This Anglican is for Marriage Equality

Following the CofE Bishop’s Response to the matter of single-sex marriage, I was a little… irritated.

For many, both members of the Church, and non-members, they find it difficult to see how the fact that there are provisions in law is not the same as equality. This is no-more obvious than when it’s seen in a Christian context. They say that it’s not inequality if they can have secular “marriage”. I wrote the following response:

The inequality is blindingly obvious. It’s not one form of love for any perceived “them” and one for a perceived “us”. It’s equal or nothing. And no, Single-sex partnerships do not have the right to be blessed in church. Single-sex unions cannot marry in church. THIS IS NOT EQUALITY.

If you want to go to town over a few verses from the Bible, then feel free, however, I will suggest that a hermeneutic that finds this difficult and yet does not allow, say, slavery, is a flawed hermeneutic.

When I stand before a couple, and they marry each other (note, marriage in church has nothing to do with the priest), it is not my place to judge that marriage. We do not demand that heterosexual couples prove that they adhere to any of the other rules of the church before opening our doors to them, I don’t see why any couple is a special case.

When I offer God’s blessing upon a person, a congregation, a couple, I don’t stop to ask if they are worthy, deserving, or any of those other morally-presumptuious words, because simply put, God is MUCH BIGGER than that. It is HER blessing I’m pronouncing. It is HIS grace that they leave with. I may be a conduit, but I believe that if God wants people blessed, s/he is quite capable of doing that. God’s love is way bigger than that. I want to offer that love to everyone. There is no-one beyond it, there is no-one undeserving of it

If blessings can be given to animals, inanimate objects, and the 101 things we are asked to bless, then what’s the problem with blessing love? Surely, on a scale of things, it’s better to bless the hope and expression of love than, say, a book.

Love is, after all, what Christianity is about.

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Send Me To Lesotho!

Hello Friends, Romans, Netizens!

I have come not to praise Black Xanthus, but to ask politely for your money!

I have been accepted by USPG to go to Lesotho on Mission. This will be a wonderful way to expand my horizons (which is probably why USPG call it the Expanding Horizons Program), but it’s very expensive. There is only a small donation available towards air-fare, and the rest of the costs have to be found by me. As such, I’m asking as many of the kind folks that I know to please, please donate.

For further information, see the Send Me To Lesotho! page, or simply donate now through PayPal. Donations from as little as 1 (or even less, if pay-pal will let you), are gratefully accepted!:










Thanks,

~BX

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Why is the Church Obsessd with Sex?

Recently, I’ve been debating with a few people I know, the issues of Sex and the Church. It appears that the Church seems to mask “sex” in the lofty idea of “morality”. It appears, at least on a cursory glance at relevant press releases. It all seems to revolve around precisely what the point of having “sex” is. Based on the Bible, they read it and see that the point of “sex” is for procreation, and so any form of “sex” that isn’t intended, or has the possibility of, producing offspring the Church can point too and say that that is imorral.

Speaking as an Anglican, when the Synod voted in the early 1900’s to allow men to ware Condoms, the basic argument was essentially torpedod. This move allows men and women to have sex for pleasure. The line that it should still happen inside Marriage is at least still strong, but the argument that morality should, as it is today, be linked to strongly to “sex” is patantly absured.

So, fast forward to 2010. The second biggest debate being held in Churches all over the world is about Homosexuality. Interestingly, by and large, lesbianism is forgotten about, but is generally linked together under the same barrier. The argument that if one passes they both will be accepted.

The debate often revolves around 3 issues. The first is that Homsexuality is “unnatural”, because the “sex” doesn’t produce children. This, I guess, it a logical line of thought, however, it only remains so if the Church is ALSO condemning every couple that doesn’t marry and start breeding straight away, or, for a more sane argument, any couple that cannot have children, or choose not to. The reason for the inclusion for couples that “cannot” have children, is that is precisely the arguement that is levelled at Homosexuality. That they cannot have children.

The next argument that it is unnatural is one that is difficult for both sides. One side holds up that homosexuality can be seen in nature, and the other counters with the fact that, from a certain point of view, Pedophilia is natural*. However, we should be talking about “consentual adults”, and not get ourselfs side-tracked with an argument over Pedophilia. Some would put forward a notion that God’s Design is that Man and Woman is the only way, however, we have no proof that this is so. All the examples that are given are given by fallen people, and the one perfect example is given by a celibate Christ, which is no help at all.

The argument that it “says in the Bible” has been answered before on this blog:http://blog.valhalla.jara23.co.uk/?p=285. This has been debated for many years, and is probably the only really sensible argument left. This at least turns the attention away from Sex, and more into a Didactic Reading of the Bible.

However, this issue is more insiduous than it may first appear. Homosexuality has caused the ArchBishop of Niger, Peter Akinola to say that Homosexuals are ‘deviants’, ‘perverted’ and ‘in rebellion against God’. He’s not alone in his comments. The entire idea that Christians could unilateraly hate a group of people because of what they do behind closed doors just seems bonkers.

Of course, I’m a liberal, who would rather spraed the love of God, than denounce people for a few badly-used lines in the Bible, so this post may be a little biased.

Christianity does not stop at Homosexuality, of course. All kinds of ‘deviant’ behaviour is ‘against’ God. BDSM, Furries, and all other kinds of sexual pleasures are considered ‘deviant’ also, but where, in this, is God’s Love?

We are called to be Excellent To Each Other. To just be nice to one another. Why is what people do in a loving relationship a problem?

Fundamentalists are all about a transoformational God, just so long as it’s not them that’s being Transformed.

