Thursday, 26 November 2009

Do dogs have souls ( part two)

On the other hand, it is just possible that dogs have convinced us that they have souls by the simple expedient of treating us humans like deities ( usually in the pursuit of food or walkies.)

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Would you vote them off?

The signature Jedward hairstyle really doesn't do anything for Brown and Cameron, does it? At the same time I am not convinced that any doctoring of their image could make them any lower in my esteem than they already are. It won't be the X factor , but there will be a showdown and grand vote before June 2010 - now, where is that red button?

Sunday, 22 November 2009

X Factor

Much ado in our household as Jedward are now in the sing off and may be ejected from the X factor ( or so I am reliably informed.) These admittedly rather annoying twins have become hate figures in our household and my younger son has announced that he "can't bear it" if they get through. Their hair is apparently "too sad for words", they "can't sing" and they "dance like girls". Although I am not sure I approve of the gender stereotypes and strongly feel that the fate of Jedward is hardly a seminal issue, I now feel sucked into the drama and am awaiting cries of joy or horror from downstairs...

Churches may still be guilty of illegal discrimination under the new Equality Laws

The EU has apparently ruled that the exemptions allowed to religious institutions over refusing to employ people on the grounds of their sexual orientation or practices may be too generous and contravene European law.

I recently blogged on the Lord's ruling that upheld the religious exemption clause introduced by Lord Waddington (12th November) which gave an indication of the controversy that the Equality legislation has generated. I am not going to comment here, but it will be interesting to see the various reaction of interested parties both outside and within the Church.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Do dogs have souls? ( part one)

Martin Luther believed dogs have souls and he had some spot on ideas, didn't he? One thing is definite, dogs are capable of prayer. Look at the look of supplication in this Westie’s eyes and tell me that this is not true ...see, you can’t, can you?

Monday, 16 November 2009

Are you an ASBO Christian?

I've been talking to a number of people over the last few weeks about how they, or I, have little faith in institutionalised religion and feel that the attitudes and actions of the established Church often seem far removed from, or even contrary to, the teaching of the gospel. So, this cartoon from ASBO Jesus may strike a chord:

Fortunately for anyone currently feeling bitter, marginalised or beleagured, ASBO Jesus also had this message for us:

Which leads to the faint possibility that we can sometimes feel like this:
Even if it is, at times, a remarkably well kept secret...

The Sound of Silence

The Archbishop of York, who is himself Ugandan,has been called upon to condemn the Ugandan anti-homosexuality bill introducing the death penalty for certain acts. According to the think tank Ekklesia the Archbishop of York's office has said he will not be making any statement.
I actually feel too stunned to comment on this, except to say that it looks a lot like walking by on the other side of the road.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Revision Committee

There has been an announcement today that members of the revision committee have reversed their earlier ruling in favour of statutory transfer. The reason given for this about turn was that "members of the Committee were unable to identify a basis for specifying particular functions" and that " as a result all of the proposals for vesting particular functions by statute were defeated."
This is obviously good news for those campaigning for the full recognition of women's ministry and the right for women to exercise that ministry without compromise or discrimination. I believe it is the only truly workable solution as statutory transfer would have led to a a two-tier episcopate and left us with a bitter legacy and divisions which would continue for decades.

The decision is not such good news for those in the Church opposed to the ordination of women and many are already bitterly complaining on blogs and websites that they feel unchurched and undervalued. I suspect that many Anglo Catholics, even those who have applauded the Pope's offer as generous, will draw back from taking advantage of that generosity given the theological constraints - the need to accept Papal infallibility being one - and also the practical difficulties of such a transfer of allegiance. For evangelicals opposed to women's ordination, jumping ship to Rome was never an option.
So, given that the decision of the Committee holds and is carried through Synod, and I fervently hope and believe that it will, what solace is there for the groups who perceive themselves as "losing out"? Well, many are writing as if they have forgotten that there will still be delegated transer, most likely governed by a code of conduct to which all parties must have regard and must not ignore, that hopefully there will be a spirit of co-operation and grace and also that their feeling of being "unchurched" and marginalised is common and has been common to many groups in the Church, including countless women whose ministries have already been sacrificed or curtailed and for whom this decision has come too late or at least not one moment too soon.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Free to speak or firmly silenced?

