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|Monday, May 6th, 2013|
|Wednesday, April 10th, 2013|
|"Persons are not asexual, but are either male or female"
The title of this post is a quote from the Report of the Church of England Faith and Order Commission (pdf)
published today. Bishop Alan mentions it in is critical blog response to the report
and someone tweeted it as a quote. I responded to this tweet saying " I have so many issues with 'people not asexual, either m or f' from @c_of_e that I don't know where to start." This blog post represents an attempt to start.
The quote appears in a longer paragraph which I will quote in full:
26.Biological differences do not simply cease to matter at the level of personal relationship; persons are not asexual, but are either male or female. Their sex attains a personal meaning, as relationships are built constructively on the endowments and strengths it offers. The relationship of marriage is more personal, not less, as the partners come to it in receptiveness of what only the opposite sex can bring to their own.
I think the basic issue here is the ignorance of LGBTQIA
issues that is demonstrated here.
Firstly, Intersex people are declared not to exist as people are 'either male or female'. This just is not true; whilst the majority of people have an XY or XX genotype and male or female genitalia to match, there is a minority who do not fit these categories and have a range of different genotypes and genitalia and are known as Intersex
Secondly, there are issues around gender and sex which are basically ignored. Where does a trans* person fit in this schema? For some people their sense of being male or female does not match with their genitalia. I am by no means an expert on trans* issues and indeed often struggle to get my head around them and am uncertain of the terminology perferred by those for whom this is personal, but those I know who have transitioned have been a lot more at home in themselves and happier after transition. There are also people who identify as genderqueer who do not define themselves as either male or female.
Thirdly, whilst I can see what they were intending to mean by 'asexual' here, it is a problematic word in this context because asexual
is used as a descriptor of sexuality. The Asexual Visibility and Education Network
defines an asexual as someone 'who does not experience sexual attraction'. This is the point at which it gets personal for me. I possibily have not send this publically before, but this is who I am. About a decade ago I found myself thinking the prefix to -sexual
that most seems to fit me is a-
though at the time I had no idea that other people identified like that and was glad to come across AVEN sometime later. As a teenager I just did not get what other people meant by fancying people, it doesn't resonate with anything in my experience. It doesn't really bother me, and it has meant that I have been happily single most of my life. I have had one relationship and there are things that I miss -- having someone to talk to about my day, share stuff with and cuddle up with mainly -- but I've never felt driven by sexual desire. That's just how I am. Now, my first reaction to 'persons are not asexual' was that my Church was telling me I didn't exist, but in fact they aren't talking about people like me at all; rather it is Intersex people who do not exist in CofEworld. But the fact that they used the word 'asexual' shows that they are not aware that there are people like me who identify as asexual and that is disappointing too.
Thus in a report which is problematic for Lesbian and Gay people (and Bisexuals who have fallen in love with a person of the same gender), the CofE has in one sentence also igrnored trans*, genderqueer, intersex and asexual people. There is a lot of information out there about LGBTQIA issues, is it too much to expect my Church to have engaged with them when writing a report on marriage in the context of the proposal to allow people of the same gender to marry?
The final sentence of this paragraph of the report also hints at complementarity 'what only the opposite sex can bring' and indeed the word complementary is used later in the report. This is an issue which is also highly contentious for the other red button issue of the moment -- the full acceptance of women in all rôles of ministry. I would ask my Church to go away and really engage with issues of sex, gender and sexuality apart from the specific issues of whether women can be ordained as priests and bishops and whether marriage is of necessity between two people of different genders. Human experience, that of human beings made in God's image is just not as simple as 'there are men and there are women and they should marry the opposite'.
Interestingly, at the Governing Body of the Church in Wales today announced that it was referring the issue of same sex partnerships to its Doctrine Commission
. I hope it does better that the Church of England on this.
