“Yes Minister”, a socialist and a socialite; a modernist and a traditionalist

“Yes Minister”, a socialist and a socialite; a modernist and a traditionalist

According to Wikipedia: “Yes Minister is a British political satire sitcom written by Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn. Comprising three seven-episode series, it was first transmitted on BBC2 from 1980 to 1984. A sequel, Yes, Prime Minister, ran for 16 episodes from 1986 to 1988. All but one of the episodes lasted half an hour, and almost all ended with a variation of the title of the series spoken as the answer to a question posed by Minister (later, Prime Minister) Jim Hacker.”

I confess that not only is this one of my favourite TV sitcoms, but often by way of relaxation, when I research more heavy stuff on the Internet, for light relief, I sometimes watch extracts from past episodes, thanks to YouTube, albeit in making this freely available they insert irritating adverts. If it weren’t so funny, it would be depressing, even if only remotely true (I’m pretty sure it is and more than remotely) to think this represents the way the country is run today, not just by civil servants but many other hidden entities.

One episode I particularly like that also has bearing on my recent blog to do with Church / church (“The Church, Christian Unity and now that I’m old” – see here) is “Choosing a New Bishop | Yes, Prime Minister | BBC Comedy Greats”. In the clip referred to here, a discussion takes place between Prime Minister Hacker and his chief Civil Servant advisor, Sir Humphrey Appleby. According to how things work in the Church of England, when a vacancy arises for Bishop, those with the power to do so submit two names to the Prime Minister, their preferred choice for successor plus an alternative. Usually, the Prime Minister puts forward one of the two (usually the first choice) to the Sovereign for final approval.

Jim Hacker is quick to note the choice of candidates has little to do with their spiritual worthiness for the office or their theological understanding and in this case came down to a choice between a socialist and socialite (reference the clip), or better still someone who can somehow combine the two, which positions can loosely be related to that of modernist (progressive) and traditionalist. When in my churchy blog, that I referred to above, I wrote: “I have seen those more progressive types preoccupied with wokeism and traditionalists acquiesce to all sorts of false narratives, notably the Corona pan (scam) demic” the sort of issues I had in mind, while different to that faced by Jim Hacker, do have parallels.

As I non-Anglican, I have no say in choice of bishop (although on the face of it, if the clip represents reality, neither do members) but who leads the Anglican church does matter, especially if one were to believe what goes on in Anglicanism has a significant bearing on the spiritual and other life of the nation. While disliking labels, it might be said I am a traditionalist (at least in the Brethren tradition, which is a lot different to the one portrayed in “Yes Minister”), albeit having gone full circle. Having rebelled against some of the ways church is normally done, in the interest of being more inclusive and relevant to the social justice issues facing us, and having engaged with modernist / progressive types for the sake of the common good, I have gone back to my traditionalist roots, but with caveats.

It is not that the old ways are always better, but many are, as they have been laid out in scripture, and, whatever clever theologians do to try to reinterpret what is written, it seems clear to me that often what was meant and intended originally is as clear now as it was back in olden days. But outside of this, how we do “church”, or anything else come to that, does not have to be how our well intentioned fore fathers did things. Principles remain the same but applications are ever changing and there is huge area in-between where sound, spiritual types see / do things differently, and that could be ok. God who calls us to follow the ancient paths is also into doing all things new. The challenge before us is not to roll over to anything akin to what confronted Jim Hacker, or simply go with the flow in order to please those who shout loudest or have the biggest clout, but rather apply scripture correctly and find the right balance.


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