Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Has Ruth Gledhill been abducted by aliens?

This image is taken from the confused and dim report from yesterday’s Synod by The Times’ religion correspondent.

It might as well have been broadcast from the farthest red dwarf in the nebula Alpha Centauri, 4.22 light years away.

Perhaps it was.

For either The Times has been possessed by a shape-shifting Daily Sport, or Ms Gledhill has indeed been probed in her nether regions by ET.

Less than a month after publishing an essentially fictitious report about one Anglican bishop branding other Christians as ‘Nazis’, Ms Gledhill penned this spectacular headline last Saturday: ‘Archbishop of Canterbury has been abducted by aliens’.

The issue, as ever, is gay clergy.

It is Ms Gledhill’s favourite topic.

Along with female priests and bishops.

But Ms Gledhill is a woman, and so gender issues and the androcentric fallacy have a little more resonance for her. Perhaps not quite a feminist, though like all feminising enthusiasts she is both a critical voice within the Church and rebel against the Church. She and Riazat Butt at The Guardian admirably stand alone among the macho male religion journalists who dominate the rest of the mainstream media (though perhaps ‘macho’ is not quite the term for some).

Citing an interview with Bishop Gene Robinson – that rose petal in the side of Anglicanism’s US wing – Ms Gledhill began her report: “The Anglican bishop at the centre of a battle over homosexual clergy has condemned the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, suggesting that he has been ‘abducted by aliens’ on the issue.”

Except that Bishop Gene had said no such thing.

He was, instead, quoting some friends of his (he obviously has some). But when you read what he said that they said, it is clear that they hadn’t said that either:

“I have clergy friends in England who literally studied at Archbishop Williams’s feet when he was teaching and who have said to me it is almost as if aliens have come and taken Rowan away from us and they have left something here that looks like him but we don’t recognise him any more,” Bishop Robinson said.

This is a manifest regret at the perceived change in the heart of a man apparently caused by attaining high office: they have ceased to recognise him; it is almost as if aliens had descended and abducted him.

Did you get that?

‘…almost as if…’

Does Ms Gledhill not appreciate metaphors or subtle similes?

Does a media organ as prestigious as The Times have to reduce the art of expression to the banal twittering of the tabloid?

This is not the place for His Grace to enter into the theological complexities of this issue (either sexuality or the extra-terrestrial): he merely observes, more in sorrow than in anger, that Ms Gledhill is increasingly becoming more concerned with a headline ‘to die for’ than with reporting the facts.

Once again, the few Times readers who can be bothered to fork out for the indulgence to enter the sanctuary through the veil of the paywall have made their views clear:

• Another sloppy, sensationalised headline bylined by Ms Gledhill.
• The headline is quite disgracefully misleading.
• Given that you are misrepresenting clergy of all shades of opinion (following the recent libelling of Wallace Benn) I can only assume you either do not know or care. But it's poor - and just means we lose confidence in The Times.

His Grace eagerly anticipates Ms Gledhill’s next broadcast: he can hardly contain himself as he waits to discover from which planet it will emanate, or whether it might be confirmed that she has been possessed by the spirit of Darth Vader, held hostage by Nazi storm-troopers or has simply succumbed to the irresistibility of propagating a Goebbels-like fiction by which the Established Church might be made more in her image.

Of one thing we can be sure: whatever the truth is, it won’t be appearing in The Times any time soon.


Anonymous LDS said...

The whole thing sounds like the "plot" of Ted Hughes poem Gaudete. An English Clergyman is abducted by beings from another world, who conceal this by substituting an enchanted log that unfortunately being log starts to behave oddly. Amongst the various oddities he establishes a love coven with all the ladies of the parish. From what little I know of him I think it is implausible that Archbishop Rowan would do the same. At the end of the piece the "real" Vicar reappears on the West Coast of Ireland singing hymns to a Celtic Earth goddess. That I am afraid I could imagine him doing...

24 November 2010 at 13:08  
Blogger Caedmon's Cat said...

A clergyman of my acquaintance who works closely with Lambeth Palace once told me in so many words that if Ruth Gledhill et alia didn't embroider stories to sensationalise and exaggerate the Anglican Communion's internal issues, they'd soon be out of a job. They have to justify their salaries somehow..