|Monday, March 25th, 2013|
I am a Christian. There are a lot of reasons for this, but one of them is to do with the view of human nature. Recently, I was involved in a conversation on twiitter during which my interlocutor said Í don't need a deity to tell me to be nice or explain existence'. I responded 'Not sure I'd say I need one, but I believe God exists. And I'm not good at doing nice in my own strength'. Looking at myself and the world around me, St Paul's statement about not doing the good he wills, but doing the evil he does not will resonates. Human beings mess up, both deliberately and accidentally and hurt one another. There are many different sources of advice on how 'to be nice' but we've spectacularly failed. Even the Church, as assorted child abuse scandals (both sexual and physical punishments) and things like the Magdalene laundries show. The institution becomes more important than the message. But Christianity knows that this is how it. We can't be nice all the time in our own strength. But, you see, God doesn't just tell me to be nice (and punishes me when I fail), but she saw the mess we'd made of her world and sent her Son to sort it out. We didn't like this person challenging our institutions and power (and he was pretty rude to the religous people of his day), but he didn't respond with violence but allowed himself to arrested and executed unjustly. He told his followers to offer the other cheek if they were struck and he lived this, to the point of death. But his story doesn't end there, 3 days later he was back, having defeated death and broken the cycle of sin. We still fail and don't live out his message, but I've pledged myself to following this man who was God, confessing when I get it wrong and being strengthened by his self-giving in the Eucharist.
|Sunday, March 10th, 2013|
|Women speakers at Christian events
Two ELIZABETHANS passing the time in a place without any visible character.
They are well dressed -- hats, cloaks, sticks and all.
Each of them has a large leather money bag.
GUILDENSTERN's bag is nearly empy.
ROSENCRANTZ's bag is nearly full.
The reaason being: they are betting on the toss of a coin, in the following manner: GUILDENSTERN (hereafter 'GUIL') takes a coin out of his bag, spins it, letting it fall. ROSENCRANTZ (hereafter 'ROS') studies it, announces it as 'heads' (as it happens) and puts it into his own bag.Then they repeat the process. They have apparently been doing this for some time.
The run of 'heads' is impossible, yet ROS betrays no surprise at all -- he feels none. However, he is nice enough to feel a little embarrassaed at taking so much money off his friend. Let that be his character note.
GUIL is well alive to the oddity of it. He is not worried about the money, but he is worried by the implications; aware but not going to panic about it -- his character note.
Many moons ago, caliston
organised for the then president of CICCU to come to Cambridge MethSoc Coffeeeeeeeee and respond to questions we had about CICCU. markrowland
** ably chaired this discussion. Various things stick in my memory but the one that I've been coming back to in recent times concerns his response to a question about women speakers. It wasn't that they had a policy against women speakers he explained, but that some of their members believed that women shouldn't teach men, so it just so happened that each week the speaker was a man because no-one could have a problem with that. Keeping my temper in check, I tried to explain why I did have an issue with that. Now, 11 years later, in a Twitter conversation I've just realised the way to explain the problem. CICCU were like Rosencrantz in the opening scene of 'Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead'. Week by week , the toin coss comes up 'heads' (male speaker) and CICCU (or at least the then president) like Rosencrantz shows no surprise. There is not even any real embarassment at the run of heads. I like Guil, was aware of the problem, though unlike him I was pretty furious about it.
This sudden realisation came up in a twitter conversation with @revjodystowell, @matthewpfirth & @God_loves_women.
@RevJodyStowell tweeted "Sometimes things get under my skin - receiving a leaflet from St Paul's institute advertising talks with no women speakers is one of them". @matthewpfirth suggested that this was sexist and said there were female speakers at other events. I queried how many speakers. The answer was 3. My initial response to this was that had it been 10 it would have been clear statistical bias, but with 3 the sample size was too small. As the conversation progressed, I got the impression that others felt I was with Matthew, not Jody. But that's not the case. At root, I agree with Jody, there is a problem here with women's voices not being heard, but I can't argue it from one event witih three speakers. It's like comedy panel shows (eg. Just a minute, News Quiz, QI), to get a true picture of what is going on, looking at the make up of one panel isn't enough, it's the stats for the series which really count.
Statistically, if you select 3 from a larger population made up of Xs and Ys, let's say a drawer full of 50 black socks and 50 white socks, then some of the time , you'd expect to end up with three black socks or three white socks.*** The problem is that in comedy panel shows and Christian events (and indeed most events) , it's very common to have an event with 3 or 4 male speakers/panelists, but it is not equally common to have an event where there are 3 or 4 male speakers/panelists. This is the point various campaigners have made about various comedy panel shows and fair play to the News Quiz, they did in fact have an all female show a few weeks ago and this week's Just a Minute had two female panelists (though with a male host that was still slightly skewed) and my impression is that they've had more women recently (though probably still not 50/50). WIth QI, 1 of 5 is still a good week.
