Wednesday, 26 July 2006

Latvia: bishop writes to president

Updated

Bishop Geoffrey Rowell has written to the President of Latvia, Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga, following the recent events that occurred in Riga.

See Reuters Latvian gay priders bombarded with eggs, excrement and the Baltic Times Gay bashers arrested after parade attack. And also this first hand report on commentisfree.

Update Wednesday evening additional Baltic Times reports here: Gay pride celebration marked by clashes, EU reps call for sanctions on Latvia and FIRE JAUNDZEIKARS.

Update Thursday evening
Thomas Hammarberg is the Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe, Strasbourg. He has written this article about the Riga events.

Update Friday morning
The Church Times has this by Rachel Harden Protesters attack worshippers.

The bishop’s letter has been published on the diocesan website. The recent statement on human rights by the Latvian president is here. The bishop’s letter concludes:

You have made it recently very clear that human rights lie at the very foundations of the Constitution of Latvia and that they are to be respected without any discrimination or restriction. Furthermore the Constitution also guarantees to the residents of Latvia the right to freedom of speech and assembly. I hope, along with many other Christians and people of goodwill, that those who threaten such human rights will be brought to account and that those attacked at St Saviour´s will be interviewed for the information they can give to assist the process of bringing unlawful behaviour to account. In our opinion, this is important, because its seems evident that the events of July 22nd were not a spontaneous protest, but a pattern of behaviour by organized vigilante groups who use intimidation and threats of violence as their tools. European history is well versed in such tactics and their consequences.

Within the Anglican community there are differing opinions as to the moral appropriateness of homosexual behaviour. However, we are unequivocal in our belief that the victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered toward people of the same sex is anathema to us and that, as children of God, homosexual people deserve the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship. The attack that occurred on Saturday was not, however, just an attack on homosexual people but a hostile assault on a varied number of people and on St Saviour´s church.

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Comments

This is a vast improvement on last year’s knee jerk reaction from this bishop and shows a growing understanding of the issues. The diocese has thought deeply about the violent events at Riga Pride last year. This has also become a matter for serious concern within the Porvoo group though sadly after an hour meeting with the Archbishop of Latvia it seems I was unable to convince him to use his best offices to prevent further violence this year

My only concern comes with the last sentence. I have been aware for some time that when the violence lesbian and gay people experience throughout the world somehow spills over into the lives of others then it becomes a matter for comment and concern. One of the things to be heard when Jeffrey John was nominated as a bishop and subsequently with the election of Gene Robinson was that “ordinary Christians” were being attacked and their homes burned because they were just associated with a Church that (in some far off places) embraced gay people. Strangely, instead of this making our position one where people could now more closely understand and identify with the violence and hatred we live with daily, it had the opposite effect and increased the general antipathy towards us. This did not strike me then, nor does it now as a particularly “Christian” response.

This may seem a bit of a niggle bearing in mind that the bishop has taken the view that what happened was important enough to pen an open letter to the President of the Republic, but it does concern me.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 12:04pm BST

A good, and brave letter, but the moral health warning weakens his appeal, it seems to me.

Posted by: L Roberts on Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 1:13pm BST

Dear L. Roberts,

You mention
"moral health warning"

Which bit precisely?

Posted by: Tim Jones on Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 6:53pm BST

I completely agree with +Gibraltar.

I also agree with last year's statement that it is inappropriate for.... "a church service to be used in what would seem to be a lobbying and confrontational way to make a political points about homosexuality"

Gay Activists are not really just arguing for *tolerance* of people who experience homosexual orientation and an end to victimization, but are really demanding full approval of same-sex sex and demanding the marginalization or exclusion (ie victimization) of anyone who dares speak or act as if same-sex sex is wrong.

In Latvia "Gay Activists" complain about victimization; in liberal countries they demand victimization of people who don't approve!

Don't believe me - look here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/06/03/ngay03.xml&sSheet=/news/2006/06/03/ixuknews.html and here: http://www.lawcf.org/lawreformdetail.php?ID=166 and here: http://www.lgcm.org.uk/documents/pdf/ResponseEquality0606.pdf

Posted by: Dave on Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 7:52pm BST

Yeah, heterosexuals just can't catch a break in this world.

Posted by: New Here on Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 8:11pm BST

Hi Tim Jones
I had this bit in mind :

'Within the Anglican community there are differing opinions as to the moral appropriateness of homosexual behaviour.'

This kind of thing can add to the climate of intolerance, and can lead to violence, I have found. The intellegensia and chattering classes put out this sort of statement, and it then manifests on the ground, at a 'yob' or crowd kind of level.

A case in point :
Within living memory it was promulgated that 'Jewish behavior is morally questionable'. And the same charges were made of the Roma people and 'homosexuals'.I think we know know where that led.
Even today, the security at UK synagogues for Shabbat services has to be experienced to be believed.Also today,UK gay venues and Roma places, are high security & / hidden

Hope this is of use.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 8:24pm BST

I note that the president of Latvia , Dr.
Vike-Freiberga opposed the Riga ban on the Pride Parade even before these deplorable events on the 22nd.
http://www.baltictimes.com/news/articles/15939/

Hopefully she will now take some strong action against these thugs.

Posted by: David Bewley on Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 9:17pm BST

Laurence wrote "This kind of thing can add to the climate of intolerance, and can lead to violence, I have found." .... "Within living memory it was promulgated that 'Jewish behavior is morally questionable'."

Dear Laurence, Christianity is all about *God's love for Sinners*.. There is no dichotomy between love and moral questioning !

