The Rev’d Angela Tilby is a Canon Emeritus of Christ Church Cathedral Oxford. She is also a writer, broadcaster, columnist, and Canon of Honour at Portsmouth Cathedral. She is thoughtful, intelligent, and highly respected. But she has been rather disturbed by the treatment of the Dean, the Very Rev’d Prof. Martyn Percy, toward whom some senior clergy in the Cathedral have been uncharitable, not to say un-Christian, if not downright disparaging and defamatory.
To be blocked on Twitter is indeed quite a trivial happening in the grand scheme of things, but occasionally it gives an insight into a mindset, an insecurity, or a raw nerve. These are a few of the tweets which Canon Tilby has been posting in response to the Cathedral’s tweets:
And of her summary blocking, she surmises
The interesting thing is that Canon Tilby was blocked without any request either to moderate her ‘zeal’, or any polite request to stop banging on about truth and justice. They could have sent her a private DM, but she wasn’t even ‘warned’; just simply summarily blocked. Whoever controls the Cathedral’s social media could have muted her, but there was no mercy: they blocked, which amounts to Twitter excommunication and social-media oblivion.
This wasn’t for any kind of personal abuse, rudeness or vulgarity (good grief, you should read the stream of responses to just about everything the Archbishop of Canterbury tweets, but he doesn’t block people); it was for challenging corporate inaction and disinformation, which is perpetuating injustice, which is causing grief and suffering. Why would Cathedral staff tweet that they are praying earnestly for Martyn and Emma Percy to be restored to wholeness when the answer to their prayers lies in their own repentance?
Perhaps the Rev’d Canon Graham Ward and the Rev’d Canon Richard Peers know the wagons are circling..
“At General Synod, the phrase du jour is ‘Transparency and Accountability'”, tweeted retired lawyer and Synod member Martin Sewell. “The message does not seem to have been heard in Oxford. Should we try sending it in Latin?”
“I love the place which is why what is going on is so painful”, Canon Tilby told her followers.
“That is something we can all sense and know”, replied the Rev’d Canon Robin Gibbons. “I thought constructive criticism was welcomed in the church?”
“A prophet is not without honour except in their own country”, encouraged the Rev’d Michael Sadgrove, who might also have mentioned the Streisand Effect of a cathedral trying to censor those who act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with their God.
Archdruid Eileen has promulgated the ‘Ritual for Blocking a Cathedral Canon on Twitter’:
Hymn: Block of Ages
Social Media Wonk: We are gathered here today in the presence of Almighty Twitter to block A.
Spotty Web Geek: Blocking one of your own canons is a very dreadful and awful state, instituted of God when he banned Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. And is not something into which to be entered lightly. I therefore ask: have you examined A and found them/him/her to be of godly life and sound learning?
Social Media Wonk: I have. But I’m blocking A anyway.
Spotty Web Geek: Do you believe we’ve already dug a deep enough hole recently?
Social Media Wonk: As long as there’s a spade and a hole, we’ll keep digging [Isa 51:1].
Hymn: I Hear the Sound of Twittering in the Leaves of the Trees
Perhaps those who object to the immature, defensive and un-Christian behaviour of Christ Church Cathedral toward one of their most distinguished Honorary Canons Emeriti might make their thoughts known on the Cathedral’s Twitter account (gently, courteously, and in Christian love, of course).