Friday, 16 October 2009

So it's finally October...

A few months back, when news of the Sydney Diocese’s spectacular financial losses finally became public, the oft-repeated line from apologists was “Wait until October, when it’ll all be made public in synod”. Those of us with some experience of the carefully choreographed performance that passes as a Sydney synod were more than a little cynical – but nevertheless we have waited.

Now that synod is starting next Monday it seems that more facts are leaking out: today’s Sydney Morning Herald reports the loss as actually $160 million - $60 million more than originally stated. Yes - you read that right, $160 million. Which at today's exchange rate is about $US145 million - a truly enormous sum of money.

Another article in the same paper reveals that diocese’s investment body, the Glebe Administration Board, had borrowed more than $150 million, which was combined with more than three-quarters of the diocese’s $388 million worth of “growth assets”' and - in blatantant contravention of responsible investment practice – 80% of this sum was invested with just one fund manager: Barclays Global Investors. Thus while other fund managers spread their exposure to risk by adopted a more diversified profile, the brightest evangelicals in the Communion had nearly all their eggs in just one basket: a move the Board’s CEO Steve McKerihan (who to be fair, was only appointed after this strategy was adopted - but before things turned predictably pear-shaped) amusingly described as “unusual”. What about “irresponsible” Steve? Or maybe “bloody stupid”?

Please let’s please not have any more dishonest spin about “everyone lost money in the global financial crisis”. Yes, of course they did – but very few responsible organisations were hit this hard as a result of speculative gearing. And to the best of my knowledge no other churches were: the Sydney Anglican Diocese was unique among religious groups when it comes to getting whacked as a result of borrowing money in order to gamble that stock prices would continue rising. Instead of steadfastly using what they already had to bring Christ to all the people here (not just the minority living in affluent and predominately Anglo-Saxon suburbs) they got greedy. The end was going to justify the means…

… meanwhile can someone please tell me how many cross-cultural outreach workers could have been placed in Sydney’s economically bleak south-west for just half of the $160 million of parishioners money our leaders have wasted?


Brian R said...

Glad to see a post :-)
My sister emailed me with the main article this morning. I now read the weekday herald online. Thanks for the more detailed business article. While I have an economics degree, business economics has never been my interest and I have never had lots of money to play with anyway but I thought everyone knew the old adage about putting all one's eggs in one basket and I believe it is unethical for a anti-gambling church to borrow so as to invest, always risky and not for the faint hearted nor for those managing money allocated for 'good works'
As I said in my blog, hopefully it will keep the archbishop at home minding his own diocese business instead of interfering with the rest of the communion but I will not hold my breath.

Robert said...

It is great to see you back posting my friend!

Wormwood's Doxy said...

the brightest evangelicals in the Communion

You owe me a new keyboard, Alcibiades...

Oxymorons, anyone? (Pun most definitely intended.)


Dear Friend said...

I understand the Sydney Diocese are hypercalvinists. Must have been predestined by the Great Accountant in the sky! :-) Dear Friend of Doxy's

Alcibiades said...

Hi Dear Friend! Great to ‘meet’ you and thanks for dropalso to all of you who've encouraged me to wade back into the swamp here! Hopefully I'll be able to resist the urge to descend into another debilitating slanging match with any of the Archbishop's apologists.

When it comes to liturgy, church design/decoration, and frequently the arts, the machine controlling Sydney Anglicanism certainly is hypercalvinist, but the whole picture is much more complicated: they’re really in a category all their own. The ecclesiology most closely resembles that of the Brethren, with leadership held by a sequence of (often related) ‘big men’, while the functional (as opposed to their creedal) doctrine of salvation is dominated by an Arminianism lifted straight out of the Billy Graham crusades in which it coalesced.

On top of all this is layered a kind of gnosticism in which “the flesh” (by which can be meant not just anything remotely sexual, but also even such physical expressions of spirituality as candles, or releasing balloons at a funeral) is seen as intrinsically evil, and to be overcome by the superior realm of “the Spirit”, by which is meant an understanding of their own (frequently unique) biblical exegesis. Salvation comes as a result of “knowing the Gospel”, and the Logos and graphe deemed synonymous in this process of acquiring ‘knowledge’.

It’s a fascinating subject for anyone interested in the history and sociology of theology, but a heartbreaking one for those of us here who believe God is actually engaged with everyone, irrespective of their label, gender or sexuality, and who appreciate what Anglicanism has to offer to those who aren’t upper-middle class conservatives with a profound loathing of their own humanity.

On the other hand, when it comes to the lost money, the official line seems to be that financial incompetence is a far lesser sin than that of those who’ve insisted upon bringing the matter to light. “God may have willed this to have happened”, they seem to be thinking, “but Satan is clearly behind those demanding accountability and repentance”. Which just about sums up everything about them ;-)

Anonymous said...

White, Anglo-Saxon suburbs are where respectable people live. Why on earth would a Calvinist want to spend scarce money on common people who don't play the guitar, and don't smile all the time? Jensenism is a sect for nice people. It was JESUS who sought out the despised and rejected. Such people would make Mr Jensen wet his protestant pants.