Thursday, May 23, 2024
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O Come All Ye Vaccinated


BEHOLD, I show you a mystery: many are called, but only those with a Vaccinated Passport are chosen – that is if you want to attend the Advent Carol Service at Durham Cathedral.

Contrary to guidance from both the government and the high counsels of the Church of England, the Dean of Durham, the Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett, has made these passports mandatory ‘in order to keep everyone safe’.

No other Anglican cathedral has done this, so I wonder why Dean Tremlett has decided that he alone is a legitimate exception?

Certainly the Dean is a very singular person. He is the son of an archdeacon and following his ordination he served only one curacy. Most of us served at least two in this humble station, which amounts to being the vicar’s bagman. From there he moved serenely through the ranks, from one coveted post to the next: Vicar of St Margaret’s Westminster and a cathedral canon.

Perhaps Dean Tremlett will have some comprehension of the hurt feelings of those who will inevitably be turned away from the Advent and Christmas services in his cathedral. For he himself was despised and rejected – by former Commons Speaker John Bercow, no less. You see, for the last 40 years the Vicar of St Margaret’s has been appointed Chaplain to the Speaker. But that exemplary equality and diversity monger Bercow was having none of that foul elitism and he rejected Tremlett as ‘another white, middle-aged man’, appointing a black woman instead.

Andrew Tremlett is a scholar who entitled his MPhil thesis ‘Metaphors of Salvation in the Soteriology of Origen of Alexandria’. By ‘eck, I bet that goes down a bundle at the Durham Miners’ Gala!

And here there is an exquisite irony: Origen was a universalist – that is, he thought nobody would go to hell. All will be saved and made welcome. In other words, Origen displayed a broader toleration than his pupil Tremlett.

Perhaps it is to Origen that we must look for further insight into the character of Dean Tremlett. For Origen taught that before God made the universe he created the souls of ‘intelligent men’.

No doubt the Dean sees himself as belonging to that elite – even though he is white, a man and middle-aged.

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Peter Mullen
Peter Mullen
Peter Mullen is a Church of England clergyman, writer and broadcaster

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