Prayer, Spirituality

Being human, well….

Given the coverage of the Lambeth Conference in both church and secular press in recent weeks I have decided it is time to say clearly and simply that I am an ordinand (trainee priest) in the Church of England who hopes, and prays, that my church will soon end its discrimination agains LGBTQ+ people (and end discrimination on grounds of sex, class, race, disability and age, too). I hope and pray that we will welcome and respect all equally and marry same sex couples, as the Episcopal Scottish Church, the Chuch of Scotland, the Church of Wales and the Methodists in the UK have decided to do.

So I support the signatories of Bishop Michael Curry’s letter https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=596491731839593&set=a.281607236661379

And I was moved by Sandi Toksvig’s letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury https://twitter.com/sanditoksvig/status/1554948904881381377/photo/2

And I hope, very much, that he meets her and listens to her and that they become friends.

Because, most of all, I want us to learn to disagree better – without shouting at each other, walking out of the room, or going to war. I don’t, personally, think Jesus of Nazareth said ANYTHING about sexuality. What he taught us was how to tackle the difficult task of being human, well and how to challenge antihuman forces, practices and beliefs that bring death to people, rather than life.

The issue around sexuality masks a deeper issue that is really about the different ways people of faith read their holy texts. Do we read them literally, as handbooks, telling us what to do and what not to do? Or do we read them as complex products of their time and place, holy poetry, Wisdom literatures that can and do speak to us and inspire us but which also come to us from violent times and places where women, children, sexual minorities, the disabled were seen as ‘less’ than?

With other feminist theologians I want to point out that our scriptures and our creeds were written by and mostly about the actions and beliefs of powerful (straight) men and present us with male imagery for a powerful and masculine God. Our holy texts have been and still are mis-used to oppress and bring death, not life, despair and hate, not hope.

That does not mean I reject the bible or the traditions of my church but I don’t simply ‘accept’ them either. They are to be wrestled with, argued with and searched for the treasures they can and still do yield to us. I revere the bible but I don’t think it’s a simple book with a single message. It inspires and moves me, angers me and troubles me, comforts me and helps me to be human.

And as there are many voices and messages in the bible, though some are quieter than others, so I would like us as people of faith to acknowlege the value of multiple perspectives, many voices. I want us to listen to the voices of the LGBTQ+ community, of children, of women and the poor and the disabled, of minorities and learn what they can tell us of the Divine.

And I very much want Christianity to move on from its obsession with disapproving of what people do in bed and to focus much more on that difficult task of being human, well. Because that’s what I think religion is for …. to help us to be kinder to each other and to the planet and to ourselves. Simple. Albeit, not easy.

And obviously, feel free to disagree with me 🙂

And if you want a radical feminist liberation theologian and Roman Catholic nun to read try https://www.amazon.co.uk/Books-Ivone-Gebara/s?rh=n%3A266239%2Cp_27%3AIvone+Gebara

Those nuns don’t pull their theological punches……

Spirituality

Black Theology – Learning from Allan Boesak….and others

One of the privileges of studying theology and ministry at The Queens Foundation https://www.queens.ac.uk/ is that we are able to learn from superb Black academics like Dr Carlton Turner and Dr Dulcie Dixon-McKenzie. And they, in turn, introduce us to a wider world of theology and struggle and resistance and liberation. And to seasoned activist theologians like Professor Allan Boesak who, at the age of 77, is still a thorn in the flesh of unjust powers.

This was one of the interviews I was encouraged to listen to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_3g9MOzChU

It is a conversation between Dulcie and Professor Boesak entitled Preaching Hope and Resistance in Times of Struggle and was an hour very well spent. I commend it.

I remember Allan Boesak from my youth but at that time did not clearly understand the depth of the anguish and suffering of Apartheid or the complicity of the White Christian churches.

And what impressed me most, from this interview, was that Allan Boesak is STILL thinking and changing and growing. His theology is as relevant today in the struggles we face against sexism, classism, homophobia, exploitation and ecocide as in the ongoing struggle against racism that he has devoted his life to. Jesus, Allan says repeatedly, was and IS a revolutionary and to walk his Way is to walk the way of struggle and justice.

His latest book is Children of the Waters of Meribah: Black Liberation Theology, the Miriamic Tradition, and the Challenges of 21st Century Empire. It’s a book that argues for the voices of women in Scripture, voices of peace to set against the violence of Empire. I haven’t read it yet. It has just gone to the top of my ‘to read’ list…..