Just as I start to think I’m beginning to get a grasp on the situation someone or something puts a shot across my bows and I am sent spinning into space, a misfitting Anglican alien, wondering where the hell I’m ever going to find somewhere safe to land.
Storm Angus washed away our lane, the boiler died, the pump in the well packed up and then the Aga decided to join them, possibly in solidarity, and is now sitting in the kitchen exuding frozen disapproval of the whole situation. There’s also a fair bit of sheep rustling going on up here, but it’s the downright weirdness going on in the Anglican Church that undoes me and leaves me feeling bereft.
Saint David’s Cathedral in the south-west of Wales is the oldest and most sacred Christian site in the principality. In January it will have a new bishop. The fact that the Bishop is a woman would be fine as far as I am concerned were it not that she is a supporter of same-sex marriage and for some reason is also studying for a PhD in quantum theory.
What is it with these clerics who, as well as their more than full-time day job, feel the need to study for PhDs in exotic subjects. The new chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury no less has almost completed a PhD in a subject so obscure that after reading all about it with the aid of a dictionary I’m still not that much wiser. Needless to say it is something to do with sex, in this case feminism. (Relational identity, Otherness and Victimisation: An Irigarayan Reading of Judges 19-21).
I would think these three chapters from Judges certainly need a lot of interpretation if someone like me is going to make sense of them. It’s also one of the less edifying chunks of the Bible-if it were on the BBC it would come with a health warning, and then get made into a late night series. But are just three chapters, mainly concerned with eating and drinking and warring, enough for a Doctorate of Philosophy these days.
The latest shot across my bows is a film to be screened in St Asaph Cathedral on December 6th. It’s title “All One in Christ” would, in the olden days, have given the impression it was a film about Christian life. Nowadays we know enough to be suspicious, even before we see it is an IRIS Prize Outreach project. This film company specialises in films for and about the LGBTQI community and the interesting point is it was the good old Bench of Bishops who requested it be made. Bishop Gregory of St Asaph will be talking about the film at its premiere. I wonder if his LGBT chaplain has a starring role in it.
The Bishop of Gloucester, whose maiden speech in the Lords was all about the empowerment of women, is to preside at an LGBT Eucharist in January to “offer a safe space” to gay worshippers. What does she think that makes me feel like. Just because I believe that Christian marriage must be between a man and a woman does she think I am automatically horrible to every gay or lesbian I meet. Does she assume that most of her own church congregations are homophobic.
Remember Canon Jeffrey John, in the pulpit of Liverpool Cathedral, telling the congregation, and anyone who read that sermon, that those of us who could not support Same Sex Marriage were “inhumane”.
If all this pressure on behalf of those in favour of same sex partnerships were just one aspect of the work of the church it would be welcome. As Christians we believe we are all one in Christ. For heaven’s sakes! During a long life of Sundays how often have I heard the words of St Paul in Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Also, in that life of Sundays I have heard a lot about love, almost nothing about sex.
Do you remember this quote from “Animal Farm”? “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”
It seems to me, a lifetime Anglican, as I whirl through space, a mis-fitting alien, looking for truth and honesty and discipline, that anyone in the LGBTQI community and all feminists are a lot more equal than I am in the eyes of the senior clergy.