No Longer Standing on the Sidelines

The Chapel Street in Cork with The Church of S...
The Chapel Street in Cork with The Church of St Anne in Shandon Tower. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some of you have been aware that I was blogging about the General Synod of the Church of Ireland (which ended yesterday) and the Motion on Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief over on Spirituality Ireland (Here, here, here and here). The motion was passed 243 votes to 87 votes after one of the longest debates in many years at General Synod. The vote broke down by house as:

  • Clergy 81-53 in favour
  • Laity 154-60 in favour
  • Bishops 10-2 in favour

The fact that this motion passed saddened me greatly and prompted a bit of soul searching and questioning of faith. Some people have suggested that I leave the church, and I am not the only one has thought about that. But I cannot do that. The Church has been there for me in times of crisis, and now is a time when the Church needs to people to speak up. To demand an Inclusive Church.

This morning I attended the International Day Against Homophobia Service in St Anne’s Shandon. This is a regular event in Cork and is always a lovely service. Today it held more meaning for me. When the Rev’d Brian O’Rourke began the Service, he apologised for the Motion being passed. He spoke against and revealed it had caused him to question his ministry.

The Service was wonderful and uplifting and today’s Gospel (which wasn’t especially picked, it is today’s reading) was the perfect one.

‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.’

–  Gospel according to John, Chapter 15

If we want an inclusive Church we need to take this to heart. We are very lucky in Cork to have Parishes like St Anne’s Union, St Fin Barre’s Union, Kilmocogue Union, Chapel of Christ the Healer at Cork University Hospital and Kinneigh Union among others which are Inclusive Churches. We are also lucky with our Bishop, Dean and many Clergy who want the Church of Ireland to be inclusive.

For this to happen, I belive, I can no longer stand on the sidelines of my faith. I must be involved in the Church and my Parish to ensure that is and remains a welcoming and inclusive church for all.

Merry Christmas!

A Danish Christmas tree illuminated with burni...
Image via Wikipedia

Best wishes to all my readers, subscribers, facebook fans and stumblers. Here’s to you and yours having a wonderful Christmas. I leave you with a poem by T.S. Eliot. A fitting poem for the year that we have had I think.

The Journey of the Magi

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times when we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities dirty and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wineskins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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LGBT Carol Service in Cork

On Monday 20 December a Carol Service will take place in St Annes Church, Shandon Street Cork at 8pm. This will be a a Celebration of Welcome. A non-denominational service to welcome everyone.

Singing the Carols will be Mná, Mná, a choir put together for the event and winner of Chambers Got Xtra Talent Darragh McGann.

The service has had some coverage across the pond on LezGetReal who have a post that is well worth reading.

Mince pies and mulled wine will be served after the service.

I for one am looking forward to this.

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Illegal in Ireland: Blasphemy

Picture of Christ Church Lisburn, Northern Ireland
Image via Wikipedia

Well it has happened. The President has signed the Defamation Bill into law today which means in Ireland you can now be prosecuted for blasphemy. Yes that is right, in this Ireland of the 21st Century I can no longer complain about God, Jehovah, Allah, The Flying Spagetti Monster, or any other deity in case I get prosecuted for the crime of blasphemous libel.

Now while I am a church going person (Church of Ireland), with a healthy respect for himself upstairs, I don’t he (or any other deity) is going to be too upset if an unbeliever blasphemes against him (or her or them). Are priest now going to have to be very careful with what they say in their sermons if they mention another religion.

Its crazy that in this day and age I have to be very careful in what I type, say, tweet or what ever in case someone takes offense in what I say and decides to try and bring a prosecution against me.

Its a bollocks to be honest. I agree with my Bishop, its time to take Blasphemy out of the Irish Constitution!

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Blasphemous Libel

Okay so the whole Blasphemous Libel thing has taken off and is a cluster on Irish Blogs and a lot of people are up in arms about it. Some posts are offensive to some people. As pointed out to me on twitter. As blasphemy is a crime according to the constitution, it has never been so in criminal law. But what is Blasphemy?

According to the Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia (On Reference.com)

blasphemy, in religion, words or actions that display irreverence toward or contempt for God or that which is held sacred. Blasphemy is regarded as an offense against the community to varying degrees, depending on the extent of the identification of a religion with the society at large or the government.

It goes on

Blasphemy has been a crime in many religions and cultures, wherever there is something sacred to protect. Socrates was prosecuted for blasphemy, and Mosaic law prescribed death for cursing the name of God.