Neither is it reasonable to assume that people are so infantil that they can't distinguish between moral conviction and physical violence and abuse! In fact I doubt that you believe it either if you think about your own willingness to criticise other the morality of conservative Christian views and behaviours.

If we really believed what you said, then we have to not support moral questioning of *any* behaviour ??!

Posted by: Dave on Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 10:47pm BST

Having lived in Montreal, Dr. Vike-Freiberga would know that the city has a large lbgt community.

From her biography on the presidential website:

From 1965 to 1998 Vaira Vike-Freiberga pursued a professorial career at the Department of Psychology of the French-speaking University of Montreal, where she taught psychopharmacology, psycholinguistics, scientific theories, experimental methods, language and cognitive processes. Her experimental research focused on memory processes and language, and the influence of drugs on cognitive processes.

In June 1998 she was elected Professor emerita at the University of Montreal and returned to her native land....

Posted by: JayVos on Thursday, 27 July 2006 at 2:42am BST

See Reuters Latvian gay priders bombarded with eggs, excrement and the Baltic Times Gay bashers arrested after parade attack....

"In Latvia 'Gay Activists' complain about victimization; in liberal countries they demand victimization of people who don't approve!" Dave

My Dear Brother Dave,

Your reasoning/gripes are fascinating to me but please check out this *really* BIG DEMAND of those of you "who don't approve"

http://www.matthewshepard.org/

"replace HATE with understanding, compassion and acceptance."

(all CAPS, my emphasis, Brother Dave)

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Thursday, 27 July 2006 at 4:14am BST

Dave, I think it is unreasonable to presume that all souls are capable of distinguishing between moral conviction and physical violence. Listen to any serial violent criminal, and they have a moral and philosophical/theological paradigm to justify their behaviours. Physical violence is the least sophisticated of a continuum of abuse behaviours, which range up to domestic violence or expand into sociopathic cults who organise covert cliques to keep their society clean e.g. Klu Klux Klan. The really cute ones will never be confused by the Holy Spirit as they have their solo scripture interpretations that stand the test of time and keep xenophobia perpetuated across for centuries.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Thursday, 27 July 2006 at 8:40am BST

Dave I would love to see y o u relecting God's love more, here, -- & asserting it less.

The moral questionning that leads to (the) holacaust(s) can not moral.
'Moral conviction and physical violence and abuse' are closely linked in the history Church morality.

I challenge you to visit any UK synagogue and experience the high security measures---just to attend worship. This is one of the outcomes of Churchianity and its 'moral' legacy.
Let us talk more upon your return from shul.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Thursday, 27 July 2006 at 9:11am BST

Laurence

I agree with what you are saying, but would point out that this is not an exclusively Christian phenomenum. Unfortunately, there are examples aplenty in these modern times across most of the religions. Those that don't have any recent examples often can blush when you look through their history, or they are too young to have any history and therefore stumbled into this trap. This is to do with a human condition that when silly souls try to deny there is a problem they become part of the problem.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Thursday, 27 July 2006 at 11:24am BST

terrible that there was violence. Christ has come to set us free sin and death..violence is sin.

Posted by: DaveW on Thursday, 27 July 2006 at 12:55pm BST

Dave,
It's true that in some University settings, political correctness has evolved close to tyranny. How this happened is, I think, copmplex, and I don't doubt the CUs themselves have at times done things that antagonized the university body. I'm not saying they were wrong for doing so, though at times they might have been more circumspect, perhaps. I also perceive that British society has an anti-Christian streak. I don't perceive it in America, BTW, despite what the Cristian Right would have us believe. That isn't the point though. Surely this doesn't justify a bunch of hooligans throwing feces at people who are leaving a church, or any of the other behaviour reported. Are you truly saying it's OK to behave like this because Christians in another country are being discriminated against? I can victimize you because people like you elsewhere victimise people like me? Is this Christian? We should be opposing both, not using one to justify the other.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 27 July 2006 at 2:18pm BST

The dilemma that never quite seems to get much attention, in my view, is simply that too many of the foundations of our received moral condemnation or questioning have shifted.

In the Middle Ages, we had a certain pre-scientific biology of human reproduction that essentially fit nicely with the discerned immorality of all non-reproductive sex acts.

Since sperm were complete human beings, the person who didn't use his - and in the Middle Ages, essential reproduction certainly was male-centric - sperm correctly was obviously denying God by denying the sole moral (natural) purpose for which sperm could conceivably exist, i.e., the planting in fertile earth/wombs that led to human birth. Received notions of idolatry piggy-backed nicely as well, onto this ancient biology. One could easily conclude that a non-reproductive act of rebellion against God must surely open up the person to other rebellions and idolatries, up to and including goodness knows what horrible stuff. If all of this had not been fairly self-evident, and highly emotionally loaded, to both the educated and the illiterate western European mind across several centuries, the twin accusations of sodomy and heresy could not have been so effective as self-evident explanations for many different attacks the church made against various groups.

Onto this mix of non-reproductive neglect/rebellion against God, plus legacy prohibitions against idolatry and pride/willfullness, our legacy moral theology also extends the cultic prohibitions of Leviticus against mixing categories, types, or substances which should otherwise remain separate and undefiled. As if all that Gordian Knot of condemnation and immorality were not enough, strong and old male cultural-historical traditions - as simple as the victorious ancient near eastern-Mediterranean male soldier raping his conquered male (and female) civilians - were easily and fervently carried along.

