When confronted with such weighty matters it is even more difficult to understand, much less justify the endless amounts of time, energy and resources some of our churches continue to invest in opposing the ordination of a lesbian to Christian ministry or the consecration of a gay bishop. . . . The stakes are enormous, not only for the church, but for all of creation. Justice, peace, and community or greed, violence and empire? Conservation or environmental devastation? We may have to let go of our unhealthy preoccupation with sex and gender issues and concentrate on love and mutuality. . . . We may yet treasure all of God's children, for they emerged from the Creator's palette and their many languages harmonize with choirs of angels.
When even lesbian and gay theology rejects the value of experience and the hope of human liberation in favour of the exclusive authority of Church and tradition, one realises how far things have gone. Stuart suggests that gays and lesbians who wish to remain Christian must abandon all they have learnt from modern culture, not least the idea that they are unique individuals with inherent value and potential. Instead, they must surrender to the authority of the Church, and to the God who alone bestows meaning and value on human lives. It is a stark choice. This volume serves as a reminder that in the current climate, it is the choice we seem to be stuck with.I must order the book, but I am certain that God requires no one to abandon the idea of their uniqueness, value and potential. Look at Matthew 10.29-31 as a simple 'for instance'. Church is less adaptable than God, however, so we may indeed be stuck with "a stark choice".
The 56 lb. weight. A solid ironWell, maybe not foul play, methinks. But it is time for GLBTI Christians 'to break with the obedient one we've hurt ourselves into' and 'just this once, prophesy, give scandal, cast the stone' and temper our 'deep mistaken chivalry'.
Unit of negation. Stamped and cast
With an inset, rung-thick, moulded, short crossbarFor a handle. Squared-off and harmless-looking
Until you tried to lift it, then a socket-ripping.
Life-belittling force -Gravity's black box, the immovable
Stamp and squat and square-root of dead weight.
Yet balance itAgainst another one placed on a weighbridge -
On a well-adjusted, freshly greased weighbridge -
And everything trembled, flowed with give and take.And this is all the good tidings amount to:
This principle of bearing, bearing up
And bearing out, just having toBalance the intolerable in others
Against our own, having to abide
Whatever we settled for and settled intoAgainst our better judgement. Passive
Suffering makes the world go round.
Peace on earth, men of good will, all thatHolds good only as long as the balance holds,
The scales ride steady and the angels' strain
Prolongs itself at an unearthly pitch.To refuse the other cheek. To cast the stone.
Not to do so some time, not to break with
The obedient one you hurt yourself intoIs to fail the hurt, the self, the ingrown rule.
Prophesy who struck thee! When soldiers mocked
Blindfolded Jesus and he didn't strike backThey were neither shamed nor edified, although
Something was made manifest - the power
Of power not exercised, of hope inferredBy the powerless forever. Still, for Jesus' sake,
Do me a favour, would you, just this once?
Prophesy, give scandal, cast the stone.Two sides to every question, yes, yes, yes . . .
But every now and then, just weighing in
Is what it must come down to, and withoutAny self- exculpation or self-pity.
Alas, one night when follow-through was called for
And a quick hit would have fairly rankled,You countered that it was my narrowness
That kept me keen, so got a first submission.
I held back when I should have drawn bloodAnd that way (mea culpa) lost an edge.
A deep mistaken chivalry, old friend.
At this stage only foul play cleans the slate.
Ian Thorpe is celebrated as a young man of unusual temperament and abilities, a leading sportsman with a discriminating eye for interior design, fashion and architecture, who remains modest and self-critical. Yesterday, in a hospital waiting room of all places, I picked up an old copy of the house magazine of pearl jewelers Autore, featuring their Ian Thorpe collection of men's pearl jewelry. Asked for three words to describe himself, Thorpe hesitates then says, "neutral, unique and questionable. It is questionable isn't it? I have all these different contrasts in my life. Also, when you know me it makes more sense. Everything I do, every different aspect of my life I put a big question mark over it. That's why questionable always comes up." Thorpe is an easy person to admire.
The article set to me to thinking for examples of younger people who have been leaders and examples to those older and supposedly more mature. There are religious saints aplenty, musicians (Mozart!), warriors (Alexander the Great), monarchs (Elizabeth II was young when she became Queen), and sports people - but overall not very many.
