Wednesday, 31 January 2018

A New Style

An unsolicited phone call from the suffragan bishop is a bit like a police car drawing up outside the house - your first thought is what you might have done wrong to bring this about. In fact I was being summoned to a meeting about a local issue. It gave me my first opportunity to visit the new Diocesan House in the Guildford Research Park. A greater contrast with the old premises in Quarry Street could hardly be imagined: that picturesque, intestinal warren of inadequate offices and sloping floors has been exchanged for something that looks like a Shoreditch café (at least the café looks like a Shoreditch café). Everywhere you see the logos of the diocese's Twelve Transformation Goals, blown up so large that their already impressionistic symbolism becomes near-impossible to read. It's all very well and pretty and doubtless far easier to use, to work in and to visit. 

All the emails we get from Diocesan House now include a banner:

It appears in a variety of different shapes and colours, and quite predictably I think it's dreadful. I suppose you might imagine that the young fellow in the beanie hat has just got up from his tent, pitched perhaps at some Christian festival, and is having a good stretch as he prepares for a day's chorus-singing and workshops about leadership and not being gay. But that's not what it's about, is it? This image is a) male, b) triumphalist, and c) about us. The point of the Christian religion, here, is utility, is that it 'transforms' us into some better version of ourselves; it's a self-improvement mechanism. With Christ, we can overcome our limitations, pass our exams, buy that house, wake in the morning, run to the hilltop and punch the air with the rising sun behind us. It's a faith for the modern world, and it's entirely focused on us and our experience rather than God. I don't know. I look at the Church's efforts to rebrand itself and think, What's wrong with a cross? But that's why I'm not working for the diocese.

1 comment:

  1. H'mm. Well it does look a little triumphalist, which an unkind critic might say would be premature for indiviuals in this world...and possibly,dare one say, for the Church itself? Perhaps humility is rather out of fashion. OK, to be blunt - it's truly awful.Possibly also a bit scarily scifi. Or just risible. (Sorry, this is no help, I'll stop in a mo)
    Your Diocesan Designer might have usefully reflected on the "less is more" mantra, and as you suggested, done something powerful and simple with - let me see - I know: a cross!