Saturday, 22 December 2007

opinions and more

Geoffrey Rowell writes in The Times that The Christmas story allows us to behold God’s glory.

Ruth Gledhill reports: Make every Sunday a Christmas Day, churches told.

Earlier, The Times also had Top ten Carols and things you didn’t know about them.

Despite the seasonal humbug, Christmas has not become ‘content-free’ just yet, writes Judith Maltby in the Guardian.

And also in the Guardian Mark Lawson writes about Victorian intolerance.

The Associated Press reports on what an astrophysicist thinks about “the star in the East”.

In the Telegraph Christopher Howse writes about The shepherds’ dog and the angel.

Giles Fraser wrote in the Church Times about Learning to spot a fading pleasure.

And the Church Times had this leader: Prepare to meet thy maker.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 22 December 2007 at 10:02am GMT | TrackBack
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Merry Christmas to all the authors and TA readers. Beautiful verses by many

Maltby wrote "God thought (and thinks) that not only were we worth making, we are worth becoming; and worth becoming not in power, but in humility and vulnerability. That's the depth of God's commitment to creation and to the human project. God comes to us as one of us because the maker thinks we matter. Go figure."

In recent times there have been accusations that some souls visions are too "utopian". My rebuke to such adovcates is that God promises to dwell amongst us and God will not dwell with us for less than a utopian vision.

Look at some of God's utopian hopes: e.g. Hosea 14:4-9 “I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them. I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like a lily. Like a cedar of Lebanon he will send down his roots; his young shoots will grow. His splendor will be like an olive tree, his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon. Men will dwell again in his shade. He will flourish like the grain. He will blossom like a vine, and his fame will be like the wine from Lebanon. O Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols? I will answer him and care for him. I am like a green pine tree; your fruitfulness comes from me. Who is wise? He will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them. The ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them."

Merry Christmas to all those who trust in God's unilateral grace made manifest through Jesus even before he was cut off from his mother.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Saturday, 22 December 2007 at 11:02am GMT

Between Nick Clegg's liberalism principles, who is of no religion, and Tony Blair's war making certainties in his own head - now made Roman Catholic, I know which I prefer.

Posted by: Pluralist on Saturday, 22 December 2007 at 2:20pm GMT

I think the best recent article was by Polly Toynbee in Friday's Guardian.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/christmas2007/story/0,,2230951,00.html

A piece entitled "Sorry to disappoint, but it's nonsense to suggest we want to ban Christmas"

I think Polly has called it just about right.

Simon

Posted by: Simon Dawson on Saturday, 22 December 2007 at 5:19pm GMT

"I think Polly has called it just about right."

Yes.

And here I thought the annual "There's A Left Wing Political Correctness Gone Mad Plot to Ban Christmas" was confined to these shores. You'd think early 21st c American Christians were more at risk than the ones who lived in Nero's Rome.

I notice these same voices seldom raised in defense of Ash Wednesday, Lent, Good Friday, or Easter, whihc are evidently not the target of the alleged politiclaly correct ....

Christmas cheer to all - looks like ours will not be a white one this year in this part of Virginia, so kids who get sleds as their big presents will have to wait a bit to break them in.

Easier, on the other hand, for the intrepid birders doing the Audoban Christmas Count - do you do that in England?

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Saturday, 22 December 2007 at 8:54pm GMT

Simon

Polly's article was a delight - thanks for linking it.

It left me chuckling and scratching my head. We have Christians frothing at the mouth to prove that they are martyrs with itchy trigger fingers trying to provoke wars and conflicts so they can prove armagedon is happening so they can justify this world being destroyed and Jesus coming to take them away to heaven.

The trouble is, it is really hard to have a credible war when they keep getting busted for provoking the conflict in the first place, or using deceit to try and egg others to join in.

One blessing over recent years is the vast majority of nations of the world have learnt more about patience, dialogue, faith and not being provoked into wars than they ever have at any time in history.

We all know the bumbling trigger happy thugs are running straight into the interest bills from the debts incurred to fund their narcisstic aggressive drives. The thugs are going to be ousted and souls so busy operating within a limited budget that they're not going to have time to harass others.

