Friday, 31 July 2009

A Song of Degrees... well, just the one, really

Got my bundle of post from Academic Institution.

I have been awarded a Bachelor of Music (Hons), Second Class Honours, Upper Division.

I'm rather pleased. I've certainly worked hard.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009


I wrote in my last post about not knowing whether things are right or wrong, not wanting to engage in irrelevant debates, when what we ought to be doing (or at least, the nearest thing I can discern that I ought to be doing) is showing the people of the world that they are loved.

Denying someone's experience of their committed relationship does not show them that they are loved.

Denying someone the opportunity to practise what they have discerned as their vocation on the basis of the fact that you do not recognise or acknowledge their committed relationship does not show the world that it is loved. Denying the right of another church to recognise those relationships does not seem to me to be a loving action, either.

I don't know whether to engage in debate about same-sex marriage or about ordination of people who are in homosexual relationships. I don't have the background to do the exegesis; I don't even have the skill to contribute artful language. But if I implied that the debate shouldn't happen, if I implied that things are okay as they are, if I implied that the debate doesn't matter, I was wrong. It matters.

Perhaps if more people asked "How can I show God's love to the world?" instead of "What is right?" the debate wouldn't exist. I don't know.

And I don't know what my role is in this debate, me, the not-Christian-by-some-standards heretic, drawn to C of E prayer structures and attempting to live by the Summary of Law. I don't know how I can show love to the world in this context; all I can say is that even if the Church of which I am not a member (and may never be at this rate) doesn't recognise these relationships, I do; that even if the Church doesn't acknowledge these vocations, I do. And if I'm wrong to do that then may God have mercy on me, this mercy that we're all told of. I'd rather fall on God's mercy than tell another they cannot have it.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

What's in a name?

I tried to post this as a comment on Nick Baines' blog, but I thought the internet ated it so I posted here instead. It looks like it did post there alright but it's long enough I'll leave it here too.

I think a lot of this has to do with labels and with fear.

There are some people who would identify me as Christian (never mind denominational distinctions) because of my worship habits and beliefs, coupled with the baptism I received as a baby. There are others who would maintain that I am a heretic, perhaps even a dangerous one.

There are individuals and communities which identify themselves as Christian and which I believe do God's work. Some have been profoundly inspiring to me personally. I would be honoured to be associated with such people.

There are individuals and communities which identify themselves as Christian and which I have seen do great harm in the world. I am not sure what they think God's work for us is, but if their beliefs are similar to mine (and to yours, I think) I fear they may be way off track. Some of them have hurt me or those I love very deeply. I regret that the associations some people make may mean they identify me as part of such groups of people.

At this point I do not feel comfortable calling myself Christian because of various doctrinal issues. Further study and prayer may sort that out for me and in the meantime if people ask I tell them roughly what I believe and leave it at that. But I can certainly understand how, if I did call myself Christian, I might be eager to make clear that I'm not like those /other/ Christians, the ones who do things differently, the ones who have managed to hurt so many people. And one way of making that distinction would be to claim some sort of authority over the word, to redefine Christianity to suit the exclusion of those who do what I can't understand, or, failing that, to invent my own term, my own sub-definition, so that I don't have to keep explaining myself, at least once the shiny new definition is commonly known... By then, of course, there will be more splinter groups.

I can only assume that most Christians who feel (or speak or write) strongly on issues of practice -- whether that is about gay sex or whether communion wine can be served in individual vessels or what adornments are to be allowed in churchyard graves or communion for the unbaptised -- see themselves as having devoted some thought and study and hopefully even prayer to the issues.
I can also assume that either some of them are wrong, or there is no universally applicable right answer available at this time. Personally I lean toward the latter. But it hardly matters which is the case, because we are all -- those I admire and those with whom I think I'd rather not be associated, those who have shown me glimpses of what I can only call holy and those who have left me with wounds and scars, those who have loved me and those who have feared me -- we are all of us human beings, unlikely to achieve perfect discernment this side of paradise. And all beloved of God.

I hope that when we all know this, and know it well enough to stay aware of it in all we see and think and say and do, the petty squabbles will be revealed as unnecessary. Sadly that seems unlikely in my lifetime. But I don't think I would achieve much toward that by telling anyone else whether they should or shouldn't do things based on my imperfect understanding of what is right. I don't even presume to tell people whether they should engage in such arguments. I merely hope and pray that I might, by my words and actions and God's grace, let people know they are loved. Learning how to do that, in my work and in my personal relationships, will keep me busy for quite some time...

Thursday, 9 July 2009


Still alive.

Still internetless at home.

Still preparing for Celebratory Recital, which is tomorrow.

Still keeping you lot in my thoughts and prayers.