I’m Back Because I Can’t Stand Sham

I stopped writing blogs ten months ago. I popped back to comment on Curry and Churchill but that was as long ago as January and February. Now, however, I think there are things I must say or I shall burst! 

I gave up blogging for two reasons. I seemed to be saying the same things in slightly different ways over and over and getting nowhere. Every time I grumbled about something that seemed to me wrong or stupid something even worse happened.

I thought I could find something better to do with my time, so I did. I decided to tell the story of my father’s experiences in Flanders, Greece and Palestine during the First World War. (Yes, I really do mean my Father and not my Grandfather.) Inevitably, I have also been trying to look at the modern world through his eyes, like this item from The Sun on July 16th.

 How on earth would I begin to explain to my father the convolutions and complications involved with a woman who changes to a man and then goes back to being a woman so that she can have a baby – father unknown – and then demands that the law of the land is changed so that he can be registered as the father. Since children need a mother and a father perhaps he should be registered as both — although that is still a lie, because he isn’t.

Let’s get back to my father and my memoir. Everyone knows the horrors of the trenches; most people have heard of the disaster that was Gallipoli; but Palestine? That was something to do with Laurence of Arabia, wasn’t it? Well, yes – he was there, along with many thousands of assorted troops from Britain, France, Australia and India, as well as local Arabs.

It hasn’t been an easy task. While I was describing the first couple of years of his training it was often quite amusing There was plenty of frustration but also a lot of fun. When “Tubby” moved to France in 1916 telling the story became emotionally much more difficult. My father was a small, quiet, very gentle man. The thought of him in the trenches was horrible. Soaking myself in eyewitness accounts and sorting through endless photos day after day left me feeling like a chewed rag.

Then he was sent to Salonika. He’d never talked about Flanders and I had no idea he’d ever been in Greece. This was a strange discovery and very interesting. The whole story became even more fascinating when he went to Egypt.

Let’s get back to my father and my memoir. Everyone knows the horrors of the trenches; most people have heard of the disaster that was Gallipoli; but Palestine? That was something to do with Laurence of Arabia, wasn't it? Well, yes – he was there, along with many thousands of  assorted troops from Britain, France, Australia and India, as well as local Arabs. 

It hasn't been an easy task. While I was describing the first couple of years of training it was often quite amusing There was plenty of frustration but also a lot of fun. When "Tubby" moved to France in 1916 telling the story became emotionally much more difficult. My father was a small, quiet, very gentle man. The thought of him in the trenches was horrible. Soaking myself in eyewitness accounts sorting through endless photos day after day left me feeling like a chewed rag. 

Then he was sent to Salonika. He’d never mentioned Flanders and I had no idea he’d ever been in Greece. This was a strange discovery and very interesting. The whole story became even more fascinating when he went to Egypt.

From there he walked all the way to Jerusalem, interrupted by some rather nasty battles along the way.

In this photo, dated 9th December, 1917, the Mayor of Jerusalem tries to surrender the city to two British Tommies of the London Regiment.

Then he returned to Flanders just in time to win a medal, about six weeks before the Armistice.

I began by telling the story for the family — it’s a wonderful example of how a very ordinary man came to do extraordinary things. Now I’m wondering if it could find a wider audience, because people I’ve talked to are amazed to hear about this “other” war. At the moment I’m struggling to edit the fourth or fifth draft so perhaps I’d better finish that first.

My father was not a churchgoer. He pooh-poohed everything to do with the Church of England,  mainly on the grounds of hypocrisy. He saw hypocrites everywhere and wanted nothing to do with them. The antics of the present Anglican church would have proved how right he was to be wary. On the other hand he would have been horrified to know that these days you can lose your job just for quoting from the Bible.

He wouldn’t have understood “unplatforming” or “safe spaces” either. Foxholes and dugouts were safe spaces for him. He was fairly left wing and delighted in discussion and argument where facts mattered and you could give as good as you got in verbal battles. If I’d tried to tell him that nowadays feelings trump facts he’d have thought I’d gone raving mad.

