Thursday, February 28, 2013

this is an ex-pope...

Today, for the first time in 600 years, a Pope left the Vatican City having resigned his office. I felt I should mark the occasion with something appropriate. Something fitting. Something that pays due respect to the institution of the Papacy and to the historical nature of this occasion.
Alternatively, with a little nod to a certain British comedy tradition... 

A prayerful Catholic enters the Vatican.
Catholic: 'Ello, I wish to register a complaint.
(The priest on duty does not respond.)
C: 'Ello, Miss?
Priest: What do you mean "miss"?
C: I'm sorry, I have a cold. I wish to make a complaint!
P: We're closin' for lunch.
C: Never mind that, my lad. I wish to complain about this Pope what swore his life in service of the church not half an hour ago at this very House of God.
P: Oh yes, the, uh, the German White...What's,uh...What's wrong with it?
C: I'll tell you what's wrong with it, my lad. 'E's resigned, that's what's wrong with it!
P: No, no, 'e's uh,...he's resting.
C: Look, matey, I know a resigned Pope when I see one, and I'm looking at one right now.
O: No no he's not resigned, he's, he's restin'! Remarkable Pope, the German White, idn'it, ay? Beautiful red shoes!
C: The shoes don't enter into it. It's flown away. In an 'Elicopter.
O: Nononono, no, no! 'E's resting!
C: All right then, if he's restin', I'll wake him up!
(shouting at the curtain in front of the throne of St Peter)
'Ello, Mister Hans Pope! I've got a lovely fresh cuttle fish for you if you show...(priest hits the curtain)
P: There, it moved!
C: No, it didn't, that was you hitting the curtain!
P: I never!!
C: Yes, you did!
P: I never, never did anything, you can ask a Cardinal...
C: (yelling and hitting the curtain repeatedly) 'ELLO POPEY!!!!!
Testing! Testing! Testing! Testing! This is your nine o'clock alarm call!
(Shakes curtain till it falls, revealing empty throne. Both men stare at it. C eventually lifts a finger and points:)
C: Now that's what I call Sede Vacante!
P: No, no.....No, 'e's just gone to the loo!
P: Yeah! All that shakin', you stunned him, just as he was wakin' up! German Whites have a weak bladder, it's a well-known fact, major.
C: look, mate, I've definitely 'ad enough of this. That Pope is definitely resigned, and when it gave its life to serve the Church not 'alf an hour ago, you assured me that its total lack of movement was due to it bein' tired and 78 but that it 'ad years left in it yet.
P: Well, he's...he's, ah...probably pining for the Rhine.
C: PININ' for the RHINE?!?!?!? What kind of talk is that?, look, why did my photo of him fall flat on its back the moment I got 'im home?
P: The German White prefers kippin' on it's back! Remarkable Pope, id'nit, squire? Lovely shoes!
C: Look, I took the liberty of reading about that Pope when you lot first blew the smoke up the chimney, and I discovered the only reason that it had been sitting on its perch in the first place was that it had been NAILED there.
P: Well, o'course it was nailed there! It's the flippin' Pope - if he's not had the whole bleedin' stigmata it's VOOM! Feeweeweewee! He's off!
C: "VOOM"?!? Mate, this Pope wouldn't "voom" if you put four million volts through it! 'E's bleedin' resigned!
P: No no! 'E's pining!
C: 'E's not pinin'! 'E's resigned! This Pope is no more! He has ceased to be Papa! 'E's Emeritus and gone to pray in 'is Summer House!
'E's on holiday! Bereft of duty, 'e rests at his leisure! If you hadn't nailed 'im to the Throne of St Peter 'e'd be fishing up the Tiber!
'Is Theologic processes are now 'istory! 'E's off the Curia!
'E's kicked the bulls, 'e's shuffled off 'is triple tiara, collected his pension and clocked in at his Pensione!!
P: Well, I'd better replace him, then.
(he takes a quick peek behind the altar)
P: Sorry squire, I've had a look 'round the back of the Sistene Chapel, and uh, we're right out of Popes...

Saturday, February 23, 2013

bach again

On the Presto Classical site I came across the Bach St John Passion conducted by Philippe Herreweghe, coupled with Cantatas for Quinquagesima, and on special offer. Half price. I couldn't resist.

The St John Passion is one of my essentials. One of those things I think makes life better.

