Has Ruth Gledhill been abducted by aliens?
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.