In the meantime, some of us are honoring Jesus' Lord's prayer - may God's will be done on earth as it is done in heaven. There is no question in heaven that you are welcome, loved and provided for, able to move freely and be in relationship with whomever you want whenever you want. If all souls who enter heaven are made welcome, then it is logically God's will that all souls who enter earth are also made welcome.

If paranoid evangelicals can't imagine heaven with "others" then they're going to be given their unique heaven, but to be honest it is going to be very small and very boring as most sentient beings prefer more variety than what is on offer in their small hearted heaven.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Saturday, 22 December 2007 at 9:12pm GMT

Clegg's honesty is refreshing. I just wish he wouldn't be so agnostic about whether to prop up a minority Labour or Tory government in the event of a hung Parliament.

Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Saturday, 22 December 2007 at 9:26pm GMT

LAMBETH: The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, yesterday declared that he was "surprised and delighted" by the announcement that former-Prime Minister Tony Blair had been received into the Roman Catholic Church.

"Well that's one less thing to worry about," declared the head of the world's 80 million Anglicans at Lambeth Palace this morning, his eyebrows twitching in evident glee. "Of course I wish [Mr Blair] well with his personal pursuit of spiritual fulfilment," he chortled merrily.

The Archbishop,who has spent much of the year trying to heal growing rifts in the Anglican Communion, described Mr Blair's apostasy as "the perfect Christmas gift," adding that he had already received congratulatory e-mails from American Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and the Nigerian Primate Peter Jasper Akinola. "It's at times like this," Dr Williams added, "that we realise what divides us is much less important than what unites us."

A spokesperson for the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, added that this was "the best news the Church of England has had since Ann Widdecombe left. Naturally, our hearts go out to the faithful Roman Catholics asking why a loving God would allow this to happen to them. Truly, the ways of Tony Blair are inscrutable."

The Vatican was today not available for comment.

Posted by: MRG on Sunday, 23 December 2007 at 4:35pm GMT

Pluralist,

I can understand why you might say what you say. I would not vote for someone just beause they said they believed but less likely for an atheist. Have we not seen some of the "fruits of atheism " in the great "isms" of the 20th century? From Hitler to Stalin to Tito to Pol Pot we have seen people able to do the dastardly things without cause or conscience!

I agree that the war in Iraq was deeply mistaken and said so from the beginning. But in the light of 9/11 there were some real fears and certainly in the light of what Sadam H had shown himself capable of doing there was some reason to understand what followed (if you want to stand up and go to bat for Sadam H by all means do so!).

To say one believes in God may not mean much, all depends on what "faith in God" means. If it really means believing God as revealed in Jesus Christ then it would mean speaking up for fairness for all people - even your enemies! But in so much of "Christianity" we are a long way from that. This would leave the societal arena open to basically live free of coercion and presence would be based on the weight of Christian influence (in Canada universal medical care was initiated by several Christian - Baptist - ministers).

We know what an "open society" means in the long run in a secular system. It parades as tolerant (where did we hear that before? Stalinist USSR), but tolerant really only of those who fit in to the system. We hear echoes of it in a recent contribution on this point, "All people, religious, agnostic or atheist, should be persuaded of the benefits of secularism and all reference to a particular religion stripped from government policy."

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Sunday, 23 December 2007 at 8:52pm GMT

MRG: "Mr Blair's apostasy"? Your words or someone else's? Why is this in the news at all?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Sunday, 23 December 2007 at 9:32pm GMT

"The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, yesterday declared that he was "surprised and delighted"..."

I have known this was in the making for the last 11 years, or so.

How come Dr Rowan didn't know?

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 23 December 2007 at 10:19pm GMT

Oh dear, Ben, you're getting a bit predictable, you know. Why had I already guessed you wouldn't much like non-Christian politicians; might blame a lot of things on "secularism"; and might be rather naive about how wicked lots of Christians' actions in history have been? Could there possibly be evidence of conforming to a particular illiberal mindset's social assumptions here at all? Or is it really only liberals who could ever stand accused of that?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Sunday, 23 December 2007 at 10:37pm GMT

Yes, Ben, we in the US have seen what a leader dedicated to some form of Christianity has gotten ourselves into. Bush's invasion of Iraq was definitely faith inspired.

So much for Christian politicians. I'll take Gordon Brown's dour pragmatism any day over a recovering drunk/born again who wears his religion on his lapel.

