The Questions about Uganda

Just before Christmas, the Primus of our church visited Uganda. Since there have been a number of comments made on his blog justifying the trip in terms of it being important to deal with those who have different views.

I’ve not heard anyone question the idea of a Primus dealing with those of different views. After all, clergy deal with people with different views all the time.

There are plenty of unanswered questions about bishops from here going to Uganda for formal events though and there are certainly some of us in the Scottish Episcopal Church who are surprised that Bishop David was encouraged by the College of Bishops to accept this invitation.

There are those in the Ugandan churches who are complicit in incitement to violence, hate speech and using their influence to try to pass laws which would persecute and imprison fellow members of the body of Christ.

The question any bishop faces when thinking about going on a formal visit to Uganda is whether they might be seen by it to be standing alongside those who are subject to violence, persecution and torture or whether they might be seen to be standing alongside those might be said to be encouraging it.

Dealing with difference doesn’t come into it.

This video caught my eye this week. It says in just a few minutes more than I can say on here and is well worth a watch.

Same-sex marriage and the state

I’ve been very heartened by the many responses to my sermon on Sunday. It was reported on at length in The Times, which used it as its top Scottish story on Monday and it was used in the Herald and all over the gay press too. Whatever anyone might think about what I said, it seems to me to be very gratifying that a sermon can still be at the heart of a national debate.

Then there has been responses on the internet – Thinking Anglicans picked it up and there are comments on their thread. Beth commented on it and got some response too. Meanwhile if you want negative criticism of the sermon (and my existence) then you need look no further than Kendall Harman’s blog which had a piece relating to the sermon and another one relating to the press coverage. Fr Kendall’s blog is one of the most courteous on the internet, inhabited by the most discourteous commenters.

Generally speaking, I think that if you have a job like mine then it is incumbent upon you to  preach a sermon which hits the headlines at least occasionally. It seems to me that it goes with the territory. Not to do so is to miss an opportunity.

I’ve been pleased too that there has been a mixture of comment about my interpretation of scripture and also my comments about the RC Bishops. It was a dense sermon with something for everyone. The comments on my own blog post have been particularly erudite as usual.

This morning, the Primus has joined in with some of this debate with an excellent piece in the Scotsman. You can find his opinion piece here and the news report on it here.

The news report rather over-eggs the pudding with an all too eager headline which says: Gay marriages backed by Episcopal Church . Better to concentrate on what Bishop David says himself – it is good stuff:

Jesus did not call the church into being as a citadel of orthodoxy. He was constantly criticised because he spent time with people who didn’t fit the conventional patterns and were deemed unacceptable by others. He told stories about nets and fishing, about lost sheep and banquets where the guests were to be gathered from the highways and byways.

The Scottish Government’s consultation challenges us to think seriously about our society, its values and its patterns of family life. It challenges churches to reflect on what it means in today’s secular society to call people to uphold marriage and family life. And if there is a mandate for us in the churches, it is to try and build communities of faith which honour the way in which we believe Jesus responded to people in their diversity.