Oh Come All Ye Faithful!

I want to wish any and all my readers a happy  Christmas.  I am signing off for this year because I am moving to England.

Only for Christmas! I just feel the need to get away from the broken reed the Church in Wales seems to have become.

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The St Asaph diocese continually emphasises Bishop Gregory’s queer views that harp continually on the doings of his LGBT chaplain to the exclusion of everyone else. Across the river, in Bangor Cathedral, Bishop Andy announced his separation from his wife, also a priest.

+Gregory’s ad says it “provides a safe, sacred space for our LGBTQIA friends.”

My village church used to be a safe, sacred space for everyone. We shared our stories and our lives after every service, we explored our faith in Bible Study groups, we enjoyed many get togethers, from Bingo to Quizzes to Xmas carol sing-a-longs and we did NOT discriminate.

It does not have to be like this. Come ON, all ye Faithful. What did God tell Noah the rainbow represented?  “….my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh.”

Between me and you and every living creature. 

A Queer Business

On my December 1st blog “Hollywood comes to St Asaph” I advertised a film festival to be held in the Cathedral here in North Wales, entitled “All One in Christ”. As it was endorsed by the Bishop of St Asaph, had a starring part for his LGBT Chaplain and was made by a LGBT supporting film company it wasn’t hard to guess the subject—almost certainly ‘embracing diversity.’

The last film I saw was ‘The BFG’, a film very big on good and evil and diversity. Film can be immensely powerful—even animations can reduce you to tears. This film could have made a tremendous statement. It didn’t.

I watched it twice but was left with virtually nothing to say. So I went away and wrote about two fathers who choose the mothers of their children on a cat walk in California. Today I decided to bite the bullet and review ‘All One in Christ’. Guess what? I can’t. Go to the Diocese website, click on the video and look what you get.

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I also get this quaint little icon.I think it’s expressing disappointment but I’m not disappointed, just puzzled. Why, after all the hype, has it been withdrawn.

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“All One in Christ” was described in various media as “a short film that is deeply critical of the church’s attitude to homosexuality”. Mark Williams, of something called ‘Iris in the Community’, said, “It’s a simple film with a powerful message and I can’t wait to see how the public respond.” Since it’s gone “Private” the public won’t be able to respond.

Mike Jones of ‘Changing Attidtudes’ said, “By sharing the personal stories of those who have suffered and been hurt I hope this powerful film will bring home to all the scale of the damage done and ultimately help change attitudes within the church. We are all one in Christ. This means, for example, that everyone should be able to celebrate their marriages or civil partnerships in churches and receive God’s blessing.”

In all of this there was only one dissenting voice. Dr William Strange, vice-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship in the Church in Wales, told Christian Today it was “regrettable” the Church had made this “public demonstration after our governing body decided not to give the green light to change teaching on sexuality”.

Of course, the Archbishop of Wales called it “powerful”. (The word “powerful” is massively over used and mendacity and deceit abound.)  Dr Morgan also warned that “This film will not be easy watching for church members.”

With respect, Archbishop, you are wrong on both counts.

It is not a powerful film and it should surely be you and your clergy, not the church members, who will find it difficult viewing.

The film has no plot or story line. It’s a sequence of talking heads, interspersed with typical Welsh scenes, and the words spoken have all been said before, over and over again. In the film, the Revd Sarah Hildreth-Osborn says, “Over the last two or three years I have begun to discover what it means not to have to live a frightened life, hidden away, terrified of what other people might think of me if they find out I’m gay.” Poppycock. She’s an ordained priest, she’s the Bishop’s LGBT Chaplain, she says her congregations support her and she’s in a civil partnership. Where’s the terror in that?

Whoever briefed the Guardian and Christian News seriously mislead them about the content of the film.

Take this headline in the Guardian.

“Film about nuns who fall in love to be shown in Welsh cathedral” 

Christian News made similar claims. “All One in Christ is a 12-minute documentary about two ex-nuns who fall in love before being rejected by their community and tells the story of Ann and Marika Jane Savage-Lewis.”

That brilliant film, “Black Narcissus” came to mind. Something along those lines would certainly deliver a potent message. Unfortunately, saying it “tells the story” is
misrepresenting the film with a vengeance. The film doesn’t tell any story.

