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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in yrieithydd's LiveJournal:

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Tuesday, January 24th, 2017
2:24 pm
A Grave Welcome
My mum and I were on holiday last week and, as is our wont, we visited a number of churches, mainly around Rutland Water where we were staying, but also one the way too and fro. Mostly they were open; sadly, the one exception was in Ledbury. I say sadly because my granny used to be a church watcher there to help keep it open. Hopefully that tradition continues in the summer months at least, but it wasn't in play on a Saturday in January.

Two churches, however, stood out because of the contrasting ways they dealt with the presence of a famous grave: Leicester Cathedral and Holy Trinity, Stratford-upon-Avon.

For Leicester, this is a new opportunity after the discovery of Richard III's body in a car park on the site of the old Grey Friars Friary in 2012 and its re-internment in Leicester Cathedral in March 2015. For Holy Trinity, Stratford-upon-Avon, it has been 400 years since William Shakespeare was buried there.

I was worried about how the new tomb for Leicester - in the chancel - would work but they have managed it well, turning the former High Altar into a chapel and making the Nave altar the main one, moving the stalls to the West End, under the organ. We were welcomed at the door and given a guide to the church and a gift aid envelope if we wished to make a donation, but that was clearly voluntary. There were a number of boards around the church exploring aspects of Richard's life and faith and giving a contemporary perspective on the life of the cathedral and posing questions for us to consider about faith in today's world. In one place there was a facsimile of Richard's Book of Hours and also a contemporary Book of Hours with artwork from local schoolchildren relating to various Bible stories. Priority was given to worship, with the Cathedral being closed to visitors for the lunchtime Eucharist; this was publicized over the PA just prior to service, with an invitation to stay for the service which was well attended. On the hour, the chaplain asked us to pause and led us in prayer. There were knowledgeable guides both at the tomb and by the display cabinet for the pall which was over the coffin at the service where he was re-interred. It would have easily been possible to charge for entry to the old Chancel where the grave is but that was had not been done. There is also a Visitors' Centre which gives the story of the rediscovery. We did not visit this partly because I never worked out where it was - it could have been signed more clearly at the south door - "Now visit the Visitors' Centre [location/directions]". Instead we had a nice lunch in the White Rose Café and bought books from the Christian Resource Centre.

Our visit to Holy Trinity, Stratford-upon-Avon was very disappointing in contrast. The closest they came to interpretation was a sign in the West End area which welcomed Pokémon Go players and ended with a welcome whether you were seeking Pokémon, Shakespeare or Jesus. There was a charge of £3 to see Shakespeare's grave and this was imposed at entrance to the choir stalls which were to the West of the Central Crossing, so someone wanting to visit as a church was limited to seeing the nave. There was take-round guide as far as I could see. It is possible that there was more interpretation east of the divide but we were so unimpressed with the welcome that we decided against paying to see the rest of the church/Shakespeare's grave. There was also going to be a reading from the AV at 2:30pm. I was impressed by the helpful answer given by the person in the shop when asked by another visitor about the time of the Sunday service as she gave a very full answer explaining how it was a teaching Eucharist and where it happened. It did appear that they celebrate at the High Altar but then come forward to stations for the administration. It struck me how far away the High Altar is, with the choir stalls west of the central crossing, rather in the tradition place east of it in the chancel. I'm no fan of Nave altars, especially if you can see the High Altar behind, but I think a case could easily be made there for turning the Chancel/Sanctuary into a separate area (and charging visitors to see Shakespeare's grave if you must) and having an altar either in the crossing or just in front of the choir stalls (making it into a celebration in the round). A lot more could have been made of interpretation, perhaps with an exploration of faith in some of the plays - for example Measure for Measure - or a consideration of the question "Was Shakespeare a Catholic?".

We made a donation at Leicester Cathedral, but not in Stratford.

The one thing which would have improved the visit to Leicester would have been better signing. It was a bit patchy on the way; telling us to follow "town centre" for the cultural quarter and Richard III then later having a sign for "town centre" straight on and "cultural quarter" to the left and no mention of Richard. We went right and round the innner ring road, failing to make use of a flyover because it was poorly signed and found a car park. This wasn't as bad as our experience in Nottingham last year which involved the same roundabout 3 times, but could have been better. Leaving though was another matter. We came out of the car park in a different place and the first sign mentioned the M69 and M1 and assorted local places which meant nothing so we chose a direction which turned out be west when we wanted east. We then made our way back and did at least one loop. Eventually we passed the railway station which I have used on my previous visits to Leicester and which I could relate to the roundabout where we'd joined the inner ring road that morning. That, however, is an issue for the City Council not the Cathedral. Stratford being smaller was not quite as bad although we did drive around a bit before finding a car park, partly because ones were signed at big junctions but then were not obvious when you got to them.

