Saturday, 17 October 2009

a range of opinions

Naftali Brawer writes in The Times that There are no easy answers in interfaith dialogue.

Ruth Gledhill writes on Articles of Faith about Gays and flat-earthers: Jack Spong attacks Pope, Archbishop of Canterbury et al.

Gary Wilton wrote in last week’s Church Times that [the Lisbon] Treaty will make the EU more accountable.

John Hall the Dean of Westminster wrote The Abbey has its neighbours round.

Timothy Seidel wrote at Ekklesia Looking at what truly makes for a just peace.

Anna Hartnell wrote at Cif belief about The rise of the religious left.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 17 October 2009 at 1:01pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion

Simon, the Gledhill link is incorrectly formatted.

Posted by: JPM on Saturday, 17 October 2009 at 3:04pm BST

The link to the Gledhill piece is missing the ":" after "http"

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Saturday, 17 October 2009 at 5:18pm BST

fixed, sorry.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 17 October 2009 at 9:40pm BST

I was sorry to see Ruth Gledhill abusing Bishop Spong and one of the commentators looking forward to his death, in The Times. A disgrace to the Faith they profess-so different to Jack, who has been such an evanglist through his ministry of writing, and beyond.

I find Spong's words very wise.

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Saturday, 17 October 2009 at 11:49pm BST

"I will no longer listen to [...] 'we love the sinner but hate the sin.' That statement is, I have concluded, nothing more than a self-serving lie designed to cover the fact that these people hate homosexual persons and fear homosexuality itself, but somehow know that hatred is incompatible with the Christ they claim to profess, so they adopt this face-saving and absolutely false statement."
Thank you, Bishop Spong!!! It is also condescending and smug: "Oh, look at those disgusting homosexuals! I can't stand such perverse sinners, but I'll show love anyway. Ain't I grand?"
Bishop Spong can make some absolutely provocative statements, but I find myself in agreement with much of what he writes.
But I'm conflicted: On the one hand, I agree with much of his manifesto. Heck, I agree with his 13 theses and much of what he writes in his books. But, by refusing to argue with anyone who disagrees with his view of total equality for gay and lesbian people in the world and in the Church, isn't he engaging in the very superiority and smugness he's against?
Not everyone who struggles with the role of GLBT people is a ++Akinola or ++Duncan. Can't we engage in discussion with those who want to do the right thing, have concerns about GLBT issues, and are willing to hear other voices?

Posted by: peterpi on Sunday, 18 October 2009 at 12:48am BST

Spong is right. We do not entertain listening processes of racists and antisemites, so why for homophobes? When Windsor talked of a listening process wasn't the idea to listen to the experience of gay Christians?

In many of the responses Spong gets one need only substitute the word Jewish for homosexual and you can see why they do not deserve to be listened to.
Rev. Cockshaw of Lichfield claims that Spong is inconsistent in protesting intolerance of gays while himself being intolerant of gay-haters. Just substitute Jew for gay in that sentence.

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Sunday, 18 October 2009 at 2:09am BST

In many respects, Spong is an unlikeable prophet (but then, aren't they usually? :-/)

As the Ultimate Bete Noir, if Spong didn't exist, I think GAFCONians might well invent him [Certainly, it's unsurprising that it's Our Ruth who raises his spectre---not unlike Saul w/ the Witch of Endor! (I Samuel 28)]

Posted by: JCF on Sunday, 18 October 2009 at 3:11am BST

For a revealing Gledhill and Spong episode of 1998 see:

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Sunday, 18 October 2009 at 4:43am BST

I don't warm to Spong, and certainly do not always agree with him - generally, here I do. I think that there was a time when the arguments were not understood, when people did not realise that queer folk had relationships like everybody else, but I think that time is past. I still engage with those who are troubled over ways of engaging with the Bible, because I think that is a broader and more easily mis-understood issue. It does not help to have those in the pews thinking everybody reading it with no regard to cultural context. But I've about given up explaining what is patently obvious by now.