(Even in USA prisons today, the dominant males sexually exploit males of lesser prison status, as their undisputed male privilege. A modern ethologist might even wonder to what extent this could possibly connote a skewed version, as it were, of the frequent male-male bonding/interacting that we see in various animal species. So something about rape privileges is quite widely taken at times as confirmation of superior masculinity. And we may have biology, still, to take into account.)

So our legacy is this strong mix. None of it has anything positive to say.

Posted by: drdanfee on Thursday, 27 July 2006 at 3:55pm BST

Dear Laurence, Leonardo, Cheryl et al

I don't particularly enjoy the suggestion that my approach is analogous to the Klu Klux Klan; or that lack of approval is encouraging "HATE" (haven't I just said that God loves Sinners?); or that the church's 'moral' legacy is violence against Jews... (I would suggest that the latter case is primarily about fears of attacks by of Moslem extremists rather than Christians!). But I don't think that your strong moral disapproval of me means that you hate me - or are encouraging violence or abuse against me..

However, if you *really do* believe that moral dis-approval engenders hate... then presumably that is what you experience in yourselves. In which case shouldn't I be worried about what you might want to do to me ... because you morally disapprove of me ?

If people do find that they hate people that they morally disapprove of, don't they need to learn to love people that they consider to be sinners ? And what about the command to love your enemies and pray for them who despitefully use you ?

Praying for you...

Posted by: Dave on Thursday, 27 July 2006 at 10:04pm BST

"However, if you *really do* believe that moral dis-approval engenders hate... then presumably that is what you experience in yourselves. In which case shouldn't I be worried about what you might want to do to me ... because you morally disapprove of me ?" Dave

Good grief brother Dave! I just think you're a snappish/oldish dude (like me) that happens to also be a fellow member of the Anglican Communion. I don't assume much/anything about your character/morals or personal life nor do you know much about mine. I have a lifetime of Christian experience to share with you as a Gay man though if you would like to hear about people like me. I wouldn't get all excited about any "finger pointing" stuff if I were you. We're all simply trying to remain engaged in a "listening process" we've heard so much about that's even been graciously endorsed by Lord Carey of Clifton.

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Friday, 28 July 2006 at 12:33am BST

Dave:

I really have one question concerning your atonement theology. How does a loving God, who creates everything with and out of love need a atonement sacrifice i.e. dead animals or people in order to love that which God created?

It's intellectual curiosity.
Peace
Bob

Posted by: Robert Christian on Friday, 28 July 2006 at 3:44am BST

Dave. Disagreeing with sloppy thinking is not the same as condemning the person. Actually, only the other day I again God a prayer of thanks that you continue to post on TA. If it were not for your honest convictions, you would not be so blunt and the issues could not be articulated and thought through. In that respect you have much more respect than some local Anglicans who commented that you can not win an argument with God and so stopped arguing. (My mind still reels that they stopped the arguing and didn't ask the logical whoa! of why is God disagreeing with them. The only logical explanation I could find for that was drinking from God's cup of wrath which made them so hungry for victory that they couldn't even see the minefield they'd just been sprung in).

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Friday, 28 July 2006 at 7:10am BST

Bob

The atoning sacrifice concept comes from the Old Testament. The book of Numbers is a good example of the need for sacrifices or pleading by the anointed advocates on the sinners' behalfs (typically Aaraon and/or Moses). However, God foreshadowed that at some point He would render the need for sacfices to be obsolete - it was a stage in humanity's evolution. Jesus offered himself as the sacrifice to cover humanity's sins and to act as the advocate for humanity. e.g. Psalm 130:7-8 ...put your hope in the LORD... He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.

Much as the conservatives hate me, one of the key points my testimony proves is that Jesus' sacrifice still stands. (Another would render the original sacrifice void as it would no longer be unique). Because Jesus' sacrifice still stands, all these martyr's to violence have actually wasted themselves, but the wasteful shepherds will only acknowledge that kicking and screaming as they are addicted to power, irregardless of the moral or spiritual costs of their pointless exercises. See Isaiah 57:5-13, Jeremiah 32:32-44. Ezekiel 20:30-44, Hosea 4:4-19

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Friday, 28 July 2006 at 10:34am BST

I wonder why, this being Eastern Europe 'n' all, these attacks have not been described w/ the word that's *perfectly appropriate* here:

It was a POGROM. >:-(

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Friday, 28 July 2006 at 5:37pm BST

Dave:

Thanks for your comments. Don't be dismayed by the responses around here, they are merely typical of the (overwhelmingly and often absurdly liberal) TA crowd.

Many in this group link everything to a persecution scenario they like to identify with, e.g, Nazi Germany being a particular favorite. Frankly, I think this is an extremely lazy way to contextualize the events at issue and build a world view, but it seems to give them a great deal of comfort.

Anyhow, from there they can neatly divide the world into virtuous "progessives" (i.e., "freedom fighters" and the "oppressed"--like them) and "oppressors" (i.e, anyone who is opposed to their program(s)--like you and I). This allows them to construct a paradigm that puts them in an extremely favorable light and everyone who opposes their approach to permissible sexual behaviors in an extremely unfavorable light. All of which seems to work together very well in allowing them to stay in their present "comfort" zones intellectually speaking.

I've tried reminding them not to project their fascist persecution fantasies on traditionalists, but it has (as you can see) very little affect. They are stuck in the perceptual frameworks they have constructed and unable to free themselves. That's one of the reasons I continue to harp on the subject of loving and Christian separation--I simply see no other solution. The presuppositions held by each side are irreconcileable, and neither has any intention of changing.