It seems that most of the serious conflicts are wrought by megalomaniacs that were blinded by their belief. If you think that Stalin was non-religious, I suggest you figure out what place communism in the USSR was in most people's programed minds then.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Monday, 24 December 2007 at 12:07am GMT

Fr Mark,

If you want to live in the dusk where all cats are grey you may. But then you live in a world where you do not see much. I certainly leave space for evaluation on a person to person basis. I was responding to a generalization and saying it is far from that simple. If we are going to speak in general terms I think we can see which way the balance goes.

Perhaps if some of your people had been dragged off to one of the gulags or death camps, in many cases taken from their families and never to be heard from again, you would not be quite this nonchalant either!

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Monday, 24 December 2007 at 3:13am GMT

Fr Mark,

To folow up with a little note, I would prefer real conversation to cheap shots. As you say on the basis if assumption you anticipated I "might be rather naive about how wicked lots of Christians' actions in history have been?" I am made to wonder if you read what I actually wrote.

I said, "To say one believes in God may not mean much, all depends on what 'faith in God' means. If it really means believing God as revealed in Jesus Christ then it would mean speaking up for fairness for all people - even your enemies! But in so much of 'Christianity' we are a long way from that." That was written with clear awareness that "Christian people" have done some things, what can we say, "wicked" is too weak a word for it!

Posted by: Ben W on Monday, 24 December 2007 at 3:49am GMT

“In Mary God has grown small to make us great.”
St. Ephrem (d. 373)

Christmas blessings from one Anglican blog to another
Bosco Peters
http://www.liturgy.co.nz

Posted by: Bosco Peters on Monday, 24 December 2007 at 4:52am GMT

Ben
your analysis is priceless.

"If it really means believing God as revealed in Jesus Christ then it would mean speaking up for fairness for all people - even your enemies!"

Have you read this blog lately and what some people say about fair treatment of lgbt people within the Christian church?

As for "It parades as tolerant (where did we hear that before? Stalinist USSR), but tolerant really only of those who fit in to the system."
At least the conservative tendency in the church cannot be accused of parading as tolerant. It is very outspoken about only accepting those who fit into the system.

Give me a true liberal any day, someone who genuinely respects the integrity of ALL people, someone who can truly see Christ in everyone, and someone with enough humility to know that he might just be wrong with his exclusivist tendency.

Whether secular or Christian, it's the mindset that counts not the professed belief.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 24 December 2007 at 6:43am GMT

Ben: you've never heard of the thousands of gay people who were exterminated in the Holocaust, then? (Although I'm sorry for posting such a miserable reminder on Christmass Eve!)

Posted by: Fr Mark on Monday, 24 December 2007 at 8:56am GMT

And "cheap shots", moi!

Posted by: Fr Mark on Monday, 24 December 2007 at 8:57am GMT

Off Topic:
We're celebrating Christmas this Christmas Eve so I'm signing off for a few days.

Have a blessed Christmas everyone.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 24 December 2007 at 11:16am GMT

High-brow secularists - Toynbee, Dawkins, Hitchens - all find beauty in the poetry and literature of traditional versions of the Bible, and hymns and music which have stood the test of time. They bemoan the dumbing-down tendencies of parts of the Church as being a threat to our glorious heritage. I can understand the need to confront bad religion and faith without reason, but they should perhaps do more to recognise the contribution to the cultural life of the nation the Church makes.

Perhaps it is no surprise that attendance at our cathedrals has grown 3% every year from 2000 to 2006: high standards of music and liturgy in fine buildings with a millenium of history draw people in, without drawing people into trivial local politics. I enjoy being an anonymous worshipper at such places from time to time.

The Church has allowed Yuletide festivities to intrude into Advent. We don't sing Easter hymns in the middle of Lent! And both Christmas and Yule have been taken over by the relentless consumerism Giles Fraser complains about. Perhaps we should only hold carol services between Christmas Eve and Epiphany/Candlemas(!)?

Better sign off now and do that last minute shopping, in time for Kings!

Merry Christmas/Yule/Shopping!

Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Monday, 24 December 2007 at 11:41am GMT

Fr Mark,

Are you not the one who acknowledged you had on the basis of assumption anticipated my views about this? And you went on to say things that a close reading of what I said rules out. Try to be fair!

