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Living in Love and Faith: One - Suddenly Equal?

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With the publication of Living in Love and Faith , the House of Bishops’ project on human identity, sexuality and marriage, I am going to offer three short reflections.  As a gay man and an evangelical, I was invited to be part of this project around half way through its life. This first reflection will be on the book, the main resource, and it will be very positive. My second will be on the process, or rather - on my experiences of the process. This is inevitably a personal view. It’s not going to be so positive. The final reflection will be about my hopes for what this whole project might offer LGBTQ people both within and beyond the fellowship of the Church of England. I’ll let you wait to see how that pans out! The main text of the book is over 420 pages long. There is no way that I can review all of that or even begin to say that I agree with everything that is in it.  I don’t agree with all sorts of things in it. But I've  already  told you I'm going to be very positive

Living in Love and Faith: Two - Predictably Discriminatory

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This is the second part of a three-part blog as the Church of England's Living in Love and Faith report is published. If you haven't read part one - Suddenly Equal? - please click here before continuing! Dr Christina Beardsley’s article in the Church Times in February 2019 said pretty much everything that needs to be said. Take the time; read it. It’s grim reading, but pretty definitive.  Her final words are: When they launched LLF, our Archbishops assured us that no one was an issue or a problem. I’d like to believe it. Were that true, though, my experience of LLF would have been very different. I am genuinely delighted with chapter 10 of the Living in Love and Faith book, and its unambiguous theology of equality and diversity. But I lived through nearly two years as a member of the project, and in most of that time I too experienced more out-and-out homophobia than I have experienced anywhere for a very long time. Tina is right.  Talking about details feels a little bit lik

Living in Love and Faith: Three - Stubbornly Hopeful

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This is the third of my three reflections on the publication of the Church of England's Living in Love and Faith resources.  If you have't read the other two parts of this - please do so! Part one can be found here , and part two here . The first thing I want to say here is that although there have been times when I have been extremely frustrated with Dr Eeva John, the enabling officer of the LLF Project, honestly I think she is a marvel. Presented with an undoable task and an unwieldy machinery for accomplishing that task, Eeva has done a terrific job. Do I like it all? No. Do I think huge mistakes were made along the way? Yes. But Eeva was dealt an unplayable hand and has somehow produced a resource that can take the C of E forward.  Whenever I get frustrated with straight people who are put in charge of LGBTQ people’s lives (especially in the Church), I always remind myself - how can they possibly get this right? It’s not as if I begin to understand what life is like for the

trouble is godly

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I don't know how many times I have wept over these last days. The TV news, Twitter, the online press, they are full of images of people treating people as less than. As subhuman, inhuman, ground to be walked upon, target practice, shouting rage, shooting range, things not treasure. Amber Ruffin's everyday horror stories are jaw dropping for their  casual emotional devastation. Jaw dropping if you are white; nothing new if you're not. Cory Booker's gracious raw emotion as he tells of how he was advised to live as a teenager and his sadness that nothing has changed is heartbreaking. Protesters hit the streets worldwide where COVID19 is still out and looking for lives to take, but they go anyway - because finally - finally? - in a Lockdown world, something breaks down the doors that have kept us all inside. Something beats the fear. Something that happened to someone. George Floyd. And in the wake of nine minutes in Minneapolis, too many of us have discovered we

a little help

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My bishop held a drinks party last week. Over 70 of us, mostly clergy and spouses, attended. It was good to see people. Smiling faces. A few of us performed party pieces. I sang a song. I sang - 'We'll Meet Again'. Of course I did. The whole event was conducted on Zoom. I'm the kind of person who, in normal circumstances, loves to come home at night and close my door on the world. I'm home now. I have my space. My silence. My safety. I live alone, with my dog, and I am used to being by myself. It holds great comfort. Except... Normal has changed. I no longer come home at night after a day of people making all sorts of demands on me. Silence and being by myself isn't a refuge anymore, it's everything. And I discover - I was not made for this. It is not good for man to be alone, notes God at the beginning of Genesis. No kidding. And from the solitude of our enforced space behind our front door barricades, it seems quite a few of us are spoiling f

sacred

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Last autumn, Jayne Ozanne and I had meal together and shared hopes and dreams for the year ahead. Jayne shared her desire to see a place where we could worship within the evangelical tradition of Anglicanism that has always been home, a place that would exist to bless LGBTQ+ Christians and welcome those members of our rainbow family who might like to find faith but find church just too daunting for words. I couldn't have agreed with her more; I love finding places that embrace inclusivity - but so often wish that I found more of it in my own wing of the church. A place where home feels like home. We both agreed that we loved visiting Nick Bundock and his team at Didsbury. And yet we longed to see something in our own part of the country. And so the first seeds of 'Sacred' were born. By the New Year, Jayne had put a proposal to the Cathedral Chapter in Oxford, and I had also spoken to one or two folk there, and the Chapter met and decided that a safe, inclusive, ev

with a little help from our friends...

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There’s a view of history that things can only get better. In the latter part of the nineteenth century, this was the predominant view for many, but the horrors of the Great War blew serious holes in it as a theory. Still, it has often tried to reassert itself since then in different guises.   People just need educating. Technology will help us. Global allegiances will end wars and famine.  I’d love this to be true. As a member of a minority within society it would be a great comfort. Looking back 50 years the world certainly seems a far friendlier place to LGBT+ people than when I was born. But… People are people. And minorities are minorities. And the times we live in are, frankly, scary. In New York and in London this Christmas , Jewish communities found the end of their Hanukkah celebrations marred by violence. In Britain, this comes after an election where the Labour Party lost decisively. In part this was because they were seen to be be antisemitic, a bad thing. Th