Monday, 19 January 2015


It's been almost a year since I last blogged!! I think it fell off during the busy-ness of the vacancy at Church and then in April I moved to a different post within the company and have found my hours rather  less regular and more flexible.  However, lets try again and see if this time I can keep up the habit! Our new Incumbent is settled in and some am I so a wee reboot seems appropriate.

Some thing are pretty much the same. The Church is still in a muddle over same sex relationships. Despite the law changing we still have an ill defined mess. We have had some "guidance" from the bishops and some reaction from the clergy  Shall we say I'm one of those less than impressed by the College's mind on this one.  I appreciate the clarification of the legal situation but the line taken on Canonical subscription seems unduly rigid.  I rather think that saying it's OK to have a Civil Partnership but not a marriage is dubious.  Given that they are so similar in legal content regarding rights, it smacks of a sop to the theological right wing to come over so heavy handed.  Anyway, plenty of clergy over the years have assented to the Canons without agreeing with every jot and tittle of them (like on Intercommunion) and have indeed ignored the Rules and got off with it. To pick this one out for potential "enforcement" seems more political than sensible.  It's also perhaps worth noting that over 30 of the 50 signatories are clergy of the Diocese of Edinburgh, so it might be rather fiercely debated at our next Synod with a view to accelerating changes to the Canons - which I suspect is not what the Bishops wanted. I suspect they want the much vaunted "Cascade" process to keep that contentious ball in the long grass for a bit longer.

If the Bishops fancy that Cascade is a solution to this issue, then I've some bad news: all it did was make me incredibly angry and utterly determined to change the Canons. Our "Cascade" at Synod was almost as unpleasant as a Forward in Faith conference I attended nearly 20 years ago which passed a motion in favour of a statement from Singapore condemning Same Sex Relationships.  My anger at that that and the hypocrisy involved switched me from Conservative Anglo-Catholicism and brought me back to Scotland on a journey that included accepting the ordination of Women, speaking at Synod in favour of Women Bishops and generally becoming a  lot more radical.  It strikes me as bizarre that an SEC sponsored and designed process should do the same. Bilge was spouted piously and the process did not enable it to be challenged.  If that's what they call an improvement, give me the old fashioned bloodshed of a Synod debate any day.

Anyway, it feels sort of therapeutic to be back


  1. Good to see you back! I wish I could same I'm shocked by the church's response to the debate to SSM. My worry is that the modern church is becoming infested by the "careerist brownnoser" variety of clergy. I don't think the conservatives are really religiously conservative - they are socially conservative but are more worried about their careers than being "little Christs" as CS Lewis would have put it. Usury is backbone of modern political and economic policy but the homophobes only realy care about certain verses of Scripture to be fundamentalists about. I remember being asked to the General Assembly as guest when I was pretending to be a Presbyterian and heard a young woman give a nice underarm bowl to a head of a board that was cringeworthy. It wasn't a question or a point, just public crawling. I bumped into the besom near a clerical outfitters stand and she said loudly "They'll all love me in Presbytery for that!" I genuinely felt sick. This wasn't a lapse of judgement but something she was proud of. She is being ordained in a week and will water down the gospel for her church and will be loved for it.The church as a golf club, so to speak.
    I had been a placement at Polmont Young Offenders Institute and had been helping a chap complete an application for a work placements. The young boy had scars in his hairline where his drug dealer pals had beaten him. The chaplains tried to have him assessed for Aspergers syndrome. The poor boy told " put down anywhere but Dundee, I'm too scared to go back to the Dee." The besom will go to a comfortable church and toe the party line. She hates anyone who is poor or on benefit she told me. She would have written off the lad from the Dee. This isn't a problem for only one denomination but a lack of understanding for the role of the church in wider society.
    Decent clergy like yourself John are asked to accomodate people who refuse to have a genuine discussion about anything let alone LGBT matters.
    Er... rant over.

  2. I suspect you're right about the nature of the conservatism D and the perennial infestation of careerists in the ranks of clergy and committees. It's largely about power and appeasement of those who have or seem to have power. In a sense this is only a "presenting issue". Up till now the Bishop's worry has been about upsetting the Evangelicals with financial resources. But they have managed the rare trick of upsetting the majority of the clergy in the biggest diocese and this may be a game changer in that it might well bring a concerted push for canonical change.