Of course I know various groups including many handicapped people were taken in the holocaust. I do see a strong line of separation beween church and state and that the church needs to support an open society and at he same time with the freedom to sustain Christian identity within this framework. Hope this is helpful.

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Monday, 24 December 2007 at 1:20pm GMT

Thank you Hugh of Lincoln, the same recipe for excellence in music, and engaging young people with adult expectations has worked in a select number of US parishes as well.

Everybody have a Happy Christmas, as well as safe transit to wherever they'll be going. And yes, remember to tune to BBC 3 at 1500 today (1000 EST USA) to have a good cry.

God Bless-

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Monday, 24 December 2007 at 1:37pm GMT

"Perhaps if some of your people had been dragged off to one of the gulags or death camps,"

The point is, Ben, that 500,000+ of us WERE dragged off to the camps. God knows how many of us died in the Gulags. That we were included in the Holocaust could happen within a decade of the very liberal attitude to sexuality in Germany between the wars gives me a chill. It is why I do not trust society's current acceptance of gay people. It is why I fear a rise in conservative politics. Given that, especially in the US, the most powerful voice of Christianity comes from a right wing Evangelical population for whom even the worship of God involves high emotion, I have no faith that, if they were to exercise real power, our lives would be safe. Frankly, I don't think it's a stretch, and given the statistics linking gay bashing with Fundamentalist anti-gay rhetoric, I don't think I'm being paranoid. It wouldn't take much for some Fundamentalist preacher to whip an already emotionally overstimulated congregation to kick my face in for God. It's not like it's never happened before.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 24 December 2007 at 2:06pm GMT

"Of course I know various groups including many handicapped people were taken in the holocaust."

So, why did you say:

"Perhaps if some of your people had been dragged off to one of the gulags or death camps, in many cases taken from their families and never to be heard from again, you would not be quite this nonchalant either!"

Seems to indicate you did not know.

"This would leave the societal arena open to basically live free of coercion and presence would be based on the weight of Christian influence"

So why is so much "Christian influence" coercive? There is a large and vocal group of Christians who see nothing wrong with coercing people into converting, coercing people into "ex-gay" behaviour, indeed, influencing government in order to "coerce" society into behaving the way they think society ought to behave. I have beenexposed to much coersion from such "Christians" in my time, hence my mistrust. Why is it that coercive Christianity doesn't seem to bother the Right? Why is it that so-called "liberal" actions in opposition to this coercive Christianity are themselves seen as being coercive? It seems to me a lot of the time that the conservative definition of oppression is "not being allowed to lord it over everybody else the way we always did."


Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 24 December 2007 at 2:40pm GMT

I wish everyone a blessed Christmas from the Philippines. Yes, I'll be listening to the Lessons and Carols too.

Posted by: Ren Aguila on Monday, 24 December 2007 at 2:48pm GMT

Kings is on BBC 4, not 3 at 1500 as I erroneously reported. It will be repeated on BBC 3 tomorrow.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Monday, 24 December 2007 at 3:00pm GMT

Ford,

I think what you say here needs to be weighed. It might concentrate the minds of people on all sides of this to remember.

As you say, "That we were included in the Holocaust could happen within a decade of the very liberal attitude to sexuality in Germany between the wars gives me a chill." It once more reveals clearly that "liberalism" has little or no grounding of it's own. When the wind changes it is so "liberal" it is with "the party and the people." What do these labels mean, liberal or conservative? I have voted liberal about as often as conservative. I reflect more on the person, their convictions and past record.

I think you paint with a very broad brush, there are extremists on all sides, as a whole Evangelicals speak up for the rights of all within the framework of law and society (i.e. you can no more identify "nut cases" on the right with Evangelicals then you can Liberals with those on the left).

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Monday, 24 December 2007 at 3:55pm GMT

Listening to Lessons and Carols as I write - Diocese of Virginia underwrites this here. Descants just wring my heart and lift it too! Blessings to you all.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Monday, 24 December 2007 at 4:09pm GMT

Ford,

When I spoke of "some of your people dragged off" I was speaking of family and friends who have gone through this. I think it is dreadful that homosexuals or certain handicapped people were taken. So we can move on.

