Saturday 25 February 2012

Doing Interview with Linda Mottram ABC Sydney 702

Click above to hear 14 minute interview with one of Australia's finest presenters - Linda Mottram.
She is the recipient of a Walkley Award for Journalism, has been a foreign correspondent in some of the world's most difficult trouble-spots and has in the past fronted the ABC's flagship radio current affairs program AM. My partner and I listened to Linda's coverage and analysis of the second gulf war every morning. We have been great admirers of her skills for many years and it was an absolute pleasure to talk with her in this interview. Hope you enjoy!

Linda Mottram

ABC Studios Newcastle

Live on Air

Pax et Amor - Stuart

Thursday 23 February 2012

Gay Priest and Fundamentalist Kickback

In a small piece in today’s Sydney Star Observer here, I read of the spat that has developed between Sydney Anglicans and the Diocese of Gippsland in Victoria where the local Bishop has appointed an openly gay man in a relationship as the new priest for the Parish of Hayfield. Of Rev David Head, Bishop McIntyre said, “He was ordained over 30 years ago, has exercised good and faithful ministry in that diocese up until January this year, and he fulfils all the current criteria to be determined canonically fit to be licensed in an Anglican diocese anywhere in the world”. But the Anglican Church League (ACL), a conservative evangelical group based, where else but Sydney, has called on the bishop to rescind the decision calling it “dismaying”. On their website the ACL describe what they do among other things: “The ACL is active in Sydney Synod affairs. It offers advice to Synod members about people suitable for election to committees and other bodies which influence the quality and direction of Church life” [my italics].

So basically, the ACL is getting all upset by the appointment of a 30 year ordained priest who has been ministering faithfully within their communion for three decades and wants to prevent him from continuing his ministry in this new parish because he's gay. Never mind the fact that the people of the parish want him and like him and never mind the fact that the bishop has stated, “He was appointed by me on the request of the people of the parish in which he now serves because they believed his ministry experience and gifts made him the right priest for the job, and they believed him to be called by God to that ministry, as do I.”

Why on earth do conservative Sydney Anglicans care so much about what is happening in other dioceses, and even in other countries? What do they object to? Fundamentally, their objection is to the notion of acceptance of a gay life as being a legitimate life. They believe that such a life is anything but legitimate and that in fact, it is set against God by its very existence; the hallmark of a sinful human nature. In declaring such things, they rely on traditional interpretations of the sledge-hammer verses I speak of in BGBC. That gay people ‘have abandoned the natural for the unnatural’ and that male male sex is, wait for it, ‘an abomination’.

This slavish and decidedly unscholarly adherence to centuries-old interpretations of scripture has become tiresome. I wrote BGBC in part to say to the fundamentalists of the church that they need to stop being so myopic and start reading some scholarship that explains what these texts are about. They also need to read some scholarship from the world of science that can explain to them what we know now about sexuality and gay sexuality in particular. Some of these people are not stupid; in fact, some of them are incredibly intelligent.

So it’s not really about intelligence is it? It’s more to do with conserving an established order, concreting in forever an attitude to faith that does not change or grow. If they broaden their view of the Bible, what will become of them? What will become of the other teachings of the church? Will it mean that anything goes? These are the fears at the heart of fundamentalism. The fear of an adult faith that is comfortable engaging with the search, the quest, the not knowing all the answers, the suffering of humanity, the humanness of Jesus, the idea that God is bigger than anything they can imagine. The alternative? A childish faith; one  wherewe are told by an authoritarian church steeped in dogma what to believe, how to behave, how to be, how to connect with the Spirit of God.

 No thank you. To David Head and partner Mark – blessings and peace and good health and a wonderful ministry be upon you in the lovely Parish of Hayfield.

Pax et Amor - Stuart

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Hello and Welcome

 Hi everyone and welcome to the BGBC Blog – great to have you here.

I thought I might start off by talking about how much interest Being Gay Being Christian has been generating. It has fascinated me that so many people are finding this topic interesting and want to know what it's all about. Over the last few weeks, I have done several interviews with mainstream radio and the press. You can see a selection of these on the Contacts page on the main website. It's really interesting to see how non-churchy or straight people view these issues.

With some of them, there has been a sense of incredulity, as in, "well why wouldn't you be able to have a faith just because you're gay - that doesn't make sense!" On the outside of the church looking in, the values espoused in the traditional sexuality teachings don't seem to make a whole lot of sense to them. I suggest this is because most people have moved on. It is now common-place for pre-marital sex to occur and no-body much bats an eyelid let alone gets all upset about it. This has changed within my own lifetime. When I was a child, the sixties sexual revolution was sweeping the world and free love was all the rage. However, we learned there was a down-side to free love, as people had to learn the hard way that sex is not just sex and people can get hurt. Yet, this was the period where the youth of the time threw off the imposed sexual values of a by-gone era and tried something new. Most people had girlfriends or boyfriends before they married, and were sexually active in those relationships. This was the natural course of events when one went through adolescence. There was no sense of shame or guilt; none of them felt that what they were doing was evil or malignant or against God. This generation eventually met their spouses and married and the age of marrying a virgin as the only acceptable pathway into marriage was gone. And so it has remained in generations to follow. It is this normalisation process that happens across time I would suggest that is the key to understanding why incredulity is one of the main responses to gay sexuality and faith in the wider community. There is the sense that "hey, we've moved on from all that - if you're gay and you want to be a Christian, then be one. What’s stoping you?"

The other main response is one of quietly going out and buying the book. It is fascinating to see that people whom one might not suspect, actually do have an interest in the topic. Why? I think there are probably lots of reasons. A couple of people I have met have bought the book because they have a gay son or daughter or they know someone who is gay. They want something to read that can give them some answers. Hopefully, BGBC has played a role there. And obviously too, there are some out there who are struggling with these issues themselves. Really, I wrote the book for both such groups. Then there are those who, either gay or straight, have an interest in spirituality or theology in all its forms. I think the straight ones of this group are awesome for being so open to the things the Spirit is doing among us all in His continuing creative act. And I also know that a few people or two have bought the book as a helpful reference guide for times when they are talking to people who might benefit from its pages. Already, I have heard a lovely story of one guy who used the book in this way with a friend and recommended to his acquaintances that they do the same.

So lots of interest. And I hope it continues to grow as the word is spread that BGBC is available. I have more media lined up over the next few months which is great so to use the words of Michael Kirby at the end of his wonderful Foreword, “Another pebble is thrown into the waters of life. The ripples are growing in strength. Their message is reaching the four corners of the earth.”

If you’ve bought a copy Being Gay Being Christian or you intend to, feel free to post a comment as to what prompted you to obtain it. I’d love to know.

Pax et Amor - Stuart