bishops & cake

For me, as I look back, just a few days on, at the two launch events for my new book last weekend, the most remarkable thing is - how much I can’t remember!

OK - so here are some headlines. Some facts. There were over seventy people at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford on Friday, and around half that number in Steeple Aston the day after. The first event was the big public launch, the second a chance for folk in my parishes to celebrate and enjoy the occasion.
At Christ Church, we had bishops. Three of them. At Steeple Aston we had cake. Enough to feed a small army. You can decide which event you would rather have attended from that. Both featured people buying buying books, and me signing them - as you’d expect - checking every now and then ‘So that’s to Theodora spelled the usual way?’ 
Clare Hayns, Chaplain at Christ Church, hosted on Friday. Clare had organised the whole event brilliantly - so much so that I hadn’t had to do anything really. Thanks to Clare, the Cathedral had done mu…


Last Friday over seventy people gathered for evensong at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford, and then enjoyed drinks and conversation as they queued to be the very first people to buy copies of The Possibility of Difference.

Revd Clare Hayns, Chaplain of Christ Church, welcomed everyone and Dave Gatward from Kevin Mayhew Ltd introduced the evening. We chatted about the book, about writing, about how I had come to do the work, the thinking, the soul-searching behind the words on the page. And questions followed - focussing on the Church's response, on how we manage (or fail) to work together, on how we help younger people, and (thanks to a great question from Rt Revd Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford) how we can pray together going forward.

Here are a selection of photos, bringing something of the flavour of a wonderful gathering. And of course, the book is available from Kevin Mayhew or your local store.

it's today!

The Possibility of Difference is published by Kevin Mayhew today. Tonight there is a launch in Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, with quite a gathering; I'll post more about that after the event!

But as I walked Harry, my Springer Spaniel, this morning, I thought about these words from toward the end of the book:

The Bible tells us there was one Victim and now by giving our lives to him, the rest of us get to be more than conquerors. The possibility of difference is not just about agreeing to disagree on another theological issue, but about ‘hope for a world that tears itself apart – a sign of what can happen with the love and mercy of God through Jesus Christ’.... It’s about the people I love who agree with every word in this book and the people I love who don’t, but we all belong to one another because we all belong to Jesus and his body, the Church. It’s about us taking seriously Bishop Curry’s words in Windsor on that sunny May afternoon: ‘Love is not selfish and self-centred. Lo…

flagging up issues of pride

Some of our more traditionalist friends have been struggling to come to terms with Ely Cathedral's decision to fly a rainbow flag during the Ely Pride weekend. It's the kind of thing that (with an inevitable predictability) brings a reaction. On Fulcrum and on Psephizo, Andrew Goddard & Ian Paul both respond by questioning the wisdom of churches using flags and espousing any causes other than the Cross and the Gospel. It's not that it's the Rainbow Flag - all flags create 'us' and 'them' - churches shouldn't do this! Well, that's an interesting point; I (slightly cheekily) wonder if Andrew and Ian will be wearing those divisive and non-Gospel poppies to church on November 11th? And I am tempted to do a full analysis of their harrumphing, but really I think that at this point we all expect each others' posturing and it's not necessary. Otherwise we all get stuck in this cycle...

However, it is fair to call out fakery for what it is.

how do you speak to a gay person?

One of the things that happens in the Church's conversations with/about/to gay people, is that they are rarely conversations with/about/to people.

We are an "issue".

Now this is - of course - completely understandable. If you are straight (and most people are) then homosexuality in the Church, in the family, in the workplace, in life, is an "issue". It may be an issue that comes very close. You may have very good gay friends. A close relative. And you may really want to understand.

But for gay people, things (I speak personally, but I think this works as a pretty good general rule) feel a bit different. My life isn't an issue. It's my life.

The same applies to an Australian. A disabled person. To someone who is left-handed or (God love them) ginger. There may be different distinguishing factors, but we are all people.

It's amazing that this needs to be said, but it really does.

I have watched in horror following the publication of Jayne Ozanne and V…

stories of hope and love

Two similar - and very different - autobiographies have recently hit the bookshops and they both deserve a wide readership.

I was fortunate to hear Jayne Ozanne preach at the University Church, Oxford on the weekend her 'Just Love' volume was published. Jayne took the Gospel passage for the day (two encounters with Pharisees from the end of Mark 2 and beginning of Mark 3, where Jesus declares himself Lord of the Sabbath and then heals on the Sabbath because it is lawful to do good) and spoke powerfully about the love of God which transforms people who have been pushed down and hurt. God's love heals, restores and makes new. She read a passage from her book as she spoke, and it was a terrific mixture of exposition and proclamation of very good news indeed.

Her autobiography is at times simply a rollicking good yarn. It reads like one of the page-turning missionary tales of yore that I would devour as a callow Christian youth. Her story of profoundly trusting faith, of deep…

clear view from queer eye

If you want to get a decent snap shot of how it feel to be gay around the church today, you could do worse than watch the first episode of season two of Queer Eye on Netflix.

Catch up: Queer Eye sees five gay guys come and in a week help transform some poor straight bloke somewhere in Georgia into something like the man he always thought he was. Or wanted to be.

Except...the bloke isn't always straight, it turns out. And in episode one of series two, the Fab Five help a straight woman transform her church hall from an empty shell into a vibrant hub for her community, with the bonus of working with her and her gay son...

In the truck as they go to meet Miss Tammye in Gay, Georgia (yes, there's a town called Gay) the Five talk about their response to helping a church. One says he loves Jesus - it's the church he has issues with. One says he's always had great experiences and love from the church. One can hardly bear it; his upbringing was very religious and he just can&…