Monday, June 28, 2010

Zounds!

Sarah Dylan Breuer on The Rt. Rev. Dr. Tom Wright:

I too am an alumna of St. Mary's Divinity College of the University of St. Andrews, and I'm not giving another dime to the university after this announcement.

Dr. Wright interviewed for a position in New Testament at St. Mary's/St. Andrews when I was a postgrad student there. He was the only candidate for the position who made much of his credentials as a true Christian as opposed (in his rhetoric frequently) to his credentials as a professor. And on the basis of the credentials he put forward as best, I recommended that he not be hired.

He treated professors at the college with respect. He answered their questions, laughed at their jokes, and made conversation with them happily.

He treated postgrad students as an annoyance, albeit one that could not be entirely ignored. He waved off their questions with a dismissive, albeit sometimes pithy, remark, and he did not engage any of us in conversation -- not even those of us on the interview committee, and not even when we tried.

He treated students training for ministry (which, at St. Mary's, were in the B.D. program) as completely invisible.

He treated university staff as if they had been rolling in manure for a week and were only there to inconvenience him.

He treated wait staff in restaurants, porters, and other working class people not affiliated with the university as radioactive -- both invisible and toxic.

I had read his work with deep and genuine appreciation for years before that, and I continue to do so to the extent that he remains true to his original scholarly foci. But I took his example as a negative cautionary tale.

I hope my own life and work are better for it. I've tried all that much harder to make my best work accessible, to work hardest on the things that the most people might read, and to treat with the most honor those who don't have the power to make me powerful but who do use their gifts to serve whoever's around.

I am very sad that St. Andrews, having rejected Dr. Wright for appointment based on his credentials before, is taking him on now -- after he's published the same three books in dozens of different forms, after he took a diocesan appointment and spent the best of his time and effort outside the diocese he vowed to serve, and after he appeared in Columbus to work against our polity while supporting at least tacitly efforts to undermine mutual recognition of orders supported by the Chicago-Lambeth quadrilateral.

Bishop Tom, I wish we could talk again. Since I'm still a lay person but now am not on a hiring committee, I doubt even more that you'd listen, despite the Windsor Report's admonition to do so. I'd still listen to you, though, if you wanted to explain how your treatment of "townies" coheres with your Christianity.
Sounds like a nice guy once he gets to know you.

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