Monthly Archives: April 2012

Christians on Gay Marriage

This is in reponse to a post on a British Christian website during the government consultation on giving gay peole the chance to enter into full legal marriage. It was  sent to the site’s editor.

I am saddened by the “Christians Urged to So NO to Gay marriage” post on the homepage. Out of an A4 length article, there are 3 lines from a pro gay Christian  (who are prevalent). The yellowed in paragraph would suggest the site manager’s views, who is also the author of the article.

My faith journey has shown me that neither the Bible nor a deeper knowledge of God supports this view that gay people are not loved and accepted by God. George Hopper’s little book, Reluctant Journey, charts how a conventional Methodist researched the topic and came out still Bible believing but with a very different view. Rather than just study, he met many gay people and their stories of hurt and rejection also made him recast his view.

It’s well documented that the Bible passages on homosexuality – which are very few – are not about the loving and committed relationships, but forms of debauchery and abuse.

I have also firmly felt that as James Alison says in his books, God is clear that he loves all his children, not to chastise and reject and curtail the love and sexuality of some whilst celebrate it in others. If anyone claims God to be about punishment and inequality and segregation, they are not speaking from God, no matter what their source.

I wonder what really is behind the anti homosexual drive is?

My brothers and sisters, why can you not count gay people among your siblings? Do you really see them as such a threat?

The government’s new proposed laws allow faith groups to keep their freedom of speech and to have the right not to have to embrace gay people and marriage. I do not see what the fear and outrage is, therefore. But what a bitterly disappointing way to exercise one’s freedom – by taking that of another.

The family patterns many Christians seek to uphold are in fact not in the Bible. The Old Testament is full of concubines and multiple wives; and the main players of the New are apparently single men travelling in groups with men and women. To say that God created male and female is not to say that that is the only legitimate pairing. If committed loving relationships and values of love, respect and justice is at the crux of Christian family, then you have nothing to fear from gay people.

Reading The Help reminds that within 50 years, Christians felt they could justify racial segregation which often led to acts of violence. Just over 200 years ago, Christians were among those who fought to stop slavery, whilst others were slave owners. We have still not got complete equality for women. Can you not see that some things done in the name of God are not in his name? Whatever is is best, most loving, most freeing, most noble – that is from God. If it is not, then it is not. Ask yourselves whether what you do in really in God’s name and is going to add to the Kingdom or take from it.

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Titanic Centenary

My interest in the ship began in the mid 1990s and has come to the forecastle this week. I’ve watched several films about it and done other research, including the mixed offering starring Catherine Zeta Jones, currently in discount shops. I am also delving into Violet Jessup’s memoirs, needlessly interfered with and Americanised, and am searching out Morgan Robertson’s prophetic Wreck of the Titan/Futility novel. Having seen it in 3D this week, I focus on my revisit to the Cameron movie.

I’ve enjoyed a love hate relationship with the Cameron film over the past 10 years. When I first saw it in February 1998 shortly after the British release, I was so angered that I went home and wrote three sides of paper on why I disliked it. It was that the Hollywood success formula seemed to have been applied too literally to an inappropriate subject, and I still see how it would have grated so much on that first viewing. One of its better points is having a single central love story, unlike the ensemble dramas of SOS Titanic and the new TV drama. I  find old Rose more interesting than the young, though the ‘Woman’s heart is an ocean of secrets’ comment sounds like a desperate pulling line than really flattering or understanding women.

I felt the framing device of the modern treasure hunt with Brock to be irrelevant and made the very human drama of the world’s greatest ship to be one about money. Yet I had partly missed the point, because the story is how a man obsessed with a materialistic object and the excitement of its recovery learns to see the Titanic disaster as a moving story of human loss and bravery. Perhaps my struggle with that was because I could not imagine how anyone could see the Titanic in any other light.