Posted by: Rosemary Hannah on Sunday, 18 October 2009 at 8:48am BST

" I will no longer discuss with them or listen to them tell me how homosexuality is "an abomination to God," about how homosexuality is a "chosen lifestyle," or about how through prayer and "spiritual counseling" homosexual persons can be "cured." - Jack Spong (on Ruth's blog)

I think Bishop Spong is at least right in this particular determination - that he will not seek to discuss any further with institutionalised homophobes, who insist that homosexualty is a *Chosen life-style* which can be *cured* by *spiritual counselling*.

It has been manifestly proven that, to even try to reason with determined homophobes about the God-given nature of the homosexual condition is a lost cause. Even educated Arhcbishops in the Church - Akinola and Orombi, for instance, would call down upon you the fires of Hell, and wash their hands after speaking with you on the subject - just because they will not accept that modern science has proved them wrong in many of their inherited suppositions.

I agree with Bishop Spong on this, at least. I also thank him for his reasoned research in the areas of gender and sexuality. I do not agree with him on some other, doctrinal, matters, but then; who's perfect? - Not even Saint Peter, who had his own arguments with Paul about cultural matters in the Early Church. (Thinks: "I wonder if Akinola would want all Christian males to be circumcised?")

At least Bishop Spong is pretty hot on justice issues, which some of the GAFCON Bishops might be caught out on - especially in Nigeria, Kenya, Sydney and Southern Cone

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 18 October 2009 at 11:56am BST

Somewhat related to the Gledhill-and-Spong matter: Over at the Fulcrum Forums, Andrew Goddard and Glynn Harrison attack the American Psychiatric Association for saying that attempts to turn gays straight are hurtful:

According to Goddard and Harrison, the APA's science is bad. Reason? It doesn't give them the answer they want: "To every theory, however, [the Church] must put the question whether it is adequate to the understanding of human nature and its redemption that the Gospel proclaims." (Which Church, which Gospel, you might well ask -- well, theirs, of course!)

Is there any difference between the British evos and the American Six-Day Creationists? Not a whit. Both say they always know all the answers in advance. Both say: If science doesn't give us the answer we want, then science must be wrong, because we are always right.

Complete lack of understanding of the purpose of science there -- not to mention arrogance, self-centeredness, and lack of charity and humility.

But these are the people who now run the Church of England, so be warned, North Americans.

Posted by: Charlotte on Sunday, 18 October 2009 at 2:11pm BST

"As the Ultimate Bete Noir, if Spong didn't exist, I think GAFCONians might well invent him [Certainly, it's unsurprising that it's Our Ruth who raises his spectre---not unlike Saul w/ the Witch of Endor! (I Samuel 28)]"

If they get tired of beating up on Spong, they can always reach back and bring back poor old Bishop Pike.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Sunday, 18 October 2009 at 7:38pm BST

Once you dabble in lies and evil you cannot limit their spread. Now the African fundamentalists are into torturing children:

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Monday, 19 October 2009 at 8:17am BST

The 'Fulcrum' article (mentioned, above, by Charlotte) by Messrs Andrew Goddard and Glynn Harrison appears to be a quasi-scientific and circumlocutious attempt to discredit serious research, undertaken by professional psychiatric institutions of both the UK and the USA, on the unsatisfactory outcome of attempts by so-called Christian 'therapists' to change sexual orientation.

What they still cannot, or are unwilling, to understand about sexual identity is that it really is not a matter of choice - whether to be homo- hetero- or bisexual. They seem so desperate to prove that gays can be 'cured' by spiritual manipulation, that they are willing to go to any lengths to prove that sexual identity is a choice. Tell that to any intrinsically straight, gay or bi-sexual person and the simply will not believe you. God can, of course, perform miracles but, if God has created a gay- hetero- or bisexual person in God's own image and likeness, why would a loving God wish to change them? And here we get to the real problem at the heart of the matter; people like Goddard and Harrison, both Evangelical Christian apologists, firmly believe that sex is somehow 'sinful' and only to be acted upon for the explicit purpose of 'making babies'. This is such a diminished understanding of our God-given sexuality as to be laughed out of court by anyone who can get to grips with the powerful sexual images contained in the Song of Solomon. Lets hope the 'New Puritans' never get into a position of absolute control over the Church.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 19 October 2009 at 9:17am BST

Before comments on this Fulcrum article go any further, I will start a new thread just for this purpose, as it really has nothing to do with the articles listed above.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 19 October 2009 at 5:25pm BST

I think some folks are over reacting to the good bishop. I think that is often the case. He does like to rattle folk's cages. But I cannot subscribe to calling clear, concise language a rant. Nor do I read the bishop as cutting off conversation, as this is being interpreted by Viagraville.

