Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 25 May 2019

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Bishops and conservatives meet in secret to reinforce the abuse of LGBTI+ people
[see below for the background to this]

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Photo exhibition celebrates 25 years of female priests
“Images of 12 women from Southwark diocese capture variety of a priest’s work”

Bosco Peters Liturgy Children in Church

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Wittgenstein’s ideas and the Bible. Some reflections
and Communication speak and the House of Bishops

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love A Christian Vision of Seamless Reality

Meg Warner ViaMedia.News Does the Bible Really Say…that Sex Outside of Marriage is Wrong?

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Cynthia KatsarelisCRSSimon ButlerErika BakerCynthia Katsarelis Recent comment authors
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Kate
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Kate

Hip hip hooray for Bosco Peters. Well said and spot on.

Kate
Guest
Kate

I fear Colin Coward is right and that LLF is a biased process. Of the range of possible outcomes, clear support for same sex marriage seems impossible given the attitude of senior figures.

Shamus
Guest
Shamus

Thank you Stephen Parsons for the piece on Communications speak. Maybe it’s just me, but church buzzwords that morph into jargon have me tearing what little there is left of my hair out. If we never saw again the words “flourishing”, “resilience” and even “mission” (a largely misunderstood and unhelpful word for most non church people), would we miss them?

Simon Butler
Guest
Simon Butler

I quite like resilience! Regarding Colin Coward’s piece, I think he confuses secrecy with accessibility. He and i have both attended meetings that were “off the record” in the past, so I think this is a storm in a teacup. The key thing is to embed in LLF a process by which all sides continue to engage with, or as if, the other side is in the room. I was struck by David Runcorn’s observation that the conservatives who attended this meeting are not living up to their own expressed desire to include trans people in the conversation. It’s they… Read more »

Colin Coward
Guest

Simon, you accuse me of confusing secrecy with accessibility, citing in evidence our attendance at meetings in the past that were “off the record”. David Runcorn says that many in his informal networks knew it was planned. None of my trans friends, some of whom have been trying to directly engage with LLF for months, knew of the meeting until some received an email last Thursday morning. The meeting was not accessible to them in any way. They were not told it was happening. The fact of the meeting being organised was communicated via informal networks to people other than… Read more »

Simon Butler
Guest
Simon Butler

Colin “people like you”??? I’d better get to the back of the bus and know my place. I have always taken your example of engagement rather than attack as a model. At some point that approach stopped to become almost entirely antagonistic and I regret the angry tone of your responses to me and David Runcorn. The privilege to which you refer is not about my own role as priest or as an officer of the Synod, both of which have precious little to do with any sense of status I have – that is your projection on to me… Read more »

Cynthia Katsarelis
Guest

Simon, Colin and others are hurting. They have explained why they hurt, and your forceful argument for why they “shouldn’t” be hurting is not helpful. Your second paragraph, about Colin’s “antagonistic” approach, is classic tone policing. Tone policing is when the status quo insists that the oppressed stop expressing their hurt, or the status quo just won’t bother to listen. Meanwhile, absolutely nothing happens to lift the oppression because somehow calm reasoning rarely achieves justice. It’s a Catch-22 that raises the temperature of the “tone” of those oppressed, giving the status quo more “reason” to ignore them. That’s the cycle… Read more »

Simon Butler
Guest
Simon Butler

I feel well and truly patronised now, Cynthia.

Cynthia Katsarelis
Guest
Cynthia Katsarelis

And I feel even more that you aren’t hearing the pain. Oh horrors that a member of the status quo should feel “patronized” when someone from the marginalized and oppressed group express pain. And if you are gay (I don’t know), then I can patronize you further using the example of TEC, no progress was made until we were heard and the church really absorbed the demand of “no talking about us without us.” So I’m watching CoE struggle with the same stuff, 20 years later, with no real end in sight. Tone policing people who are boiling over with… Read more »

CRS
Guest
CRS

One could equally claim you are the “status quo” and are “tone policing” S. Butler.

Cynthia Katsarelis
Guest
Cynthia Katsarelis

No, Christopher, no LGBTQ person is “status quo.” And I was trying to support the very basic concept of “no talking about us without us.” This is a principle that is essential to pretty much any inclusion, equality, justice issue. It’s also pretty basic to the theological imperative to love your neighbor as yourself.”

CRS
Guest
CRS

And this in the context of “status quo” Simon Butler being “tone policed” by you.

CRS
Guest
CRS

“the theological imperative to love your neighbor as yourself” — certainly cannot include “I can patronize you further using the example of TEC.”

There is wisdom in the following statement from S Butler, worthy of pause and reflection. It comes from a LGBT Priest involved in the life of the CofE. Inside of ranks you claim to inhabit.