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Monday, 24 December 2007 at 4:10pm GMT

"When the wind changes it is so "liberal" it is with "the party and the people." "

No, this is worldly politics. Might it be that you are confusing conservative politics with Godliness? Politics, Left or Right, is just politics, it is worldly.


"I think you paint with a very broad brush, there are extremists on all sides, as a whole Evangelicals speak up for the rights of all within the framework of law and society"

When these conservatives accept large amounts of funding from an organization, one of whose members who has publically called for the stoning of homosexuals, or when one of the most outspoken leaders of the conservative side claims I am not a human being and thinks it good to jail me for five years, or when any of these conservatives claims I am a pedophile, or claims I am merely a rebel against God who could change if he actually had any love for God, or lies about what gay people are asking for (it ain't the blessing of promiscuity, you know) or makes any of the other untrue claims that conservatives routinely make, and when ALL those seeking to split the Church over this do not make even so much as a peep of protest, I am hard pressed to find where they can be said to:

"speak up for the rights of all".

Frankly, I don't see much evidence of that. In fact, the overwhelming evidence that conservatives do not even want to acknowledge my humanity, let alone acknowledge that humanity might have any rights at all. Sorry, but the evidence just ain't there. Maybe if they'd take their boots off my face, I could see it.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 24 December 2007 at 4:37pm GMT

“In Mary God has grown small to make us great.”
St. Ephrem (d. 373)
Posted by: Bosco Peters on Monday, 24 December 2007 at 4:52am GMT

What went wrong I wonder ?

Posted by: L Roberts on Monday, 24 December 2007 at 6:50pm GMT

When throwing stones it pays to remember that one lives in a glass house.

Souls being dragged off to be killed in gulags is terrible, as was dragging souls off to Auswitzch. If we denounce both these forms of violence (which, as Christians, we should) then we should denounce all equivalent forms of violence. That includes men who come into public venues to drag their wives and children home for beatings and, too many times, death.

Before one complains of the splinter in another's eyes, it doesn't hurt to take the plank out of one's own.

Before one throws rocks of accusation, it doesn't hurt to consider that one's "friends" are guilty of just as wicked sins.

Jesus was born as a promise to humanity that all are loved by God and given grace by God. That can not come about through our own human endeavours, because none of us can do everything for everyone and therefore all of us have failed.

We can throw rocks at Eve (who apparently is unforgivable by some camps) and pass judgements based on the law. However, both accusations and repression are direct refutations of everything that Jesus lived and died for.

There are basically two ways to play the game. One is that Jesus is all of God and that Jesus is only going to return to murder all life on this planet and taken the select few to a new existence. That Jesus can do so within his own power, authority and glory; I wash my hands of that Jesus and will do nothing to help him. Humanity can live or die by that Jesus' theology and priestly teachings.

The other Jesus is the healer of the nations and prince of peace, that Jesus has my unconditional support and he can use whatever is mine in his own name, but only for the purposes of healing and redemption. I do not and never will consent to the global extermination of a planet, if Jesus desires that he can do it as an act of rape; and God can take me and my own off to somewhere that I and my charges will never have to deal with him or his ilk ever again.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Monday, 24 December 2007 at 6:53pm GMT

Thanks for this Ford, so well expressed. I share this fear-- and think it likely that many of us do and always will.

In Britain, amidst the current easy acceptance of our relsationships and common use of the word marriage, I also find myself pinching myself, and wondering why this has only come in towards the end of my life. I do enjoy the changed situation and it some times gives me joy --but I can never forget what I ( / we ) endured as children teens and young adults. There were times when I almsot went under. It can still do my head in at times....

Fords post :-

'Perhaps if some of your people had been dragged off to one of the gulags or death camps,"

The point is, Ben, that 500,000+ of us WERE dragged off to the camps. God knows how many of us died in the Gulags. That we were included in the Holocaust could happen within a decade of the very liberal attitude to sexuality in Germany between the wars gives me a chill. It is why I do not trust society's current acceptance of gay people. It is why I fear a rise in conservative politics. Given that, especially in the US, the most powerful voice of Christianity comes from a right wing Evangelical population for whom even the worship of God involves high emotion, I have no faith that, if they were to exercise real power, our lives would be safe. Frankly, I don't think it's a stretch, and given the statistics linking gay bashing with Fundamentalist anti-gay rhetoric, I don't think I'm being paranoid. It wouldn't take much for some Fundamentalist preacher to whip an already emotionally overstimulated congregation to kick my face in for God. It's not like it's never happened before.'

