At the end of holy week, the Christian – or at least the Western Christian Churches - celebrate the mysteries of Easter and the resurrection of Christ. At this time the BBC, in the shape of Nick Robinson on its flagship Today program, decided to belittle a Covid survivor’s reference to his faith as a ‘trick’ played on him by the drugs he was being administered in intensive care.
Hylton Murray-Philipson had been invited on to describe his recovery, and while doing so he related his experience of his hardest time,
“...one of the very powerful images I had in that moment of great distress and struggle was the image of Jesus calming the storm on the sea of Galilee, and that just came to me, and I would like to think that was Jesus Christ coming to me, and helping me in my hour of need.”
In response Mr Robinson, from his bully pulpit and near £300,000 pa salary thought to diminish him, on Good Friday, one of the holiest days of the year,
“Well, it’s so powerful that you have that, partly, I have to say, partly because of the drugs you have to be on in order to be on a ventilator machine, which plays tricks with the mind doesn’t it, really."
There is no way that Robinson, or any BBC operative would have said any such thing had Mr. Murray-Philipson been of any other faith. Mr Murray-Philipson is no credulous rube, far from it, he established Morgan Grenfell in Brazil in 1982 and was later chief executive of the investment bank Henry Ansbacher in New York and is now the chairman of the Global Canopy, a charity focusing on saving forests around the world where he works with Prince’s Charles’s Rainforest foundation. When he left the hospital, he was given a guard of honour by the nurses, doctors so moved they were by his approach to treatment. But, of course the BBC begs to differ.
But the BBC is not alone. The vicar of Great and Little St Bartholomew’s, or St Bart’s, is responsible for the Christian care of patients in Bart’s hospital and in the broader Trust comprising of 4 other hospitals, and now the great hanger hospital that is the brand new 4,000 bed Nightingale hospital in the docklands, specially created for the crisis. St Barts was founded, both the hospital and the church, in 1127, and was run by the church until the dissolution of the monasteries, its very fabric is testament to the link between health and faith.
But what Ft Walker has discovered is despite the fact that the NHS is happy for the Chaplin’s service (which is multifaith) to minister to the sick and dying – a service so vital at a time when people are dying alone, away from family and loved ones due to restrictions – it is the bureaucracy of the Church of England that has blocked access, banning the chaplaincy from carrying out their work of comforting the sick and dying. It seems that the Church itself, or the Church leadership no longer believes in the efficacy of the sacrament.
But it isn’t just the terminally declining Church of England that is finding this time of Covid to question their own faith in the service of the nation’s spiritual health. The Roman Catholic Church in the UK has also come up with it’s own piece of Covidiocy that is startling.
They have issued an edict that is not only content with closing and locking their churches, but they are now discouraging priests from filming and live streaming mass over Easter for fear that people will be so moved that, despite the warning and the clear instructions that they are not to do so, that they will turn up at church. The Pope himself live streamed Orbis in Urbo, from the great pavement of St Peter’s basilica in glorious isolation, but the panjandrums of the churches in England are no longer men of faith. They no longer believe in the power of the spirit to uplift, to inspire and to provide focus and meaning in our little lives. They no longer see it as their mission to provide succor to the weak, the sick and the old. instead they are timorous, bureaucratic, fearful and narrow.
The heights of our establishment, the media and much of government is devoid of Christian faith, so much is to be expected, but that the main churches are also that way inclined might explain why our national faith looks increasingly like a Potemkin village, beautiful structures, filled with nothing.
Now, at a time of such emotional and spiritual need is the time for them to stand up and stand tall. So far they have shown the moral fortitude of sea-slugs, and the vision of golden moles.
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