Now - this is a slightly unusual St John. It's the 1725 version, so there are a few different arias. And, most notable, the opening chorus and final chorale are different. However - it's Herreweghe; it's a stunning recording; it's Mark Padmore as the evangelist. I have a long trip this week - I'll listen and maybe review then.

I have already been loving the four Cantatas for Quinquagesima, offered as a filler disc. The words are glorious, passionate, sincere; the music beautiful, aching, blissful. "My Jesus, draw me to Thee and I will come running."

Four tiny cantatas, four snap shots of Christian commitment, four bite-sized examples of Bach's genius as a church composer.

And whilst I was in the mood, I found this marvellous recording of Bach Piano Concertos by French pianist, David Fray. And it comes at a bargain price on iTunes.

The freshness of his playing, the joy, the dynamic range, the romantic wonder of it whilst living within 21st Century tempi and orchestral tones - it's a superb CD. I was entranced from the opening notes of the allegro of the D minor Concerto onwards; the adagio had me on the verge of tears. There is something about Bach which simply understands what it is to be human. There is something about Fray's recording which simply understands Bach.

Here's his A Major. Occasionally he is hard to watch, but he's a pure delight to listen to. Enjoy.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Quite by chance I came across an ad for the new King's Consort recording, I Was Glad.

I'm glad I did.

It is astounding. Anglican Evensong music as you really never imagined it, fully orchestrated and transformed from the quire to the heavens.

OK - let's get the negatives out of the way. It's not perfect. The King's Consort is a mixed choir, and more than that, at times the sopranos genuinely rejoice in their fulsome vibratos. For a purist, this can be hard to take. When you have grown up with a treble line on these pieces, there are moments when less would be more. The soprano soloist on Stanford in G is beautiful - but very much a soprano, not a treble. And almost unforgivably I'm afraid for me, the first verse of Jerusalem sounds more like a gathering of the WI than the pure spine-tingling essence of Anglican boy choirs which would have set my heart on fire along with Elgar's beautiful orchestration. Though, to be fair verse two, when the men come in, works fine.

Having said that...

The choir is gorgeous. Thrilling. Gutsy for the most part and always sounding as if they are relishing every note. A few quibbles about the odd vibrato over-spill are soon swept away as I am swept away by this glorious music revelling in full orchestration and stunningly recorded, beating me into submission.

Anyone who has had the pleasure of singing these Stanford settings, of belting out I Was Glad, of just settling back in the stalls as some nameless college choir have helped the summer sun dapple through the stained glass to transport them through the gentler ecstasies that the C of E has pretty much snagged as its own should find this recording an essential addition to their collection.

I wrote the other week, after a trip to evensong at Merton, that with music like this you are supposed to bathe in it & come out feeling cleansed by the experience. This is like bathing in liquid gold. In honey. It's the five-star spa treatment, with bathrobe and slippers thrown in. It's too much to take in at one sitting, and it's so good you can't stop yourself luxuriating in it. Turn the volume up, let the music do its work. At the end, I came away with a deep smile of satisfaction and simply wanted to press 'play' and start all over again.

I've read reviews that liken the orchestrations (of music that usually comes with proper Anglican organ restraint) to Brahms & Wagner. Perhaps. It reminded me of watching Princess Anne's wedding; back in the day when we first bought a colour TV and the world was filled with glorious new possibilities - we sat there transfixed: so this is what it's all supposed to look like! And now, I kind of feel that this is how Stanford & Parry are supposed to sound. There's a freshness, a brightness, a brilliance that in my mind I had always heard, and now my ears get to share the experience.

It's not perfect. Honestly, there are moments I need trebles on the top line. It is wonderful, and I salute Robert King and all the singers & musicians that have provided this wonder. It is a recording I shall treasure.


Monday, February 11, 2013


I wandered into Leeds during lunch hour last week. I often walk in from my office. In part there's a regular excuse of a little shopping that needs doing; more truthfully, now I no longer have a dog I simply like to take the exercise.

Anyway, on this occasion I spotted the sale that was happening in the troubled HMV store, and in I went.

There's not much of a classical department in Leeds. Actually, I saw the department in Oxford a few months ago and I have to say there isn't much of one there either any more - the old basement sanctuary is, apparently, history. Life moves on. But in the limited section, I did find the recent Advent recording by the Choir of Merton College.