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 24 December 2007 at 2:06pm GMT

Posted by: L Roberts on Monday, 24 December 2007 at 6:59pm GMT

"So we can move on"?!!? That's it, Ben? Hitler did some awful things, but that was more than sixty years ago, so let's move on? Can you really be this clueless? The point, Ben, is not what was happening then; it's what's happening now - not least in Nigeria, with the support, prompting, and prodding of the godly archbishop Akinola. It's happening NOW, Ben. Keep repeating it to yourself - might just help!

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Monday, 24 December 2007 at 7:32pm GMT

Lapin,

What is this? No need to get into a frenzy - all this says is: "so we can move on," as in, "hope this is clear can we move on with the conversation?"

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Monday, 24 December 2007 at 8:18pm GMT

Ford,

More than a little ironic don't you think? This thread goes on about Nick Clegg and other politicians, and which of them might be worse or better (read the thread!), and you say to me when I ask about the relevance of the labels liberal or conservative, "No, this is worldly politics. Might it be that you are confusing conservative politics with Godliness? Politics, Left or Right, is just politics, it is worldly." Interesting.

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Tuesday, 25 December 2007 at 1:27am GMT

When Ben W acknowledges the current wrongs done to women and GLBTs (as well as heterosexual male Christians) and non-Christians then he will move on.

In the meantime, others have moved well beyond Ben, and it is to his and his priests' shame that he thinks he is at the vanguard when they are justifying 2000 years of agression justifying failure.

If there is a form of Chrisianity being born not as they know it, it is to their leaders' shame that they never gave birth to it earlier.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Tuesday, 25 December 2007 at 6:50am GMT

"Dreadful"? "move on"??

Is that the best you can do Ben W???

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Tuesday, 25 December 2007 at 7:36am GMT

I'm not in a frenzy, Ben, believe me. Nothing that I write in a frenzy would come within a mile of TA's publication standards. Simply that when a conservative poster assumes that a patronizing pat on the head is the appropriate gesture to those with whom he disagrees, I believe that letting him know, sharpish, that it is not.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Tuesday, 25 December 2007 at 3:03pm GMT

Lapin,

It lets me know something all right, you are trying to live up to your name.

Ben W

Posted by: Ben on Wednesday, 26 December 2007 at 2:38pm GMT

"Interesting."

What's interesting, Ben, is the way you keep ignoring the reasons gay people don't trust, even fear, conservatives. Not to mention the worldliness of dividing people up into liberals and conservative camps.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 27 December 2007 at 1:59pm GMT

Ford,

I think one difference between us is I am basically trying to deal with life in our context. You are always over in Africa somewhere and picking up some difficulty or other from there and talking about that as if that is simply true here. That really is "out of it." So we continue mostly to talk past one another, not very useful!

An example is this liberal and conservative business. You know that was brought into the thread before I responded. I think the terms mean something that in some contexts can help us communicate some important things, but I let you know that is not important in my estimation of people. But you go on anyway talking, I suppose on the basis of assumption, without relation to what has actually been said. There is a better way.

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Thursday, 27 December 2007 at 10:22pm GMT

A life in context devoid of the reality around oneself is contemptible in biblical terms.

There are those who say there is peace and dress the wounds of others as though they were not serious e.g Jeremiah 6

Yet remember Jeremiah 30:17 "'I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the LORD, ‘because you are called an outcast, Zion for whom no one cares.’"

See also Hosea 6:1, Isaiah 30:26 or 53:5

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Friday, 28 December 2007 at 10:15am GMT

"I think one difference between us is I am basically trying to deal with life in our context."