That is what has encouraged me to begin blogging again.

I don’t want you to get the impression that the book I am writing is unrelieved gloom. Tubby and his mates found plenty to laugh about. In this little scene they are in the Judean Hills in early 1918. They are almost at the end of the supply lines and food is short. 

These hills are what stopped Richard Lionheart and they did their best to stop us, too. For most of our route there was a precipice on one side and a steep hillside on the other. It was a long, arduous trudge, with my pack feeling as though it were gaining weight with every step I took.
Finally we reached the crest of the first range of hills and descended into a valley and to a village called Enab. This place looked closer to paradise than anywhere we’d been in months. The hillsides were wooded, covered with orchards of olive and fig trees or terraced for vineyards. There was even a monastery, where wine was made. Not that that helped the troops much; the officers had most of it before it ran out! Here we stayed for over a week.
Needless-to-say, paradise was an illusion. The trees were bare of fruit and the torrential rain not only soaked everything, but seriously impeded the camel convoys. A camel’s feet are designed for sand, not mountain passes. Heavily laden as they were they kept slipping and sliding on the wet, rocky tracks and too often these falls caused serious and even fatal injuries. After a few days “Someone” found 2,000 donkeys from “Somewhere” which were much more sure-footed on the steep rough slopes. Sometimes miracles still happened! 

The extra supplies they brought in were desperately needed, mainly for the transport animals.
We were utterly exhausted so we stayed in our bivvies and groused. There was quite a lot to grumble about.
‘I don’t want to grumble,’ Charles said, ‘but I’m bloody cold. As well as food I wish they’d issue us with some winter woollies. It would have been bitterly cold last night, even if I hadn’t been soaked to the skin.’

‘Thank God for the socks I got in one of those parcels,’ I said. ‘My boots have had it.’

I stuck out my feet in front of the other three, showing how the sole was coming loose on one boot and the toecap was flapping on the other.
‘Don’t be hard on them,’ George said. ‘Think where they’ve been. First the desert, then the sandhills around Jaffa, then the Palestine plain and now these bloody foothills. No wonder they’re falling to pieces.’
‘Not as bad as the animals,’ Lanky piped up. If he worried about anything it was most likely to be about the four-legged troops. ‘D’you know,’ he paused, looking solemnly around at us. ‘The horses have been on half rations for nearly a month.’
‘So’ve we,’ said Charles.
‘They didn’t get oranges and things when we did,’ Lanky insisted. ‘Those really bucked us up, remember. One transport bloke told me some of the horses have been trying to eat the leather of their harnesses.’
‘I wonder if they’d like my boots,’ I said.
‘Better hang on to them,’ George said. ‘You may be glad to have them to gnaw on yourself soon, by the look of you.’
I looked around at the other three and I could see what he meant. The truth was, like the horses, we were all half starved.
The three of them returned my gaze, then George said, ‘Look on the bright side. Far fewer flies and bugs around now.’ He grinned and his face was transformed. That at least was true, though the cold and wet seemed to have no effect on the lice.

We still live in interesting times.

I more or less gave up blogging last Autumn. I had a little flurry of activity in August when I posted four blogs in quick succession, and a re-post. Then nothing.

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The first of the August blogs recorded my difficulties in trying to spend some of the £10 million that the Church in Wales was giving to us for evangelism.

This is Allan Coote, a London bus driver, reading the Bible outside St Paul’s Cathedral last summer. But only for half an hour a week. The Dean and Chapter can’t cope with more than that.

 

In the second blog, among other things, I was expressing amused disbelief that the Freemasons had voted to include women—but only if they had first joined as men! The third blog, entitled ‘The Absurdity Goes On’ and posted on the same day, was inspired by a row over a wall plaque in York. It was to honour somebody called Anne Lister who was apparently the first famous English lesbian. The row erupted because the word lesbian did not appear on the plaque for fear of causing offence.