The Lords, last night, voted by 179 to 135 to retain a defence on the grounds of “free speech”, introduced by Lord Waddington, in the law against inciting homophobic hatred in the Equality legislation passing through parliament. The government opposed this “free speech” defence and the legislation has been returned to the Commons four times.
Now, I have blogged on this subject at length (Offend or please, 18th September) and do not intend to reiterate my points. It is clearly insupportable that anyone should be breaking the law by simply expressing a view that homosexual practice is wrong. It is also insupportable that they should cause distress or harassment to others by expressing those views in a way that is intrusive, unsolicited or liable to incite hatred or acts of discrimination by others. I have not looked at the wording of the clause, if it focuses on concepts such as “reasonableness” and “context”, I would probably support it; if it is simply a blanket exemption, I would not. It is also worth noting though that the legislation, as supported by the Commons, would have been extremely unlikely to have led to action against anyone on the grounds that they expressed a simple opinion,
A spokeswoman said the government was “very disappointed” at the vote as the threshold for prosecution was “high”, the defence was not needed . She said “The offence only covers words or behaviour that are threatening and intended to stir up hatred.”
There is no doubt that there is genuine concern around the equality legislation and that that concern comes from groups as diverse as Churches and comedians. What does worry me is that a small number of those who support the “free speech” clause do so because it allows them to offer “reparative therapies” ; therapies which have been shown to be deeply damaging to the psychological well being of the individuals involved. There are ex gay industries in the UK and I would like to see such “ministries” answerable to outside bodies in terms of their ethical frameworks and open to litigation if they operate in ways that could be deemed detrimental to the individuals involved.
Meanwhile, as some sectors of the Church celebrate their freedom of speech, a climate of fear and an inability to speak out still remains for so many LGBT Christians. Clergy whose love literally “dare not speak its name” , a “don’t ask” but also a “don’t you dare tell” policy and laypeople who are silent or invisible in the face of a Church which claims to be committed to a listening process but is in the process of firmly stopping its ears.

Photo above : Conservative christians at this year's Manchester Gay Pride

Adjournment debate on sex discrimation

Link here to the Hansard record of the adjournment debate in the House of Commons on "the application of the sex discrimination legislation to religious organisations" :

I've only had a brief scan of it this morning and may say more later , both on this and on the Lord's rejection of the homophobia clause relating to freedom of speech.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Poem for Remembrance Day.

Great Men
The great ones of the earth,
Approve, with smiles and bland salutes, the rage
And monstrous tyranny they have brought to birth.
The great ones of the earth
Are much concerned about the wars they wage,
And quite aware of what those wars are worth.
* * *
You Marshals, gilt and red,
You Ministers and Princes, and Great Men,
Why can’t you keep your mouthings for the dead?
Go round the simple Cemeteries; and then
Talk of our noble sacrifice and losses
To the wooden crosses.

Siegfried Sassoon, WW1 Officer and Poet

Sassoon's bitter but moving poem, "Great Men", sums up so much of what I feel at this time of year. I have mixed feeling about Remembrance Sunday, perhaps because of memories of the day having such a high profile when I was growing up ( my dad was a British Forces Padre stationed in a military garrison in Germany.) I am far from being a pacifist but I have deep reservations about so many recent conflicts, in particular the war with Iraq and the current conflict in Afghanistan.
Sassoon has little time in this poem for posturing or war mongering and knew from his own experiences that those in power can be willing to sacrifice lives for political expediency. You can hear his bitter contempt for the "Marshalls, gilt and red", a reference to the uniforms but also the literal "guilt" and red of the blood on their hands. Yet this poem moves from anger to pity, profound respect and his sense of solidarity with the common soldier. His tribute to the true "great men", the unacknowledged soldiers who lie in "simple" cemeteries with only "wooden crosses", is very moving and, to me, is what any act of remembrance should be about.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

A lorra lorries

I don't know if you have seen these Klein lorries. I love them but think I would find them a distraction while overtaking!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Setting aside our differences?

There has been little or no response from conservative groups to an appeal by Changing Attitude and Inclusive Church to speak out against the new Ugandan bill introducing draconian legislation against LGBT people.
CA and IC have approached Fulcrum, Anglican Mainstream and other groups or parties to ask them to “set aside our differences” in sending a joint letter condemning such violence and discrimination. The silence so far has been deafening and the only stated basis I can find for their refusal is that Colin Coward is apparently “selectively quoting” Lambeth 1998 resolutions.

It does seem that, despite the claims to deplore violence and hatred, certain factions are unwilling to put aside petty dislikes. I find our inability to work together dispiriting, but equally depressing is the resounding silence of Canterbury and York. The silence here is likely to arise from other causes than animosity to “sinfulness” – fear perhaps? caution? weariness? indifference?
Savi Henderson wrote eloquently recently about how the Church of sixty years ago was a force for justice in our world,
"Sixty years ago the Anglican Communion was at the forefront of human rights. Though commitment to rights for all has been repeatedly endorsed, it now tends to be referred to in vague terms by top leaders. They will have to decide how to respond to this legislation... What they do or fail to do, will affect their ability to witness to a God who does not abandon the abused and exploited. These are testing times.”
Regardless of our differences - what price courage, integrity, sacrifice, optimism, love - in the place of expediency and vested interests? As Henderson implies, we might as well go back to flower arranging.