Sunday, October 31, 2010

what's the point?

What's the point? I mean, really. Four evangelical bishops (including the omnipresent Lord Carey, former ABC) have written to the Telegraph to remind us (again) of the fundamentals of Christianity in the modern world: here is their opening parapraph.

SIR – On Monday the High Court is to be asked to rule on whether Christians are "fit people" to adopt or foster children – or whether they will be excluded, regardless of the needs of children, from doing so because of the requirements of homosexual rights.

Two Christian foster parents have been removed from a register in Derby because they don't like gays. This is, say the bishops, an afront to all Christians because clearly all Christians are now no longer seen as fit people to look after children.

What is the point?

I mean, I think there are three or four things that strike me straight away, though I'm no bishop and never will be.

1. Views on sexuality are not the most essential part of our Christian heritage. Views on Jesus are. Views on the Bible are important too, clearly - but concrete applications of minor ethical scriptures found therein are something we need to be careful about. Nuance is the first casualty of a war written in headlines. All Christians are not excluded from being foster parents because one couple takes a vocal stand against homosexuality. That one couple does not speak for every Christian - not even for every Christian who labels themself evangelical.

2. When will these guys understand the simple pragmatism of Jesus' teaching, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"? Because what the world hears is this: "We want to come down hard and sharp against gays. Persecute them. They are getting too big for their boots. It's time someone took a stand." And what happens then is, we have declared open season on ourselves. Do unto others... If it's OK for us to be bigots against somebody else, it's OK for them to be bigots against us. This is how this happens. We don't solve it by getting louder.

3. I read in one article about this foster couple that they said they would never support a gay lifestyle as an acceptable alternative; but if they ended up with a child who was gay, would they then reject the child? If that's a possibility, I find it remarkably unchristian, and would understand why with the local council might not put a child in their care. After all, though social services might be careful to match child and foster parents, not every youngster knows themself; a kid who wants to come out but fears (another) loss of home would then face a particular burden.

4. Am I alone in being depressed by seeing bishops view this subject as the greatest moral conundrum of our age? Why aren't they ridding the church of rich, selfish, lazy bankers? Or those who oppose or ignore climate change and related ecological issues? The Bible says far more about our stewardship of the earth and about the corruption of wealth than it ever says about sexuality, and even if you want to see being gay as wrong you have to see greed and oppression and raping the land as far, far, far more evil.

So I am glad to see reports (even ambiguous ones) about last week's Lausanne Conference in some papers. No, I didn't see reports of many Anglican bishops from these shores in attendance, though Alpha's Nicky Gumbel was there. But I did read (even in the Guardian!) of a far deeper grasp of Biblical concern for the world and the people of the world than Lord Carey & his friends seem to display.

What's the point? The stats on this blog reveal that one of my continually most popular posts is one where I critique George W Bush's professed Christianity. So let me redress that balance and express here how we should live as Christians in the profound words of George Bush (Snr): "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing". We, the ordinary folk in ordinary places, must simply get on with ordinary Christian living: loving God & our neighbour, not excluding anyone from God's love and doing our best to both pray his renewing Kingdom power into this world and to work it for here as best as we can.

Friday, October 29, 2010

fingers & thumbs

David Beckham goes for a massage. Courtesy of Ellen Degeneres. The funniest thing I've seen all week. Who knew he was so talented?

Catullus & Beckham in one day. Don't say this blog isn't educational.

friday poem

Odi et amo. quare id faciam, fortasse requiris?
nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior.

Reading a friend's blog, I was reminded of this poem - something I read first the best part of thirty years ago, when I learned it for O Level. It's by Catullus, and in case your Latin is a little rusty, here's my (slightly free) translation for you:

I hate & I love. I know what you're thinking - Why do I let this happen to me?
I have no idea. But I feel it to be so, and it tears me apart.

Two lines that work their simple magic over the depths of the human heart. Emotions are dynamic, volatile, wonderful and violent forces, friends and foes, powers we deftly control and by which we are ruthlessly enslaved. We want to break free and cannot; we want to revel and relax unfettered - and cannot. Love and hate walk too closely together sometimes; for comfort's sake we want one to cross to the other side. But comfort is the goal of our emotional risk taking, not the guarantee.

We love because we are human. To not love, to be an island entire of ourselves is safer - but less than the imperfect perfection for which we are so brittly made.

There are days we are torn apart. And days we are healed. And days we are held gloriously and days we hold another, and days we understand and days we have no idea -

But not to have these questions, not to face them, not to feel them, not to struggle with them, not to begin to live a life that has the possibility of them - this is to accept life that is less than life, to number ourselves amongst the defeated, to become amongst the casualties of humanity that consign themselves to stand and watch real life being played out on playing fields and TV screens by others more worthy and more lovely. Such thoughts need to be swiftly dispatched.

Pain is not pleasure; but it is not the end, and not understanding is not failure. Victory has many faces; sometimes it wears a crown; sometimes it comes in the feeling torn apart and yet walking on, doggedly trusting that in the flip coin of hate and love and the maelstrom of having no idea, today is not the whole world. A friend of mine posted a YouTube clip on their FaceBook page of a Texas politician speaking about teen suicides, wanting young people to know "it gets better". Those are words not just young people need to hear.

God is bigger, and he is for us. At some point, though human hands we have cherished may turn against us, it is true, his hand will take hold once more and a wintry soul may yet again find spring.

Monday, October 18, 2010

still writing

So: another new song. Completely different, though still from under the big hat. I'm in a writing mood, and I'm trying different styles and themes. I guess because I so often write worship songs (and this is definitely not that) I want to point out that not everything I write comes from personal experience! This was sort of birthed by a movie I watched last week, and which stayed with me. (I wrote a couple of songs for one of our jazz concerts about six years back - pure jazz standards; I was asked who they were about: nobody was the answer, though I could tell that was exactly who believed me...)

Anyway. Have a listen. Hope you like it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

the return of podcaths

It's back!

Podcaths returns. The podcast from my kitchen table has had a year's break, but the vicarage Bible study is back on the web with two new episodes recorded.The first is already on iTunes, and the second will appear almost immediately...

We are looking at St Luke's Gospel at the moment, and (with background noise from scaffolders who are doing their best to re-design my home) I hope you'll enjoy our discussion. Search for "Podcaths Marcus Green" on iTunes - that should take you straight there. The October 6th & 13th 2010 podcasts are the brand new ones. Or just click onto the St Catherine's Website and access them direct from there.


Monday, October 04, 2010

It's another new (old) song...

I was sorting out a box of music up in the attic today, in preparation for next week (I'm having a new roof, as you do) when I came across this worship song. Goodness, I must have forgotten 90% of the songs I have written. This, however, is a brand new recording of one I penned maybe 20 years ago, if I remember correctly, at Lee Abbey in Devon.

It's enjoyed several outings since then (stand up David MacInnes' 75th birthday) but I have to say that as I gain more years and lose more hair, its imagery sounds strangely less amusing and more whistful!
No - scrub that - I still love the opening shock of the chorus. Hope you do too!
PS - for US readers, the Zimmer Frame is English for what you would call a "Walker".