The Blogging Bishop Of Buckingham

I spent a very pleasant hour this morning with Alan Wilson who is the Bishop Of Buckingham and an enthusiastic, and very good, blogger. During our conversation we rambled widely round the subjects of the web, blogging, religion and the church and with a good deal of shared beliefs and ideals.

One of the things I found most interesting in our discussion was Alan’s description of the Anglican church as being loosely organised, relatively dogma free and encompassing a really wide range of religious beliefs. We talked about the nature of churches and the degree of structure and institution needed to hold them together. Alan’s position is very similar to my own – that dogma and rules are vehicles for power rather than entirely necessary for collective understanding, and that “small pieces loosely joined” can be a more robust and long lasting alternative. However we also talked about the high degrees of autonomy and individual capabilities that are required for such loose structures to work and we talked about the need for some sort of framework that people can use as a support to making sense of things.

I mentioned a conversation I had with Thomas Koch in Hamburg about the transition from the days when the church provided the principal sense making framework, through the totalitarian period of fascism and communism to the materialism and faith in the market that is beginning to run out of steam today. Thomas and I both felt this need for some sort of new framework, religion is amost certainly the wrong word, but some set of principles and underlying beliefs about the web and the world it is enabling, that helps make sense and provide an inspiring overarching story for life in the 21st Century.

I love the fact that shared belief in the web brought Alan and I together and helped us to bridge some fairly significant differences in our world views in such a way that we both, I hope, moved forward. This is why I get so excited still about the web and remain optimistic about its impact on society. It makes these connections so much more likely and the ensuing consequence feels like evolution on steroids.

6 thoughts on “The Blogging Bishop Of Buckingham

  1. First, Bishop Alan’s Blog is well worth reading, so by all means accept my recommendation to click the link above and give him a try.Any institution deviates from the tradition it embodies, and thus is constantly in need of reform. This is due to the fact that as human beings we have our own interests, which are not necessarily the same as those we are required to have to honour the tradition and keep the institution we are managing/leading/etc. in fidelity with. Small pieces, loosely joined, mean that there will be many small deviations, but to some extent these will cancel each other out, keeping the tradition and the institution in reasonable fidelity between the periodic periods of reform. (Reformers who honour traditions, as opposed to ripping them up to reinvent the world in their own image, are equally hard to find as those people who can keep separate their own desires from those they need to have — and to stick to the second!)Every set of principles/dogmas/rules/etc. is, in turn, a mix of persistent truths and temporary policies. As a result, power will tend to infest them. This is the other form of institutional hypocrisy, and indicates when reform at the level of the tradition is warranted, as opposed to simply sticking to reform of the institution.Euan (who brought Bishop Alan to my attention) and Alan clearly have the kind of dialogue that can bring people of different natural faiths about the world together in a productive exchange. Out of these conversations can come the reforms to tradition and massive reforms to institutions that would be required to carry forward with civilisation’s journey in our societies. The key question will be: do we have enough time? The social world of the web gives us great reach and range, speeding up the possibility of finding fellow travellers, but also raises the noise level and attracts those who seek power as well. It will be interesting to see which ends up dominating the discussion.


  2. We talked about that need for willing re-invention (or reformation indeed) and the role of those, such as Jesus, who had to be trusted enough by those in power, and talking their language enough, to be able to get the leverage to bring about reform.


  3. Hi,I seemed to me that you were focusing MORE on what you agree on, which I like. I remember a sort of Joke where a colleague from School only agreed on one thing with one the the drivers, that he did not seem to like. Then the driver said "it is the only thing we agree to agree on, as there is probably a few things we agree on, but just wont admit it." I agree that some rules just seem to stop anything happening and as a result we get stuck in a rut – The Bus Service being one.Many Thanks,Anthony Tull


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