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