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Friday, 28 July 2006 at 6:28pm BST

Laurence: I should have said welcome a while ago, you have been asking some good questions.

Steven obviously has our psychological disorders pegged out. Nice to know that self-righteous complacency isn't a cause for God's wrath, nor do the "sane" people have to let their consciences worry them, nor do they have to worry about empirical facts (which they do their best to make sure aren't gathered or are lost in a bureacracy if they are not complimentary).

Nor do they have to try and make the bible pertinent to these times. After all, there's no way that God might try to fulfill Isaiah 54. Just because it offers a pan-religious covenant that could bring all god loving and fearing peoples together and expose and discredit the wasteful shepherds for what they really are. Just because tyranny would be far from us, just because we would respect creation, just because we would stop abusing women, or gloating over others' suffering. Just because the world could do with that kind of vision right now.

There's no way "sane" people (or are they synagogues of Satan?) would allow that kind of vision to come to fruition right now. Too bad about the casualities, they are all unworthy sinners and deserve extinction anyway...

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Friday, 28 July 2006 at 8:56pm BST

Chreyl:

Thanks for your insights. At this point in my life I don't feel that atonement is something that we have to share a common belief. I believe peace, compassion, love, caring for the disadvantaged are things we can work together on . These are issues which all can agree on and work to bring to fruition. The once broad church can be an example of how to live in disagreement but also to live in peace and love. Just imagine if Iraeli and Palestinians could learn to live together without having to agree on everything!

We can be the light for those who can't see.
Bob

Posted by: Robert Christian on Friday, 28 July 2006 at 10:25pm BST

It is curious and odd to tag the people who notice antigay violence as curious, odd, or disturbed for bothering to notice it. Around the world we continue to sustain particular occasions of physical violence, aimed at both the Queer Folks/Allies attacked in those instances, as well as pretty clearly expressing a great deal of traditionalistic consternation. So far as I can tell, the consternation involves recurring themes: (1) strong negative feelings about Queer Folks expressing a positive view of themselves, especially in any sort of public gathering, ritual, or demonstration. (2) strong negative feelings which seem to be straight repugnance born whole for all the awful things which Queer Folks are defined to be, and therefore believed to be. (3) Various religious valorizations which seem to express fear of evil, apocalyptic dramas of finalistic Either/Or, framing Good/Evil.

Besides these instances of antigay drama, we also have a fairly continuous undercurrent of faint distaste, social distancing (thus I believe what some French sociologist or other tagged as alienation), uneasiness, and plain garden variety blank looks – as customary repertoires of institutional responsiveness to identifiable openly LGBTQ people – keeping company with the daily, regularized processes/norms for interaction in a sufficient number of our secular institutions.

USA thinker James Cone more or less had the temerity in his black theology to call this layer or dimension, Status Violence.

Cone discerns the status stuff as pretty much rooted in the multiple justifications that racial/ethnic prejudices offer for preferring whites over people of color, but at a much less dramatic level of everyday institutional life. If we do a comparative discernment in church institutional processes, we get something quite similar looking, and feeling, and acting - albeit of the antigay sort.

If noticing both the violent drama stuff and the more everyday status violence stuff defines me as psychologically disturbed, then I guess we will just have to add that additional character problem to the long list of character problems I am supposed to have – either because I am a queer man in USA, or because I am a liberal-progressive believer in USA, or because I think it still makes sense to follow Jesus of Nazareth – or because of some mix or combination of all of these alleged causes.

I am not quite sure what negatives are supposed to be my daily dress, and which ones might be reserved for special dress occasions.


Posted by: drdanfee on Saturday, 29 July 2006 at 2:19am BST

Concerning atonment theories of salvation. We can hardly deny that sacrifice was a major part of almost all known ancient near eastern religions, including Judaism in its various eras or forms.

Sacrifice in these religions is simply a ritual given. Within that ancient lexicon, the Jewish sacrifices can be read as all too similar, except for the startling lack of human sacrifices. You can pretty much occupy an ancient near eastern frame, with Yahweh being the real sacrifice receiver, and Ishtar or Baal the unreal receiver. Or, you can dig a bit deeper, and find that ancient Jewish monotheism had somehow inside itself the seed of revolutionary revelation. The starting thing, from our perspective nowadays, is not so much that Yahweh was one god, but that Yahweh was one god who didn't need animal or human sacrifice to venerate his being, power, or divine nature as such. Instead, from our century, one looks back to see that sacrificial atonement can be viewed as God reaching across to humankind, bearing forth salvation, reconciliation, and non-violence. A handy way to start looking at sacrifice and violence from untraditional angles might be Father James Allison's discussions.

At: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/talks/8.30/relrpt/stories/s1184713.htm
and
at: http://jamesalison.co.uk/eng11.html

There is no doubt that this legacy of sacrifice has rich resonances and deep enactments within itself as a complex apprehension of divine realities. Nevertheless, nobody is thereby freed from the burden of discerning what it all means, and how it all functions among us today.

The great difficulty for traditionalistic believers, maybe, will be that nothing of the new and different appears perceptible from solely occupying the received penal/atonement/sacrifice frame. You have to at least provisionally step outside of all that, and into some other frame(s), to get a sense of (1) how the penal-traditional frame looks from outside itself, plus (2) what other sort of meaning Jesus' sacrifice makes in a non-penal frame that might conceivably be part of the alternatives.