I have been meaning to purchase this for some time. Knowing I had a couple of long journeys coming up & time to enjoy it, I picked it up, paid for it, and took it home with me.

When I was an undergraduate at Merton the choir was a typical collection of volunteers corralled by the organ scholar into some semblance of harmony. They did a decent job. Like most Oxbridge choirs, they had a fairly solid mezzo-forte volume, not too many consonants, and a reasonably nice overall sound. A new chaplain, a new vision, and a new fundraising regime later, everything changed. A new choral foundation was born.

I suppose the new choir at Merton must be four years old. I attended the first concert they gave - and remember feeling that there was work to be done. I've not had chance to go back since.

Well, the work has been done.

First: That Advent recording is superb. From start to finish there are beautiful moments - a glorious sound matched with clear words, light and shade, and some dramatic full throttle singing when it really is needed. I was entranced particularly by the Es ist ein Ros towards the end.


And this weekend, being close by, I did make it back. I actually went to chapel for the first time in donkeys years to attend a service.

The music included the Howells Collegium Regale Mag & Nunc, performed gloriously. The final crescendo on each 'Amen' was thrilling. The Rutter Hymn to the Creator of Light was new to me (click this link for a Kings Cambridge version) and again excellent. The sort of music, throughout, that Evensong is all about - you bathe in it, and come out feeling cleansed by the experience.

Unlike Kings, of course, this is a mixed voice choir. Think Trinity Cambridge. And really, do think Trinity. That good. There were a couple of folk with colds & I was told they weren't quite on form - well, they were terrific. In no time flat they have gone from 'in need of work' to right up in the top reaches of college choirs. The beauty of a Psalm chanted with spoken rhythms, words falling away and not all sung with equal emphasis, yet almost every consonant crystal clear - goodness, that was special.

If I could ask for one thing more, it would be for some really quiet singing to be in there somewhere. The magic of all those voices producing hushed awe and deep restraint, contrasted with the volume and power that flashed at us from time to time - that would be the complete deal. I don't think we got close to that tonight. Mezzo piano was lovely, pianissimo never quite came.

A good choir reveals a good choir master. Benjamin Nicholas clearly is that and more. And hats off too to the chaplain, Simon Jones, for driving this project. It is transformational. As a Mertonian, and as a musician, it was a joy to be in that place and to experience that service. Importantly, as a Christian, though all these thoughts were around and having their place in my mind, ultimately they were actually secondary:

Merton College Choir provide simply superb traditional Anglican evensong worship. If that's what helps draw you close to God, then go and enjoy. You are in for a musical and spiritual treat. I hope to be back again soon.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

other tales of glory

I'm enjoying a weekend away. On Friday evening I was with the MacInnes clan, celebrating David's 81st birthday. I love David & Clare - friends for many years, godly, fun, and wonderfully inspiring. Plus - great food. Always make sure your closest friends provide you with great food. A special treat to see Rob & Tamsin, and Harry & his boys, and a whole assortment of dogs too.

Then on to John & Clare Hayns, for more friendship therapy. Good people are the greatest gift.

Clare H is now curate in Woodstock, and I am looking forward to hearing her preach this morning. We spent some time chatting last night about the text for today - the Transfiguration - and what we find there.

The Transfiguration is a strange event. Speaking about it has issues. There are people who will say, (good Christian folk at that) "But I've never had an experience of God".   How can we talk about a story that has such an immense experience at its heart to people for whom experience is a mystery?

Clare wondered if part of the issue is the way people sometimes apprehend experience. Do people 'have an experience' without realising it?

I wonder if in fact many of us are a bit like St Peter. He sees Moses & Elijah and the cloud & gets that something is going on, and wants to grab a hold of the thing and memorialise it there and then. "Let's build booths! One for each of you!" That's his response - and by the time he's stopped working out what to do, the moment has passed.

When I went to the Olympics, I was like everyone else. I had my iPhone out, snapping photos like they were going out of fashion. I even made a couple of audiboos. And then I realised a dynamic that was going on and put the thing away. For the mementos we take such care to create can put true experience at arm's length.