To be fair to the St Paul's Institute, I'd want to look at a series of their events and see if this event was a one off, or balanced by an all female event, with an overall speaker list with a roughly equal balance of male and female speakers. Unfortunately, my browser is refusing to show me their website and I'm too tired to fight it now. But I will return.
I will also note here another recent Twitter conversation about the fact that Plaid Cymru has a female leader, a female chair, a female chief exec and a female president**** but has never had a female MP, and hasn't had that many female AMs elected via a constituency rather than the regional list.
WIth CICCU 11 years ago, the bias was obvious, outside Ros & Guil are dead, the coin doesn't come up heads time after time. With other institutions it is less obvious, but insidious nonetheless.
*Opening stage directions of Tom Stoppard's 'Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead'. First performed on 11th April 1967 at the Old Vic Theatre, London.
**It must have been in the 2001/02 academic year as that's the only year all three of us lived in Cambridge
***Unfortunately, I'm tying myself in knots trying to remember how the stats work to calculate the probability, Nor can I quite recall how to do an χ2
test on it. And a 10 hour work day after insomnia and 2 hours sleep isn't the time to try! There is also the problem that if the larger population isn't 'the population of the world' (51% female) but 'Christian speakers' then there is a likelihood that the drawer probably actually has say 70 black socks for 30 white socks. I.e the root of the problem is further back.
****Though this position has just been voted to be abolished.
|Thursday, December 6th, 2012|
|In Christ, there is ... no male, no female
Since the failure of the women bishop measure to gain the required 2/3rds majority in the House of Laity to pass 2 weeks ago (20th November), and indeed in the run up to the vote. I have had a number of conversations on Twitter with people who oppose the ministry of women as priests and bishops about the meaning of Galations 3:28. This verse is foundational to me and a key one in arguments of women's rôles in the church. In full it is 'There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.' (NRSV). It is quoted in the principles of the Third Order of the Society of St Francis (of which I am a professed member):
The Second Aim:
To spread the spirit of love and harmony.
The Order sets out, in the name of Christ, to break down barriers between people and to seek equality for all. We accept as our second aim the spreading of a spirit of love and harmony among all people. We are pledged to fight against the ignorance, pride, and prejudice that breed injustice or partiality of any kind.
Members of The Third Order fight against all injustice in the name of Christ, in whom there can be neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female; for in him all are one. Our chief object is to reflect that openness to all which was characteristic of Jesus. This can only be achieved in a spirit of chastity, which sees others as belonging to God and not as a means of self-fulfilment.
As Tertiaries, we are prepared not only to speak out for social justice and international peace, but to put these principles into practice in our own lives, cheerfully facing any scorn or persecution to which this may lead
However, opponents of the ministry of women as priests claim that using this verse to support the ordination of women is misusing it. For example I got into a long discussion with a twitter user called @PeterDCXW after he told people to stop misusing this verse on the #synod hashtag. Unfortunately there were double tweets in the argument which makes reconstructing the exchange awkward as two responses to a tweet don't get picked up if you click on conversation. His basic argument was that because the context of the passage is whether gentiles can be baptised without being circumcised it only relates to salvation not rôles in the church. I pointed out that the church had not restricted gentiles from leadership rôles in the church and was told that this was irrelevant. but I still don't know why. This point of baptism is non-gendered has again been raised in the even more complicated Twitter conversation with @therevddr etc. In this conversation @therevddr said that Christ's maleness was incidental to his humanity, but yet maleness intrinsic to priesthood. I just can't see the logic. So I decided to sit down and read Galatians and reflect on the context.
The first thing which struck me was that in this case Paul is the innovator. The Party of the Circumcision are the ones who use tradition and scripture. This is not original but I can't remember where I first heard it.
This is the theme of chapter 2. Paul is arguing for a new thing because of what God is doling in Christ. In this chapter he also challenges Peter's hypocrisy for stopping eating with gentiles. This struck me as relevant to the other debate this week about women speaking at Bristol CU. Here the leadership of the CU appear to have wanted to innovate by nviting women to speak but one of their group couldn't accept this so they tried a compromise of allowing women in restricted circumstances. However, the exec member who objected still resigned. If the gospel includes freedom for women from restrictions of patriarchy/old covenant, then how can we draw back from that even for the sake of the conscience of some unhappy with the innovation? Isn't that what Paul criticises Peter for here?