“The curse of identity politics is that it fractures into factionalism as people engaging in structures get accused of not being passionate enough and campaigners get accused of purism and naivety.”

He fairly sees problems on both ends of a spectrum.

Cynthia Katsarelis
Guest
Cynthia Katsarelis

Christopher, I think you are not the best arbiter of fairness or a pastoral response to LGBTQ+ members who are experiencing excruciating pain from the insensitivities, hostility, and forces of “moderation” that are looking like complicity. I was simply trying to say that LGBTQ+ people have to be able to express our anger and outrage over outrageous behavior. Whenever the “tone” gets center stage instead of the outrageous, oppressive, and hurtful behaviors, then you can be sure that progress has been kicked to the long grass (I admit that I don’t know what sport that is from!). MLK had strong… Read more »

David Runcorn
Guest
David Runcorn

Colin Coward’s article does need challenging. First the title – ‘Bishops and conservatives meet in secret to reinforce the abuse of LGBTI+ people’. The meeting was ‘secret’. Evidence for this? Not knowing a meeting happening is not the same as something deliberately kept from public knowledge. Many in my informal networks knew it was planned. Nor was the meeting to ‘reinforce the abuse of LGBTi people’. What is the evidence for what is a very, very serious allegation? The reason for this meeting is public knowledge. The widely published letter expressing concerns about pastoral/liturgical guidance for trans people was discussed… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

You make many genuine points, David, but underneath we have the problem. The declared purpose of the delegation was to reduce trans inclusion by getting the guidance withdrawn. The delegation met with 3 cis bishops. Imagine a group of white activists meeting with 3 white ministers in Apartheid-era South Africa to discuss removing some freedoms from black Africans. It would rightly be condemned not just by black Africans but by neutrals too. That is essentially what happened. “The meeting was arranged with three key bishops to clarify and address concerns. Any group, at any time, can choose to seek out… Read more »

Colin Coward
Guest

Thank you for challenging my article, David – you provide me with an opportunity to add to what I wrote in the blog. My evidence for the meeting being in secret is that none of my trans friends nor any members of their own faith network were told in advance that a meeting that was specifically about them had been arranged between a number of key bishops and a group of conservatives who are hostile to them knew that the meeting was taking place. I call that secrecy. You are clearly part of a privileged network that did know about… Read more »

David Runcorn
Guest
David Runcorn

Dear Colin, I have a huge regard for your work of advocacy campaigning over the years. But I regret that you address me here in the same tone you address Simon. I have nothing to add to his own response to you. I made my point and will not be engaging further.

Simon Butler
Guest
Simon Butler

Me neither. Classic playing the man rather than the ball. Very Thinking Anglicans

Cynthia Katsarelis
Guest
Cynthia Katsarelis

I see nothing wrong in Colin’s “tone.” I see two guys who don’t want to accept that members of the impacted community are deeply unhappy with this meeting and the LLF process. You can’t tell people how they “should” feel. Colin is speaking his truth, for a community he works to help. And frankly, the issues are so basic that it is disheartening to see them summarily dismissed as “tone.”

Colin Coward
Guest

The comments by Simon Butler and David Runcorn demonstrate the complacency and collusion that are two of the attitudes I have encountered repeatedly in the Church of England and that help to create the abusive culture that infects the Church and the Living in Love and Faith process. I was in London on Thursday and was contacted by a transgender friend who had been informed that morning that the meeting had taken place. She was furious at the content of reports and perceived that unusual privilege had been granted to the conservative delegation when LGBTI+ people seeking to engage with… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

Colin, I must speak up on behalf of David, who on another forum where I’ve faced hostility and marginalisation, has spoken up for me, and been a rational and supportive Christian ready to face down those with hateful attitudes. To be honest, I regard David as a valuable ally. With regard to LLF, I think the truth is that we don’t know for sure what the underlying agenda is or exactly where it will go. I also think that it’s reasonable for diverse groups of people to seek to participate, and press their own points of view. I am profoundly… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi - Peter Gross

Dr. Meg Warner’s essay was fascinating. I enjoyed it thoroughly, especially her first enumerated point. In point 1, she states “This conflict may represent a variety of biblical ‘views’ and may reflect development of views over time, even within a single book.” I would remove the word “may” both times. The Jewish Scriptures (Old Testament) were written by a wide variety of authors over a period of centuries for a wide variety of reasons. Just in the Book of Genesis, for example, the first and second chapters represent some of the newest material and some of the oldest material in… Read more »

CRS
Guest
CRS

“Just in the Book of Genesis, for example, the first and second chapters represent some of the newest material and some of the oldest material in the Jewish Scriptures, from Judea and Northern Israel, sitting right next to each other.” Sorry to be a spoiler but this view of matters went the way of the doodoo about a generation ago. Newer pentateuchal criticism has evolved into something far different than documentary models lasting into the last years of von Rad and Noth, and both them were scrambling to account for the achievement of the canonical form in their final days.… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi - Peter Gross

I appreciate your reply about the Torah, the Five Books of Moses. Thank you.
But, nonetheless, it is simplistic and wrong to assume that the Scriptures, either Jewish or Christian, were written or edited by a single mind or have a single point of view, on homosexuality and a lot else, and that’s my main point..