The former nuns are just two talking heads—their poodle is more entertaining. Marika merely describes the outrage of their local bishop after they were outed by a Sunday newspaper about 40 years ago. Their local vicar physically blocked their entrance to the church. However, the members of their church, apparently, accepted them quite happily. Bishop Stephen Lowe at least seems to accept the clergy’s role in this. He says, in the film “The way in which gay and lesbian people have been persecuted is something that the church needs to feel a deep repentance about.” Quite right, too. The church has no business persecuting anyone.

“That was us out,” Marika told the Guardian. She said the archbishop (of St Asaph) was “very brave” for allowing the screening – “particularly in view of the hoo-ha that’s going on”. What hoo-ha? Those who simply believe that marriage is between a man and a woman aren’t making a hoo-ha. Perhaps all the “persecution” suffered by Gays and Lesbians will make them more compassionate towards those who still can’t support Same Sex Marriage.

The film is actually flabby, rather than powerful. A film about victims and martyrs facing persecution should pack a hefty punch but instead this is just more of the pathetic same. This quote from the beginning of this blog says it all, though not in the way the speaker had in mind. “I hope this powerful film will bring home to all the scale of the damage done”. Amen to that.

 

 

“Family Coach” for the 21st Century

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Do you remember the old party game of Family Coach? Someone, preferably with the gift of the gab, tells a long story involving a journey in the Family Coach. Everyone in the party is given the name of a person or the name of a thing. For example, Abigail, the maid or Fido the dog, or Grandma’s umbrella. When you hear your name you have to stand up and turn around. If you are day dreaming and miss your name you have to pay a forfeit. At the words “Family Coach” everyone has to stand up and turn round. The game begins slowly and quietly, preferably around a log fire, with suitable refreshments to hand. Gradually, as more and more names are included, more and more quickly, the Family Coach finally spins out of control.

Today, a story in the Daily Mail reminded me of this old game, but with a bizarre modern twist. I had a lot of fun imagining it as a Family Coach narrative until it struck me that this true story could well be closer to tragedy than comedy.

In the Mail there is a photo of the fathers, and the five children, with their names and all the details of their parentage. Looking at those kids, particularly the only girl (17), who seems sad and uncomfortable, I don’t feel like naming them. The following story could well be a Family Coach narrative but I can assure you the details are true.

First of all there are two men who are the fathers of one or other of the children. We’ll call them Dad and Daddy. Then, there are three Mummies. One Mummy sold (sorry, donated) her eggs for £50,000. We’ll call her Brazilian Mummy. Then there is First Twins’ Mummy, the owner of the surrogate womb that carried the first set of twins. Except that, if the two daddies each impregnated one of the two eggs, then the two resulting children are only half brother and half sister. So can they still be twins?  We’ll call the girl baby Vogue and the boy baby Porsche after their cars. A few years later the Brazilian Mummy and the surrogate Mummy had another baby, a boy, but I’m afraid I don’t know which is his Daddy. I’ll call him Tertius.

Six years ago Dad and Daddy had another set of sort of twins, with Brazilian Mummy but with a different surrogate who I will call Mum Mark 2. The real names of all five children are American cities so I’ll call these two Grand Rapids and Niagara Falls.

In case that isn’t a big enough family to make Family Coach really good fun Dad and Daddy are now going to have triplets—three girls, to even things up a bit. This may get a bit tricky. They have 10 spare embryos in cold storage in California but they don’t know yet if they are girls or boys. Dad, or Daddy, says they plan to implant four embryos in Surrogate Mum Mark 3, if enough are girls, so they could end up with quads. They are going to be called Milan, Paris and London. If there’s a fourth I suppose it will be called Madrid or Barcelona, or possibly Berlin or Frankfurt.

At this point, the story begins to sound a bit fantastic but I’m not making it up. The Daddies will have a problem if those frozen embryos are unsuitable. In that case, first, they will ask Brazilian Mummy for more eggs, because they want the children to be biologically connected if possible. If she refuses they will then hold auditions in Beverley Hills. The chosen woman will have to be “gorgeous, outgoing, confident” but it won’t matter if she’s as thick as two short planks because beauty is more important than brains, which the two Daddies have in abundance. Ongoing talks with TV companies will ensure that you can follow every last detail of this pregnancy right up to the birth.