It also states

Secular modern states often retain blasphemy laws, but they are infrequently enforced.

In South Austrailia in 1977  the Criminal Law and Penal Methods Reform Committee stated that “today it would seem anachronistic to charge anyone with blasphemous libel.” (Law Reform Commission New South Wales, Discussion Paper 24(1992) – Blasphemy). So why are we making it an offence now?

England and Wales abolished the offence of Blasphemy in July last year, and here we are, a secular republic introducing this archane law. Would hate speech not cover this want they want to do here?

My big issue here is that as a non-christian who does not believe in one all powerfull god. Also under Islam, blasphemy is

speaking ill of Muhammad or of any other prophet mentioned in the Qur’an, or to claim that there is more than one god or that Jesus Christ (the son of Mary) is the son of God, or to speak ill of God.

So that means under this legislation a Priest could be taken to court under this law for Blasphemous Libel as it stands.

Its strange considering out own Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution recommended that blasphemy should be dropped from the Constitution here is our Government trying to bring it in.

I am amazed and concerned.

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The English Catholic Church – Moving with the times?

LONDON - JANUARY 06:  Churchgoers crowd the ai...Image by Getty Images via DaylifeAfter the recent did he mention it or didn’t he mention speech by the Pope it is good to see that the English Catholic Church is moving with the times according to GCN.ie. Bishops in England have sent out leaflets urging priest not to use ‘heterosexist’ language in church.

Priest have been told not assume that all Church goers are heterosexual. “Remember that homophobic jokes and asides can be cruel and hurtful – a careless word can mean another experience of rejection and pain,”. It is good that part of the Church is waking up to how it talks about part of its congregation.

Of course no everyone is happy with this. Lynette Burrows, a Catholic commentator, describes the move as ‘pitiful’. She said it was ridiculous that Church leaders appeared to be ‘ grovelling’ to a secular agenda.

‘It is things like this that are enfeebling the Church at the moment – the concentration on things that don’t matter and missing the things that do,’ she said.

‘What is pitiful as well as demeaning is that the Church is running after homosexual opinion but nothing is going to make homosexuals like the Catholic Church.

‘This is because the Catholic Church teaches that homosexuality is a disorder and whatever the bishops say will not change that.’

Of course this isn’t a secular agenda. This is how the Church reacts to its member. Fair play to the Bishops in my opinion. It is about time the Church addressed it followers on this and actually supported them.

This post actually gives a nice follow in for me to introduce an interesting site for Lesbian and Gay Christians, LGBT Christians. Their aim is to “bring Christ to those who have been alienated by those organisations that claim to be his Church and claim to preach his love and yet through ignorance and misconception preach not love to Gods lesbian, gay and bisexual children” and “seek to create an atmosphere of understanding between those who think that homosexuality has no place in Christs Church and those who think they do”

To quote John 13:35

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Do check them out.

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Islam Vs Christianity

This is a hilarious video of Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert arguing which religion is better Islam or Christianity.

http://www.break.com/movies/islam_vs_christianity2.html

Archbishop is "spineless" say gay Humanists

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s latest pronouncement in which he tells gays that they are not welcome in his Church unless they “change their ways”, was condemned as “spineless” by the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA).

GALHA’s Secretary George Broadhead said: “Rowan Williams has now made it clear that he thrown in his lot with the religious right, and confirmed himself to be a kind of Vicar of Bray figure – changing his opinions to fit in with the mood of the times rather than sticking to his principles. If anyone in the Anglican Church was in any doubt about where Williams stood on gay rights, they now know.”

Mr Broadhead said that if the suggestions that up to a third of Anglican clergy are gay is true, then there should be a mass exodusfrom the church.

“How anyone with a grain of self-respect would want to serve under a man who has betrayed them so badly is incomprehensible. Gay people should leave the church in their droves.”

Mr Broadhead pointed out that the Church of England is established by law and has political power in this country with its bishops sitting in the House of Lords.

“This is not just a matter for gay Christians. The Anglican Church’s swing to the right affects all of us. There havebeen increasing examples of the bishops in the House of Lords opposing gay rights.

“Indeed, they argued strongly that the Church should be exempted from the forthcoming legislation banning discrimination against gay people in the provision of goods and services.

“The latest move by this spineless Archbishop should serve as a warning signal to all gay people – religious or not. Religion has declared war on them.”