If we aren't careful, we don't really see a stadium, Usain Bolt, a crowd, a world record, the wonder of the greatest show on earth, if instead of using our eyes, ears, nose, taste, touch - if all we are using is the screen on those ubiquitous iPhones. They allow us see but a tiny part. The world made small. The experience mediated through a technological wonder, with memories limited because the actual experience was focussed around that rectangular black device.

People do it at weddings. Baptisms. Jubilees. Concerts. Parties. I've even seen it at funerals. Memories at one remove.

"But what did it smell like?"
"How hot was it?"
"What was the person next to you on the other side like?"

Blank looks. Didn't take those photos...

St Peter would've had an iPhone. He'd have been snapping away. He'd have been just like us.

Anglicans do it by creating services to memorialise something. It's not the thing, it's the service to commemorate the thing that we obsess about...

And experience of God is obtusely hard to find sometimes because actually it's obvious. It's now. Right now. In fact it's not magic or necessarily mystical, but immediate and here.

There's no need to capture the moment. Live it instead.

Jesus' promise is to be with us always, so one of the things we have to learn to do is believe the promise and (in faith) half-turn to him without losing sight of what we are looking at (try it, now) and say with a wondering smile -  "Do you see that?"

When I was a kid I heard the phrase "arrow prayer". I suppose I'm talking about that. Except - "arrow prayer", as my old college Chaplain at Merton used to say, suggests that God is over there somewhere & we have to shoot our prayers with the hope they will hit the target occasionally.

He's not there. He's here. Experience is about trusting that, and then living like it.

And maybe, just maybe, we'll see and feel and know the answering smile from the Maker of all things. His touch. His nod. His shared wonder. His joy too.


And in the middle of the night, asleep or half awake, having thought about all of this, suddenly I felt the most enormous, deep sense of the presence of God. Perhaps I was still churning through all of this. Perhaps - a Saturday night habit I still find hard to kick even nearly two years after leaving Pontypridd - I was murmuring in prayer through the long dark hours. But suddenly, light, and glory. And a grand temptation immediately in the midst to reflect & describe it. Which, mercifully, I threw to one side. I simply enjoyed the moment.

As the glory faded, I was reminded of Psalm 103. I felt prompted to look it up. I mean, I can do the first verse or two from memory, and the bit about 'gracious & compassionate', but I felt strongly there would be words here that would be significant. And then I fell asleep properly.

I finally did look it up this morning, and it is of course a lovely Psalm. More than that, there are indeed words in here which speak to specific things I have been mulling over in these days. Things that I'm not going to speak of yet. Other tales of glory.

Experience is better without the camera sometimes; and I say this as someone who loves to click and tweet! There are moments just to let these things happen. For God promises to be with us - and we need to learn how to be with him. Not at one remove. Then we can see and hear the most wonderful things.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

going too far

So now the Equal Marriage vote has happened, how is everyone feeling? I’ve seen some interesting comments from all sides. I kind of make the choice to believe that people are struggling as they try to be generous all round.  

After all, in the run up to Tuesday night there was an acknowledged degree of...vitriol. I’m not a fan of that kind of thing. Kindness is at times a harder call, but a better challenge.

I wrote to one person, on Tuesday, with whom I have been friends for over 25 years. I did the music for his wedding. We disagree on this issue. We have sat over coffee and discussed our different Biblical perspectives. We are both passionate about it. But I wrote to him that there is no issue, no cause in my life that is more important than the people in my life. 

This isn’t because I don’t hold issues and causes dear; it’s because people matter more.

Difficult issues bring hard choices and I suppose it is impossible to keep everyone happy.  There’s a temptation to decide matters on a “hurt quotient” which should certainly be avoided. Actually, I saw a lovely spoof of that way of thinking on Facebook today, where ethicists were said to have discovered a new theory - it is better to kill an old lady’s cat than a little girl’s puppy. This is either because the little girl will be introduced to death and the old lady has already had pain, or because it will traumatise you more to distress the little girl than it will to grieve the old lady. Either way, the old lady loses. 

(Mind you, part of me feels that a “perfect Anglican compromise” would be for everyone to fail to get what they want...)

No: It’s not about hurt. It’s not even about causes. Christians face tough choices and have to do the best we can for people given that we live in the real world. And we genuinely struggle with what that means. Struggle is good.

