November 10 2017 – Quotations – “The treatment by the Church of England of the former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, and that of the late former bishop George Bell, needs further scrutiny and reflection…” ~ James Macintyre…..”Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” – George Santayana

Hollywood and Westminster may ‘erase’ people, but the Church should be different

The director and producers of the completed but unreleased movie All the Money in the World have chosen to remove Spacey from the movie, recast his role and reshoot his scenes following sexual misconduct allegations against the actor.

This news jogged the memory towards a column earlier this month by the Christian Today editor Mark Woods, who drew attention to the unforgiving nature of worlds such as Hollywood and Westminster, compared with the Church.

He wrote: ‘Let’s be clear: no one can justify Weinstein-like behaviour, in Hollywood or in Westminster. But anyone can denounce evil. The Church is called to go further: to call sinners to repentance, and to offer the full and free forgiveness of Christ to all who want it. It’s hard to argue for mercy when the whole world is howling for vengeance, but that’s what we’re for.

I thought of this again last night when peering over someone’s shoulder (no, I don’t read newspapers edited by partisan Conservative politicians) at the London Evening Standard’s main cartoon, a withering depiction of the Prime Minister, Theresa May.

Which in turn made me think back to this little diary item in the Mail on Sunday last month:

George Osborne’s fury at Theresa May for ditching him after the EU referendum has yet to abate. The former Chancellor – now editor of the Evening Standard – was told by a newspaper vendor close to his office: ‘You’ve really got it in for her, haven’t you, George!’ His ominous response? ‘I’m not finished yet.’

That rings true. Osborne is the epitome of the secular Westminster operator, a game-player who has devoted much energy into his drip-drip campaign of revenge against May, not because the two have much that divides them politically, but because she (apparently) told him to go away and ‘learn some emotional intelligence’ while dispensing with his services as Chancellor.

Osborne’s hubris was demonstrated when, in April, he finally bowed to pressure to quit the House of Commons after taking on the Standard job, saying he was leaving Parliament ‘for now’ as if being re-elected involved nothing more than reapplying to a top London club (and the most gossipy club in the capital, it is, too).

There is a wider point here: A good Christian would not spend months coldly issuing vengeful, repeated attacks on someone over such a disagreement. A good Christian would, for his own sake as well as that of others, forgive and move on.

But neither Westminster nor Hollywood remotely reflect the approach of the Church. Indeed, they are worlds apart from it.

Or at least they should be: the treatment by the Church of England of the former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, and that of the late former bishop George Bell, needs further scrutiny and reflection, but that’s for another day.

In the meantime however, the Church should be wary of writing people off in the style of those Westminster types who say the career of a ‘disgraced’ politician is but a footnote against the headline of their mistake, or indeed those Hollywood types who ‘erase’ an actor from a film.

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