To me what he is saying is that for him personally, which is why the "I" language, there are now well established facts about sexual minorities which are no longer up for grabs. They are settled. They are no longer debatable. Period. And he published this on his paid subscription website, not a public one, but one where he supplements his retirement income, so it was not published for a wider audience, even though it was bound to get out of the bag.

In fact, I find his "I do not give a shit" attitude a refreshing change to the Casper Milktoast verbiage of many of our allies.

Truthfully, as a gay man, and as an Anglican Christian, I wonder what has taken the good bishop this long to reach that point, because I reached it years ago. As you all know, I do not suffer fools with gladness.

It is no longer useful to debate the clobber scriptures. They have not changed. Our understanding of them as translations and interpretations have progressed, but it is of no practical value to continue to hash them out with fundamentalists/conservatives. I know their position, it has not changed. As long as they are fundamentalists/conservatives it will not change.

I will no longer debate human sexuality. My sexuality, whether it is a natural phenomena, whether it is God-given, or whether it is psychologically and physiologically healthy is no longer open to debate.

I will no longer debate whether I am Christian. I will no longer listen to someone who wishes to question or denigrate my faith, my spirituality or my devotion to God.

For me these are already the foundation stones, they are the givens. This is where the conversation, the "listening process" begins. So if you want to go poking around the foundation, I am going to chase you away, because you have nothing at this point to discuss with me.

Posted by: david | Dah•veed on Tuesday, 20 October 2009 at 6:53am BST


The only difficulty I have with your view is that I know there are millions and millions of straight and gay Christians out there who feel exactly alike, who have therefore kept out of this inane debate, and have effectively left the field clear for the anti-brigade to march in and dictate the terms of the conversation and, increasingly, of church policy.

How can we prevent that if we don't get involved at the level the public debate is sadly still happening?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 20 October 2009 at 8:23am BST

"have effectively left the field clear for the anti-brigade to march in and dictate the terms of the conversation and, increasingly, of church policy."

That is pretty much an issue in other provinces Erika, such as the CoE. Here in the Americas the majority of provinces have not allowed them to do that, so they have been unsuccessful, which is why they have all taken their balls and gone home to play by themselves.

Posted by: David | Dah•veed on Tuesday, 20 October 2009 at 8:37pm BST

Erika, much as I agree with your thesis - on the fact that there are still many Christians who need to join in the debate - with views that are antithetical to those of the anti-gay, anti-women school, who ought, perhaps to make themselves heard on these issues - I also agree with David Dahveed; who is rapidly tiring of the effort involved in speaking to those whose ears are stopped, because otf their unwillignness to hear "What the Spirit is saying to the Church".

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 21 October 2009 at 12:01am BST

Wasn't it the anti gay religious groups that stopped gay marriage in many US States?
At least here, we have full civil rights. For me, joining in the debate is a luxury not a personal necessity.

Fr Ron
Exactly. We need to stand above the fray as well as engage - that precisely is my problem.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 21 October 2009 at 9:30am BST

"Just substitute Jew for gay in that sentence."

And when you do, ask yourself what makes someone hate Jews. Or gay people. What makes someone hate any group? An effect of the Fall, perhaps? Isn't the Gospel supposed to heal the effects fo the Fall? How do we bring the Gospel to these people if we don't talk to them? We don't talk to neoNazi antisemites? Perhaps we're wrong in that. Perhaps not. And this definitely idealistic, but I don't think we can refuse to bring the Gospel to the world's brokenness just because some of those broken people are nasty people filled with anger and hatred.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 23 October 2009 at 3:18pm BST
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