Posted by: drdanfee on Saturday, 29 July 2006 at 2:43am BST

I am sure that as the sun set on Riga the neo-Nazi gangs and other extremist groups took a little time off from “gay bashing” to refresh themselves and replenish their plastic bags with faeces while simultaneously discussing the finer points of the doctrine of the atonement.
Elsewhere in the city lesbian and gay folk sat and nursed their bruises and washed off the excrement reflecting on their day and how their lazy way of thinking had in fact produced the comfortable world they inhabited and coming to the conclusion that the swastikas that had been thrust in their faces were in fact just part of their persecution fantasies.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Saturday, 29 July 2006 at 10:10am BST

Steven, that is an amazing analysis! Take the beam out of thine own eye, that thou mayest see clearly to remove the mote which is in thy brother's eye.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Saturday, 29 July 2006 at 1:34pm BST

Cheryl:

I don't remember mentioning you by name. In fact, I was just commenting on a general (and oft noted) tendency on TA. BTW-I was also not commenting on your theology of atonement, which I have not been following. However, I will comment that your remarks (as I have noticed in the past) tend to morph into a stream-of-consciousness recitation of your "I hate" list whenever you get riled. Thus, I can only follow your response so far. After that it becomes too personalized and disconnected from the subject.

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Saturday, 29 July 2006 at 1:49pm BST

"I am sure that as the sun set on Riga the neo-Nazi gangs and other extremist groups took a little time off from “gay bashing” to refresh themselves and replenish their plastic bags with faeces while simultaneously discussing the finer points of the doctrine of the atonement.
Elsewhere in the city lesbian and gay folk sat and nursed their bruises and washed off the excrement reflecting on their day and how their lazy way of thinking had in fact produced the comfortable world they inhabited and coming to the conclusion that the swastikas that had been thrust in their faces were in fact just part of their persecution fantasies." Martin Reynolds

Now here reads a dump load of REAL, yet totally imagined, human garbage being backed up and uploaded on the heads of LGBT Episcopalian/Anglicans here at the Thinking Anglicans "listening" place!

I must say Martin's gruesome "fairytale" is a pretty nasty/smelly way to start a lovely Sunday morning here in Latinoland at the foot of a ancient volcano, but I'll try...ah, yes, I think I'll focus on Gods unconditional and inclusive love for ALL of US instead of continuing to focus on fear and hate.

Thanks be to God for another beautiful day.

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Saturday, 29 July 2006 at 2:36pm BST

Martin Reynolds wrote: "I am sure that as the sun set on Riga the neo-Nazi gangs and other extremist groups took a little time off from “gay bashing” to refresh themselves and replenish their plastic bags with faeces while simultaneously discussing the finer points of the doctrine of the atonement. Elsewhere in the city lesbian and gay folk sat and nursed their bruises and washed off the excrement reflecting on their day and how their lazy way of thinking had in fact produced the comfortable world they inhabited and coming to the conclusion that the swastikas that had been thrust in their faces were in fact just part of their persecution fantasies."

Dear Martin, Everyone here is opposed to hate, victimization and persecution of people because of their sexual orientation/desires. The point is that not everyone who opposes what the thugs do necessarily approves of same-sex sex. These two stances are not mutually exclusive!

To use an extreme example. A few years ago in the UK there were several attacks on people by groups ofneighbours who thought that they were paedophiles - including a clinical pediotrician ! Now just because you and I probably agree that such violence was completely wrong (stirred up by the press) does not mean for a second that either of us approves of child abuse, does it!?

Yet if you and other campaigners carry on smearing Christians, for whom it is unthinkable that Christian views about homosexuality could ever be expressed in anything but loving ways, you will probably generate hate and prejudice against us. Certainly LGCM's opposition to exceptions from SOR Regs could mean potential legal punishments for people like me who mean no harm yet cannot in all conscience behave and speak as if we approve!

Posted by: Dave on Saturday, 29 July 2006 at 3:14pm BST

As I was dressing for Sunday mass it became clear to me that it is a lovely Saturday morning...Thanks be to God for another beautiful day (no matter which day it comes on)!

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Saturday, 29 July 2006 at 4:34pm BST

Ford:

Always a good point. However, the "beam" specified is not my particular "beam"--I've doubtless got other blind spots (as many here will rush to affirm). Still, if other people here can feel free to critique (despite their "beams") so can I. And, if you watch this board for a while you will definitely see the pattern I have specified re-enacted numerous times.

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Saturday, 29 July 2006 at 7:13pm BST

Robert, I loved your posting. No, we don't have to agree on everything to find love and fellowship in God through Jesus. God has not made us the same and we have different gifts and purposes. I relish that diversity.

Dave, I am so sorry to see that you are feeling so upset (this is more so than normal for you). I love that you love your faith enough to want to defend it so vehemently. But love sometimes includes "tough love" and spoilt children sometimes need to have their toys taken away from them.

There was a mistaken paradigm that knowing Jesus meant that Christian churches could not make the same mistakes as their Jewish ancestors, and therefore they did not have to worry about corruption or the misuse of God's Word or Book of Truth. It is an uncomfortable time for Christians as they learn their errors.

However, my prayers are that souls of other faiths appreciate their own religions face the same risks and can take the best of our lessons and apply them to themselves. If we must drink the cup of humility to help bring about world peace, is that such a bitter cup to drink?

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Sunday, 30 July 2006 at 1:49am BST

Thanks Cheryl, Ishall certainly ponder Isaiah 54, along with your other other bible references.

