(Church Times) ‘God, not you, darling!’ Atkinsons qualify attack on smug clerics

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Rowan Atkinson, the comedian famed for his portrayal of comedy vicars, was this week expecting a backlash, after accusing Church of England clergy of being smug, arrogant, and conceited.

In an interview in Saturday’s Times, Mr Atkinson said: “I used to think that the vicars that I played . . . were unreasonable satires on well-meaning individuals but, actually, so many of the clerics that I’ve met, particularly the Church of England clerics, are people of such extra­ordinary smugness and arrogance and conceitedness who are extra­ordin­arily presumptuous about the significance of their position in society. Increasingly, I believe that all the mud that Richard Curtis and I threw at them through endless sketches that we’ve done is more than deserved.”

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

10 Comments
Posted September 30, 2011 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. pendennis88 wrote:

Vicars?  Has he played no bishops?

September 30, 9:05 am | [comment link]
2. David Hein wrote:

I’ve found the same mix of smug and modest among other professionals: lawyers, doctors, financial planners, professors, and so forth. I’d hate to generalize about any of them.

Clergy face a special problem. If they’re strong and self-confident, they can seem arrogant and condescending. If they’re meek and humble, they can seem like the ineffectual simpletons they’re often portrayed as in the media.

In the 1940s and 1950s, when their social status (if not their income) was much higher—i.e., in the waning days of the Protestant Establishment, the Episcopal clergy were a stronger lot. The profession was more attractive to the best and the brightest. Today the clergy are more humble, but perhaps with more reason to be.

Yes, I’m excluding bishops, by and large, though probably they, most of all, have reason to be humble.

September 30, 9:41 am | [comment link]
3. Dan Crawford wrote:

Three cheers for Rowan! I am reminded of a skit from Beyond the Fringe where a vicar preaches on the text And Esau was an hairy man, and Jacob a smooth.” When I first heard it, I had just returned from Evensong at Winchester Cathedral where I had heard a similar vacuous sermon with the same accent. (The preacher may have been a bishop.)

September 30, 10:18 am | [comment link]
4. Sarah wrote:

RE: “Today the clergy are more humble, but perhaps with more reason to be.”

Well—I have noticed that TEC clergy have plenty of reasons to “be humble” but I haven’t noticed those correlating with actual increased levels of humility.

September 30, 10:44 am | [comment link]
5. David Keller wrote:

And any decent rector of a big church avoids the episcopacy like the plague. In most of TEC these days, the surest sign you are incompetent is to get elected a bishop.

September 30, 11:21 am | [comment link]
6. sophy0075 wrote:

For another acerbic commentary on the CoE, check out Peter Sellers’s movie, Heaven’s Above. ww.imdb.com/title/tt0057134/

September 30, 4:08 pm | [comment link]
7. MargaretG wrote:

My favourite Rowan Atkinson take off of the church. He is so often too close for comfort
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUQcCvX2MKk
It is the Apostles Creed from “the New Revised version of the New Revised Version of the Book of Common Prayer or Mediations its the same thing really”.  So can avoid it if it is going to offend,  it starts:

I believe in God the father almighty
or at least it stands to reason there has to be some such sort of greater power you know like electricity sort of thing…

September 30, 5:53 pm | [comment link]
8. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

O would some Power the gift to give us
To see ourselves as others see us!
It would from many a blunder free us,
And foolish notion:
What airs in dress and gait would leave us,
And even devotion!

September 30, 6:07 pm | [comment link]
9. Cennydd13 wrote:

“Smug, arrogant, and conceited?”  Where have we heard that before?

September 30, 8:06 pm | [comment link]
10. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) wrote:

Very nice, Pageantmaster…“To a Louse”...  grin 

I’d say the humility problem could apply to all people on a case-by-case basis.

September 30, 10:18 pm | [comment link]
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