In chapter 3 he continues this theme by criticising the Galatians for going back to law not the Spirit and this culminates in 'There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. Andif you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to the promise.' Now to me baptism is what brings us into Christ Jesus,and it's in him that these divisions no longer pertain. Surely that's post baptism too because it's in the state we enter through baptism. Gentiles become full members of the body, able to partake in all things by their baptism. How can this be true for Gentiles and not women?
I also note that we are said to be children & heirs. Now women did not get to inherit much as I understand it. But in Christ women are included. I also wonder about the grammatical gender of child in Greek here?
In Chapter 4.9 he asks the Galatians whether they want to be enslaved again. and readng this I felt 'That's what dropping egalitarian position feels like as a woman', it would be being enslaved again. Christ has set us free from the false limits of patriarchy and I'm not going back. As 5.1 says ' For freedom Christ has set us free.' Today's mammoth Twitter conversation, which actually started from at tweet from the Church Times about a statement by WATCH calling for a single clause measure on Tuesday, had me asking several times (starting last night) what, other than biological motherhood, could women do that men couldn't. The only answer I got was be a mother. This is why I pointed out that the conservative claim of 'different but equal' only limits women (which is where @MirandaTHolmes became involved and it snowballed). It's easy for men to say something like that when it does not limit them at all -- that's what male privilege is all about.
This question of biological motherhood is put into an interesting focus when Paul, a man, says in 4.19 that he feels the pain of childbirth over the Galations. He isn't limiting motherhood to women.
So having reflected on Galations, I'm affirmed in my understanding of freedom in Christ. Freedom not limited by arguments from tradition and scripture when they ignore what God is doing now. A few years ago now I went on a theology day at St Michael's College Llandaf, and the thing that i took from the day, (which may have been me building on an argument of one of the lecturers) was the way in which the Church has struggled over the message of Galations 3:28 over the years. The Council of Jerusalem dealt with Jew and Gentile, but Slave and Free has a complicated history, ended in early centuries but then coming back in 19th Century, and Male and Female only being addressed now. I wonder whether slave owners claimed that Galations 3:28 only referred to baptism to justify keeping baptised slaves?
|Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011|
[This post is mainly aimed at those living in Wales as we're the ones who can vote, but others might be interested in the underlying issues. I'd also be interested in opinions on the objectivity of this post. I'm not cutting it as it's a public post and I might tweet it.]
Hopefully, you're all aware of the referendum in Wales on 3rd March (tomorrow as I write). But as there no group applied for the status of official no campaign, there have not been TV broadcasts or mailshots for either yes or no campaigns which may well have reduced awareness of the issues.
This is a quick email to encourage you all to consider the issues and to go out and vote. Polls open at 7am and close at 10pm on Thursday 3rd March. In recent weeks, we have seen people in the Middle East and North Africa demonstrating on the streets, at times at risk to their lives, for democracy. We are lucky in living in a democracy with free and fair elections and referendums, and I believe we have a duty to engage with the democratic process by voting.
I have a very strong opinion about how I am going to vote, but I hope in this email to give you information on the issues so you can make up your own mind.
The National Assembly for Wales was created in 1999 after the yes vote in the devolution Referendum in September 1997. At that time, it had no primary law-making powers. In 2006, a second Government of Wales Act was passed which gave the Assembly law making powers in a few areas and the ability to apply to Westminster to gain law making powers in the other devolved areas after the May 2007 Assembly elections. To gain more law making powers, the Assembly had to propose a Legislative Competence Order (LCO). In the LCO the Assembly set out what powers it was asking for and went through a process of consultation and committee scrutiny in the Assembly and then in both houses in Westminster and if all houses agreed it received Royal Assent. Once an LCO has received Royal Assent, the Assembly can then introduce a Measure to make a new law in that area. This then goes through a process of public consultation and committee scrutiny in the Assembly before being passed by the Assembly and then receiving Royal Assent.
Got that? I don't blame you if you haven't. I know the system because I worked for a political party at the Assembly and I can assure you that it is convoluted and long-winded.
Under this current system, more and more powers will be devolved to the Assembly area by area as LCOs are passed. The 2006 Government of Wales Act, however, set out a way to speed this process up. If the people of Wales vote yes in a Referendum on this issue, then the Assembly gains primary law making powers in all devolved areas wholesale. This means that rather than taking at least a year to pass an LCO and then another year to pass a Measure, the Assembly will be able to start the Measure straightaway.