Nothing new there, then.

24 November 2010 at 13:09  
Anonymous Phoebe said...

Has Ruthie lost the plot? Or has the paywall caused her to move onto the hard stuff...chardonnay to LSD perhaps?

24 November 2010 at 13:23  
Anonymous Bede said...

Ruth Gledhill also said, in last Saturday's Times, "It is illogical to proceed with women bishops while denying homosexuals full participation."

Something to ponder.

24 November 2010 at 13:34  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Gender is fixed the other is not genetically determined. For example, hasbians.

24 November 2010 at 13:40  
Anonymous ET said...

"Ms Gledhill has indeed been probed in her nether regions by ET"

Your Grace, humans are not my type I'm afraid-I prefer the purple coloured Yuili of Grazcak nine.

My probe -although I cannot speak for all of my race- has been nowhere near Ms Gledhill.

24 November 2010 at 13:50  
Anonymous John Shest said...

Ruth is fit!

24 November 2010 at 13:51  
Anonymous ET said...

Also, just to clarify, my probe hasn't been anywhere near Rowan Williams either, but my race is intrigued by the fluffy white coat which hangs around his face- clearly a sign of wisdom and a grand wizard of the ages. When we land our ships, our first visit shall be Canterbury (but we are not paying for the cathederal charge!).

24 November 2010 at 13:57  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

As this issue is of supreme indifference to me, I confine my remarks to one question: Is it normal for journalists to write their own headlines? I thought that was done by sub-editors.

24 November 2010 at 14:46  
Anonymous Hereward said...

Anabaptist, you are quite correct. Whatever else one might find to complain about in Ms Gledhill's reporting, sloppy headline-writing is not in her province.

24 November 2010 at 15:15  
Blogger Sally said...

RE: "Has Ruthie Gledhill been abducted by Aliens?"

We live in hope...

24 November 2010 at 15:24  
Blogger David Baker said...

As Ruth Gledhill herself described you yesterday as "influential blogger Archbishop Cranmer" in a Times online article about Bishop Pete Broadbent, one can only hope that she is today heeding your wise and insightful pastoral advice, Your Grace.

24 November 2010 at 15:53  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Did she?

His Grace will have to dig it out.

24 November 2010 at 16:03  
Blogger Bryan D said...

I'll third Anabaptist's comment, I've never known a headline to be written by the author herself.

Perhaps His Grace is simply making up for appearing so sympathetic to Ms Gledhill yesterday?

24 November 2010 at 16:50  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

What anabaptist said.

What's with the obsession with Ms Gledhill of late?

24 November 2010 at 18:15  
Anonymous bluedog said...

Caedmon's Cat #13.09 has surely nailed it. With the use of programmes such as doubleclick it is possible for the Times management to record the precise number of hits on any article or advertisement published in their cyber organ. Even worse, one can imagine that there is a daily ranking of articles which may be circulated by management to all journalists. Where would Religion stand in competition with a royal wedding and the Irish economic implosion? The paywall has probably reduced the cyber Times to virtual irrelevance in the first instance, and then there are the competing stories for M[s Gledhill's own copy.

24 November 2010 at 19:47  
Anonymous Minnie said...

@Anabaptist is right: headlines and standfirsts are written by subs.

25 November 2010 at 11:10  
Anonymous Pope Joan said...

Ruth Gledhill only survives as a reporter through indulging in her own brand of distorted church- abusive mangling rubbish.

The chance of giving oxygen to the one-sided views of a former drama teacher/former rugby playing/former Anglican vicar in last Saturday's Times must have exceeded even her own wildest dreams, by providing her with a further opportunity to divide church friends from one another who are already utterly stressed through the "Pope's generous offer" - the ordinariate cult newly established within the RC church.

Too much to expect that she could have used her minimal research skills to have included the views of the Rochester Diocese; the local RC membership and those Anglicans left behind to pick up the pieces. But I suppose that would be just too much work for her.

8 March 2011 at 23:22  

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