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Hallo again to all.

A Volkswagen Passat EstateUnless you've been living in a cave in the mountains of Afghanistan, you are surely aware of the environmental problems associated with the emission of pollutants from automobiles. The notion of global warming is directly linked to automobile emissions, one of the reasons for the politicization of what one might think ought to be a purely scientific notion. But the word 'emissions' has in general come to mean 'automobile emission of airborne pollutants'.

Recently the German automobile manufacturer Volkswagen AG started an advertising campaign in which it touts the 'low ego emissions' of its Passat automobile. The television spots (you can see one here) and magazine adverts (we haven't found one online) imply that people who buy a Passat automobile don't need to boast. Showing expert use of internet communication, Volkswagen has launched a website on which the public can express opinions about the ego emissions of various artifacts. High 'ego emission' scores were awarded to acrylic finger nails and fur coats, while low 'ego emission' scores were awarded to bicycles and oatmeal.

The Rt Revd Nolbert KunongaWe were amused by this concept and spent some time thinking that, as denominations go, we Anglicans seem (on average) to be more comfortable with a 'low ego emission' style. Collectively we have a hard time inviting new people to our churches or evangelizing, no matter how strongly we hold our beliefs. Suggesting to someone that he ought to convert to your religion seems to involve a lot of ego, even though it isn't actually ego at all, but faith. To the unconverted, faith and ego are hard to differentiate.

Then we read in the news this week that the ever-controversial Bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, had commanded that all churches in his diocese be closed on September 10 and that instead of going to church, his flock should come to a sports arena to help him celebrate his 33rd wedding anniversary. A device to measure ego emissions would probably melt from overload if taken to Harare this week. We don't think that Bishop Kunonga is acting out of faith here, unless it's faith in his role of Episcopus Imperator, the imperial bishop.

Judging from the accounts reaching us from Zimbabwe, Bishop Kunonga is a buffoon, and he ought to be held up as an aberration rather than as an example. It is more likely, we think, that history will judge him to have been a common criminal rather than a holy man. But we know a number of examples of Episcopus Imperator: bishops being driven around in bulletproof limousines, bishops ignoring the law, and so forth. Many of our Anglican friends are so worried that someone might believe them to be like Nolbert Kunonga that they overcompensate, becoming too meek, emitting no ego at all.

Perhaps we Anglicans need to stop worrying quite so much about being mistaken for the high-ego bishops who grab headlines and try to grab control of the world they see around them. We should all muster enough ego-based-on-faith to look our friends in the eye and say 'Please come with me to my church next Sunday' — and then argue with the excuses given in response.

See you next week. Try to bring a friend.

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Last updated: 10 September 2006

(Click for the 1 August update on Cynthia's cancer.)

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