I confess I struggle with the procreation argument. As far as I can understand it, “for thousands of years” this has always been part of marriage. (Ever since 1662 or even earlier...) Forgive me - but the church’s line on this is an application of the Bible, is it not, rather than a simple reading of straightforward Scriptures? Indeed, the pressure of the procreation expectation led to shame and to people being cast out from society - as the Scriptures themselves evidence. The facile Labour argument on Tuesday (no fertility tests at the altar) was a great soundbite but it’s also true: older people, infertile couples - ‘barren’ couples in the view of some societies because of our emphasis - are yet able to be married at the altar. It seems this is because an archetype of procreativity between man and woman exists, so the specificity does not need to. But because this archetype does not exist between gay couples, very many people hit a problem. I hope that’s fair - I mean - as a description of the argument?

Because I don’t think it’s fair as a description of reality.

This is my struggle: I think if this is anywhere near a description of how reality is working then the power of an argument has just trumped the value of people. So to speak, the Sabbath is ruling man. And by this positioning of argument over people, of the importance of a theory (which is often kept already only in archetype as it is), I fear that those of us who disagree will be kept separate across our battle lines instead of coming together as God’s family, holy and dearly loved.

May I push further on the children in marriage question? It’s not ‘procreation’, it’s children, isn’t it? People. In contemporary terms we have to look freshly at this irrespective of the gay question. In a world where we will see population increase by a third in the next forty years and food demand rise by a half in the same time, is it godly to tell everyone heading to marriage - be procreative! Have kids! That’s the point! Exhaust the earth! I was with an academic last term who said that Africa will see the equivalent of 24 New Yorks created in the next 40 years (I think that was the figure - it was astronomical). Where will these children find food? Where will they find water? These will be real people and we can’t be tempted by an attitude that even has the possibility of sounding like: “Never mind - when everywhere was as populous as New Zealand, the rule that we drew from Biblical principles worked. We’ve always done it this way before.”  

My boss sometimes struggles with me because there are times I don’t work well with rules. I love to live outside the box. 

I get that this occasionally makes me a difficult customer in an institution - but surely, putting my cussedness to one side, this is a fair question to ask: Where does Jesus make a rule bigger than a person (other than a religious person)? Where does he find a law to be more important than a sinner? I will lose all my principles in favour of my relationships because when I see Jesus I see that it’s better to be righteous than right - by which I mean, I’d rather be right with you than beat you in an argument. Truly. I’d rather be in a good relationship with you than be correct. 

I love to be right -don’t get me wrong - anyone who knows me knows this! But the fundamental Gospel imperative I find in the Scriptures is not about being right - it’s about being right with God and right with one another. It’s about righteousness. It’s about love.

Which brings me back to where I began. 

I guess my point is that with regard to the current situation around marriage, the status quo isn’t acceptable because it doesn’t treat enough people as people. One MP put it: not making anyone special, just making everyone the same. The change offered is (for sure) far from perfect, but I do find it is an improvement. With flaws. The church should have a role to point out things that deeply matter - but we need to work on what those things are, and that doesn’t mean simply returning to how things have always been. We all know (deep down) that saying “Bad, bad, bad,” about the argument or about each other won’t get us into the discussion. Nor, might I suggest, do comments that imply the law makers don’t know what they are doing and don’t have the ethical chops required for the job. Four minutes per speech is a pretty tough call for a reasoned work-out on this; from what I heard, many of them did a great job. 

So what do we do? What do we as God’s people do now? How do we act? 

What’s my magic answer?

What it always should be. In John’s words - little children, love one another. We, we of all people, have to do what we have been re-made for. After the vote, I hurt because my friends hurt. I pray that they might also have been rejoicing because I was.

Equality is about making each other as human as we can. As in-the-image-of-God as we can. It’s about going too far, because that’s what He did for me, so I should do it for you.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

people are people

Today the House of Commons debates the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. A Conservative Government is promoting equal marriage rights for gay couples. It will pass; of that there is no doubt. Many Conservative MPS will vote against it; of that there is also no doubt.

Christians carry different attitudes towards the Bill. Evangelical Christians at that. Lots of people I know are very much in favour; some I know are very much against. The Fulcrum website carries lots of articles reasoning against the change - this one, by my old friend Andrew Goddard, is fairly typical.

I am resolutely in favour.