My context is that of a gay man living in Western society where extreme conservatives have a very loud voice. Granted I am in Canada, so the voice is a bit more quiet. It is a context in which conservatives daily lie about me: I can change, I chose my sexuality, I am asking the Church to bless promiscuity, (I'm not asking for anything, BTW,) my life expectancy is 30 years less than a straight man's (this "backed up" by propaganda which is then used by the leaders of the Anglican church to justify excluding me), that I am most likely a pedophile. It is a context where politicians think it reasonable to claim that I shouldn't be hired for jobs in which I must deal with the public, lest I offend someone by my very existence. It is a context in which "Christians" feel THEY are being discriminated against if the are not allowed to refuse me lodging in their hotel because my existence offends their religious beliefs. It is a context in which some call for a return to stoning me, then fund people on the other side of the planet who would jail me for five years just for being gay, while those in the West who claim to love me not only say nothing, they ally themselves with them. It is a context in which courts consider that someone can be excused for murdering me if they claim, truly or not, that I "made a homosexual advance" on them. It is a context in which "Christian" leaders repeatedly inflame their flocks to violence against people like me. That is my context. What's yours? The better way begins when your lot acknowledge that we are not some group of effete self-centred hedonists seeking God's blessing on evil, but people who have suffered a great deal at the hands of pious "Christians". It begins when you acknowledge that hurt and pain. It does not require acceptance of us, just acknowledgement that the kinds of things I spoke about are wrong. I have been on this site over a year, and I have never seen any glimmer of understanding from conservatives on this. All I have ever gotten is justification for saying and doing these things.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 28 December 2007 at 1:43pm GMT

Ford,

If you have followed closely what I said you will know I have not justified abuse in language or action toward anyone.

Where I live what I hear in church and for the most part even beyond is homosexuals have at times been dreadfully treated and there is nothing for that except repentance. In the light of historic Christian faith we want to stand with the confession of Christ in all areas of life, that is my context.

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Friday, 28 December 2007 at 2:52pm GMT

Ben
" think one difference between us is I am basically trying to deal with life in our context."

Especially after Ford's last reply to your comment, can I ask you what your view on this is?
This is clearly Ford's experience and he is not the only one on this blog to have spoken about various ways of exclusion and intimidation from the Christian right.
Our sense of insecurity, lack of trust and occasionally fear is real. Our worry that even moderate conservatives in the Western world appear to see no harm in aligning themselves with the extreme leaders of the Global South and what that says about where our church is going, is real and deep.

Are you saying that this isn't happening and that we exaggerate, or are you saying that, although it is happening, we just have to get used to it because we are living sinful lives?

I'm beginning to find it difficult to assess you comments on this thread and would really like to know what you make of our stories here.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 28 December 2007 at 2:57pm GMT

Erika,

When we get reports about what is going on in Africa from people who are not there and in some cases by people who have never been there, I do not simply accept that. Then if we get some anecdotes of bad things from here and there as if they are true in general everywhere, I find that incredible (and Ford as I remember has more than once had to acknowledge he went over the top on some things!).

That,for instance, he would meet discrimination in hotel accommodation in N America? I have used hotels over many years travelling, sometimes with my wife and at times also with male friends, never been asked about my sexuality at the registration desk. Incredible!

I have been to Asia a number of times, I do not see clear indications of this blatant discrimination there. But let us speak of what we can speak of with some assurance. Where in N America or Britain do we find what he describes? "It is a context in which courts consider that someone can be excused for murdering me if they claim, truly or not, that I "made a homosexual advance" on them. It is a context in which "Christian" leaders repeatedly inflame their flocks to violence against people like me. That is my context."

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Friday, 28 December 2007 at 8:05pm GMT

Ben
Have you ever tried to check into a double bedroom with another man?
Maybe you cannot assess what people face unless you're in the same situation?

And if you've been in England these last few years you will be well aware of the unholy row that was caused by the parliamentary legislation only last year to increase gay rights in the civic sphere. Many many felt it was unreasonable to request B&B owners to allow gay couples to book.
We're not making this up!

As for not trusting what Ford says about Africa, I have previously suggested you should talk to Davis Mac-Iyalla. It was a serious suggestion and it would give you a genuine insight in what is actually happening to real people.

You see, this is where your comments here begin to lose credibility. Either you don't know what you're talking about, in which case why should we listen to you. Or you do know it but are closing your eyes to the reality some of us are actually living with.

If it were possible for you to acknowledge the truth and still defend it on a biblical basis I would have a lot more respect for what you say.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 28 December 2007 at 9:02pm GMT

Ben
also - Ford's quotes from Africa are usually from well documented statements by ++Akinola. That they were made can be verified through the archives of this blog and from many other sources on the Internet.