I wonder what three words I would use to describe myself? Not an easy thing to do at fifty-something, let alone at nineteen or twenty.
We have to recognize that the testimony of Holy Scripture, on which we principally depend, does not form a consistent and homogenous pattern. We must disabuse our minds of the prejudice, common among those who hold Scripture in high esteem, that all its utterances on any one subject must be consistent with one another and that any real discrepancy could be incongruous with its divine authority. This is a prejudice, because it is without warrant in Scripture itself, which as the record of a living experience, bears the authentic stamp of a rich diversity.from: George S. Hendry, The Holy Spirit in Christian theology. Rev. edn. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1956, p. 12.
Over the west side of this mountain,from: Lyrebirds, by Judith Wright in Birds, 3rd ed., Angus and Robertson, 1978.
that's lyrebird country.
I could go down there, they say, in the early morning,
and I'd see them, I'd hear them.Ten years, and I have never gone.
I'll never go.
I'll never see the lyrebirds -
the few, the shy, the fabulous,
the dying poets.. . . No, I have never gone.
Some things ought to be left secret, alone;
some things - birds like walking fables -
ought to inhabit nowhere but the reverence of the heart.
The next morning, to church and then more house inspections. And yes, we found one to buy! - a ground floor courtyard 'townhouse', very close to the city.And to relax on Monday afternoon, we went to The Edwardians a large exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia of portraits painted in England in the Edwardian era. Sounds dull, but far from it. The contrasts in styles and colors and the great variety of subjects was fascinating - workers, aristocrats, middle class people, women and men. This is a bookmark from the show which we bought as a memento of our weekend. It is a detail from A bathing group, by Henry Tuke, 1914.Truly a loooong weekend.
Next year we are to bring the soldiers home
For lack of money, and it is all right.
Places they guarded, or kept orderly,
Must guard themselves, and keep themselves orderly.
We want the money for ourselves at home
Instead of working. And this is all right.It's hard to say who wanted it to happen,
but now it's been decided nobody minds.
The places are a long way off, not here,
Which is all right, and from what we hear
The soldiers there only made trouble happen.
Next year we shall be easy in our minds.1969
from "Homage to a government", in Philip Larkin's High windows, London: Faber and Faber, 1974, p. 29.
My friends are bemused by what they call the 'hermeneutical' issue: why the six or seven inches of print in the biblical testaments that condemn man-with-man and woman-with-woman sexual relations get treated 'literally' while the much more strenuous Jesus-of-the-gospel strictures against divorce are not treated in the same way by most denominations. . . . Some [gay and lesbian Christians] cry when they talk about the portrayals that demean the quality of their covenanted partnership. Though they don't bring it up, people in the parishes where they worship and where in ordained-by-baptism ways they minister point to the exemplarity of their grace-filled lives. We hear that he or she is 'exactly the kind of person' or, in the 'I-Thou' world, the person we would like to be our minister. Most of those I meet speak with far more clarity about their life in Christ, their call under the Holy Spirit, than do those who do not have to defend their very being, as gays do. Jesus observed the Sabbath, but also knew when the 'Thou' before him called him to transcend the boundaries of Sabbath rules. It is called 'loving,' a loving that needs to be extended to gay Christians.
What [Paul] would have said about the contemporary model of adult/adult mutuality in same-sex relationships, we shall also never know. I am not sure it is even useful to speculate. Thus the ultimate issue to be raised from our journey through this particular cultural and religious history is the legitimacy of using New Testament judgements about a particular form and model of homosexuality to inform decisions about the acceptability of a contemporary form of homosexuality, which projects an entirely different model. Since the models are so different, some would say mutually exclusive, it cannot be a foregone conclusion that the New Testament can be helpfully used in today's discussion without seriously violating the integrity of the New Testament itself. To what extent is it legitimate canonically, theologically, ethically, and historically to use the judgments of the New Testament to decide, or even inform, current denominational debates? To this question I turn in the concluding chapter.(p.122). . . I cannot in conscience accept the view that makes biblical injunctions into necessarily eternal ethical truths, independent of the historical and cultural context. The meaning of the statements for me is first the meaning they had for the writers in their own, concrete situation. The possibility that they may have meaning for today depends on whether two additional conditions are met: (1) The biblical statements must be consonant with the larger, major theological and ethical judgments which lie at the heart not only of Scripture but of the historical church throughout the ages. (2) The context today must bear a reasonable similarity to the context of the statements at the time of writing. (p.123)Scroggs agrees that Paul would have been opposed to the pederastic form of same-sex relationships common in the Greek and Roman world. But, he asks, would Paul have opposed the current model of the caring adult relationship of mutuality?