JC Fisher -Thanks- 'Pogrom' is indeed the word that had somehow slipped my mind. Riders in the Chariot is a novel that speaks to so many of the issues here and so beautifully and with such faith and love. By Patridk White (Penguin).
I typed 'Pius X11' on another 'thread' , I realise, and had intended to post it here. I hope taht it is not too cryptic a remark for those who know of this man's role in the murder of European Jewry. I think we should much more concerned here, and in society about Church sponsored anti-semiticism down the ages and all racisms. I sense a thinly disguised undertone of anti-semiticism here --and like bacteria, in the evironement it is a question of how it is m a n a g e d.

Anti-semite & anti-gay go together of course, and always have. They share the same revulsions and this is shown in the languages used of both. They share a common paternity.

NEVER forget : Jesus the Jew.
Jesus the single man wh humg out with guys.

This will have to be my last post here. So much left unsaid....

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Sunday, 30 July 2006 at 8:18pm BST

"The point is that not everyone who opposes what the thugs do necessarily approves of same-sex sex. These two stances are not mutually exclusive!" Dave

What the "thugs do" IS a direct result of the righteous and pompus preaching that conveys heterosexual
(?) "disapproval" of same-sex people who have sex and LOVE oneanother!

Does "abomination" ring a bell? How about Akinolas lack-of-wisdom as he spouts off to the press about LGBT people being "lower than animals" and our children are "hooligans?" Akinola endorses REAL hatelaws against his LBGT fellow citizens (and their families/friends who support them) and wants all of US thrown in JAIL instead of including us in the fullness of Church life!

It's not up to him who Jesus loves.

My Brother Dave, it may be time for you and your heterosexual(?)
Episcopalian/Anglican tagteam pals to lighten up with all your
"down-through the dark ages" wisdom before more LGBT get jumped, raped, tortured, victimized and jailed and/or killed...it may be time for YOU to mind your OWN virtue exclusively and stay away from projecting/peddling and preaching publicly any more ugly/religious junk about MINE.

People like me are harmed and die everyday because of the "thugs" that "don't know what they do."

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Sunday, 30 July 2006 at 11:07pm BST

In discussion with Archbishop Vanags of Latvia earlier in the year I suggested that the language of the joint statement he had subscribed to last year had helped to inflame the situation. I pointed out that in the West the only political groupings that held common cause with these views were of the violent totalitarian sort that already enjoy, and feel justified in murdering us.

I read him the statement from the Primates meetings at the Dromantine that Bishop Rowell uses in part at the end of his letter “the victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered toward people of the same sex is anathema to us and that, as children of God, homosexual people deserve the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship” and asked if there was a way that he could moderate his language and the impact of it by adopting such an approach.

I asked if there was not a way in which he might say what he believed while at the same time help protect us from the violence. Perhaps he might ask his followers to form a cordon sanitaire between the marchers and those who protested their presence?

Sadly the only time Archbishop Vanags responded in any animated way came at the point when I mentioned that the Anglican home churches still permitted “private prayer” after a Civil Partnership – he had somehow missed this it seems and became very agitated.

I went to this meeting with an open heart and mind but I’m afraid that those Christians who wish us to believe they do not support the thugs will have to learn speak and act in a different way to be convincing.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Monday, 31 July 2006 at 9:15am BST

Martin

Nice website link. Additionally, if they can not convince us that they do not support thuggery of their own children, then how can they convince us of their ability to love souls of other denominations or faiths? If we can not find peace within ourselves then how can we find peace with others?

If nothing else, I hope out of this whole process that souls will come to recognise who can provide good counsel. And that leaders outside of the churches will be judged by the quality of who they seek counsel from. Thus leaders who choose to seek advice from myopic priests who hate will be known as leaders who lack the capacity to find peace as they lack the wisdom to seek out good counsel. Proverbs 4 to 9 are a good starting point for comparison/ contrast between good and bad advisors.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Monday, 31 July 2006 at 12:37pm BST

Steven,
The point is that we ALL have beams in our eyes. Both sides have a not unjustified suspicion of the motives of the other. I see it far more well developed in what you write than in what is posted by "liberals" here, but that my just be personal bias. It sounds very much like the paranoia I hear from Fundamentalists, actually, who seem to yearn for an Emperor who wants to be worshipped so they can get thrown to the lions for refusing.

Some of us need to feel we are the great white knights defending the poor and oppressed, some need to stick it to the Man, or to feel we are following the rules in order to be sure of redemption, or need to follow the rules to feel better than others. We ignore our biases while relishing those of the other side. We put these things first, and we don't hear God. We think we read His instructions to us in Scripture, or in our experience of Him, or any of a number of places, but we don't just shut up and put our needs aside and listen.

Can you accept that the liberals you are so afraid of are just Christians trying to live their faith as best they can? I find it hard to do this with for conservatives, but I try, because I have to. It helps to think that, like I am not a comfortable fit into any one group, many others are the same way.

This all speaks of fear, which is perhaps the most unChristian thing of all. After Dromantine, I was extremely depressed and afraid. When the Church splits, where will I go, since I don't really fit fully on either side? Then the Psalm for that Sunday's Mattins was Psalm 46. What are you afraid of, Steven? Do you think God isn't leading us? He has His reasons for bringing us to this point. Every Synod seems to consist of people yelling at one another, and behind the scenes political machinations, by both sides. How can we hear the voice of God in that?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 31 July 2006 at 1:33pm BST

Martin ; I think we shall always see through those who are careful about how they speak and act.

