Christian Comment - June 2018
I was amused to read a funny little story about Alastair Campbell the other day. You know who I mean - Alastair Campbell, the erstwhile bagpipe playing Labour party spin-doctor, former Director of Communications and generally politically correct right-on chap? Apparently, (although I didn't hear it myself) he was heading up his live radio chat show. The topic was feminism. Unbeknown to him, ‘Grace from Camden’ phoned in, and challenged Alastair's feminist credentials. Well - that’s what happens on a radio phone-in, isn't it? You phone up and vent your spleen, have your five minutes of fame, and make your point, before someone buts in and moves on to the next guest. Only - and here’s the funny bit - it wasn't just any old 'Grace from Camden' who phoned in! The caller was, 'Grace from Camden', Alastair Campbell’s daughter!
And she had stuff to say about her Dad - and his attitude towards feminism. She didn't spare his blushes. She gave him some examples. Real life examples. The sort of real life examples that you can only give, if you live with someone in real life! Like the fact that he claims to be unable to do the laundry, work various bits of domestic machinery, calls women 'birds' and refuses to talk about periods. That sort of thing.
And I thought it was very, very amusing. I could imagine poor old Alastair squirming... live on radio. Ha! 'Go Grace!' I thought to myself. 'Try and spin your way out of that, Dad!'
But then I had another sudden thought, one of the sinking kind. What if I had been on the radio and that had been one of my children? Or even worse - all of my children? And what if the topic under discussion was something other than feminism, something more important (although I do think feminism is important), more pertinent to me, for example? Christianity? Being a follower of Jesus Christ? Trying to live like him? Talking about him to others? Writing about Christian Living in articles like the Christian Comment in The Tiverton Gazette, as if I have got it all sewn up and am a living example on the subject.
Suddenly, I could think of all sorts of things that my children might say. The real-life examples they might give. The attitudes I have towards others. The judgements I make. The things I have said and thought and done. I found myself squirming along with Alastair, trying to spin a believable, plausible answer, justifying any short-comings and failings they might bring up. It was all rather alarming - and apart from the fact that I have no intention of hosting a radio show - very close to home.
Spinning a response to justify our short-comings is pretty useless, and rather exhausting. It's better just to put our hands up and admit our hypocrisies. And then a few wise, un-spun words popped into my head. 'God be merciful to me - a sinner'.
Rev’d Stephanie Gordon-Jeffs