Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Blogging bishops might be getting somewhere

Belated congratulations to Nick Baines, who was last week announced as the next Bishop of Bradford. In the world of Bishops this counts as an upgrade, since when he moves from Croydon to Bradford he will be in charge of a Diocese for the first time.

Nick is one of the Bishops of choice for Anglican bloggers, being a blogger himself and a regular on Twitter. I'm aware that what I'm about to say may look hugely hubristic, but I'm going to say it anyway. I think that the appointment of a blogging Bishop to a senior post can only be a good thing.

Nick is one of the very few Bishops who have a) shown any interest whatsoever in web-based media, b) had anything of interest to say once online, and c) successfully engaged with the digital world without saying anything inept enough to earn himself unflattering news headlines. Most of his colleagues haven't even got to a), and those who have, generally fell down at b) or c).

That isn't to say that he hasn't made mistakes. I can't imagine any blogger who doesn't sometimes regret the decision to hit "post", and Bishop Baines is no stranger to this. But there have been no major catastrophes or staggeringly inappropriate pronouncements, which in itself indicates that he has better judgement than many of his fellow Bishops.

Apparently some people have criticised him for this, suggesting that he isn't really saying what he thinks, perhaps holding back in order not to spoil his career chances. I don't read it like this at all. Apart from the rest, if that was his aim he wouldn't be blogging in the first place. He would keep his head down, his mouth shut, and his nose clean. I guess that this is the strategy adopted by some of his colleagues. To me, a bishop who has been blogging for a few years, and shown some aptitude in both engaging his readers as well as not stumbling into unnecessary controversy, is someone who is well suited to lead the church in the 21st Century. It's never entirely clear how Bishops get nominated, but whoever made this call got it right.

The sad thing, though, is that Bradford is one of England's smallest and most struggling Dioceses. You might think this was a great opportunity for a new leader. However, only a few days before the announcement, a report was published which recommended that the Diocese be merged with two of its neighbours. D'oh! (cue hair-pulling on Lesley's Blog). Not really a victory for strategic appointment, then. I suppose, if we dare to hope that there is some planning here, the assumption must be that Nick, being the youngest of the three Bishops involved, will end up as the Bishop of the new Diocese, which would be a large and busy one.

If not, then more time for blogging, eh Nick?

2 comments:

Lesley said...

lol - good post.

I don't criticise him for his blog - I think it is good on the whole.

Do I really do lots of hair pulling???

Charlie said...

Yes, Lesley, but I don't blame you for it. As you can see I already pulled all mine out.