The fourth one, Storm in a Teacup appeared on August 11. It concerned the furore caused by Boris Johnson’s comment that a woman in a burqa looks like a letterbox. Actually he wasn’t completely correct. He meant the niqab – the burqa doesn’t have a slit in it.

Well, it was the silly season. So I decided to enjoy the summer and write again when I felt inspired. I re-posted one more blog – Tommy Tubby Again – on 28thSeptemeber as a tribute to my father. On September 28, 1918 he won the DSO. It was also his 25th birthday. After that nothing inspired me at all.

Three things have brought me back.

The first was checking my blog site for the first time in three months and discovering that people were still reading me. December 21st was the only day when I didn’t have a single visitor. Sometimes, someone obviously settled down to read many blogs one after the other. And when I counted I discovered I have readers far from the boundaries of Wales—in 28 different countries, in fact.

Well, I thought, perhaps I have still got something worth saying.

Secondly, serendipity. Several times in the last couple of weeks I have come across words and phrases, especially in the psalms, that seem to be nudging me to stand up and be counted.

And thirdly, the nudges and winks from my dear friends in Cardiff.

However, to be honest, I have nothing new to say. I still have just three things that I think are of fundamental importance.

The love of God as revealed in the Scriptures

The Anglican Church as it used to be but is no longer

Traditional marriage between a man and woman for the sake of family life which is the bedrock of a civilised society.

So while I’m wondering where to begin I am going to re-post my most read blog by far, from April 9th 2016. If I knew what there was about this particular blog that made it so popular I would do the same thing again and again. I suppose it must strike a chord with all the old Anglicans still sitting listening to meaningless words through empty services.

In any case, I suspect I shan’t be short of subject matter. Welby’s representative in Rome doesn’t believe in the Resurrection. Welby doesn’t want a lorry park in his Kent back yard. Curry is trying to silence Love. I’m sure I’ll find something to say.

Empty boxes, empty gestures, empty words

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“You Cubes” in a Welsh Cathedral-November 2014

When you leave something, whether it’s the Front Bench, a job, a marriage or a church, it may seem to onlookers that you have left after a row. When it becomes clear that it was a relatively small straw that broke the camel’s back, it may be thought that you left in a fit of pique, or on a whim, and that you’re too stubborn or too proud to apologise and return.

In fact, in almost every case, the small straw comes along after months, or years. In my case I came to the conclusion that I must sadly cut my ties to the Church of Wales after a couple of years of increasing frustration, irritation and hopelessness. After a Diocesan Conference in October 2014 which had left me feeling utterly disillusioned, the scales began to fall from my eyes the following month. That’s when I became convinced that the C in W was bumbling along a road I didn’t want to take, to a place I didn’t want to go.

Do you remember these boxes? The trendily labelled You Cubes.

For many years, in our village church, we used to fill old shoe boxes—at Christmas, or for Water Aid, or in response to a disaster like an earthquake. Some boxes were filled with baby clothes, others with small toys, games and crayons, and still others with toiletries—toothbrushes and toothpaste, scented soap, face cream and after shave. (In a crisis it’s important to restore self esteem and nothing does that better than a bit of luxury.)

The boxes in these photos are different. They are empty. Covered with shiny paper and all sorts of bits and bobs, they are supposed to tell the story of individual spiritual journeys. They seemed to me to be a perfect illustration of the saying “Fur coat and no knickers;” the complete antithesis of what our Lord Jesus Christ is all about. The more I looked at them the more I felt shock, puzzlement and finally outrage. Could no one, from Bishops, through Archdeacons, down to Area Deans, see the symbolism of the empty boxes, particularly just a few weeks before Christmas? Did no one in a lowly post in a Diocesan office dare say, what many must have thought, “this is a daft idea”?

Matthew 7:9-10 “Or which of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?”

These empty boxes summed up what I thought of the Church in Wales. Empty boxes, empty gestures, empty words.

