Saturday, 8 September 2012

Truths and half truths

The Archbishop of Canterbury has given an interview - or maybe several if the amount of coverage on the Internet is anything to go by. Headlines report various things, from a quote that he has "not cracked it" when it comes to unifying the Church during his office, to reports that the Archbishop of Canterbury's role will in future be divided among more than one person (this report has now been corrected as an inaccurate distortion of the ABC's words by the Anglican Communion office.)
One of the things Rowan Williams does seem to have said is that the Church got it wrong in the past on homosexuality. Presumably this means that the Church only got it wrong in the past but is bang spot on in the present? Hmmmm. Don't think so. Isn't it strange how it is much easier to be wrong in the past but never, ever wrong in the present? And we have to remember that when we were wrong in the past, we thought we were right - and no doubt said as much. You'd think someone of William's intellectual calibre would have reflected on that? Maybe he did - but just didn't mention it? Is that dishonest? Well, I dunno. I'll leave you to think about it.
On the subject of honesty and dishonesty, there's Jeffrey John's latest contribution in the Church Times - published in Thinking Anglicans with permission (Friday 8th Sept). He tells us about how a great many of the bishops  and the church hierarchy are actually gay and gay accepting but how they don't admit it in public.The article is called, "Time to tell the truth", which would be great, except that we've heard this before! We've heard it ad nauseum. We know it. Why are you telling us - again? Jeffrey John also says that he nearly resigned twice but stayed in spite of all the hypocrisy. Apparently those who persuaded him to stay said it was because they needed people who were honest. Well, maybe, but I can't help wondering if it  there is much point telling the truth in an institution which has stopped its ears while the outside world shrugs its shoulders in disbelief and gets on with life?
Perhaps I'm being harsh. I'm not really displaying much long-suffering, which, my friends, is one of the fruits of the spirit. I've had a hard week and I just think I might be fresh out of long suffering this morning.

I suppose it's good that Jeffrey John still has his, even if it is a little frayed round the edges, but I have to say that when it comes to all the worn out conflicts, lies, hypocrisy and well worn argument and counter argument you hear on this topic from the Church, he's welcome to it.


  1. I do think there is a wind of change blowing through even conservative Christian circles concerning homosexuality and the general hypocrisy that is endemic around this issue. There are still those – particularly clergy – who play gay-hate for it is worth. Well, my own feeling about this, is ‘So what?’ if people are daft enough to believe some of the lies and half truths that abound on sites such as Anglicanmainstream, then really they are a lost cause anyway. Whatever your beliefs about homosexuality (I respect those who have a conservative view on the topic) there has to be a seamless upholding of the rest of the commandments and requirements of the Christian faith. This works both ways: conservatives getting huffy about homosexuality, also have to apply the same degree of sanction when it comes to the rest of their lives. It is remarkable, when one examines the bile that spills from the mouths of some of our conservative brethren, just how little concern they show for other – more numerous – commandments in the Bible. Bearing false witness doesn’t appear to bother some of our conservative chums; turning the other cheek, being the servant of all, are things of which they are ignorant. Yet there are similar excesses on the part of some of our liberal brethren too.

    The real problem is that homosexuality is not the issue: it is the desire to demonstrate that this or that particular expression of Christianity is ‘holier’ than its rival. It is because homosexuality is a low investment, high return moral stance, it has become favoured by conservatives – pew after pew of heterosexual Christians can sit and cluck and lament the moral failings of their opponents and not have to worry too much about their own (particularly when their clergy choose to dwell on the righteousness of others, rather than instructing their congregations on matters a little nearer home – it is always preferable to point the finger rather than holding up a mirror). In the last thirty years, there have been two massive social and economic collapses brought about in part by the short sighted economic policies of a Tory and then a Labour administration. Now it is fashionable to berate the bankers (another convenient repository for mass opprobrium) yet we heard little from the pulpits, prior to our economic collapse about our personal contribution to these economic disasters (an over reliance on credit and unbridled materialism); nor did we hear much criticism of government from the pulpit during our last sojourn in the land of On-The-Never-Never. The ability of the CofE to produce ‘Faith in the City’ has long since evaporated (save for the likes of The Right Reverend Tim Stevens) – many of our more vocal clerics have thought it more ‘Christian’ to concern themselves with what a tiny minority of people do with their genitals; the Christian social Gospel just passing them by (perhaps because such a gospel would eat into their own time and pockets?)

    Yet, slowly, I think the rabid homophobia and witch-hunts of the recent past are beginning (ever so slightly) to wane. As the Revd Peter Ould noted recently, the image of the homosexual living a lifestyle of gross sexual deviance (fisting, scat etc. in addition to rampant promiscuity) portrayed by the likes of Sister Vinegar-Tits (aka Lisa Nollard) via Anglicanmainstream, Lifesite News etc. does not match up with many Christians’ experience of homosexual friends or relatives. Moreover, those who seem most viciously anti-gay, tend to have other personal defects that hardly recommend them as paragons of virtue. But more than this, I think people are just getting board with the whole ‘gay thing’.

    It will take a while to die a death and I think care is needed from both camps to ensure future debate tries to stay within a seamless integrity – a necessary factor the new ABC should emphasise. Personally I think Jeffrey John has behaved in an exemplary manner and there is much his opponents and (just as importantly) his allies could learn from his humility and patience.

  2. How annoying - just did you a long answer and its deleted it!
    I suppose JJ is humble and patient. I just think I'd have run out of that long ago if I were him and would feel that by staying I was pandering to something grubby. I agree about winds of change and all that, but I think because of the global nature of Anglicanism, the officialdom won't change that quickly. I think it will become increasingly centralised and cautious, with a huge gap between the "official" position and grassroots belief and practice. That seems wrong to me and I find it depressing - but maybe I'm just feeling grumpy at the moment!:)