…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.

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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.