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An altar of empty boxes. This says it all.

A Wolf Whistle a Day . . .

Keeps a girl bright and gay*

*Gay meaning “merry and lively” as it did when I was young. At college I had a friend who had been christened Gay. I wonder what happened to her.

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That was today’s front page of the Daily Star. I’ve never really trusted them since they told me that knitters and bird watchers were ashamed to admit to their hobbies. I do both avidly and don’t care who knows it. But after ‘up-skirting’ I’m afraid what The Star says may be true. 

I am not ashamed to admit that I was always delighted to get a wolf whistle as I walked passed a building site, nor did I get offended or feel degraded by the sight of a “builder’s bum”.

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Offensive? Degrading?  Not really.

I suppose I’m lucky. I’m too old or too stupid or too much of a mis-fit in modern society to recognise most hate crimes. That’s why I thought making ‘up-skirting’ a crime was equally bonkers. Well, I did, once I’d found out what the word meant. Should it come into law it could carry a two year jail sentence and life on the sex offenders’ register.

I would have thought taking photos up women’s skirts was already an offence under existing sexual harassment laws.

Where I live, if I’d been burgled two years ago, the criminal had only a 16% chance of being caught. With so many extra hate crimes being added to the statute book the police will now have even less time to investigate minor annoyances such as robbery, burglary, larceny, theft, motor vehicle theft or arson. That worries me much more and would cause me infinitely more distress.

The reason I’m not very sympathetic is because it seems so incredibly infantile. I can remember male people looking up female people’s skirts but that was in the school playground when I was seven. It was the sort of stupid thing boys did. There were various responses. You could burst into tears and tell teacher. You could be outraged and tell teacher. You could push him over and get your mates to stand around and laugh. On the whole the third option worked best.

Will de-bagging become the next hate crime, I wonder.

I used to live next to a big teaching hospital. At wild parties the female nurses took great delight in de-bagging innocent young male doctors. One night, a naked junior registrar escaped into his car but on a sharp corner lost control, shot through a fence and landed up in our garden. It was on a private road so the police couldn’t charge him with any motoring offence so they arrested him for indecent exposure. I assume that is still a crime but is it a hate crime?

 

 

 

 

At Last. Common Sense from a Bishop!

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The Bishop of David’s celebrates St David’s Day

Every year on St David’s Day, the Bishop of St David’s sends a message to members of the Senedd. [For overseas readers: the Senedd is the Welsh Assembly of politicians who make decisions (frequently daft) about matters specific to Wales.] Here, in italics, is the text of the Bishop’s message.

“Like St David, we live in difficult times”.

Too right, particularly in the Church in Wales. As Bishop Joanne will know only too well, out of a population of 2.1 million fewer than 30,000 attend church regularly.

“In Wales, we are facing an uncertain future over which even our politicians in the Senedd and local government have a limited amount of control.”

Perhaps it’s no bad thing the Welsh politicians have limited control.  I’m worried about their interference in family life and education. Too often it seems politicians, not teachers, decide what children must learn. Even more worrying, parents find they have little say when they are unhappy about some adverse effect on an individual child. It seems impossible to ‘opt out’ any more. 

“As ever, it is the voices of suspicion and bigotry that shout the loudest.”

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At times like these, it is important that we hold onto our core Welsh values of community, common sense and honesty.”

 At last, a bishop calling for common sense—a value that I have elevated in frequent years almost into a virtue. Surely honesty should be a core value everywhere and always?  Community! That’s the best bit. I sincerely hope the Bishop intends to do everything in her power to rescue the whole community of the Church in Wales from further decline.

“On his death bed, St David called his community to a renewed commitment to “the little things”.

Those words remind me of the poem, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum.

Among those ‘little’ things he tells us: Share everything. Play fair. Don’t hit people. Clean up your own mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together. Be aware of wonder.

Very little things but what a difference if we all lived by them every single day.