It doesn’t surprise me that their daughter, Vogue, is the only member of the family who doesn’t think much of this idea.

801 Years and 6 Months since Magna Carta and we still can’t frame simple, straightforward laws

I have to spend so much time trying to make sense of modern life, particularly modern sex life, that I rarely have much time for politics. In any case, some of the things I’ve had to read this year in relation to Brexit and Trump have, frankly, been pretty nasty. However, I can’t ignore the headline in today’s Daily Telegraph.

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It isn’t some snotty nosed back bencher trying to make a name for his or her self saying this. Nor one of the tabloid newspapers. It’s the Attorney General. He has warned the Supreme Court not to ‘stray into areas of political judgment.’ Well, of course not. They’re lawyers not politicians, though I’m not sure what he is.

The Supreme Court is a 21st century newcomer to British law and I had, in my simple minded way, thought it was what it said on the tin. There are 12 members of this court and I’d supposed they acted a bit like a jury; they heard the evidence, they deliberated, using both their common sense and their years of legal experience, and then they made their legal decision. In this case, I would have thought they would have to decide what the law says, not what anyone else thought it ought to say. Why have a Supreme Court if a a mere politician or newspaper hack can tell them what decision to make?

The media seem to be telling them—virtually shrieking at them—to make sure, never mind the laws they really must make the decision the People want. It has suddenly dawned on me that since lawyers make laws they are obviously not going to be clear and concise and straightforward.
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We’ve come a long way since Moses. “Thou shalt not kill.” That was just one of ten rules to a happy, healthy life-style, until Jesus went one better and thought two rules were enough. 1. Love God. 2. Love your neighbour. How old-fashioned is that? How un-cool. Most people don’t know God and probably have no idea even who their next-door neighbour is either.

 

To get back to Brexit. Should it not have been made crystal clear from the beginning how to get out of the EU legally? When all the rules and regulations were being drawn up someone must have said, ‘Hang on a bit. What happens if a country decides to leave?’ There are, for example, hundreds of rules about cabbages, so surely there must be laws about How to Leave the EU. If not, the lawyers are going to have a field day, to say nothing of the politicians and the media.

I think I’ll go back to sex.

 

 

More from the Waffling Moronarchy

 

 

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The Bishop-Elect of St David’s receives communion from the Bishop’s Chaplain to the LGBT community 

 

If these two women ever got to read this blog—which I’m sure they’d only do once—they might well think they had been responsible for driving me out of the Church in Wales. Perhaps they’d pray that I would one day see the light or perhaps they’d deem me a homophobic bigot beyond redemption. They’d be wrong on both counts. I am not a homophobic bigot and it was the Light of Christ that lead me away from the church in Wales.
They’d probably be amazed if they knew the amount of time I spend reading, studying, thinking and praying about the whole LGBT issue and trying to make sense of it all. One problem I have is trying to get across complex thoughts and feelings in a concise, approachable way in this blog, especially if I’ve been made to feel very angry.
Take the “Gay Cake” case in Northern Ireland, for example. My reaction had nothing to do with the fact that Gareth Lee is gay. What upset me was that he deliberately went out of his way to stir up trouble against a Christian couple in order to pursue his own activist agenda. Unlike the Archers, the owners of the bakery, who were genuinely sorry that they weren’t able to oblige him, though they were willing to bake an un-iced cake, Mr Lee showed no compassion or sympathy.

It seemed to me like a dirty tricks campaign. Am I a homophobic bigot because I think that sort of thing is despicable?

Hollywood is coming to St Asaph

The Diocese of St Asaph in North Wales is clearly anxious to get all the details right for the premiere of their film “All one in Christ” on 6th December.

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In fact, it’s going to be a really big night. As well as what one might call the Main Feature, there are five more LGBT films to be screened that evening. The B movies I suppose you would call them. I wonder what adverts they will be showing. Probably not the “Lord’s Prayer” which was banned from cinemas last Christmas.

To show that St Asaph is up there with the big players Revd Dr Manon Ceridwen James, Director of Ministry, is advertising for some red carpet for the great night. Is this wholly appropriate? Red carpet does for everyone. In the special circumstances wouldn’t rainbow carpet be a better choice?