Today we threw over the usual timetable and spent the morning as spouses and bishops together studying the story of the rape of Tamar as a way into seeing what societies, including our own, do to the powerless. To make safe space for all we were divided into male and female on separate halves of the Big Blue. Riding Lights Theatre Company provided some fascinating drama on the same theme from the New Testament, showing us how women are accepted as long as they are infantilised, useful or invisible. The story of how all the men around Tamar work to silence her voice was pretty salutary. Chaplains were available then and all afternoon to help people deal with the personal issues raised. This could have been trivial and corny but ultimately it was challenging and profound. I suspect the more paternalistic the home culture the more shocking the day was. And for many of us the read across to other minorities including LGBT who are invisible, allowed to participate only in as much as they prove particularly useful or blocked from seniority was pretty obvious. It will form part of the narrative we take forward.
Rowan spoke after Evening Prayer, but that’s heavily reported elsewhere so I won’t repeat it here. Conference organisers and insiders to the process seem upbeat about how it is going, the rest of us have to either trust that or make an uninformed decision (not that I’m suggesting bishops ever do make uninformed decisions).
A couple of blogs ago Leonel mentioned the Origins bar at Darwin (yes I know, that really is corny) so we fixed up to have a drink there this evening and I got introduced to some of the wonderful stewards who, for pocket money, look after us all the time. Two weeks in and they’re still smiling. I asked whether they had been put off bishops for life and were all about to become Baptists, but they seemed pretty happy at working with us.
Highlight of the day: the first cool breezes on campus for days
Lowlight of the day: the harrowing scenes of the aftermath of the winds and floods in Burma, shown as part of that province’s presentation of itself during Evensong.