Church and women

“What an absolute and unequivocal disgrace. The Church of England has become nothing more than the play-thing of government – championing government policies rather than the Gospel it claims to profess.” Writes “StartingTheParty” in today’s Times.

What an odd person this is who is commenting on the ordination of women to the episcopate. Look at the congregations they are made up of mostly woman. Look at the people who run the every day things such an cleaning, cooking, volunteering, church preparation and pastoral support. Women.

The Bible was written by men in and totally different era, culture and country. These people who do not feel they can be governed by the authority of a women contribute to the very misogyny and mistreatment of woman every day across the world. Women are equal as human beings to men. This is a simple but fundemental premise of a civilised and developed nation. The moment when you sub-categorised human beings you devalue them.

Life is sacred and humans are the pinnacle of living creatures. Only those who try to put themselves first will eventually become last.

Good Friday

I have had an interesting day. I decided that I would have a look down at the service in the market place. This is a christian service of witness which takes place each year on good friday. It is begins with a  walk through the main shopping street and ends in the market place. I used to take part in this which I was a church goer a number of years ago. My abiding memory is getting told off by someone for talking while we set off on the walk.

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The service end but I had something else planned for the afternoon. Most people know that my education is in religion and I have followed an organisation for a number of years called Hope not Hate. This was set up to counter the extremist groups such as the BNP and others and to educate those about their BNP racist agenda.

During my year in Oxford training to be a teacher I visited various places of worship including two of the main mosques in Birmingham. I have always be interested in religion and thought it was about time I spoke to some muslims about their views of various racist groups and their outlook on the continuing attacks on Islam.

I set up a meeting with someone from the Islamic Diversity Centre in Newcastle and spent time discuss my concerns and getting their perspective on life. It was certainly an interesting discussion. It was good to hear that their work is to break down the various misconceptions about Islam. They regularly speak to various groups in the north east and part of their outreach is to provide services for the homeless and elderly; something even I wasn’t familiar with.

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I was given a small gift which contained various literature about Islam. I hope that I will be able to learn more and get to know a few of the muslim population here in the north east. I attend to visit a mosque and hopefully gain more understanding of this religion.

Reflections

As a reformed Church of England member (I left) I still take time over Holy Week to reflect on life. I think for anyone who does or doesn’t have a religion or any for of faith that reflecting on your life is important. A lot of people will make choices to change things in their life at New Year. I don’t for the fact that it’s after a time of excesses and partying making life decisions isn’t the best time.

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Taking time. Relaxing with music and calmness. I think everyone should have a time that they can reflect on things.

Marriage Equality

A friend of mine said that marriage between two people of the same sex would never happen. They were wrong. Today we celebrate with those people in declaring their love for one another in the marriage ceremony. For myself I never thought the possibility of being gay and getting married would ever be even discussed. I said to myself that my time as a church goer would have to come to an end because people were telling me that being an practising christian and taking part in “homosexual relationships” had no place in the church. I knew that my sexuality wouldn’t change. So it had to go.

Here is a video from Christian Concern about their beliefs and opinions.

“Very little debate … and it’s happened so quickly…” – Month of consolation at all levels means nothing obviously.

“This is really a spiritual issue it’s a problem which goes way beyond what we think about the issues” He is implying that this is a direct disobedience on behalf of the people who believe that same sex marriage is right. He feel that this is evil and a sin.

” … we should look to god and say lord this is what’s happening we feel disturbed about it and we don’t really know what to do please help us … please have mercy on us if we have done something wrong if we are praying on behalf of the rest of the nation … ” – what disturbs me about this sentence is the complete arrogance that his man thinks about others in society. He beliefs that the whole nation has gone in the wrong direction and turned away from God’s laws. No other institution should have a say on marriage. One assumes he must think this about death and other major points in peoples lives.

I think it’s sad that the church has taken so much time, effort and notably money in campaigning against same sex marriage. I would like to know what the Rev Andrew Symes has done to campaign and highlight the suffering of the children in Syria? Or the often ignored problem of domestic violence in the UK, where one million calls where made to the police last year reporting domestic violence and two women a week lose their lives at the hands of an abusive partner.

