It’s natural to one of my generation that anything absurd or strange immediately recalls Python, and this one also serves as a timely tribute to Terry Jones (video unavailable but watch this instead, it’s really funny.) Those of you not of a religious bent (no pun intended, I don’t do that sort of thing) may have scrolled through the recent announcement by the Council of Bishops without it touching the sides, but it took many of us by surprise and I have taken the time to respond to this helpful blog post which explains some of what’s going on.
Basically I’m thankful not to be an Anglican any more because I no longer have to wrestle with dogma and creed. Quakers have always taken an approach to change which is both thoughtful and fluid; we are therefore able to respond to social change without feeling hidebound by doctrine and I’m happy to say that Friends embraced the rights of gays and lesbians as early as the 1970’s. There are a number of sections in Quaker Faith and Practice which deal with this. But if you’re an Anglican (this goes double for Catholics) you have to wrestle with a creed and doctrines that most of us now find outdated and irrelevant, and square the impossible circle of holding on to tradition whilst engaging with society at the same time. It simply can’t be done. So what’s a bishop to do?
I have no idea, but the Bishops’ statement does not seem helpful – but to be fair it does seem to have been more cock-up than conspiracy, at least according to this Church Times article.
What do you think? Perhaps it could not matter less to you but there are gays and lesbians (incredibly) still in the church who will be deeply affected by this debate.
In fact, have you done anything recently that you would classify as ‘sin’? Don’t worry, I’m not going all judgmental on you, I just wanna know. We don’t talk about sin much nowadays: even the Church is much more user-friendly and talks about ‘saying sorry’ instead. So what is sin? Do we even have a concept of sin any more? What would be the modern version of the Seven Deadly Sins? Terrorism? Mass-murder? Rape? Child-abuse? Drug-addiction or drink-driving? It all seems to end up sounding a bit tabloidy really. And do we even believe in such a thing as sin? Don’t we rather believe in a combination of genetics and upbringing as the causes of human action? Don’t we rather think that human beings operate in a tiny pool of limited choices; that we run on a set of tramlines laid down by our conditioning and backed up by 47 pairs of chromosomes?
Hmm. And yet – and yet, at the same time we talk as if people have a huge range of life-choices. No child’s career options are to be limited in any way: no matter what the conditions of your birth, no matter your gender, disability, race or creed, you can reach for whatever star you have set your eyes on. But hey, you couldn’t help killing all those people – you were driven to it by your early-childhood trauma. It was in your genes: it was in your stars.
It seems to me that things always go this way – that what you lose on the swings you gain on the roundabout. So we have gained a lot of life-chances; the possibility of travel, of trying – oh, I don’t know, blindfolded water-skiing or parachute-jumping (I once did a jump for charity but it was on the back of an experienced jumper) or sailing the Atlantic or whatever – but we have lost… what have we lost?
Time. That’s what we have lost. We don’t have time. And what we really need is balance – because there’s a baby in that bath-water.
As for my own life, I have nothing else to report since I spent the whole weekend watching ‘Friends’. I was really, really tired…