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For what we are about to receive

Even bankers deserve a little forgiveness from the Lord above

On Sunday Worship from Wesley’s Chapel in the City of London (3 May, 8.10am, Radio 4), the Reverend Fiona Stewart-Darling calmly welcomed her congregation. “As chaplain to the business sector in the Docklands,” she soothed, “I know more than ever that we are living in a global economy with global effects.”

She then recommended that we attempt an appeal to the god of the whole universe who rules over all times and eternity (as opposed to the other one) and sing “All My Hope on God Is Founded”, which everybody did, humbled by her intensely reasonable voice.

Call me a slave to trad and old stones, but as a Catholic, I find any kind of lower-case restraint or give-and-take in general to be horribly wishy-washy. I prefer to get my orders from a man forcing “manducate
ex hoc omnes” up a basic C scale while the skin flakes off his nose and his housekeeper on the front pew crossly writes the word “soap” in her little jotter.

Plus, I’m all for foul anecdotes pertaining to the Pope’s anatomy.

When’s the last time someone told you a great joke about the Archbishop of Canterbury’s deranged sexual habits?

Exactly. Might I suggest you hang out a little more often with me at the Brompton Oratory. “Much blame for this crisis has been directed at the banking sector and the world’s financial regulators,” reasoned Darling, “but not everyone who works within a bank is a banker! There’s human resources personnel and . . . cleaners . . .” Her voice softened to a secretive hush.

“In my job I am in contact with Christians of all levels who believe banking is where God has called them to live out their faith.” God told them to do it.

I knew Dan Brown was on to something.

Next, we were called to join in the bidding prayers, which used the words of the poet R S Thomas, a clergyman who once started a poem with: “Men of Wales/With your sheep and your sweaty females/How I have hated you.”

The reader was Philip Robinson, the FSA’s director of financial crime and intelligence. “Because we cannot be clever and honest,” said Philip, “and are inventors of things more intricate than the snowflake, Lord have mercy.” (Not clever or honest even once? Seems a bit harsh.)

“Because we believe in our disbelief, and will protect ourselves from ourselves even to the point of destroying ourselves. Lord have mercy.” (Belief in our disbelief? Protecting ourselves only to then destroy? It’s 8am on a Sunday, guys. Last thing I remember I was lying on the sofa with a bottle of Stone’s Ginger Wine.)

Then straight into the excellent and lesser-used 1836 arrangement of “The Lord Is My Shepherd”.

Mind you, none of this made any more sense than Baroness Morgan on the Today programme the day before, talking about “a national delivery unit” to stop the abuse of children in Haringey. She assured us that inspectors are being “sent in” to “advise” on the “establishment of the delivery unit”. That’ll be a quick process then.

“Should the state be intervening more?” asked Sarah Montague, keen to get to the next item in which the author Joseph O’Neil talked about cricket. “Absolutely, we accept that local children’s services should be acting in the interests of children,” conceded the baroness.

Oh, good.

Antonia Quirke is an author and journalist. She is a presenter on The Film Programme and Pick of the Week (Radio 4) and Film 2015 and The One Show (BBC 1). She writes a column on radio for the New Statesman.