Saturday, 10 November 2012

Watching and listening


When in doubt, listen carefully to what people say and  then watch carefully what they do. So far, so reasonably good. Interesting that he mentioned Nigeria. I sometimes wonder whether Africa is more the elephant in the room than sexuality is.

10 comments:

  1. A pity that this Telegraph clip cut out the prayer he used at the start. I read a report in The Times today by a journalist who seemed surprised he began a press conference with a prayer and considered it a miracle that all the assembled journalists bowed their heads as he prayed. Watch carefully what people do - Bishop Justin seems to put prayer first, even at a press conference.

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  2. That Times link would be interesting.

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  3. Ann Treneman (the Times columnist), usually a cynic, was impressed by him. So does everyone else seem to be. Sadly, that doesn't mean the long knives won't be out as soon as he starts.

    I wish him well, and fervently hope he's as good as he's said to be. However, he does appear to join the existing establishment in thinking that it's OK to allow women bishops to operate on less than equal terms with male bishops, if that keeps the opponents happy.

    Iffy Vicar

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  4. I am not expecting anything other than the status quo, more of the same and maybe worse. That way I will be pleasantly surprised if things improve but much less upset if they don't.

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  5. Sue, what do you mean by " Africa is more the elephant in the room than sexuality is."
    The growing political power of the African church, or the coercive influence they bring to bear on LGBT issue? Sorry, didn't get it.

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  6. Both really but mainly the second. The Anglican communion is a global communion and yet the views held (for example in Nigeria or Uganda and places like the UK - with Canterbury as the "centre" of Anglicanism) are so disparate that it may become increasingly difficult for it even to give the impression of being as a unified entity. Not only are there disparate views, there isn't really an ability/ willingness to tolerate each other's views. African views are viewed elsewhere as pure bigotry - and witness this new Nigerian anti gay bill- whereas views that would be regarded as possibly bigoted in the UK are, to many African minds, agenda-driven and colluding in deep sinfulness. And of course many of the African churches complain that they face persecution/ hostility from muslims in their countries- and they do face serious hostility by the way- because the Anglican church is perceived as "the gay friendly church"
    I think the Church of England is almost more "hush-hush" on these differences in approach and attitude and the frankly unworkable nature of being a global communion in a modern age, than they are about sexuality itself.

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  7. Ah, thank you. I was talking to a Kenyan woman in my church, who has always been genial in the year plus I've known her, but morphed into another person when this issue came up. "Shouldn't we confront a thief, or should we let them continue?" The analogy was so flawed, but so deep-rooted that my friend and I made no headway in the conversation, as she became really agitated at any challenge to her homosexuality=sin beliefs. So I know what you mean!

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  8. Recently I was talking to a woman who'd been present at a diocesan conference in one of the African nations. She said every one of the speakers denounced homosexuality in ringing tones. eventually one elderly priest stood up and said, "Of course homosexuality is a sin - but what IS homosexuality?'

    So the bishop took the men into a separate room, and she took the women into another room, and they explained what exactly it is that homosexual men and lesbian women do. And everyone responded "But all of us have done that! It's part of growing up!'

    Iffy Vicar

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  9. Hmmmmmm. The only problem with that is that:
    a. It simply isn't true that everyone experiments sexually with the same sex while growing up or even that everyone has crushes on the same sex as a part of growing up.
    b.The myth that this happens as a part of everyone's adolescent development is often used as a way to claim that gay people are regressive or "stuck" in an adolescent phase and that this can then be rectified through reparative therapy intended to bring about a "grown up" sexuality.

    So it is a myth that can be used in ways that are either patronising to gay and bisexual people or even damaging.
    Also, how did they explain "exactly what it is" that gay men and lesbian women do - because different gay people do different things, just like straight people do! Not all gay men engage in anal sex, for example, while some heterosexual couples do. Not all lesbians use dildos. Anyhow, did all these African men and women engage in these sorts of sexual acts with the opposite sex while growing up and then suddenly turn into these people who condemned homosexuality? Maybe they did - I would be surprised though...
    Why did they need to take them into a separate room? Why didn't they just explain that gay people fall in love with people of the same sex and want to be close to them and bisexual people can fall in love with people of either sex and want to be close to them - and ask hadn't they ever fallen in love and wanted to be close to someone, either while growing up or as a adult? Why does it always have to be purely focused on sex when this is only part of the story?

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  10. Also if they all had a sudden revelation and burst of honesty to say "But all of us have done that! It's part of growing up!'- why didn't they also say, "and some of us still do that!" Or do all Africans grow out of homosexuality? I think not! As a matter of fact, there will have been African men and women present at that diocesan conference who were gay and either unable to admit to it due to their environment or unable to admit it to themselves because of internalised homophobia.

    So this little anecdote raises a lot more questions than it answers. I think it may say more about the wishes (no doubt very well meant) of the woman who recounted it and her views of homosexuality than it did about what actually happened.
    Unfortunately many christians, even those who are well meant and even consider themselves liberal, hold their own stereotypes and can find it hard to be honest on this subject or to allow others to be honest or to be true to themselves.

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