So many thanks to the team at Leicester for their work in caring for Richard's legacy and interpreting the Christian Faith for today.
Sunday, April 10th, 2016
5:54 pm
Saturday, December 13th, 2014
11:21 pm
Friday, December 12th, 2014
10:07 pm
Friday, December 5th, 2014
11:00 pm
Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014
11:38 pm
Monday, December 1st, 2014
9:29 pm
A bunch of people I follow on Twitter are reading a book (Stephen Cottrell's Walking backwards to Christmas and blogging about it over the course of Advent. I'll put my thoughts behind a cut to spare your Friends' pageCollapse )
Friday, November 8th, 2013
7:55 pm
Code switching

I spent yesterday with markrowland which was great & should be done more often. Our conversation covered an assortment of topics but this blog post is about the 'how' of the conversation, its medium, for it wandered between Welsh & English. Given the trope of 'they were all speaking English until we walked in' l thought it would be interesting to reflect on why & when we switched.


It wasn 't classic code switching as described when I was an undergrad because it did not depend on the topic of the conversation.


We met at Cardiff Central station & spoke Welsh on the train apart from the odd word here and there. When we arrived in Bristol we popped into my flat & then went for coffee/ brunch white was still predominantly in Welsh though the conversation about whether Americano is black is in English in my memory. Wondering round Bristol was still in Welsh lthink , but then we went to Mass in English & there was conversation with others so English. Then I had to work & Mark went for Iunch. When he returned after l'd finished someone I knew was around so I was speaking English. As we started up to the roof I conciously switched back to Welsh. We stuck with Welsh until we went for afternoon tea where exchanges about brownies meant we were using English. We went back to church for Mark to have a go on the organ. I offered to pop back to my flat to grab Mark's pannier and remember thinking 'why are we using English?' When I got back Mark spoke in Welsh and we continued in Welsh until somewhere up the slipway to Temple Meads when we slipped into English. This is the one I can't explain; the other switches to English were triggered by interacting with non-Welsh speakers but we didn't do that. I think the trigger was me quoting conversations which were in English.


So using English was triggered by interacting with others on the whole while Welsh has become our default. In Cambridge we tended to speak English & write Welsh. Speaking English was because we'd often have been interacting with non-Welsh speakers as we met. Since Mark left Cambridge, we had increasingly used Welsh but as Tres day showed flow in & out of the two.

Monday, July 22nd, 2013
7:12 pm
Women Bishops' Steering Committee
The membership of the Steering Committee to draft the new legislation on women bishops has been announced . Some names are familiar to me but others aren't so I decided to Google and record the results.
[details behind the cut]

The Revd Paul Benfield

Incumbent of St Nicholas, Fleetwood in Blackburn served at chancery bar before ordination. Has given evidence to Constitutional Affairs Committee on serving in a parish under patronage of Lord Chancellor which he did at Lewes in Chichester. And found work through the Lord Chancellor later. He states his opposition to women priests in this evidence. He says:
  3.  There was no difficulty with me expressing my opposition to women priests and stating a desire to serve in a parish which had passed resolutions A & B under the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1993. At that time it was widely felt that many bishops were not interested in appointing those opposed to women priests and so to come to a patron's representative who was acting fairly and willing to embrace all legitimate views within the Church of England was refreshing.
. He also moved amendments in the July 2010 session of synod, but I haven't yet worked out what the significance of leaving out clause 3(10) paragraph (c) would have been.

Represented FinF and the Catholic group in giving evidence to the Working Party.

The Revd Canon Jane Charman

Is the Director of Learning for Discipleship and Ministry in the Diocese of Salisbury. She is @janeecharman on Twitter where I've recently started following her, I think because she was following me. Was recently at Mission and Ministry Conference in Blackpool. Has written about gender discrimination and why she now regrets having supported November's measure as the best on offer. She writes
I have come to understand that what I did was wrong. I was supporting a lesser good at the expense of a greater good. We cannot place the needs and wishes of a small number of our own members above our vocation to declare a gospel of justice and mercy for all human beings. We cannot achieve our goal of having women in the House of Bishops on such terms.

History is being made every day and we ourselves are making it. Each of us plays our chosen part. In years to come I hope to be able to look back on one of the significant issues of my own day and feel proud of the part that I played. I have resolved to vote against any Measure, legislation or provision which is discriminatory against women in any way. That would include the Measure put before us last November or anything of a similar nature. It probably means I will not be able to vote for anything which the new working group or the House of Bishops comes up with next unless it is a single clause measure supported by informal pastoral provision. I will use what influence I have to dissuade others too.  If the result is that the Church of England does not have women bishops then so be it. It will be our loss and our disgrace. Perhaps we are not worthy of them yet.