. . . I have no way of knowing. Let no one think that I am trying to turn Paul into an advocate of contemporary homosexuality. He might still be opposed. The point is that there is no way of knowing.. . . If [Paul] had known at firsthand caring adult homosexual relationships, if he had had respected and talented homosexual friends within the church and its leadership, what would he have said? I do not know and I do not think anyone can presume to know. It cannot be simply concluded that he would have attacked it with the same terms. . . . It may seem surprising to read an author who has spent his entire adult life studying the Bible argue that the Scriptures are irrelevant and provide no help in the heated debate today. I regard this to be true about the specific passages we have analyzed. Yet the Bible with its great thematics of our faith must still be heard and will still provide guidance. The search for the basic truths of the Bible, along with a serious grappling with psychological and sociological resources, should now become the primary aid in helping us reach decisions. Of course this means we have no longer any simple way of deciding the issue. Once the biblical injunctions are eliminated from the discussion, once the Bible ceases to be used as a bludgeon for whatever side, then all of us are thrown into a situation where none of us are knowers but all only seekers. This is in itself consonant with the human reality revealed in the New Testament, in which we walk by faith not sight, and where we know at best only partially. Given this situation there is no room for arrogance, for overconfidence, for a prideful mind which refuses to listen to others. As we face the challenge of the difficult decisions that lie ahead, we may no longer use the Bible as a simplistic weapon. But it does not leave us comfortless. My prayer is that we may all remember and reremember what Paul implies in 1 Cor. 13:12, that it is more important to be aware that we are graced by God than it is to be sure we know all the answers. May that be the unifying ground of our reconciliation with each other and the basis of our ongoing search for wisdom.(p.129)
God is Truth. Human attempts to discern truth are fallible and fumbling, but conscientious efforts to strain for it are often rewarded with glimpses. Human sexuality is a deep, poorly understood and under-articulated subject.. . . But how will removing the causes of the current conflict from view help the church? Does this not come close to suggesting that it is in the interests of the Anglican communion for gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Christians to go back in the closet and stay there?. . . how can Anglicans who have recognised sacraments of God's love in gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered lives find any merit in the idea that it would be in the best interests of the Anglican communion for these Christians to hide their light under a bushel?The Church does violence to them by pressuring them to split off their vocations as sexual persons from their public Christian lives; it does violence to itself by attempting to atrophy, if not amputate, some of its members. For Anglicans who have seen alternative lifestyles to be good and godly, to share the hope that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons would lie low for a while, is to flirt with Caiaphas's cynical estimate that "it is expedient that one man die for the people".Read here a sermon preached by Professor Adams at St Matthew's Westminster on 10 February 2004, the night before the Church of England's General Synod debate on Some Issues in Human Sexuality
... I started to think about God again ... and to understand that ... that everything was His design, the old moon and the new moon, the hard rain falling; and if only I would ask Him to help me, He would.Q: And has he?Yes. More and more. But I'm not a saint yet. I'm an alcoholic. I'm a drug addict. I'm homosexual. I'm a genius. Of course I could be all four of these dubious things and still be a saint. But I shonuf ain't no saint yet, nawsuh.Truman Capote in Interview magazine, Dec. 1997, interviewed by Brad Goldfarb.
Men's curiosity searches past and futurefrom: T.S. Elliot The Dry Salvages, V. (1941)
And clings to that dimension. But to apprehend
The point of intersection of the timeless
With time, is an occupation for the saint -
No occupation either, but something given
And taken, in a lifetime's death in love
Ardour and selflessness and self-surrender.
For most of us, there is only the unattended,
Moment, the moment in and out of time,
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight,
The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning
Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts. These are only hints and guesses,
Hints followed by guesses; and the rest
Is prayer, observance, discipline, thought and action.
let us take our stand on the Middle East, or Vietnam, or whatever, and in the process perhaps lose a friend or shoot a friend, or agree to differ and do neither. Then let us get down to life and living.Quite. Congratulations, Dr Alistair Cooke, KBE.