Sunday, November 11, 2007

Listening in Argyll

Yesterday I was too tired to blog; today I find myself every bit as pleased with the day as I was while driving home through the dark and wet from Oban. I had been attending a day in which the Diocese of Argyll and The Isles attempted to get to grips with the problems still facing gay Christians in our churches - and for some people this was obviously a new area, one they hadn't really ventured into before. One woman bravely admitted to the whole group that what she was learning was so different from her entire upbringing, society, culture - and that she still had much to learn. A priest sitting near me repeated several times how ignorant he felt, and I think we all realised the gaps in understanding when we listened to +Brian (Edinburgh diocese) talking about his visit to Nigeria.

Knowing some of what the Christian church in Nigeria has to contend with was an eye-opener, giving some understanding of what many of us see as outrageous behaviour. However, I came away from this session more than ever convinced that the time has come for us to abandon the Anglican Communion if it is to provide the shackles that bind us to such very different societal norms. I cannot see that any loose federation of churches - and for most of us, I bet, it is loose - is more important than justice. Similarly, when someone in the group whose discussion I was facilitating opined that the church surely had more important things to consider, like global poverty and climate change, I was struck by what seemed like an obvious point: How can we be an effective voice in the world if we cannot look after our own? Why would anyone listen to us?

But an overriding impression stayed with me. This felt like the Body of Christ in action. The facilitators (one of whom was my pal Alison) ran things so smoothly that we were able to concentrate on the issues and on the pain of some present with us. People had travelled huge distances to be there - though it was a pity that some who live much closer to Oban didn't show. Now I'd like to see the experience being repeated in every charge in the diocese. I'd like to go considerably further - but that's for another post. Let's just say that the church on show yesterday was the one I want to belong to.

There's a poem for Remembrance Day over on Frankenstina

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