Review of the year on the blog

Well, everyone else is doing it so I might as well look back over the last year and pick out a few highlights from the blog.

I began the year by declaring that The Archbishop of Canterbury is not a Pope and defended him from other people making demands that he rebuke the Nigerian Church. I don’t want an Archbishop of Canterbury going around rebuking anyone. (Though I did think that the Archbishop of York might be better placed to do some rebuking).

A big part of the first part of the year was taken up with me standing in an election to become the Rector of the University of Glasgow. I didn’t win in the end but was a well placed second. The big surprise for me was that a good pro-Independence candidate did not do as well as I expected – the first indication for me that things were not going to go the Independence way later in the year.

I wrote a Memo to Holyrood re School Chaplains back in January too, which was widely read. I suspect that the days of school chaplains are probably numbered. I also suspect that might be a good thing.

I also had a go at those in Holyrood telling them not to shake hands with anti-gay politicians from Africa during the Commonwealth Games.

My Radio 2 debut came this year with a jolly time on early one Sunday morning in February with Hardeep Singh Kohli. My piece was all about rainbows.

Quite a lot of people wanted to comment on a post where I asked whether Jesus was nice to women.

During Lent I declared I was not giving social media and didn’t understand those who do.

Some people were amused by the number of different cures I had tried for what ailed me in the spring. However I wasn’t pleased to have bronchitis for 12 weeks or so.

I did manage to get myself into the pulpit to preach the resurrection at Easter. Something I always enjoy. The video of the Palm Sunday procession was a record of another of the delights of Holy Week this year.

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury got a lot of attention for a dreadful phone-in he did on the radio.  I first had a go at him with a post about Understanding the Justin Welby Controversy and then addressed him more directly with You Condemn It Archbishop.

When you encounter violence, you condemn it, Archbishop. When you encounter murder, you condemn it, Archbishop. When you encounter homophobia, you condemn it, Archbishop.

You don’t appease it, Justin Welby. You condemn it.

Why should any of us in any land expect anything less of you?

Incidentally, I don’t think Justin Welby has done very well this year even given that his job is impossible. He started making the same mistakes that Rowan Williams made before him.

I took a strong view on the Red Road Flats controversy and was quoted on the front page of the Herald for doing so. And we won in the end – the flats were not demolished during the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games.

A terrible low for the city was the Art School fire in May which I witnessed and videoed at first hand.

Lots of people seemed to appreciate a post on Where to Get Started With the Bible.

General Synod came and went. This year’s was one of the poorest I remember I think. We don’t seem to trust ourselves in synod to decide anything, the bishops gave another inane presentation on their corporate life and I ended up posting about How not to have a synodical discussion. (This kind of thing ought to be a warning to the Church of England but it won’t be).

I decided to give an Alternative Queen’s Speech because I continue to think I know better than Her Majesty’s government. Incidently, one of those ideas is one that I think I may take forward in the new year and ought to be giving those who manage church budgets the willies.

My government will introduce legislation to ensure that charitable status is removed from all charities which discriminate on the basis of the Protected Characteristics of other equality legislation. For the avoidance of doubt, religious charities which campaign against other protected characteristics in terms of age, gender, sexuality etc will automatically lose their charitable status.

I think that is achievable in 7 years or so and might well be worth throwing some campaigning energy behind.

Peter Tatchell came to St Mary’s and gave a very interesting couple of talks. One bit of one of them drew national attention when he talked about Outing Bishops.

I thought that Archbishop Carey was wrong and not for the first time. This time it was a different topic to the usual though – Assisted Suicide. I’m against, he was in favour. (And the fact that most people would have guessed it to be the other way round proves this is a different debate to other debates).

Another thing which gained national attention was a spat with the Church of England’s Communications Director. Here’s the Guardian’s take:

The Church of England’s director of communications communicated himself into a corner last week, after a well-meaning but homophobic tweet about Vicky Beeching, the gospel singer who’s just come out as gay. The Rev Arun Arora tweeted that Vicky was welcome in church because “we are all broken”. In a cringe-inducing exchange with Kelvin Holdsworth, provost of St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow, @RevArun defended his comparison of Vicky’s sexuality to the brokenness of humanity. Holdsworth tweeted: “It would be racist to say that black people are welcome in church because all are broken. It is homophobic to suggest same re LGBT.” The the reverend went strangely quiet.

Arun Arora is still in post but seems to be tweeting a good deal less than he once did.

I turned down the chance to audition for Big Brother. No, really…

I took the view that Travelodge was right to remove Gideon Bibles from their rooms and that made quite a few people very cross indeed.

One of the best things I preached all year was a wee homily for Derek and Nelson’s nuptials:

The truth is, for a lot of us who grew up as gay people, this was completely outside our expectations. We never expected to be able to celebrate a partnership in this way. It just wasn’t conceivable.

Yet here we all are.

I don’t know whether you believe in miracles. But for some of us here today, we have watched things change over the last few years. They have changed in ways that once we could never have believed. Those of us who are gay have watched water change into wine in front of our very eyes. And we have begun to drink. And the wine tastes absolutely wonderful.

Another post which drew some comment and no little amount of criticism was 10 things Evangelicals don’t tell you at first.

I came out against Independence. (Which pleased and infuriated people in equal measure). And I had this to say the day after the vote.

Yet another post to stir things up was Beware of the Celibate. I think there’s a good deal more to discuss in relation to that and in case anyone was wondering, I’m entirely unrepentant for publishing it. Celibacy spells trouble just as often as it spells freedom and we need to be able to discern the difference.

Although initially very dubious, I loved having my picture taken with an owl.

I came out in favour of retaining the option to out hypocritical gay bishops. I still think  it must remain and option.

My six reasons that cathedrals are doing well was a post that did well for comments and for sparking other conversations. My assertion that we don’t have visitors at St Mary’s was part of my own reflection on why we are doing OK at the moment locally.

I was named as someone on the Independent’s Rainbow List (the new name for the Pink List) and enjoyed going to London for the party associated with the event.

At the end of November, quite a few people were interested in my asking whether Jesus chose the wrong brother.

Towards the end of the year I’ve been posting longer articles than I did earlier in the year and have seen visitor numbers to the blog rise sharply as a consequence. An example of that is The Peace Unity and Order of the Church which I posted after the College of Bishops’ disastrous statement in December. That statement has seriously diminished the authority of the bishops and it remains to be seen whether they can change the tone of this conversation significantly enough to regain it. The emergence of 50 clergy and lay readers who have referred to the bishops acting outwith their moral and canonical authority is hugely significant and we don’t know yet what that means in an Episcopally ordered church.

Rounding off the year, my post on the Comites Christi as gay icons has received quite a lot of attention and, as with other posts above, received a lot of commen on social media which is where much of the conversation takes place these day.

During the year I’ve also said goodbye on my blog to Jim Cottar, Michael Hare Duke and Bill Fishman. May they all rest in peace. (If that is what any of them want to do in the afterlife).

It is has been a good year for me though not without its ups and downs. I’m happy in my ministry in St Mary’s whilst also often feeling ashamed of the church I belong to. However, I sense a shift in attitudes that I think will grow in the coming year. There are many who want better leadership than we are currently receiving in the Scottish Episcopal Church and I’ve been delighted to see the re-emergence of blogging as a significant factor in our life together. I end the year hopeful and look forward to what lies ahead.