“We may not be able to have much control over Westminster politics or the mainstream media but St David reminds us that the control we can exercise over our own words and actions are vital. Whether we are politicians, journalists or members of the public, it is our words and actions that form the Wales of today and tomorrow.”

Only ‘politicians, journalists or members of the public…’ ? What about the words and actions of Church of Wales clergy? Or has the bishop omitted the clergy because she knows so many of them don’t count for much these days.

 “On this St David’s day, let us renew our commitment to honesty, kindness and generosity and, at least on this side of Offa’s dyke, nurture communities of welcome and hope.”  

+ Joanna Tyddewi

Welcome and hope. Oh, yes, please. Do everything you can, Bishop Joanne, to persuade your fellow bishops, not only in Wales, but throughout the UK, to offer a welcome and give hope to all true Anglicans, even those who believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Post Script

Only as I was previewing this blog before posting did I notice something that should have been staring me in the face. This message was to celebrate St David’s Day—St David, our Patron Saint, brought Christianity to Wales. Joanna Pemberthy is his 128th successor. But there is no mention of God, no mention of religion; I suppose I should be glad there is no mention of sex. This could have been written by a worthy social worker or a politician seeking re-election. Just out of interest I checked on the Bishop of Llandaff’s last Christmas message. In over 500 words this was her only sentence with a reference to Christianity. “As Christians recall how God gave His own son, born as a baby and sharing in human experience, we are invited to remember the power of gifts.” I wonder what they’ll find to talk about at Easter? Cadbury’s eggs, perhaps.

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know

This is mad.

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This was an invitation to members of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario to attend an inclusiveness training session in Canada back in the summer. I would like to think it was a joke but I doubt it. Have you noticed how totally lacking in humour activists of any sort are?

The acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Genderqueer, Bisexual, Demisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Twospirit, Intersex, Queer, Questioning, Asexual, Allies, Pansexual and Polyamorous.

About the only thing that is clear from this is that these people are certainly into sex!

The ad makes the claim that “only 1% of members of the ETFO are open with their identities.” In addition, there is this extraordinary statement. “Some surveys suggest as much as half the public secretly identifies as LGBT …..”

That really is mad.

This is bad.

Christians should pray for Prince George to be gay, says senior Scottish reverend –  headline in the Independent newspaper.

I wasn’t surprised when I learned who the “senior Scottish reverend” was. (I’ve commented before on this particular Rev on my blogs “How to Get Your Knickers in a Twist” Jan 17th and “Shame” Jan 23rd, 2017

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The Very Revd Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow, and a campaigner for LGBT rights in the Church suggested in a blog that ‘the fastest way to make the C of E more inclusive [is] to pray for Prince George to be blessed one day with the love of a fine young gentleman’.

Is this Very Reverend gentleman seriously suggesting that we should pray that a four year old boy will grow up gay in order to make churches more inclusive! Clearly our Kelvin isn’t a parent. We pray a lot for our children but mainly along the lines of keeping them fit and healthy and happy. Perhaps we’ll add an occasional request that they are also tolerant, generous and kind.

Surely there can’t be parents who pray that their children will be somewhere—anywhere—on the LGBDTTTIQQAAPP spectrum.

Churches already have a far higher proportion of the LGBT+ brigade in their ranks than the general community so if they’re not inclusive whose fault is that?

I presume that the Rt Revd Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, must be already so deep into his pre-Christmas Retreat that he hasn’t had time, away from his prayers and meditations, to notice this. If he were aware he should be yelling from his pulpit “This will not do!” Given the way his church just voted on Same Sex Marriage I suppose he thinks it will do very well. It won’t. It’s really very bad.

This is Dangerous.

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Everything about this advert is awful. 

This is promoting something so dangerous that I thought the Archbishop of Canterbury should sack the All Saints clergy immediately, and close the building until it has been fumigated or re-sanctified, or whatever is done to a church in which heresy and blasphemy have occurred.