Fundamentally, people are people. Throughout the Gospels Jesus establishes this base-line truth. And to do so he drives coach and horses through the accepted understanding of who and what is acceptable or unacceptable, sinful or clean. Take the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15. It's all very well having an attitude that Jesus welcomes sinners, but requires them to repent - in this story the disciples murmur at the woman's presence and want rid of her because she is sinful. What makes her so? That she is Canaanite. That she is a woman. At the end of the story, she has worshipped Jesus, received her daughter's healing, and gone on her way. But she's still Canaanite. Still a woman. So what was acceptable? Or sinful?

In Matthew 8, the centurion begs Jesus to heal his dying servant. Luke uses a fairly standard slave word, and Matthew changes it, which allows some to see in this passage a very rare reference to homosexuality in the Gospels. The servant is the centurion's 'boy'. And Jesus heals him. Now stop for a moment - which is worse: Jesus making a gentile occupying soldier acceptable & then healing a slave so he can carry on being an object in a household used at its owner's whim, saying 'slavery is fine - I'll return you to that state'; or Jesus making a gentile occupying soldier acceptable & then healing a loved person so he can return to being loved and to loving in a gay relationship? Which is acceptable? Which is sinful? Where are our boundaries?

At the end of that passage, Jesus comments: "I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." A warning, I think, to help us stop and understand how he is working, and how he sees people.

Of course, I understand that for many the road to equality is a hard one because the Scripture makes marriage purely for a man and a woman. That's what Jesus says in Matthew 19.5; a man leaves his father and mother for his wife. Man. Wife. Simples.

But the same people then, in preaching, and even in translating, do an interesting thing with all sorts of places in the New Testament - especially St Paul. Let me give a classic example from Romans 12:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.

I might want to think about the accuracy of 'spiritual' as a translation, but my point is there are two additional words here that aren't in the original. "And sisters". That's the interesting thing. It seems to me to be close to being a contradiction to their attitude to Matthew 19.

I guess the question is one of intent.

Does the Scripture include or exclude? Well, here in Romans 12, and all over the place, we find the Scripture includes. The word 'brothers' is typical of an address to a crowd and therefore to all people - St Paul did not intend his great peroration to be for men alone.

That much is clear.

And I might ask if Jesus, in Matthew 19, was intentionally excluding gay people, or if he was in fact rather setting out the normative pattern of relationships. Leaving. Cleaving. Faithfulness. It's interesting that the context of these remarks is not an attack on homosexuality (how they are so often used now) but questions on divorce, and that Jesus is pushing people to value faithfulness and personhood - the personhood of both members of a marriage. God made the woman too - don't throw her away! It's a cry for equality, not a demand for exclusion!
Let's push that cry for equality further. Even the maligned tax collectors turn out to be people in the New Testament, a concept Jesus' contemporaries would find almost impossible to comprehend. Turncoats, quislings, sinners beyond redemption, selling their own people - God's people - to the gentile invader.

Yet Matthew is called to follow Jesus. And Zaccheus gets a home visit. And before you can say - there you go, they repented, so they were welcome; sinners need to repent - I want to ask: what did Zaccheus do after the encounter of Luke 19? Open a fair trade stall at the back of synagogue? Jack in his job and work for Oxfam? Perhaps we can get guidance from John the Baptist - he was always very hard line on these issues. Here's what he says in Luke 3:

Tax collectors also came to be baptized. "Teacher," they asked, "what should we do?"
"Don't collect any more than you are required to," he told them.

Stay in your jobs, says the Baptist in the wilderness, but do them fairly. It's not sinful to be a tax collector, it's acceptable. You are OK.


People are people.

When we establish and promote a morality that makes some people less, we have to be really very sure that this is what Jesus would do. I am struggling to find very many examples of Jesus pushing people down. I struggle with the line that Fulcrum takes, though I respect the integrity behind it, and have had some lovely conversations with Andrew & others. I struggle because whilst I appreciate that there is absolutely no desire to be homophobic or to make gay people less, the result of a theology that says - "there is absolutley a place for you, as long as you can jump through these hoops that we could never manage to jump through and are really glad we don't have to" - is that people are discriminated against. Saying "you are welcome but must always be celibate" doesn't feel like being made welcome to very many people.

And if I am going to make a mistake, it is that I will make people too equal. Because it is what I see Jesus doing. So I support what the Government are doing today. It's long overdue. I wish it every success.

When God touches me, I feel too equal. How can I not want it for everyone?