Thursday, 8 November 2012

More modern styles

Although educated at Eton and Cambridge and even a member of a Pall Mall club, he [the new Archbishop of Canterbury, former oil executive, Justin Welby] is seen as far from an establishment figure.

Theologically, he is unashamedly part of the evangelical tradition, upholding a more traditional and conservative interpretation of the Bible than some in the Church of England.

But he is also a strong advocate of more modern styles of worship. 
According to the Torygraph. I love that 'he is seen as far from an establishment figure' (by whom, exactly?) Let's recap Welby's biography:

The new Archbishop is the son of Gavin Welby and Jane Welby (née Portal). Gavin Welby was a businessman in the drinks trade who, after rumoured involvement with bootlegging in prohibition-era America, became the New York import manager for National Distillers Products Corporation, one of America’s biggest distributors of alcoholic drinks, after the trade went legit. Apparently, Welby senior moved in the same circles as the Kennedy clan and was credited, (if that's the right word) with having introduced John F Kennedy to his first mistress, Swedish aristocrat Gunilla von Post, weeks before JFK’s marriage to Jacqueline Bouvier. This information is taken from an article on the In County Durham site, which goes on to say:
Gavin became one of New York’s most prominent party-givers and was linked in the gossip columns to Pat Kennedy, JFK’s sister. 
I believe that the In County Durham article originated in the Daily Mail, so it should be taken with the usual massive pinch of salt, but Gavin Welby does get a direct name check in JFK's letters, so we can be reasonably sure that, on this occasion, it's not just the Mail making sensational stuff up.  Justin Welby's mum also gets a mention in a 1955 letter from Jack Kennedy, viz:
Did you see in the paper that our friend – the cold, frozen Mr. Gavin Welby – got married to Mr. Churchill’s secy. 
Yes, Justin Welby's mum was Winston Churchill's secretary. She was divorced from Justin's father in 1958, when Justin was just two and later went on to marry Charles Cutherbert Powell Williams, Baron Williams of Elvel, becoming Lady Williams of Elvel.

As for the young Justin himself, the BBC gives a bite-sized précis of his pre-clergy career path:
Bishop Welby, who was educated at Eton and Trinity College Cambridge, spent 11 years as an oil executive and became group treasurer for FTSE 100 oil exploration group Enterprise Oil Plc prior to the biggest career decision of his life.
After Welby heeded the inner voice calling him to the priesthood in the late 1980s, the Telegraph described his rise through the clerical ranks as 'meteoric' (meteors, of course, fall rather than rising, but I suppose that avoiding stale metaphors and sticking to facts aren't top priorities when you're a Religious Affairs Editor). After resigning from Enterprise Oil in 1987, Welby entered training for the priesthood and was made a deacon in 1992. He became a rector in 1995, a canon in 2002, the Dean of Liverpool in 2007 and the Bishop of Durham, with a seat in the House of Lords, in 2011.

So that's Justin "far from an establishment figure" Welby. Dad was a successful businessman and New York socialite who was chums with continental aristocrats and the Kennedy clan. Mum was secretary to Winston Churchill and went on to marry a baron and acquire a title. Educated at Eton and Trinity College Cambridge, Justin went on to become an oil executive and group treasurer for a FTSE 100 oil company. After finding God, this well-connected chap, who occasionally likes to relax at his Pall Mall club (don't we all?), just happened to rise quickly through the ranks of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, bag a seat in the House of Lords and become head of the Established Church (guys, it's called the Established Church for a reason - there's a subtle clue in the name).

Of course he's not an establishment figure! How could he be, when he's 'a strong advocate of more modern styles of worship?'

Stubborn, deeply-ingrained inequality and privilege? Hard-to-shift social immobility? A quick spray and polish with Happy-Clappy Anglicanism and you'll immediately spot the difference. Unsightly class divisions become almost invisible. It's like magic!


For ye have the poor always with you; but that's got nothing to the rich keeping all the best stuff for themselves, obviously.

Rejoice, for the twits are back in charge!