The actual problem is their beliefs. It is those which need to change - hence the need for a revisionist approach which discards that which is homophobic.

Posted by: Merseymike on Monday, 31 July 2006 at 3:42pm BST

Ford:

Thanks for a thoughtful post. Frankly, one good sincere post is worth thousands of "rants" (of which there is no shortage around here--including my own)! And, I do realize that the solution I continually urge is not really comfortable to either side.

The human tendency is to want to rout the "unbeliever" and set things right. (Optionally, in Christian circles at least, the "unbeliever" may be free to sit there quietly--as long as he/she doesn't rock the boat).

Having been at TA for a while I can fully attest to the fact that liberals are as guilty of this as traditionalists (and maybe even more so). However, this tendency is merely leading us all deeper and deeper into chaos and enmity.

Merseymike was the one who I first heard dispute the use of the term "schism" because it was a loaded term. Like "heresy" it is a term that leads to knee-jerk reactions and dogmatic position taking that aren't rational and aren't in keeping with anyone's best interest. We need to separate so that we can be ourselves and fulfill the Church's mission. It needs to be done fairly and compassionately, so that both sides can get back to the Church's real business as quickly as possible and stop the bickering. Neither side will give in, so there is really no choice but a gentle separation or a prolonged "war" that benefits no one but the devil (however you define him/it) as we tear each other to pieces.

And yes, I very definitely and in no uncertain terms believe that God is behind this.

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Monday, 31 July 2006 at 7:36pm BST


A good rant can be fun, believe me I know. My problem with ranting is when it goes from being fun to being the only way we speak to each other, and the to being the only way we can understand a situation. The only thing I would disagree with is: "We need to separate so that we can be ourselves and fulfill the Church's mission."
If after a separation each side would be fulfilling the Church's mission, why do we need to separate? Or is it that we would be fulfilling the Churches mission as we see it to be?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 1 August 2006 at 11:19am BST

Ford:

The latter rather than the former. As with other aspects of this dispute, the visions of what the "Church's Mission" is varies quite a bit between the two sides. And, both sides think the other's vision is seriously defective. Thus, together we can only hamper and impair each other's efforts to fulfill our respective visions.

However, from my perspective, all of this is just "sugar to make the medicine go down"--the split is taking place even as we speak, whether we like it or not. Nothing can stop it now. And, given the depth and breadth of the division one may question even whether complete fulfillment of the WR requirements at GC06 could have done more than slow it down. Thus, the only question is whether it will be accomplished graciously (or with as much grace as we can still muster) or bitterly and vindictively.

I merely seek to get people: (1) to "wake up and smell the coffee" (to throw in another old saying)--i.e., its over--the communion and several of its component parts are in the process of breaking into pieces; (2) to recognize that this process is inevitable because the positions taken by the two sides are irreconcileable and irreversible; and (3) to recognize that (given the foregoing) our only choices are between making it as hard and bitter as possible for each other, or making it as gentle and charitable as we can.

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Tuesday, 1 August 2006 at 2:16pm BST

An add-on, albeit more local, on the hate crime statistics. My home state California's stats have just been released for 2005:

The Attorney General's office hi-lite includes:
A July report by the California attorney general's office shows that while reported hate crimes have been on a decade-long downward trend in the state, they have increased in fast-growing Riverside County.

Sexual orientation has consistently been the No. 2 motivation for hate crime, behind race and ethnicity, the report said. Statewide, there were 255 anti-gay hate crimes in 2005, the report said.

The wholte AG report at: http://ag.ca.gov/newsalerts/release.php?id=1323

The larger historical trend in California hate crimes is, Race/ethnicity bias first, antigay (especially anigay male) bias second, and antireligious bias third. The antireligious bias is predominantly anti-Jewish, still.

At least in USA - perhaps in other cultural-religious-political contexts - it seems wise to recommend continued investigation in at least two directions. One, how do world faiths contribute to peace and good will across otherwise difficult, even heated, differences? Two, how do world faiths fail to speak up, or actually sometimes in certain forms, help justify and fuel the violence?

Posted by: drdanfee on Tuesday, 1 August 2006 at 2:49pm BST

Steven,
I too think the split is a fait accompli, my question is why? Each side would love to blame the other, but is ++Akinola's lust for power any better or worse than the desire on the part of some people to be seen as the great defenders of the downtrodden? Each is convinced of the rightness of their claim.

If the Church splits, it will be because of both arrogant liberals and arrogant conservatives, it will be because of our own wilfulness, our own refusal to follow the basic tenets of our faith because being right is more important than being Christian. This cannot be stopped in conference rooms, it likely can't be stopped at all. If there is hope it will come from individuals who are willing to put down their own need to be right, people who stop looking for a conspiracy around every corner, who stop having to play the "your side is a worse oppressor than my side" game. It doesn't matter who's right in those arguments.

Look at this list. What purpose is there to someone saying "Here's how gay people are being persecuted" when the only response is "Oh yeah, well here's how poor conservatives are being persecuted by you liberals" or vice versa? That's all very elementary school in tone, don't you think? Other than make everybody self-satisifed and angrier, what does it do?