My concern and outrage had nothing to do with Islam. What was worrying me was the appalling lack of understanding of the most basic tenets of Christianity that a service like this reveals.

However, although All Saints was built in 1120 AD I’m not sure how much of the atmosphere of a sacred space it still retains. Here is a page from the church website.

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Start of the church website

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Reviews for All Saints, Kingston

Have you noticed how often, just as you think it couldn’t get any worse—it does. These little birthday parties, for the Prophet Mohammed and a chap called Jesus, are the creation of the Church of England Liturgical Commission.

I used to bemoan the falling congregations in the church. Now I thank God that so many more Christians are turning away from all the mad, bad and dangerous absurdities that are being spouted in once sacred spaces.

 

Easter Eggs? Cadburys Eggs? Curates Eggs?

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A new day dawns

I have been knitting. It’s what I do when I need to sit quietly and ponder on things.

There have been plenty of things that have plunged me into a period of despondency, puzzlement and confusion that required a lot of contemplation and hours of knit one, purl one.

Bishop Philip North is a traditional Anglo Catholic, who is not to be Bishop of Sheffield. The Revd Gavin Ashenden is a traditional Anglican and once a Chaplain to the Queen, who no longer recognises the Church of England as the church into which he was ordained. The Revd Jeffrey John, the Dean of St Albans, is less traditional, is not to be the Bishop of Llandaff but nevertheless embroiled himself in the shenanigans despoiling that diocese.

Then there is the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, BA M.Ed PhD, 45th Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, professor of Theological Education at King’s College London, Professorial Research Fellow at Heythrop College London and an Honorary Canon of Salisbury Cathedral. (You’d be forgiven for thinking you can’t get much more traditional and establishment than that.) He wrote 5,000 words and then another 5,000 words from his privileged position telling us—sorry, I’ve forgotten what exactly he said—but it wasn’t entirely traditional.

Lastly, to come down from those lofty heights, there was the case of the misnamed eggs involving Cadburys and the National Trust.

All this in the run up to Holy Week and Easter. No wonder I found it too much.

“Were you there when they crucified my Lord?”

Obviously not. We were all far too busy getting our knickers in a twist. About sex, naturally—it’s what the church talks about these days—also lies, including the BBC’s wilful misinterpretation of the ComRes poll that claimed that 25% of Christians don’t believe in the Resurrection. There were arguments about who said what to whom and when, and the true meaning of contentious words like agreement, disagreement, discernment, discrimination. And always, of course, how to be a victim in three easy lessons. Nothing new there then. No let up for Lent.

I don’t remember it was ever this complicated when my children were growing up. Easter and eggs are a potent symbol—so simple a child can understand.

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New Life

An egg cracks open and a chick emerges. The tomb has been broken open and Jesus has risen from the dead.

Far from being a symbol of New Life a Cadbury’s Creme Egg is a dead egg.

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A Cadbury’s Creme Egg

The inside of a Creme egg is full of a sickly gloop. Not much chance of new life there.

I suppose the closest it gets to a Christian egg is as a Curate’s egg—good in parts. A bit like the Anglican church in the UK.

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The original Punch cartoon

A very happy and blessed Easter to everyone, especially my friends in Llandaft.

…full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

On Sunday morning I decided to give up blogging. The night before I had seen the former Bishop of Worcester using the word betrayed about people who are Gay or Lesbian Christians. He and 13 other retired bishops had responded to a report by current bishops to Synod on the subject of, of course, Same Sex Marriage.

Everything I read seems to point to a terrible lack of truth and honesty at the very core of the Anglican church. Why should I bother to blog? Who needs that amount of grief at my age?

Then several things happened.

First of all, I woke up to a church service on my husband’s ancient, distorted clock radio, droning out a hymn. At which point I burst into tears. It was a hymn I used to love, ‘I cannot tell,’ to the tune Danny Boy—a tear jerker at the best of times—and reminded me of how much I miss the hymns in church along with so much else.