No wonder the established church is in decline despite it’s denial.

A long time ago

In my youth I felt god calling me to enter into some full time ministry of the church. The idea seemed nice to settle down in a sleepy village like St Mary Mead grow my teeth in buck-toothed fashion and be a vicar.

The issues that surround the ministry didn’t enter my mind. These similar issues of politics where also prevalent in the teaching profession. Dealing with the fallout of back biting, gossip and betrayal.

I didn’t enter the ministry and I left teaching nearly a decade ago. I am glad for both.

Reading an article in the Church Times today I was saddened saddened again that it’s writers still use language which can divide.

“As the first same-sex marriages loom…” This is it’s openly line. Loom? Like a spectre of darkness waiting in the wings ready to cover any unsuspecting victim that maybe unfortunate to be caught in it’s path.

I am not even going to read the rest. I will put a link to it at the bottom of this article so you can read for yourself.

Soon it will be time for the established church to decide on woman bishops. I wonder if there are any out there that this is “looming” upon? Will they see it in the same light as Same Sex Marriage? It is something that the church is careering towards without thought and process?

I won’t ever go back to teaching and I certainly won’t ever go back to being a full time member of the church. I just hope that in due course we can remember those who are looking in and seeing all the negativity.

Floods and the gays

It’s always a matter of time before someone pipes up and blames natural disasters on gay people and their wicked and dastardly ways. The UKIP councillor David Silvester is perfectly entitled to his opinions. I am also entitled to say that he is completely wrong.

One assumes that a god is ready to flood indiscriminately and even god-fearing people cannot escape because of a law that has been passed in parliament. Poor old Mrs Smith at number 32 had had her house flooded. She is a Christian who attends a weekly service; she gives to the poor and has a good heart. Surely god should have spared her in his pursuing of wrathful vengeance?

It is lunatics like Silvester that give Christianity and religion bad press in the eyes of the gay community. One assumes that places like Gran Canaria should have been wiped from the face of the earth by now.

Utter nonsensical garbage. It should be utterly condemned by all parties and politicians should remove themselves from speaking in such a way. It is for this very reason David Cameron was right in making sure that equality is for all.

Sanctuary

There are times in our life when we have to take stock. To have to sit back and look at things that we have done. Having a break is important for all of us.

It was a decision I made a few days ago. I decided to spend some time on Holy Island (Lindisfarne) just off the Northumberland coast. A small beautiful island cut off by the tide twice a day. I have been there many times including once in preparation for my teaching certificate where I was researching the life of St Cuthbert for planning lessons in Religious Education. It is amazing place. Anyone has been will tell you that the landscape and views of the surrounding coast is second to none.

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“I do”

The idea of marriage equality certainly has been a contentious one. None more seems to divide people. The idea of people of the same sex seems to some as being immoral and quite oddly against nature.

I have been on twitter for a number of years and take the full opportunity of actually talking to people. People who I have never met. This has led to getting to know people who I would certainly consider as good friends. One of the people I spoke to was David W. Ross. It was only after a while I realised who he was. He was one of the members of 90’s boyband ‘Bad Boys Inc’. I had a crush on two of them at the time. I am not telling you which two.

It was after some time that he said he was releasing a film called ‘I do’. A film which tackles the subject of marriage equality in USA and the certain rights that come with this.

I read the critics. I read IMDB review of the film and what people thought about it. One of the things I have learned over the years is never take other people’s review of films unless you have seen the film yourself.

This was particularly apt to this film. Critics had said there were parts of the film that seems ‘slightly unbelievable’. This is an independent film. It was funded by Ross himself who raised money via various websites. It doesn’t have the huge financial backing like the Hollywood blockbusters. It’s a great film about a subject which is certainly emotive for a lot of people. He should be commended for doing so.

Yes there are continuity errors. Yes the script isn’t totally outstanding but the subject addressed in a sensitive manner. I hope more people like David W. Ross will be producing these films so those who are in the minority can enjoy and be proud.