The most extreme example of the problem with the current system is the area of Housing. In 2007, the Labour, Plaid and LibDem manifestos contained a promise to suspend the 'right-to-buy' (for tenants of council housing) in areas of high housing need. These three parties won 47 of the 60 seats in the Assembly. You might therefore thing that this would be an easy matter for the Assembly to legislate upon. However, because of the LCO system, nearly 4 years later the Measure is still to be passed, although it is nearly there. It has taken this long because it took 3 years to gain an LCO giving the Assembly the powers to do this. I believe that the House of Parliament are supposed to judge whether it is appropriate that Wales should have the powers it has asked for, however in the case of the Housing LCOs (two because we had to return to the drawing board once), it was blocked because MPs (especially Conservative ones) did not approve of the laws the Assembly might have passed, although it was the power to completely abolish the right-to-buy which was the real sticking point, which is not the intention in the first instance but was included in the LCO for completeness sake.
I promised to be fair and set out the issues, so I've just checked True Wales' website and their reasons for voting no
. Despite having been founded to campaign for a no vote in this Referendum, True Wales did not apply for official campaign status meaning there have been no officially recognised campaigns and so no TV broadcasts or mailshots. Some people have suggested that this is because True Wales want a low turnout so that they can claim that the result is not legitimate though they have denied this.
Having looked at their reasons for voting no, they do not appear to me to engage with the (admittedly technical) issue that the referendum is about. They criticise the record of the Assembly and suggest that voting yes is a slippery slope to Independence. Although there are those in the Yes campaign who are in favour of Independence, that is not the matter at issue here and there would have to be a Referendum on that specific issue.
For full balance, the website for the Yes Campaign is also available
I hope I have managed to be reasonably objective and clear in setting out the issues here.
|Monday, November 29th, 2010|
We're on prepay gas and electric meters. Gas ran out earlier today.
I went and got more on the card, transferred it to the meter and put the gas back on. I reset the boiler (noticing that pressure was just under 2 bar) and the cooker and the radiators worked for a while. But now radiators are cold and when I checked the boiler just now pressure has dropped completely and so it's gone off.
In my old place, the pressure dropped gradually and I'd occasionally have to open the water valve and top it up. But I'm worried now because it has dropped pressure so suddenly.
Any suggestions as to what I should do? Other than curl up under the duvet on the sofa to keep warm?
[cross-posting to my journal)
|Friday, November 26th, 2010|
Just for my records tonight's Saag Haloumi (what happens when it's snowing and you have spinach and haloumi but not paneer)
Wash the spinach and cook it in the water which remains (until it was about half the starting volume)
Transfer to food processor and whizz.
Heat oil fry off cumin and coriander seeds add minced garlic and garlic puree
Chop onion and add to mix
Throw in Garam Masala
Splash of milk
Serve with rice (and daal)
(Daal was brown lentils and a few chana dal (yellow split peas) cook as per packet. Then onion fried with garlic, tumeric, coriander (ground and dried), cumin, chilli powder and interesting salt and stirred through the cooked lentils)
|Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010|
|Thursday, September 16th, 2010|
My 5th Greenbelt this year (2001, 2002, 2007, 2008, 2010). First two were definitely 'talk greenbelts', third was 'worship greenbelt', fourth 'people greenbelt'. This one was a mix of all these elements.( a detailed write upCollapse )
|Sunday, June 13th, 2010|
Questions from beckyc1)Tell me why as a Cheshire Lass, I should (or should not! ;-)) support Plaid Cymru?
[grins] Well, as another Cheshire Lass, though a half-Welsh one, I should be able to answer this.
Nationalism has a bad name in England because it is imperialist -- we're better than you. In Wales and Scotland it is egalitarian -- we're as good as you and should rule ourselves. Plaid and the SNP are probably the most socialist of mainstream GB parties too, unlike the right wing nationalism many English people might expect. Wales is a separate nation, with her own language (although no longer spoken by the majority in Wales) and history and culture. What English people want and think isn't necessarily what Welsh people want and making decisions nearer the people is good because they can be more engaged with the decision making.
I am also proud of our last manifesto statement on asylum and immigration issues:
As a welcoming nation, Plaid Cymru recognises the invaluable contribution that migrants have made to Wales. Our civic nationalism celebrates tolerance, mutual understanding and difference. We condemn the point-scoring used by other parties and the pandering to unfounded xenophobic prejudices in the debate on immigration. Plaid Cymru also supports the right of asylum seekers to work in the UK while they wait for status decisions to be made and we call for the speeding up of the unnecessarily complicated asylum system. We condemn the practice of housing recently-arrived asylum seekers, especially children, in "detention" or "removal" centres as punitive and cruel.
