Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Gordon Robinson | National prayer breakfarce

Published:Tuesday | January 31, 2017 | 1:00 AM
Burchell Taylor delivering his sermon at the National Leadership Prayer Breakfast recently.

In 1911, shipmakers White Star Line, noses out of joint at competitor Cunard's 1907 successes, Mauritania and Lusitania, rushed to complete construction of its own masterpiece, the unsinkable Titanic.

On the Titanic's maiden voyage, its skipper spotted ice in the water but, believing that everything he saw was as it appeared, ordered "full speed ahead". Like the PNP in 2007, he soon discovered only fools speed ahead.

Back home, if I'm rushing to Half-Way Tree and break the red light at Trafalgar-Waterloo, there's a 95% chance I won't be caught. If I try this every day, I'll be nabbed. If the policeman who catches me believes it's my first offence, he, like the Titanic's skipper, is a fool.

He is a guy who knows how to get 'round.

He can find a girl in every single town.

Every night there is somebody new

and all the girls just love the way that he ... .

(umm hmm)

Finally, we come to the Rev Rupert Clarke of Maidstone's Nazareth Moravian Church, who it's alleged was found one night "in a compromising position" in his car with a 15-year-old girl on a lonely road. The Church has deservedly come under scrutiny, and the usual apologists have responded by blanketing media with standard diversionary tactics.

 

PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE

 

We're cautioned to remember Rupie is innocent until proven guilty, and we should await the legal process before condemning him. Based on Jamaican justice's form, that strategy should buy the Church a decade to regroup and resume business as usual.

But if you keep on doing what you doing, Sammy,

you're gonna find that you're ruined, Sammy.

You can't work, work, work all day

and play, play, play all night.

Keep on doing what you doing, Sammy.

You're gonna find that you're ruined, Sammy.

Because you're just wasting away.

You'll soon be out of sight!

The flaw in the diversionary argument is that the 'legal process' will determine guilt or innocence of criminal sexual misconduct whereas I'm concerned with the Church's vulnerability to moral charges of impropriety, cover-up and hypocrisy. I've no need to prove a single act of criminal (or other) sexual misconduct to find Rupie's behaviour improper, immoral and unchristian. Rupie was ALONE IN THE CAR with a 15-YEAR-OLD GIRL at night along a lonely road. Without more, that's pastoral misconduct.

Is this Rupie's first pastoral offence? Is the Church complicit? Are there other churchmen equally guilty? Is the Church repentant? Or obstinate?

But I know he's a guy who'll never change his ways

because he don't really care what anybody says.

Every night, he goes spreading joy

and every single girl is crazy 'bout the boy ... .

Ride On Sammy (1970) was a monster hit for Ernie Smith and a nostalgic favourite of mine. As a teenager, I danced with my grandmother to this tune at a St Margaret's Church social.

Until the Church admits the problem, repents, and submits to an INDEPENDENT investigation of any moral/financial (remember OLINT?) irregularities, I'm prepared to believe the worst. Instead, the Church discards Jesus' advice on repentance, emulates Anancy, proceeds with a national prayer breakfarce (NPB), shuffles speakers, and is hunkered down awaiting the passage of nine days.

 

WALK HUMBLY

 

Burchell Taylor at the National Prayer Breakfarce: "The thoughts I shall share are expressive of the moral view; moral conviction and moral action ... summed up in words of the Prophet Micah ... : 'What does the Lord require of you but to do justice; to love mercy; and to walk humbly with your God.'

"These are times when we see signs of the possibility of achieving good things ... yet these are times that can be characterised as times of great anxiety; ... a shaking, quaking of religious and moral foundations. As a result, there's ever-deepening sense of disappointment; deep and ever-deepening sense of disillusionment; deep and ever-deepening sense of near despair with its threatening impact of paralysis of the moral will and moral purpose. For this, we grieve; for this, we're ever remorseful; for this, we ask [God's] forgiveness through Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of all, especially those for whom it has been a source of offence and stumbling ... ."

Beautiful words, superb philosophy, perfectly rolled pitch upon which he could bowl the Church the yorker calling for repentance, truth and reconciliation.

Instead, Burchell Taylor diverted to a dissertation on society's ills, including violent crime, disparity in opportunities, economics and in a brilliant bit of linguistic obfuscation, "the component virtues necessary for the pursuit of our goal of authentic human flourishing ...". As the actress said to the bishop, "C'mon, man!"

Peace and love.

- Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.