CRS
Guest
CRS

One speaks of a consolidation. You sought to paint a picture of distance–temporal, spatial, and intellectual–between two documentary sources. That is a “simplistic” account, to use your language.

Wittgenstein speaks of thickness. Beauchamp of ‘bricolage.’ Ricoeur of amplitude. I use the language of “achievement” or “convergence.” But no matter. People will seek to find what they are looking for…

Kate
Guest
Kate

If the Bible isn’t the Voice of God, then what differentiates it from the Book of Mormon or any of the books you might find in a Christian bookshop. In what way is the Canon chosen by Synod at the Council of Trent different to Issues in Human Sexuality? It is glib to say that the Bible doesn’t speak from One Voice without articulating in what way it is objectively different to other Christian writings.

peterpi - Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi - Peter Gross

My personal belief is, even if every author of the books of the Bible were inspired by, or received revelation from, God, that revelation was filtered through the author’s mind-editor by the author’s personal experience, education, the times s/he lived in, etc. The Bible is not infallible in areas of history and cosmology, and in areas of theology, different rabbis, Christian priests, ministers, and theologians have come up with very different interpretations when examining the same texts in the original language. And, I believe God gave different revelation to different groups of people as they were prepared to receive God’s… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

This is very close to my own view. I believe the Holy Spirit gives us as much of the truth as we are prepared to receive. As man’s knowledge expands, that changes…in the Bronze Age, most societies were not prepared for the full truth of human sexuality–for reasons ranging from the need to multiply to sustain a population to the need to differentiate one’s culture from a neighbor’s to establish a tribal identity. They certainly were not prepared to understand genetics and the origin of species, to point to another issue. But now, in the second decade of the third… Read more »

Cynthia Katsarelis
Guest

This is the part that I find troubling: “Conservatives have been given exclusive access to these bishops and have forced them to remove the press release that accompanied the guidance from the Church of England website because the conservatives (NOT transgender people) found it unhelpful.” It’s not just that they met in secret and seemingly had special access, though that looks bad. It’s that there was a concession made to the conservatives that apparently didn’t include any voices of trans people; they removed a press release. I’m afraid that despite the peace-making efforts of some, special access with accompanying concessions… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

Whether or not the specific press release has been rescinded or removed (and I can see some grounds for doing so, so it can be revised and made more effective) the underlying guidance is still present on the Church of England website here: https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/news/guidance-welcoming-transgender-people-published There is still every intention that services are offered in which trans people’s transition can be affirmed and supported, as the existing guidance proposes. That has not changed. Ian Paul and his group of signatories have made known their point of view – one I don’t agree with, but they have a right to express what… Read more »

Simon Butler
Guest
Simon Butler

Correct. The guidance remains in place and I’m planning to table a question at General Synod so that the House of Bishops can reaffirm their commitment to it.

Kate
Guest
Kate

The optics of 3 cis, straight bishops removing the press release under pressure from a delegation of cis, straight conservatives are very poor no matter, however, no matter how it is dressed up Susannah. The days when there are no trans/intersex and no gay/lesbian leaders must end.

Erika Baker
Guest

Is there any evidence that the press release has been removed? I found it very quickly, but of course, nothing is every lost on the Internet, and I could have found a cached version.
Is it possible for 3 bishops to remove or edit a press release that was agreed by the whole HoB?

David Runcorn
Guest
David Runcorn

Thanks Erika – I have just found it without difficulty too!

Erika Baker
Guest

The current version does say that it has been edited. Does anyone know what the edits were?
Has the guidance been edited too? Why have the bishops not said anything about this?
What’s the process and protocol here?
I do think there are still a lot of open questions.

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

Observations and impressions regarding this and the Lincoln business—and indeed the entire CoE. Something must be done; this is something; let’s do it NOW. Quick fix for an instant. No evidence of joined up thinking, strategy, or planning. No “what-if?” thinking. No standard operating procedures that would aid consistency and transparency. People making decisions about things they’re not trained for. Apparatchiks speaking discredited PR gobbledegook. Evasion. All this points to a lack of professionalism. Some senior clerics have such demanding responsibilities that they can have little or no time for their own dioceses or churches. So: merge dioceses, close churches,… Read more »