On the afternoon of June 15th I had an opportunity to catch the latter part of the BBC show, “the weakest link”, just before the six o’clock news. I was pleased to see a member of the clergy in colourful clerical shirt and wearing his dog-colour. He identified himself as a chaplain from Cambridge. I wondered why he wore his “dog-collar” and thought to myself that perhaps the show thought this would be great publicity or that he perceived this as an opportunity to witness. After all, as far as I aware, I am yet to see either a farmer, fireman, police, teacher or doctor come to the programme dressed up in some wear associated with their job
The “holy man” did well for himself as he managed to get to the final three. He may wish to say that God (whichever one) was on his side. I wanted to cheer for him and I did at a certain point. This was until the penultimate round when he voted in a tactical way to get rid, not of the weakest link (the one who got most of the questions wrong), but the person who was the strongest link, so that he ended up in the final round with the weakest link.
The moderator of the show, as is usual, seeing an opportunity to go after the “man of God and virtues” pounced upon him and queried what he would say to his congregation the following sunday about honesty and integrity having voted out the “strongest link”. The vicar started to blush and proceeded to give reasons, some quite ridiculous ones, which only came across as more lies. Many of the viewers may have wondered whether he was lying or not. He was certainly digging himself deeper into greater embarrassment. He did go on to win the cash prize, which I hope, for his own conscience, he has donated to a worthy cause.
I would dearly wish to have a one to one conversation with him to find out what was really going on when he voted that way. I must say that I felt embarrassed by his actions even though, at this point, I would not be necessarily surprised if a participant (who was not a vicar or minister) had voted the way he did. Perhaps, there was something about the way his actions, which were juxtaposed alongside the fact that he was visibly dressed as a representative of the Church, disappointed me. I was imagining the multitude of viewers having their worst fears (and stereotypes) about “clergy” being confirmed!
I suppose there were also all those latent preconceived notions in my mind that link church and clergy with honesty and integrity, and failing to note our humanness. I am certainly aware that ministers are not paragons of virtue: we are also humans who embody all the shortcomings and ambiguities associated with being human. I suppose, I need to reflect further on why I felt embarrassed.
It may just be that this member of the clergy was making a subversive point or signifying on the programme itself by voting out the strongest link. For if the gospel imperative is to side with weakest, the vulnerable and the insignificant, then the “man of God” could argue that he was doing just that (and being subversive). The problem is that he ended up winning the pot of money and not the really weakest link! Perhaps, if you are reading this blog, may have a different take on this!
© copyright June 19, 2011