Hallowe’en

When I was a ‘church-goer’ many years ago there was always a hushed moment if you mentioned the word Hallowe’en. If people were to speak about it then it would be in condemnation. No Christian should participate in this unholy of days. I just remember a time when I was young carving out a turnip (no American use of pumpkins) and the smell of the burning as the candle burned the lid. I would plague my neighbours asking ‘penny for hallowe’en’. That was it. There were no sacrifices or drinking blood.

It was only when I became a member of the local church was I discouraged from such practices. It was not something I really thought about until the past few weeks. I have been doing some research and reading into the background of Hallowe’en and tried to grasp perspective from all sides.

I read a book by Owen Davies “Paganism”. Even though it was a short introduction to the subject it was rather dull and many times stated that the facts the author was supposedly presenting about pre-Christian religion most of it were conjecture. What it did though was explain that according to Christian beliefs than any other religion that wasn’t backed by the belief in Jesus Christ as God and saviour were seen as pagan beliefs.

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Unfortunately, there is a belief that “a pagan” is someone who believes in devil worship and an occultist. This simply isn’t true. Some of the church teachings seem to throw in a mix of Hollywood’s portrayal of the devil and stories that have popularised demons and other horror stories.

Looking back Hallowe’en is more about the ending of the agricultural year, giving thanks for the harvest and lighting fires to symbolise the welcoming of the darker part of the year and to remember souls of those who had died. It was seen as a time when the people had the clearest connection between this life and the next.

I have very little superstitious belief. I cannot believe harm can come from this time. I believe humans inflict horrible harm on each other more than supposed ‘demons’ and the ‘devil’.

So whatever and however you are celebrating make sure you have a good one.

Church and “the gays”

I have been watching the Supreme Court case of the Christian B&B owners who have been sued by a gay couple on the grounds of discrimination. I am sure that people in the UK are aware of this case.

There have been long and complicated arguments over the past hour in the court and the one thing that has struck me more than anything else is that it is sad that it has come to this.

The Christian B&B owners are an elderly couple who some would say hold rather conservative and old-fashioned religious beliefs. The argument in the court has been about whether a gay couple would be treated in the same way as a married couple. As this has happened many years ago and the marriage equality act hadn’t been implicated some say that it couldn’t be the same as a married couple and therefore choosing to deny a room to a gay couple is tantamount to discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

I feel it is sad that it has come to this point. Very sad. These sort of cases are continually pushed into the media causing hurt and division but I don’t blame the reporting of such cases as they are certainly in the public interest to be heard. What I do feel is the continuing isolation between the mainstream church and gay community is certainly apparent and wrong. Both sides could learn a lot from each other and have a lot to give.

A community where compassion forgiveness and understanding seems to be lacking. The established church is continuing to be increasingly irrelevant not just to young people but to all generations. The Christian argument is that scripture is clear and its moral code and the understanding of this doesn’t change. What the Christian couple have failed to understand is the hurt in which their religious beliefs has caused to the original gay couple involved but to the community.

Murder, rape, torture and child neglect or abuse is morally repugnant and wrong. The majority of a sane normal society would find these acts abhorrent. What the Christian couple have said is they believe that people who are gay are also part of the problem sin and apply this to unmarried straight couples as well. But how many hotels and B&B now in this ‘enlightened’ age would turn away a couple who is unmarried? It would certainly become more difficult to determine whether a straight couple were married compared to a couple who are in a gay relationship.

Also in what circumstances would you impose Christian teachings to someone who is staying in your home? I am sure some wouldn’t allow unmarried couples to share the same bed but would we also expect people to observe sabbatical laws? Or perhaps not to covet the hotel owners shiny new car on their drive?

Let’s face it the church has the biggest hang-up about sex. Particularly sexual relations between people of the same gender. Does the established Church continue to ploughs its beliefs no matter what the consequence or outcome believing in a divine rule or do both sides try to come to a rational and sensible understanding?

My belief is that there should always be dialogue. It’s those who close the door and turn away others that I find morally reprehensible

the barefoot tree

Still grumpy

Gari Wellingham

UK-based musical theatre geek previously living with a brain tumour!