Being proud of one's own nation and wanting to rule oneselves doesn't mean hating other people.3)Tell me a place in North Wales that I should visit?
Mmm, intersting. I've lived in mid-Wales (Aber) and South Wales (Cardiff). North Wales is somewhere I've visited and I don't know how much you've visited. I enjoyed our holiday in Cricieth but I was only 5 at the time, so perhaps I should go back myself. Sailing on Llyn Tegid (the lake near the village of Bala) is also wonderful4)What is the one food or drink that you'd find hardest to give up (were you to need to)?
Chocolate! I keep eating it, even though the sugar is bad for me. The one meat I miss (having been veggie for 15 years) is duck, despite only having it twice!5)Do you absolutely rule at games where you get asked questions and can't reply using the words yes or no?
I can't say that I do.
Question 2 will be answered in a locked post.
|Monday, April 26th, 2010|
|Sunday, April 25th, 2010|
|Friday, April 23rd, 2010|
Help yrieithydd and get your own badge!
(The Livejournal Electioniser was made by robhu)
I'm intrigued as to who the Tory is. The person I might have guessed is a mutual friend with the person I got this meme from and she has no Tories appearing.
|Sunday, January 31st, 2010|
|Monday, August 3rd, 2009|
|Kids and Violence
While I was failing to sleep last night, I heard The Forum on the World Service
. One of the contributors was Camila Batmanghelidjh who founded Kids Company
which works with deprived children in London with remarkable results.
She talked about brain development and the fact that the prefrontal lobe which is the controlling part of the brain is programmed by loving care in the first three years of life. As a parent (or other caregiver) soothes the child the child learns how to soothe themselves. The kids Camilla works with have not received this loving care at an early age and so lack the calming mechanisms -- many said to her early in her work `I just can't calm down'. She describes them as 'themostatically impaired'. They have also experienced much violence and trauma in their short lives and have little control of their impulses which are often violent. By long-term work with these children, they can learn techniques for calming themselves and 87% re-engage with education.
It struck me how much of a cycle occurs here. Often their parents won't have learnt the calming mechanisms either and so the children don't and so the cycle continues.
I found various newspaper articles about her work the Independent
, The Observer
, The Times
and a conservative blogger who dismisses her work with no argument, merely by mocking her words
|Sunday, August 2nd, 2009|
|Lay Presidency and Gay Bishops
Interesting post from Bishop Alan on Lay Presidency in the Diocese of Sydney.
His final paragraph says a lot:
Back last century, John Shelby Spong led the charge for lay presidency in his book Why Christianity must Change or Die. It looks as though this issue has now reached what one might call the Jensen Spong Vanishing Point. The whole matter was considered very fully by the 1998 Lambeth conference, which decisively rejected it. So 98 Lambeth 1:10 is to die for, and 98 Lambeth 3:22 is to dynamite. Simultaneously. Illogical, Captain?
I love the idea of +Spong and ++Jensen agreeing on something (especially something which puts them both outside traditional Anglicanism)! And the attitudes to Lambeth resolutions is telling.
|Thursday, May 21st, 2009|
I'm currently doing a Fresh Expressions Course with people from my church along with others from the Dioceses of Llandaf and Monmouth and the Methodists in this part of the world.
At the session this week, one of the things we talked about related to change and a bell curve was given divided up into Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority and Laggards. The point was that to initiate change in a congregation one had to work mainly with the middle three groups -- going too much with the innovators could in fact backfire. In many ways, I could see the point.
We were asked whether we were Innovators and a few responded. Then we were asked if any of us were Laggards and I was the only who responded. Someone pointed out that the people attending such a course were likely to be Innovators or Early Adopters. I made the point that in fact at different points and about different things we might react different.
As I've thought about this for the last couple of days, I've come to be more dubious about this blanket categorisation.
I am by basic inclination a laggard. I don't like change and certainly not change for change's sake. My reaction to An Inspector Calls
last night is an example of that -- it wasn't how I'd imagined it from the script so I wasn't keen. Similarly, those of you who were present when MethSoc went to see the first Harry Potter will remember my reaction to change there! And while I laugh and am disappointed by those in churches who make visitors unwelcome by telling them they've sat in 'their seat', I've had that reaction to people who have sat in 'my seat' in the library. I don't act on it, but it's there.