If you're interested in verifying a particular statement, please say which one and I can help you to find its original source.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 28 December 2007 at 10:04pm GMT

Erika,

I do know some things about Africa, enough to know that, as I put it, "if we get some anecdotes of bad things from here and there as if they are true in general everywhere, I find that incredible!"

Is there a person speaking on this list who has lived there for years, studied the situation and with a knowledge of all sides of this brings the information? Even the particular experience of one person from some place there may tell us something about that place, but is not a basis to claim general knowldge.

I do not question that bad incidents happen in various places (that is true in N America also) or that some practices need to be changed, it is the generalizations I question. And I understand that some countries in Africa are in the process of sorting out their marriage and sexuality laws, that in the back and forth of this some very harsh things have been said (we have been around the Akinola bush before more than once). But the point is, I was saying we do not simply generalize from some harsh situations in Africa to N America or Britain as if discrimination is routine and people are suffering in various ways.

Ben W


Posted by: Ben W on Friday, 28 December 2007 at 11:45pm GMT

One of the reasons Davis is such an issue is that Davis by his very existence proves that the "reality" that some portray in Africa is not as it is portrayed.

Davis has inadvertently become the "Zorro" of GLBTs around the world, simply by being what he is and not hiding it under some rock. Davis is also human, with all the fallibilities that go with that. Biblical characters often are: Samson, Jonah, David, Rachel and Gideon are certainly not without their faults.

Jeremiah 6:14-15 "They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace. Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush."

To paraphrase Ezekiel 13:18-23: Woe to those who make veils of various lengths in order to ensnare people. "Will you ensnare the lives of my people but preserve your own? You have profaned me among my people for a few handfuls of barley and scraps of bread. By lying to my people, who listen to lies, you have killed those who should not have died and have spared those who should not live. “ ‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against your magic charms with which you ensnare people like birds and I will tear them from your arms; I will set free the people that you ensnare like birds. I will tear off your veils and save my people from your hands, and they will no longer fall prey to your power. Then you will know that I am the LORD. Because you disheartened the righteous with your lies, when I had brought them no grief, and because you encouraged the wicked not to turn from their evil ways and so save their lives, therefore you will no longer see false visions or practice divination. I will save my people from your hands. And then you will know that I am the LORD.’ ”

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Saturday, 29 December 2007 at 2:17am GMT

Ben
"Is there a person speaking on this list who has lived there for years, studied the situation and with a knowledge of all sides of this brings the information?"

Well, there are people on this list but they are not the ones you tend to agree with. Colin Coward knows a lot about Africa having been instrumental in helping Davis set up "Changing Attitude in Nigeria." The horses mouth, Davis himself, would be your best source of information.

Get in touch with CAN, talk to Davis, see where that takes you.

No, we can't simply generalise from Africa to Western Europe, the USA and Canada. But...but...Akinola is real. He is a major figurehead of the Global South. We cannot pretend that he has nothing to do with us either, when he has personally consecrated bishops in the USA and many many conservatives are following him with a passion.
It reminds me a little of people thinking they could follow Hitler, getting those bits out of him they wanted for themselves and contain the evil they also saw. It just doesn't work like that.

You just have to read TA to see that some people here believe Akinola to be a "graceful and godly man" as someone put only this week.

I don’t know if you’ve been over to the conservative blogs, but it I would strongly recommend you to do so. Just lurk there for a few weeks and read all the comments, absorb the atmosphere and the general tone of conversation there. Try to read them with the eye of someone who will be in the receiving line of those feelings. Not an interested Christian who simply has his own theological view, but as a gay person trying to follow Christ in this church. You don’t have to change your mind, of course not! But listen for a bit. Listen with our ears and see what it says to you.

Then come back here and tell us what you think about our fears.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 29 December 2007 at 9:13am GMT

PS
Just before I offend anyone here, I did not mean to equate Akinola with Hitler and I apologise if anyone read my comment like that.

I was only talking about how people appear to believe they can select a powerful leader and then contain those elements of him they do not like because they don't believe he really means it, or because they believe he will never have the power to implement it.

It really would be advisable for everyone tempted in this way to research what, precisely, that potential leader believes and wants to achieve. At least they'll then be aligning themselves with open eyes.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 29 December 2007 at 9:57am GMT
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