The Revd Canon Robert Cotton

Also sponsored amendments in July session. Is on Council of Westcott House. This tells me he studied at Oxford (boo) and supports Wales and rugby (yay). More seriously he's on the archbishop's council. He's Rector of Holy Trinity and St Mary's in Guildford where he has a female curate.

Dr Philip Giddings*

Has an entry in Wikipedia . Chair of House of Laity who faced a vote of no confidence after speaking against the last legislation. He's a lecturer in Politics at Reading, did his DPhil at Oxford. He's a conservative evangelical and heads Anglican Mainstream.

Dr Paula Gooder*

A good egg, who I first heard of because my mum did a course with her. Biblical scholar, edited a book arguing for women's leadership on the basis of Scripture after November's vote. Now on Twitter as @paulargooder. She is Canon Theologian of Birmingham and Guildford, and Theologian to the Bible Society

The Ven Christine Hardman *

Another with a Wikipedia article.. She's now retired but was Archdeacon of Lewisham and Greenwich. She was a deaconess for 3 years before being in the first tranche of female deacons and priests. She is Prolocutor of Convocation of Canterbury. The BBC has a clip of her and John Broadhurst on a 2008 synod vote on women bishops, but it's not compatible with my tablet so I haven't watched it.

Dr Jamie Harrison

Is chair of the House of Laity in the diocese of Durham. But that's all I've found so for.

The Rt Revd James Langstaff (Chair)*

Is Bishop of Rochester. An interview with a local paper after his appointment in 2011 reveals an interest in Affordable Housing.. Lay Anglicana did not find much about himto build profile, other than educated at Oxford (PPE) and St John's Nottingham and the intervieq aboce.. Laura thought he might be Anglo-Catholic due to an ARCIC reference, but St John's Nottingham suggests evangelical to me.

Mrs Susannah Leafe

A lay member of Synod. A Guardian story from last July quotes her as calling for a no vote saying:
"If you wish to be gracious, please vote against because ... this measure does not provide proper provision for those in either the anglo-Catholic or conservative evangelical members of our family. They've made that very clear," 

She is listed in the Working Party report on woman bishops as having given evidence on behalf of Reform and the Church Society (link to Thinking Anglicans html upload of the pdf). This means that she is a supporter of Male Headship. I struggle to understand how a woman who believe in Male Headship can justify voting against the majority of bishops - "I'll follow, if I think you're going the right way". She is on the Council of Reform though listed as Susie there.

The Revd Dr Rosemarie Mallett*

According to the Southwark Press release when she was deaconed at Michaelmas 04 she was born in Barbados and has a PhD in Sociology and a first degree in history and French. she took over as chair of AffCath last Sept.

Canon Margaret Swinson*

As well as being on synod, where she is vice-chair of the Council of Christian Unity, she is involved in Anglican-Roman Catholic Conversations From Worcestershire, went to Liverpool as a student did not leave.

The Revd Preb Roderick Thomas

Represented Reform & Church Society in giving evidence to the Working Party. He is the chairma of Reform and Vicar of St Matthew's Elburton whose Spring termcard (Jan-April) suggests that it sits lightly to the lectionary. Services are 8am BCP communion, 1030 Morning Worship (Communion 4th Sunday), 1700 Evening Prayer, BCP, with HC 1st Sunday and an informal 7pm service.

The Rt Revd Dr Martin Warner*

Former Administrator of the Shrine at Walsingham, then Bishop of Whitby, now Bishop of Chichester. Tweets as @MartinWarner. Forward in Faith. Wikipedia says he trained at Staggers have studied in Durham

The Rt Revd Trevor Willmott

BIshop of Dover.Wikipedia reveals that he studied at St Peter's Oxford as an undergraduate and then trained at Westcott It also mentioned Fitz, but that isn't necesarily a strong link; Westcott isn't a college (and Cambridge doesn't have the PPH category Oxford does) so if ordinands are doing Tripos and if they aren't linked to another college Fitz is the default option.

The Revd Canon Dr Dagmar Winter

The Very Reverend Vivienne Faull (Consultant)*

Those members er s marked * were on the Working Party which met after November
Thursday, June 27th, 2013
11:15 pm
Corpus Christi and change

I love Corpus Christi and over the last few years in Cardiff and Bristol I've struggled to find places which keep it as well as LSM did in Cambridge on the historic date of the Thursday after Easter. For example last year at All Saints', Clifton only the Sanctuary party processed and only around church. So this year as I had two days off (my weekend) and I hadn't been to Cambridge for over 6 months I decided the best plan was a trip to Cambridge. This was only my second trip back since LSM got a new vicar and my first since he started changing things last Advent.


