Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Lambeth: Monday and the Marketplace

This report about my second visit to Canterbury on Monday has been delayed, mostly because Tuesday, when I was not there, was a much more exciting day, at least for journalists. Whether this is connected to my absence, I do not know.

Anyway, when I went again to the Registration Desk, I was able to obtain the full content of the previously missing Welcome Pack content, namely a paper Campus Map.

Also from a separate IT Desk I was able to get a WiFi login for my own personal use. I have to say that the instructions for using it in conjunction with Windows XP (which is what my laptop runs) are definitely not for the faint-hearted. However, on Monday I was able to connect using the Press Room’s ethernet rather than the WiFi, and so avoided the challenge again.

During the day I attended two press briefings, one conducted by Paul Feheley of Canada and one conducted by Archbishop Phillip Aspinall of Australia. The latter was the one at which the Archbishop of Canterbury answered questions, which have been pretty thoroughly reported elsewhere already. I didn’t understand the logic of his answer about why the Bp of New Hampshire had been excluded, but then neither did most other people I talked to.

The earlier briefing was dominated by complaints from several other journalists, but Bill Bowder in particular, about being excluded from the morning and evening worship in the Big Top. I was personally surprised to discover this was the case as I distinctly recall ten years ago that these sessions were not restricted only to bishops and spouses, and plenty of outsiders attended them on various occasions. No convincing explanation of the need for this restriction has yet been offered.

I also spent time in the Marketplace. Among the exhibitors there were Inclusive Church, and also WATCH, Changing Attitude and LGCM.

LGCM, which is sponsoring the Peterson Toscano shows next week, had several interesting documents available, including this review (PDF) of the book by Phil Groves, which has been mentioned as a major resource for sexuality-related discussions at the conference. Unfortunately, Professor Michael King is not impressed by this book, although he does like a couple of chapters in it. These were not the ones written by his professional colleagues. You can read a much more favourable review of this book here, and another critical comment here. I have still not read most of it, so am reserving judgement. There is also more about the book here.

Speaking of books, I was sorry not to be there today, Wednesday, when Peter Francis, who edited the book Rebuilding Communion to which I contributed a chapter, was due to be the LGCM Guest of the Day.

At the end of the day, I went down to St Stephen’s Church for Evening Prayer. Everyone was welcome to attend this service…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 23 July 2008 at 6:14pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Lambeth Conference 2008

There are many references to the "conference organizers". It would be interesting to get some background on who the people are that are actually running this highly controlled show.

Posted by: Richard Lyon on Wednesday, 23 July 2008 at 7:38pm BST

The most remarkable thing about Groves' book is the suppression of the Royal College of Psychiatrists' Submission to the Listening Process authored by Professor King, which, if the book had sought to be balanced, would have been quoted in its entirety.

Only one sentence is quoted from the report in a chapter titled: "Unwanted Same-sex Attractions: Can Pastoral and Counselling Interventions Help People to Change?" authored by Glynn Harrison, a member of General Synod and opponent of gay equality legislation.

The whole chapter, the final and concluding chapter of the book, is a defence of therapies denounced as harmful by the Royal College.

A dangerous document if left unchallenged.

Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Wednesday, 23 July 2008 at 9:24pm BST

As the manager of the 1998 Market Place and Fringe Events Coordinator, it is heartening to see the list of participants. I was under strict orders from the top to refuse any gay/lesbian presence - so I had to find other ways to assist them. Sounds like some lessons were learned.

Posted by: Bob McCloskey on Wednesday, 23 July 2008 at 10:02pm BST

Thanks to Ruth Gledhill I have now finished reading the Groves compilation so generously endorsed by a “post gay” called Peter Ould and recommended enthusiastically on an earlier thread by Changing Attitude’s Colin Coward.

I found myself agreeing with Professor King and the Provost of Glasgow. Despite its good bits this is a dangerous book, and despite all the assurances we had from the Anglican Communion Office Professor Glyn Harrison did have established relationships with those on the lunatic fringe offering “reparative therapy” to gay people. This was a real betrayal.

It is important to remember that decades after western countries stopped criminalising gay people the medical profession were still incarcerating us in mental hospitals, torturing us with electro convulsive and aversion therapies and surgically mutilating us through castration; hysterectomy; clitoridectomy and lobotomy, so I’m pleased to see that LGCM and its partners in the Royal Colleges will be pressing forward with its campaign to ensure that UK professional and medical insurers will exclude these so called “therapies” from cover.

I see that LGCM are also welcoming Dr Michael King as one of their guests in the Market Place next week, they are welcoming a range of different voices – it is good to see this rather than the odious “self promotion” that one often finds in evidence on these occasions.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Wednesday, 23 July 2008 at 10:41pm BST

It's great to see Bob McCloskey posting here and telling us authoritative how it was.

It is a great antidote to the silly whinging from some journalists about how many gay fringe events there are this decade! It seems that even in some liberal quarters gays are still OK as long as they don’t act up too much – Gosh now I think about it, some gay groups have bought into that!

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Wednesday, 23 July 2008 at 10:55pm BST

Hmm, these constant feeds from people who have allegedly changed their sexual orientations through mainly religious therapies, so-called reparative therapies, or some combinations thereof raise interesting questions.

One I asked back in the day when I was still allowed to post on blog StandFirm was: How is it, that every time God changes somebody from the awfulness of being queer to the nothing but wonderfulness of being nothing but straight, God makes them a strictly conservative religious person, all at the same time? I still do not have a careful answer from the conservative/change now crowds.

Another question is: How do we know that such changed folks, who were so patently unhappy in their attempts at having a good queer daily life, are at all empirically representative of all queer citizens, everywhere, under so many different global circumstances that we otherwise hardly know how to cluster queer folks together?

Sailing yet again through all the familiar traditional objections, presuppositions, and bell jar insulated a-contextualisms hardly serves the gospel cause nearly so well as almost all traditionalistic believers readily presume and conclude.

Being nothing but exclusively straight and conservative is not the fine flat medieval earth around which the rest of the allegedly biblical Ptolemaic cosmos revolves, just as God announced it created in, say, Genesis. If the church wishes to proclaim good news to queer folks, then at least some of the time that church will have to begin by accurately and truthfully weighing the goods - nothing spectacular here (except sometimes when queer life is spectacular and good), just solid ordinary work and relationships and service and practical ethics - lived in the daily lives of so many different queer citizens, all around the planet. This is the dimension to which traditionalistic believers are determined never, ever to listen deeply, as it demonstrates the alternative emerging cosmology that our changing views indicate for a better understanding of human, animal, and nature's nature.

Posted by: drdanfee on Thursday, 24 July 2008 at 12:39am BST

I guess most books are written by people with a particular passion. The Scriptures, of course, are a good example. What is really needed is a good interpreter. I believe that, in the end, God's Spirit will, if necessary, re-orientate (and maybe, re-interpret) whatever our individual opinions may be.

However, the exercise of interpetation needs the grace of truthfulness. The Gospel can be entirely subversive of the 'establishment', requiring the gentle art of listening. Perhaps this is why God has given us two ears but only one mouth.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 24 July 2008 at 12:47am BST

From the King review on "The Anglican Communion and Homosexuality": "Concern is even expressed that “current political pressures” (read here gay lobby) will mean that gay and lesbian people will be denied their “human right” to seek therapy for their "unwanted same-sex attraction"."

Ridiculous---and irresponsible. THIS is what all the bishops at Lambeth are reading???

Lord have mercy!

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 24 July 2008 at 1:28am BST
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