BX

*This is part of the “slipery slope” arguement. It is generally used to evoke emotional responses, rather than considered thought.

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Hamlet and Protestantism

First, let me say that the Royal Shakespear Company’s recent version of Hamlet with Captain Picard(Patrick Stewart) and Doctor Who(David Tennant) is awesome. However, now that I’ve started being a God botherer, I started noticing some odd things about it.

I started noticing the religious tone. Nothing unusuall there, because at the time, God was part of every day language. Then something odd happened. Hamlet is obviously a morality play, but during the “To Be, or Not To Be” speech, I noticed the overtures about being judged, and then the forms of prayer, the sililoque offered by Hamlet’s Step-Father was crying out for Absolution.

Then other things began to drop into place. Things like Hamlet was from Wittenburg, the school where Martin Luther taught. As this began to wander through my mind, Hamlet is dragged off to england by his friends, and before her goes he rants about the “Diet of Worms”, of course, the famous sentancing of Martin Luther where he is rescued from his accusers by some friends.

As I was more watching the play because it was Hamlet, than applying any sensible literary Criticism, I didn’t really have time to go through it, but being as the events would have been still fairly recent to Shakespear, asn hamlet is written around the turn of the 1600’s, and Marin Luther was in the 1530’s.

I’m obviously not the first one to see this, but I wasn’t aware of any previous scholarship before seeing the paly. With enough time, perhaps, there may be milage in exploring it.

I though it was something interesting to note, and it does seem that the play may be in some way an “apology” for faith, though wether or not that is Catholic of Protestant I’m not sure.

~BX

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Is it worth going through all of the training to become an anglican priest?

When checking out my statistics page to see if my blog was getting anything like popular, I discovered that this question had been asked somewhere out in the googlesphere, and had some-how come to my blog. I don’t know if the person that typed this question found an answer out there, but I know that they’ve not found what they were looking for on this blog.

The reson for that should be pretty obvious, I’m not yet a fully trained Anglican Priest. But I thought I’d put my thoughts and feelings down in case the seeker came back. It will also, of course, make a wonderful reflection when next year’s portfolio comes.

I would say, that on balance, so far it does seem to be worth it. That’s mostly through Faith, rather than experience. The small amount of time I’ve spent in Parish Placement hasn’t really endeared me to the idea, nor has the session on Core Skills where we’ve been told that pastoral care of Priests is not something that the Anglican Church does well. The training has been hard, the essay work-load has been much more than I would have expected, and much more work than I did during my first degree (admitedly, that was now over 10 years ago), but definately more work than other people I know doing degrees.

Training college is a nightmare. It’s not a place that I would recomend anyone coming who doesn’t have a calling. It’s full of people who are so critical that at times you just want to shake them and remind them that it’s meant to be Christian institution, not a place for miner Hittler wannabees to strut their stuff like their next move is going to be to invade the Cafateria and annex the common room. People I know have contemplated leaving simply beacuse of the atmosphere in the college, and it doesn’t look set to change. Ever. I hope I’m wrong about that, and do indtend to try, but that’s how it is right now.

That’s not really hopefull is it? The questionee is wondering if the training is worth it. Shall we put it in a bit of perspective shall we?

Worst-case scenario, training is a three-year degree course. Followed by a two or three year curacy. The degree course itself is okay, but the work-load takes a little getting used too. It’s not impossible, it just feels like it. During this time you will be shown the ropes in a practicale way, you will get to go on three types of placement. A weekly placement, where for 15 sundays, and 15 half-days you will be working along-side a parish Priest. This will either be informative, or boring as all heck. Some Priests are willing to let their Ordinands get stuck in, others won’t. Your milage may vary. You will get a week placement. Again, some are better than others. Then there’s the month-long summer placement. Again, different results for different people.

However, that’s it for training. Three years out of your life. In that three years you’ll have had some amazing experiences, some that you never want to repeat, and a number that you are glad that you’ve had. Formation is NOT easy. It makes you look at yourself, even those bits you’ve spent a number of years avoiding, and painting over. It’s meant to be that way. It’s almost the “Dark Night of the Soul”, as John of the Cross would say.

Then there’s the curacy. During this, if the rumours are to be believed, you range from a fully-functioning member of a team to a dogsbody. Mostly, it tends to lean towards the Dogsbody, in that you’ll be doing all the services others don’t really want. The morning ones, or the late evening ones, that kind of thing. All the big servies will mostly be kept for the Preist. That’s the way it goes. It’s an ancient heirachy, and things don’t change that quickly.

And then? well, that’s just it. Then your out on your own, or your in a team ministry. Basically you get to do it your way. You get to lead services preside at the Eucarist.

And that is not the best bit. The Job is a Cradle-To-Grave job. Your called upon to share the best and worst times in people’s lives. You get to walk beside them, hold them up, remind them of the strength that comes with being In Christ. Of course, I don’t know that yet, I’ve just talked to Priests. I’ve yet to meet one that says it’s not, by and large, worth it. They’ve all said that it’s not easy. They’ve also all said that they wouldn’t change it for the world.

Now, I’m not saying that there arn’t Priest out there that would disagree, and I’m still enthusiastic about it all. Apparently the world will knock that out of me. I look forward to the fight.

If anyone out there has any questions they would like to pose me, feel free. There arn’t many of us blogging ordinands out there. Post a comment, and I’ll get back to you.

If God is calling, and you need to ask questions, I’m more than willing to help answer them. If you read this blog you’ll see how my journey went. You’ll see the questions I still have. I just hope I can help, even if it is in a small way through this post helping someone who’s seeking.

Yours,

Black Xanthus

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