So I found it on YouTube! And while I listened, these words, in particular, struck me. 

‘I cannot tell how he will win the nations, how he will claim his earthly heritage,                                 how satisfy the needs and aspirations of east and west, of sinner and of sage.’

But this I know, His will will be done.

So I dried my eyes, read the service of Matins and then I listened to a sermon. http://www.transformingminds.im

And what a sermon. Reverend Jules Gomes preaching, for 25 minutes, on, believe it not, Discipline and Punishment. Honestly! In the 21st century! No wonder his Bishop bullied him out of the church! He’s the bishop that cut the Devil out of baptismal services. If only the Devil could be got rid of so easily.

The next thing was an e mail from my son in Dubai sending me a link to the retired bishops’ letter.  He thought it bizarre and was looking forward to my blog on the subject. This was followed by another similar e mail from a clerical friend in Cardiff. He is always encouraging although he attends one of the churches which is sticking to Anglican truths—and thriving, needless-to-say—despite all that Llandaff has thrown at it.

Finally, the one and only husband spoke up. What he would really like is for all supporters of SSM to be totally ignored, on the grounds that the noise they make is out of all proportion to their size and importance.

Since his life’s work was involved with noise – anything from bumblebees and snoring to submarines and Concorde – he is very aware of the damage noise can do. His other complaint was that there is too much dodgy data around the subject. I may not be an academic scientist but even I can spot dodgy data when I see it. Take this, Oasis report, “In the Name of Love”, which claims to prove that churches cause Gays to commit suicide. It cites two bits of evidence but omits a third which proves the opposite.

The letter from the 14 ex-bishops doesn’t contain any data at all, or if it does I haven’t found it among all its verbiage. Take these sentences.

‘‘Our perception is that while the pain of LGBT people is spoken about in your report, we do not hear its authentic voice. Our experience would lead us to doubt whether there was an expectation around that canons and doctrinal statements would be changed within any reasonable timescale, and that focus seems to have taken far more time than it would have done if the authentic voices of lesbian and gay people had been allowed to express the major focus of their hopes, but you might not have had to spend as much time explaining why if those other voices had been allowed to come through more clearly.’

Authentic seems to be the important word here and although I thought I knew what it meant I looked it up to check. Genuine. Real. True. Honest. Faithful. Trustworthy.

So what exactly are the bishops saying? That the genuine, honest voices of lesbian and gay people have not been allowed to be heard? Does that mean that all we’ve heard so far is not true or faithful. Is all the evidence of gay power already in churches in some way not authentic?

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What exactly is this saying that the bishops haven’t heard?

In December, the Bishop of St Asaph, the Rt Revd Gregory Cameron, attended the premiere of a film called All One in Christ. He said then, that the film was powerful because it was a film of personal testimony, with people bold enough to speak of their complicated, sometimes rejecting, experience of the Church. “It’s a film which demands attention,” he assured us. Well it’s certainly getting attention at the moment. It’s on the big screen at Cineworld, Llandudno Junction tomorrow night, Thursday 16 February 2017, at 8.00 pm. Tickets cost £6.50.

One of the original 14 signatories of that letter is The Rt Revd Stephen Lowe, formerly Bishop of Hulme, and now a local Mission Area Leader. He should certainly know whether the film is authentic or not, since he has a starring role in it, along with +Gregory’s Chaplain to LGBT people. Surely they can’t believe this film is unreal or dishonest or untrustworthy nor that their views are not being sufficiently broadcast. This is one of the cinemas that wouldn’t screen the Church’s Christmas message in 2015 because it involved people reciting the Lord’s Prayer, so showing All One in Christ is, presumably, a real breakthrough.

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ls this authentic enough to be clear?

As I write, the lunch time news is showing the scene outside Church House, where late this afternoon Synod will debate, yet again, Same Sex Marriage in church.  Protestors are gathered outside with placards, some of which show the word Hate. Christians, which is what Anglicans try to be, can’t hate. It’s against our religion.