They've changed it; it's wrong?Collapse )
Thursday, June 6th, 2013
11:20 pm
Gender Essentialism
Last week the Christian Feminist Network tweeted an article from a complementarian on why he supports some aspects of feminism . It's a good article if you make it past the second paragraph where he lists the sorts of feminisms he doesn't support. This is a mixture of strawmen and assertion which made me hit the roof and nearly stop reading.

my response to straw womenCollapse )
Sunday, May 26th, 2013
4:57 pm
Toys and Gender
Last week I listened to a podcast by the Naked Scientists about gender and toys which seemed to me to miss this point. The presenter talks to Jo from @lettoysbetoys and Vicky a research pyschologist.
Vicky has a few points to make:

  • Biological processes as well as societal influence affects toy choice. So 'universally around the world' little girls like dolls and little boys like weapons. These are what they choose when presented with novel toys. She points to her research on the effect of congenital adrenal hyperplasy where the adrenal gland overproduces testosterone and causes girls with the condition to have more masculine looking bodies and to be more likely to choose weapons, trucks and cars than their non-affected sisters. Also 'even at 12 months' babies more likely to look at toys associated with their gender.
  • It's insulting to say that children don't know their own minds, can choose to go against societies' expectations
  • Campaigners are implying girls' toys less good than boys' toys
  • By adulthood neglible differences in abilities, so what they play with doesn't matter.

Jo answers many of these points well, especially pointing out that social stigma is greater for boys who like 'girly' toys than vice versa. But there were various points that I felt could have been made more strongly.

Vicky said 'even at 12 months' suggesting that at that age society hasn't influenced babies much. However, I've read of studies where babies where dressed in blue or pink (regardless of actual gender so some dressed in blue were girls and some in pink were boys) and observed how adults responded to them and interacted with them and there were clear differences in the sort of things adults said to those in blue to those in pink. IIRC, blue were more likely to be 'strong' and pink 'pretty', so social conditioning begins long before 12 months.

Vicky also hugely downplayed the social impact of stereotypes. Yes, the child might know his or her own mind and still choose things associated with the other gender, but that's not much help if the parent then refuses to buy the thing because it's wrong. @Everydaysexism on twitter has retweeted examples people have overheard of children being told they can't have something because it was for the other gender. So if a budding female scientist isn't allowed a chemistry set because it's for boys maybe she'll not choose science at A level and so her talents will be lost from science, even though, as Vicky acknowledges, the differences in talents of adults are negligible.

Vicky also mainly failed to address the issue of tendency versus universaility. Jo pointed out that you can't say 'all' girls and boys will choose with the tendency of their sex . VIcky said that putting the dolls elsewhere wouldn't stop girls choosing them, which is true and completely fine. The whole point of the campaign though isn't to stop girls choosing dolls or boys choosing weapons but to enable girls to choose weapons and boys to choose dolls if that is what they want. That's why marketting by function makes sense, it opens up the categories rather than shutting them down.
Friday, May 24th, 2013
9:14 pm
Just said on Twitter that probably half of the Eucharists I've received at have been celebrated by female priests.

Maths re the Eucharists I've attendedCollapse )
This lunchtime I went to the New Room for their Communion for Wesley day and felt slight alienated by the fact the celebrant, both readers (which didn't include a gospel), the preacher, the two stewards and the organist were all male. Women had no role other than congregation member on the day. Of the 6 hymsn, 3 were by Chalres (fair enough given the day), 1 by Newton, 1 by Patrick Appleford and one was translated and versified by two women, from an Old Irish original, Ironically, their "I thy true Son" had been changed to "Thy child let me be" which felt tokenistic at best. IN fact, given the ancient privieges available to Sons not daughters, I'm perfectly happy to sing 'Son' there...
Monday, May 6th, 2013
11:26 pm
Goddard on Men, Women and Marriage

Kevin Ellis, the Vicar of Bartley Green (@vicarbartleyg) tweeted a link to a post on Fulcrum Anglican from Andrew Goddard
on the recent Faith and Order Commission report "Men, Women and Marriage"
* saying that he found it a helpful contribution to the debate.


My response to thisCollapse )
Wednesday, April 10th, 2013
8:27 pm
"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
11:37 pm
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
10:20 pm
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
11:17 pm
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
9:24 pm
Welsh Referendum
[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
2:12 pm
Boiler advice
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)
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