Any lingering doubt about fundamentalism being nothing more than a type of narcissism (hence its particular appeal to late-adolescent males: “I’m right, you’re wrong, and only those who think like me can ever truly know God”) was dispelled once and for all by Archbishop Jensen’s opening address to synod last night.
You can read the text for yourself here: the Archbishop told synod how he felt about the loss of an unimaginably large sum of his parishioner’s endowment; he spoke of his disbelief , and (in passing) his sense of responsibility that this occurred “on my watch”. But he didn’t apologise.
Instead he lied, claiming “we have been so careful and professional in our handling of the Endowment” (yeah - which is why they ignored all responsible practices and placed almost everything on one high-risk investment that depended upon the market continuing to rise indefinitely), he spoke of the pain and distress he had witnessed, and he speculated as to whether “the Lord is chastising us for our sins”, or “simply seeking to test us”. He even asked the question “Did we do the wrong thing?” Then changed the subject without attempting to offer an answer.
As I’ve already said, +Peter Jensen made no apology to those whom he and his staff have devastated through their incompetence and recklessness. There was no mea culpa, no repentance, no “I am so sorry”. Instead he quickly moved on to describing the wonderful experiences he enjoyed while distributing religious literature during the past twelve months. He spoke of the changes about to take place as a as if they were driven by something other than a simple lack of funds, and in so doing said nothing of the dozens of young men who will soon find themselves unemployed. We learned of the evangelistic challenges ahead of us, but nothing of the challenge many clergy, ordinands, lay-workers and their families are going to face in simply putting food on the table. We were told that one of the board members directly responsible for this mess is now in charge of the restructuring processes: perhaps we were supposed to give thanks that he won’t be among those who lose their jobs.
There’s no theological mystery about what went wrong, no matter how much the Archbishop may attempt to confuse the issue by claiming “we live in an apocalyptic era”. All that happened was that a group of men driven by greed pursued an irresponsibly risky investment strategy. Which ultimately went the way history shows these things always go. They ignored conventional wisdoms because they thought they were smarter than everyone else, or because God was on their side, or both. As could have been predicted by anyone with even a passing acquaintance with the Jesus of the Gospels, they weren’t, and/or God wasn’t.
The least Archbishop Jensen could have done was to say sorry and ask for his people’s forgiveness. Instead he talked about himself. I may be a cynic, but even I had expected more from the man. Then again, it has been more than a decade since I spent much time around fundamentalists...