Monday, August 23, 2010

news round up

So thanks to those regulars who point me in the direction of news items that have caught their eye - both the regular ridiculous stories that fill the pages of the Telegraph, and the faith stories that pop up from time to time.

Two of the latter have been pointed out by a few of you, and of course I have my own opinions.

What, you were afraid I was going to keep them to myself? Never fear.

First - the Ground Zero Mosque. All America seems to be caught up in the rights and wrongs of this particular proposal - and the trusty Telegraph carries a remarkably balanced article (if predictably taking a swipe at Obama) here. It's not a mosque, it's a cultural centre, there won't be minarets, and it's not actually at Ground Zero. I love the detail that among its neighbours will be the Pussycat Lounge strip joint; no protesters about this, apparently. Charlie Booker has a wonderful rant about all of the above here. It's very entertaining.

What do I think? What does it matter what I think? But for the record - I am on the record as being a tolerationist. We have fought wars to allow people to be people and not to demonize those with whome we disagree. Putting people into ghettos is Hitler's policy, not that of decent folk or even pretty poor Christians. If they want a cultural centre next to a strip joint in Lower Manhattan, then let them apply and see what the city does with it.

Minarets at Ground Zero would be an unadvisable request, but that's not what anyone is asking for. And those who are putting that idea around and who stir up crowds as a hobby should be ashamed of themselves. Which is asking a lot. But there you go.

Now. Here's another story - from the Telegraph - but on a favourite Anglican topic. Have a read of this. Gay vicar to marry Nigerian male model. Colin Coward is quite a well known figure in certain circles, and clearly here is seeing himself as a bit of a trailblazer. It's a colourful story - he's a lot older than his partner, who is African (from one of those places where the Archbishop is vehemently anti-Gay) and that he is a model just adds spice to the news print.

But what we actually have is a vicar having a civil partnership ceremony - and Colin is hardly the first. He's hardly the first to follow it with some kind of blessing either. It's the sort of thing the Telegraph does well - though you can't help feeling the Daily Mail would have made it even more salacious. Maybe it did.

What gets me about this story is this: we all know the rules, we all know gay clergy are supposed to be celibate, and we all know that some keep this and some are less honest. But I find Colin to be stunningly dishonest here. He talks about his sex life with his partner, and says it's his own business and the bishop has no right to ask - whilst making it absolutely clear they are "marrying" (his word - at the moment that's not quite the legal situation, and that's another issue) and then insinuating that they will make full use of all that this entails. Don't insinuate. Say it clearly. If it means that much to you - be honest. Honestly break the rules if you believe they are that wrong - but I find the nod & the wink and the "know but don't say" stuff utterly indefensible.

If you believe something - stand up for it. Totally. For goodness sake, if this is the person you love, you shouldn't have to hide the fact or apologise for it. By all means break a rule in order to make a better one. The world has been improved by many people who have done this. But bending rules, playing with moral codes and bishops as arbiters of the church's conduct when the issue is supposed to be so important to you speaks only of lack of integrity and moral weakness. Get some backbone, Mr Coward.

It's not the issue I find offensive you see. I find liberals in the church who think themselves at the cutting edge of a new morality so wholly compromised that any desire I have to be "tolerationist" and to embrace all people as people in the way I find Jesus doing in the Gospels is actually almost impossible to put into practice, because these guys make it so darned hard.


theMuddledMarketPlace said...

bottom line?
there's the stipend at stake

Marcus Green said...

I agree. And that's the shocker. He can't be fully open about the way he loves the bloke he says he loves, because he loves his job (income? calling? I don't know) too much to risk losing it.

Now - I do think this is an issue that needs to be sorted out. But as things stand, if he really wants to make a stand, then make it. Put the person you love first. Otherwise, it all looks a bit cheap and tawdry and exhibitionist to me, though what would I know.