism he can draw upon, Tobias.

  20. athanasiusjames


    Ample information exists via “Thinking Anglicans” and other news services to show that +Tom’s comments regarding comparisons between his own sufferings and those of massive proportions elsewhere are in jest. This is not the case with regard to his appraisals of American behavior in Iraq and the way the TEC have played it during and since the consecration of +Gene Robinson. Here’s why: the logic of the two, as I have repeatedly tried to point out to fellow Americans, and Episcoplians, was and came across as being the same. In short “We will do it because we want to, because we can do, and because nobody can or will stop us. Besides, as Americans we are not in the habit of determining our behavior on the basis of how others regard us or what others deem to be the good of the corporate whole. Moreover, Americans are always first, and eventually the rest of the world catches up with us anyway”. Typically American logic, but hardly sensitive, coherent with agreements made previously by the TEC in Anglican Communion communication and bodies, or Christian in logic, spirit, or relational comportment.

    James Meredith Day+

  21. Brie Dodson

    “We need more satire in the Episcopal Church…that it’s not instantly recognized as such means we need lots more of it.” – I beg to differ: that satire is not instantly recognized as such, speaks directly to what we are all too used to hearing from Abp. Akinola and others – statements that, while actual, strain credibility beyond its limit.

    I enjoyed the smile, though. It’s the only thing about this Lambeth coverage that has not raised my blood pressure through the roof. Well, besides the news that 32 other American bishops joined Bp. Robinson on the green for the Integrity/Changing Attitude Eucharist. How I wish that our Presiding Bishop had been among them.

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