Whether I accept change depends a lot more on whether I understand the logic of it. For example, when I went to our sister church for services soon after our new vicar arrived, I wanted to rearrange the seating. Although it is a rectangular space, the altar is in one of the corners and to my mind it made most sense to have the chairs facing that way, but they were set out parallel to two of the walls. The new vicar agreed with me but was cautious about changing something to soon, but eventually cracked as she felt she wasn't communicating with one part of the church. She changed the layout and a couple of people complained the first week that they didn't know where to sit. Since then they've been fine. But I can sympathise with that reaction, even though I was a major proponent of the change.
In church situations, it can be set out as being about our comfort versus mission but often the innovators are in fact asking for things to be changed to what they are comfortable with.
One of the sensible things said in the course was that you needed to change values before you changed structures -- while changing structures is superficially easier than changing values, just changing structures without address the values leaves a lot of people hurt. This makes a lot of sense to me. If I'm onside with why things need to be changed, I'm a lot more likely to be happy with the change.
|An Inspector Calls
Last night, I finally got to see An Inspector Calls
. I studied this as one of my GCSE English Lit texts along with Macbeth
and A Mayor of Casterbridge
. It amused me at the time that the only one of this I saw in the theatre during my GCSE courses was in fact A Mayor of Casterbridge
I loved An Inspector Calls
when we studied it and its message of 'Never ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee'. Thus I've long wanted to see it so when I noticed that it was on at The New Theatre
this week I decided that I wanted to go. My first suggestion was to go on the Thursday but mum pointed out that this is Ascension Day so eventually we booked tickets for the Wednesday night. Sean Cavanagh (husband to the University Chaplain Lorraine, a director of Riding Lights and a West End set designer) told me it was a very good production and so I was looking for it.
Unfortunately, my idea of a good production and Sean's appear to differ. I could see why a set designer would appreciate it, but felt on the whole it was over done.
The thing is that An Inspector Calls
only requires a very basic set -- a Dining Room -- but this production had gone much beyond that. The set was a mansion which opened part way through the first scene (when the Inspector arrived) but which was out of scale with characters. It was used to good effect to demonstrate the fact that the Birling's world was destroyed by the Inspector's visit and they way in which the parents and Gerald Croft (the daughter's fiancé) start trying to rebuild their life as though nothing had happened. However, this seemed to over egg the cake to me. The play, IMO, speaks for myself.
Secondly, the Inspector was too aggressive and dramatic. My impression from reading the script is of a much more controlled character who is much more sinister. The Goole/Ghoul suggestion wasn't at all apparent.
There were also various extraneous people around, like a young kid who spent most of the production being very still wearing the Inspector's hat. Reading the programme afterwards, it turned out that the idea of the production was that the play (set in 1912) was being acted out in 1945 to help people decide whether to vote for Churchill or Attlee. It was an interesting idea, but didn't really come off. I thought it started with an air raid siren, but it wasn't at all clear what that, or the kids playing the street had to do with the rest of it.
I still loved it, because it is a wonderful play, but that was despite the production.
Mum had a similar reaction -- she's never studied it, but saw it in Crewe 33 years ago and felt that that was a much more subtle and therefore more sinister production.
|Thursday, March 19th, 2009|
|Tom Wright on Evangeliclas and Scripture
A friend recommended that I read Tom Wright's Oxford University Sermon
entitled the Harvest and the Kingdom (available as a word document).
Having just read it, I can see why he recommended it. It fits in well with the discussion we'd been having about the way in which evangelicals seem to preach more on the epistles than on St Paul. This began with my comment about said friend's father (an evangelical Anglican priest) being a better preacher on the epistles than the gospels. And I commented that I had been known to refer to evangelicals as epistolarians for this reason.
This bit stood out to me as being very important:This is all the more ironic because, the evangelical has usually insisted on the authority of scripture, but has allowed that to shrink to mean ‘the authority of the bits of Paul which give me my scheme of how to get saved’, with the rest of scripture, including the gospels, as a rag-bag of useful material to pad it all out.
To be fair, he also tells liberals off for being to keen to ignore St Paul and says:Exactly the same is true, in reverse, about a supposedly gospels-based kingdom-theology which is actually nothing more than social work with a pious face.