Having studied the film on two occasions and prepared to teach on it, I now see many things in it which I had missed. The butterfly motif – the decoration on Rose’s hair combs – is vital to the story. It’s about how a young, unfettered man, Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) assists a passionate but curtailed young woman Rose (Kate Winslet) escape her unwanted marriage into a dull life. Academics have amused themselves discussing the sexuality of Jack, mostly making ridiculous comments which belong more in the tabloids than in scholarly journals. My own masters essay responded to these and looked instead at that angle in Kate Winslet’s character. Jack is not a forceful man (my objection initially being that he looked far too young to be called a man at all). He lets Rose come on to him and make her own choices. French and Saunders laughed at the fact that Jack says ‘Never let go’ as he and Rose grasps onto wreckage, and then she does. But he meant, metaphorically. He knew that only one of them could live (though the F&S observation about the ‘single’ piece of wood is valid). Jack bravely chose to end his life which had already been full so that his love, Rose, could begin hers. In 1998, I felt Jack too young and the romance to rushed to have worked out. Whether it would have is not the point. It is one of those times when a person comes into your life for a short time and has a profound effect. Through Jack, Rose lived to be over 100 and accomplished all the things that they talked about but which, before Jack, Rose felt were impossible for her in her stifling existence.

I still feel that feigning one’s death to one’s family is rather cruel and wondered if Rose ever regretted that. I never will accept Jack being locked up as the ship sinks, although this did lead to one of the best action sequences by a female lead – and done in a frock. The valet, Lovejoy, was too caricatured. And the theme song went on, but not in way intended!

I’ve come to really admire the leads and Kate Winslet came to be among my favourite actresses, and my interest in the ship (which proceeded the film) prevails. Although I’ve come to see the amount of vision, thought and emotion in the film, I still feel that much of this is not appreciated by many viewers. Many, I think, saw Titanic once and didn’t have any wish to analyse the story – it felt as if it wasn’t the kind of find that repaid deeper thought or second viewing. There’s a perceived puffed up arrogance from Cameron, and I have mixed views about his anniversary relaunch – and my seeing it again. And he didn’t tell the only or most powerful story about that disaster –  it will come as no surprise that I have written my own.

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Why I left Twitter

For a start, I hate time wasting band wagon crazes. You can say little in 140 characters. For some, it’s an addiction: they carry the internet with them and share everything they do. They tell their friends they’re at the book club or in the pub or shopping, yet social media seems to dilute real interaction. So many tweets come through that it’s unlikely that most of them will be picked up. Who spends their time trawling the net for people to follow? Like Facebook, I am amazed by how many organisations have succumbed and how ridiculous it sounds to hear that a church or a dentist can be followed or friended. What does a like or follow really mean? It’s not any real form of friendship.

The reason I chose to deactivate my Twitter account was a password reset email which I thought suspicious – isn’t that a classic phishing scam or virus download? And aren’t popular places like social media one of the most vulnerable an dubious places for such scams to be conducted? So even being on the site is a possible security threat, let alone clicking that link from an unconvincing email.

So thought I would contact Twitter and find out. “Contact us” leads to a classic case of the fob off preset form of drop down menus. If you chose the wrong subject option, it rubs out all you’ve put in the form and makes you go round again. A machine reads the email and responds with a preset reply. If you try to reply to the email it sends another saying, this ticket is closed please go over this all over again. A real person hadn’t read it. They hadn’t taken on board that their initial email sounded dodgy, or that their online form is a pain.

I thought – what do I really gain from Twitter? Annoying emails telling me some random person has decided to follow me – often someone who gets their account suspended. A slim chance that my tweets will be read between all the others coming through, and that will lead to my articles (or other work) being looked at.

It’s also an example of giving in to a craze which is something I stand against. I much admire a former music teacher of mine who said he uses his own methods to spread his work, and will not succumb to social media.

And I long ago left Facebook – that was a short term experiment. Having heard about the film, which I refused to watch, and the ethos behind the site, I felt all the gladder that I don’t use it. All I achieved was an imposter 5 years after, where Facebook wanted me to give my ID to prove it was me to close the account! (Allowing further impersonation…)

So I shall no longer tweet my posts, after this one.

I would like to thank all my tweet readers and for the interesting, inspiring people I was able to connect with,though I’d prefer to use mailing lists and personal emails to keep in touch.



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Celebrate Good Friday with me, wherever you are

Following my earlier post on Good Friday, I am broadcasting a short service this Good Friday (6th April) It’ll involve a musical premiere and some new thoughts on how to celebrate this day

The site won’t allow me to upload the shortened version of the service

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