The readings today were all the ‘Good Shepherd’ stuff – so there was a certain appropriateness about my 50 mile journey over the hills to Kinloch Rannoch this morning. The lambs seemed particularly new born on the hillsides and there was fresh snow on Schiehallion.
Among the things which have gone by this week, you might be interested in the William Bright Lecture at Glenalmond College – about whether religion is believable. The pupils – as always – asked some challenging questions. Journalists ask challenging questions but you can always answer a different one. Not in this case. I also produced this material for an Aberdeen Diocesan Listening Day on sexuality issues.
Meanwhile, the vegetable patch is coming into some sort of back-breaking order. Potatoes first, I think. Other more exotic stuff is in seed trays awaiting warmer weather.
Forgive a slightly random attempt to respond.
I’m afraid some of Kelvin’s questions about the Aberdeen Day need to be addressed to management. I was just the hired help.
The significance of what bishops think? I’m not sure it’s that important – but among the things that bishops find themselves doing is attempting to sustain some integrity while helping a divided institution to cohere. I look at the Ripon Cuddesdon picture on my study wall. I know where some are but not others. If I think we are doing better, it’s only in contrast to how badly we were doing then.
No .. what I said can’t be pushed to the limits. It’s simply an attempt to say that many of us find ourselves on most sides of this debate at the same time. I wish I could find what Archbishop Tutu says compelling – if sexuality is what we seem to be talking about, then that’s what we’re talking about.
Two points were raised for me when I read your report for the Aberdeen Listening Day.
The first is that I wonder where those gay men from Cuddesdon are now. Are they senior clergy, I wonder? Are they able to live open and honest lives in their ministry? You say that the College failed to deal with it then, but are we dealing with it any better now? Or are we encouraging them to live a lie?
And secondly, like Kelvin I struggled with your statements on justice and holiness. I believe in justice but does that mean I can’t be holy? As Desmond Tutu, that great promoter of justice and holiness, says: ‘Why are you so genitally preoccupied? Why don’t you sort out the real problems of the world and let people love one another in their own way?’
Thank you for publishing your thoughtful reflections for the Aberdeen Listening Day. There is a lot to think about in it.
You’ll probably not be surprised that I’m disappointed that once again gay people have been left out of the listening process and once again their voices will go unheard in our church. What is called a listening process once again is a silencing process for some of us.
Once again, what bishops think about the sexuality issue seems to be the only thing that matters, and whilst that remains the case, things don’t seem to me to be likely to get any better.
I don’t think that Bishop Brian’s stereotyping of people with clarity as being at far ends of a spectrum of response is either accurate or helpful. That way stigma and blame lie and it makes it all the harder for people who have a mixture of different views and a whole range of reasons why they hold them to meet calmly and learn from one another.
The two competing paradigms that you mention (justice vs holiness) are equally problematic. Doesn’t the biblical witness assert that mercy and truth have met one another and that righteousness and peace embrace?
Or even meet one another with a kiss.
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