The Bishop and the Singer

After seeing headlines all weekend saying “Bishop Apologizes for touching Ariana Grande,” I watched the video. 

I am angry.

I am frustrated.

There are a number of things this brought up for me…

1) The bishop’s behaviour was completely inappropriate. To watch a person treated that way by a someone claiming* to represent God…how does that not make you angry? How does that not make you grieve? (I am not calling into questions this person’s faith. I don’t know them. But in this incident, they did not act Christ-like…they did not demonstrate love for their neighbor.)

2) What struck me most in the video though was something I have seen and encountered in far too many…the attitude too many religious leaders project that says, “I am the most important person in the room.” I can do and say whatever I want because of who I am. People are constantly telling me how wonderful I am. I’ve even started to believe it! And, because the people around me do not hold me to account. They excuse my bad behavior and again tell me how wonderful I am! It is why you make fun of someone’s name in public. It is why when you issue a lame apology (see number 4) you continue to make assumptions about their ethnicity. It is the same type of thing that allowed Paige Patterson to behave the way he did for so long before finally being called to account. Humility is sadly lacking in a lot of what passes for Christian leadership.

3) One of my daughters said, “this is why people my age drop out of church.” It isn’t that we need better worship or messages, or some other type of new program to reach millennials. They see stuff like this and think “why would I ever go to church?”

4) If you use words like: If… or Maybe…or But, it is not an apology. If I did something to hurt you, I apologize.” That s not an apology. I once had someone tell me, “I’m sorry for whatever you think it is I did to you.” That wasn’t an apology either.  I guess I could write a how to apologize  post, but in meantime, if you don’t know how to apologize without using words like if, maybe or but, perhaps you could just google, “how to make a real apology.”

There are some other things I’m working through as I think about this. But those are my top of mind thoughts. And after getting them out…I’m still frustrated.


(the image above is one of the Celtic High Crosses at Monasterboice)

Posted by bob in stuff in my head



St. Kevin’s Cell in Glendalough

When our family moved here in 2012, Elizabeth and I felt at home almost immediately. In a way we never did even in Ithaca where we’d lived for 18 years, raised our kids and made many good friends.

When we’d share this with people we’d would often be asked why it was. And while there are a number of things that we could list, there was always something I couldn’t really put my finger on.

Yesterday Liz sent me an article from the Irish Times and I was only a couple paragraphs in before I said, “that’s it.”

Let me explain.

Last weekend the rugby coach for Munster, Anthony Foley, died at the age of 42. (Munster is one of four provinces in Ireland). While Elizabeth and I have followed six nations rugby since we got here, we haven’t followed the sport much beyond that. So we were not aware of this man (beyond seeing his book now and again in bookstores), and were caught off-guard at the outpouring of support for this man, who clearly impacted the lives of so many.

The article Elizabeth sent me talks about the type of leader Foley was. And as it fleshes that out, that is where I had my, “that’s it!” moment.
Here’s a couple examples from the article, which says it so much better than I could:

There is a particularly Irish type of heroism.

It’s not about being a sculpted, chiselled giant. It’s not about being a show pony, a loud, media-friendly guy who’s good at talking himself up.

It’s about being solid, maybe even low-key. It’s about leading quietly, often from behind. It’s about doing what you do really well. It’s about not talking too much but about saying the right thing at the right time. It’s about every word counting.

It’s about humble leadership. It’s about leadership that doesn’t strive to be the main man, but leadership that quietly compels others to follow because they respect you.

While I could go on and list examples of “over the top/self-promoting” leaders in politics, business and (sadly) the church, I’m sure you know what I mean. And while of course there are leaders like that here to…in every field, it is the exception.

That…that, is one of the things I love about being in Ireland, and why we feel so at home here.

(You can read the full article here.)

Posted by bob in ireland, 0 comments