Saturday, 21 June 2008

Lincoln fragments

In Lincoln yesterday afternoon for a Working Party looking at how the significant sum of income from the historic resources of the diocese is parcelled out to different deaneries. I think they simply wanted one Rural Dean from the northern part of the diocese, and the one from the deanery which is allocated 10% of this money might be the one. Or perhaps they are fed up with my pestering them about so many other details of diocesan financial policy that they thought quite sensibly it would be better to get me involved in the difficult work. And it is difficult. It is a ‘zero sum’ game (a greater allocation to any deanery would be a reduction for another). Too much going back to first principles might result in recommendations which produce greater changes in allocation than is reasonable given deaneries will be budgeting on the present basis. Too much pragmatic tinkering would result in recommendations about which justifiable complaints would come from some who would be disadvantaged although the application of particular principles would have dealt with them better.

Then, because we were staying for the evening, I was able to take part in Cathedral Evensong, with a particularly lilting chant for the Psalm and the opportunity to read out the description of the Leviathan from the end of Job, and the attention to the details of diocesan finances could be put into perspective. I noticed that the number of people present for this esoteric Friday evening service (about seventy clergy, choir and congregation) was roughly the same as the particularly low combined number of people at the three services in the three churches in this parish last Sunday, whatever the significance of that.

The evening event was Baroness Butler-Sloss giving the annual Magna Carta Lecture on ‘Magna Carta and Modern Day Justice’. The demand for tickets was such that the lecture took place in the Nave rather than the Chapter House. She was clear, rigorous and well received, although she did not say much which her listeners should not have known or expected. She did, of course, touch on the issue of up to forty-two days detention without charge, and referred to the quotation from Benjamin Franklin being popularised by Liberty: ‘They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security’. I was interested most by her identification of those who might want to take out a civil case but who are not poor enough to get legal aid nor rich enough to pay themselves as those being denied access to justice today; nevertheless she too was sympathetic to the financial dilemma (this time of the government) in relation to the costs which might be involved to put this right.

The picture is one I took on the Cathedral roof last year.

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