Scintillatingly Rev and non-female Philip North, Bishop of Burnley and not Bishop of Sheffield

And in the Big News today from a Faith Perspective, the archbishops and myself have discovered that not everyone lives in bishops’ palaces. This is shocking. The poor, cramped conditions that many have to live in, are fertile grounds for the Invisible Magic Friend’s holy virus.

That’s why the Church of England, one of the largest landowners in the country, has decided that we must imagine a better future.

3 thoughts on “Scintillatingly Rev and non-female Philip North, Bishop of Burnley and not Bishop of Sheffield

  1. It might seem natural for an organised religion that claims to care about the poor to show concern for those living in poverty today. To me, however, whilst the C of E has long involved itself in charitable ‘good works’ its current condition – with emptying churches, dwindling adherence to the core faith (I’m leaving aside those who thoughtlessly tick the C of E box in surveys) and general rejection of any religion – showing concern for ‘the poor and needy’ is just about all they have left. Despite a distinct lack of ‘troops on the ground’ the C of E continues to maintain a massive hierarchy, which continues to cling onto a public status that it really no longer deserves. It’s big profile within ‘the establishment’ belies its crumbling influence, and is owing to its still occupying seats as of right in Parliament’s second chamber; holding an undue position in state education, and – as Rev Peter points out – a huge property portfolio (not to mention its enjoying the position of the established church).

    Philip North served a curacy in Hartlepool and would have first-hand knowledge of the levels of need and deprevation in communities of the NW. But his church is not one of the agencies concerned with determining the causes and solutions of poverty in the NW or anywhere else; it simply expresses opinions based on its supposedly compassionate creed. But scratch away at that creed just a little bit and the church’s attitude towards other issues such as women, gender, sexual mores etc is found to be less attractive. The country doesn’t need dog-collars wringing their hands over the disadvantaged in society; most of us are perfectly aware of what needs the nation’s attention. It was painfully noticeable too that Bishop North had nothing to offer from his BBoMS except a lame metaphor about Jesus making his ‘home’ among us – nothing whatever to do with affordable housing, green building technology, sustainable materials, or any of the other targets which accompany the drive to find suitable housing for all.


  2. I agree with Liverpudlian’s general comments on the position of the CofE; but I’m inclined to give them a little more credit for the proposals in the Archbishops’ report. The Church does own a lot of land that might be suitable for housing, and it is a positive step for the authors of the report to be considering how they can get round the current rules that insist they maximise financial returns instead of looking at the wider social context. The emphasis on social rented housing over so-called “affordable” private purchases is also welcome.

    If it was just a question of meeting a particular need, with no wider agenda, that would be fine. Unfortunately, this being the CofE, the Bishop’s main message today was muffled in a load of flannel about how often the BBoMS talks about houses. The Archbishops’ report itself refers to “telling the story of the gospel in bricks and mortar”; and among the resources to be created are “books, videos and Bible study notes to reflect and engage with housing issues from a Christian perspective”. One is left wondering about the terms of the contracts with the eventual tenants of the new houses: will preference be given to regular churchgoers, as is the case for almost all Church school places? Or will genuine, disinterested charity come out on top for a change?


  3. The only bible bit about housing needs that I remember from my C of E secondary school Divinity lessons was that building houses on sand is not a good idea. Get your building done on rock if you want it to stay up was the message.

    But what about all those other risks that the bible authors should have warned where even building your house on rock can give foundation trouble? Where is the information in the bible about building your house in an earthquake prone zone, on shrinking and swelling clays, where Radon is a risk, where landslides are possible or where sulphates can corrode your concrete foundations. All of those might be less risky than building on sand-dunes but there are other risks that the IMF should have warned those in the building trade about. If the IMF of the Christian bible is meant to be all-knowing then can it be held liable for costs by those who thought building on rock was god-given advice?

    We should be told.


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