It will not be our bishops or our archbishops, or our primates, who will fix this. It won't be fixed till we put aside our own need to be right and start to listen to each other, to our concerns and fears and hurts, to what we value in our faith, to the hope we have. Look at yourself, Steven. What have you posted in this that has added to the problem? What have I posted that has done the same? The go over to Virtue Online and read that collection of bile and venom. What purpose does that serve? I'm sure you can find an equally noxious "liberal" site. We call ourselves Christians, yet behave like anything but Christians towards each other. Let's just say Lambeth 2008 goes ahead. They'll sing Veni Creator, I expect. Then they'll stand up and scream at each other, and any chance the Spirit had to "Lighten with celestial fire" will be lost, just like so many other times. When the split happens, it will be a shameful testimony to our inability to live by our beliefs. Yet, each side, rather than repenting, will congratulate itself on being free of "the other".

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 1 August 2006 at 5:01pm BST

Ford:

Good post. By a split I don't necessarily mean a complete divorce. I'd rather see something like the two tier system that the ABC is proposing. However, even this will not be easy. It will be an uphill struggle against those in TEC that don't want to be in the second tier, and those (like Akinola) that don't want them in at all. It will also be extremely complicated to work out, particularly considering that various players (e.g., COE and TEC) are not ideologically pure. Thus, some within those bodies may fit into the first tier and others will not. Shaping an agreement that will work is by no means guaranteed, but I think it is truly worth a try. After all, even aside from the spiritual consequences, the alternative to an orderly process is finanical and ecclesiastical chaos, litigation, bitterness, and a scandal in the eyes of the world.

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Tuesday, 1 August 2006 at 7:51pm BST

There is already a scandal in the eyes of the world. Being in one house to keep one's reputation intact can become scandalous when there is a perception that some parties are being abused.

Parallels to domestic abuse example where the woman is financially entrapped and has nowhere to flee. That's why they created women's refuges in the 1970s, which led to many a violent scene as the men would try and drag their women and children home. In Australia at that time 50% of women who had been threatened that if they left their husbands, they would be killed, were.

What is the price of keeping us in the one family? Hidden bruises, death of the inner spirit, suppression of the diversity of biblical interpretations?

I've already got non-Christians cheering for me, as they are sick of nasty evangelists (aka Savage Garden song "Affirmation").

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Tuesday, 1 August 2006 at 9:44pm BST

Cheryl:

Well, that's your vote I suppose. I have always promoted separation, but separation with dignity and charity. And, I think separation is not only absolutely necessary, I think it is unstoppable at this point. But (to put it in family law terms) I would much rather see an agreed and negotiated legal separation that proceeds to a conclusion with some mutual charity and a minimum of bitterness than a protracted and very nasty divorce and struggle over property, pension funds, etc.

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Tuesday, 1 August 2006 at 9:56pm BST

Steven

And to follow your analogy further. I would rather see a divorce where the children don't suffer because the parents are squabbling. And if one parent doesn't want the children, then they shouldn't contend the custody battle when they only intend to neglect or abuse the children anyway. Ideally, it would be nice to know that all the children are going to be treated fairly and given reasonable access to both parents, but unfortunately some parents only want to deal with their "perfect" offspring and hide the others lest their reputations become tarnished.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Wednesday, 2 August 2006 at 3:25am BST

Cheryl:

I think the "children" will go with whatever "parent" they feel most comfortable with. A particular diocese may be without church's that suit liberals (or conservatives), but I don't see how any viable plan can require strict respect for geographical boundaries in such cases. So, such church's can be established where and as they are needed.

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Wednesday, 2 August 2006 at 2:03pm BST

I think you're probably right, Steven, I just don't understand why. Given that most Anglican Churches have open table fellowship, I would presumably be able to receive in a conservative church, like a Methodist would. Would it be that "our" bishops cannot ordain for "your" parishes and vice versa? And why should this be? It seems like we'd be saying "We'll hold our nose and celebrate the Eucharist with you, but we're not REALLY like you, and we think you're somehow impure." What is so bad about going to a church where it is preached that gay people are inherently sinful and should repent while another church in the same communion says they aren't? I can go to a church that says that usury or war are acceptable, despite the fact that I think that in these issues the Church is tolerating sin. I can receive communion from a bishop I know to be anything but godly. Why do we feel the need to draw lines around ourselves in some fashion in this issue when we don't on others? No-one says the evil war mongerers are demonstrably not the same group as "us", so why do it to the gay friendly types?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 2 August 2006 at 2:57pm BST

SPLIT problem two might be: Money, and democratic equality/power.

How long will churches in the proposed second tier blindly send donated monies up to the first tier, so that the first tier is financed in telling themselves and the world just how inadequate, false, and foolish/deluded the second tier really is? Not long, I reckon. Instead, if monies flow at all, they will surely flow to local/regional projects, bypassing all the superstructures of first tier in which those projects otherwise might be located?

What about democratic votes? I am not at all clear about whether the first tier actually values a real church democracy, and if not, whether it is implicitly dissing baptism, in favor of its own sacramental authority to shut minds, bodies, and hearts down however it thinks best.

Why, exactly, does the first tier even need a second tier? Is it marketing display to have a second tier - like the USA tobacco companies giving a hundred thousand dollars to a food project, then spending a million or more to publicize their generose spirit? What is the witness of legitimizing a church polity in which second tier votes are at best advisory, while first tier votes exercise all the real power that Canterbury sanctions? When did the Via Media get to be about power, instead of quadrilateral mystics and the bonds of affection? Is power really able to bear that much of the great incarnational mystery of Jesus? Or is power in fact always a lesser reality, a poor tool when it comes to living good and doing good, compared to sheer ethics, sheer lived example, sheer pilgrimage in faith?

Posted by: drdanfee on Wednesday, 2 August 2006 at 3:53pm BST
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