Last month, a letter was published in ‘the press’ (shame on them, but given that most newspapers are amoral why bother complaining or naming them: that is their modus operandi) publicly attacking the ministry of an ordained priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church. Why? Because she (shock, horror) is a woman. I will, for what it’s worth, name-and-shame the letter-writer, a Mr Donald J Morrison of 85 Old Edinburgh Road, Inverness. This man is a bigot, a misogynist, and a theologically-ignorant fool. But don’t take my word for it: Google him, and make up your own mind.
Or, let me cite a couple of sentences in his pathetic missive, and allow whoever reads this to decide. Of the 196 women who are ministers in the Church of Scotland (according to his figures which I don’t entirely trust) he claims, “This is 196 too many.” He seems to think that “The very fact that they are women debars them from the Christian ministry,” and attempts to back this up with a Biblical quotation which he considers “best to hear what absolute truth has to clearly say.” Apparently, a woman may be “elegant” (I think he meant to say ‘eloquent,’ which clearly he is not) in “public speaking, or proficient in her knowledge of Biblical theology” – again, I question his proficiency.
It seems, according to Mr Morrison, “The only activity women are restricted from is teaching or having spiritual authority over men.” And yet he suggests that women “may rise up and hold high office in a nation, just like Queen Elizabeth and as the late Mrs Margaret Thatcher did.” That will be the present Queen, head of Church-and-State, and former (now deceased, for which I’m only partly glad: I’d rather she hadn’t been born) Prime Minister who was responsible for appointing Bishop Carey to be Archbishop of Canterbury. Sure, the rot had set in by then, but the Evangelical ascendency in The Church must surely be blamed for the upsurge of aggressive, militant atheism in recent years.
The trouble is, as long as idiots are allowed to vent their views publically; while the various denominations of Christianity are permitted to operate outdated systems of institutionalised human rights violations; and while former Bishops and Archbishops sit in the House of Lords, we are seeing the disintegration of sensible Christianity and the strengthening of that most unholy alliance, Church and State. Never were there two more incompatible bed-fellows than the Queen and Thatcher, but since disestablishing the Church of England would have seemed as anathema to Maggie as abolishing the Monarchy, so they remained, tucked up and – like all single-sex marriages, according to our deluded Mr Morrison, though not perhaps his choice of phrase – fucked up.
You’ll find his views on same-sex marriage equally derisive. So, when the House of Lords discusses this, as if they are some kind of legitimate compass of morality, who do we have to put up with? Fucking Bishops who not only should never have been ordained, but who should not be given a seat in The House – least of all by a God who only exists to a limited coterie. A cliché (but it’s true): the UK is the only one of two democrasies with religious clerics sitting in their Upper Chamber of Politics. The other is Iran, but I don’t think they have got retired, defunct and idiotic Bishops.
Take, for example. Nazir-Ali, former Bishop of Rochester. What an idiot. Suggesting that the Queen would break her Coronation Oath by letting her Government vote for gay marriage! Oh for fuck’s sake, Brenda: nobody gives a toss about your holy oath. And the move to persuade Bishops to abstain from voting, in order to avoid this issue of disestablishment, makes a mockery of everyone involved – from The Queen right down to that ridiculous man in Inverness, who tells us that Her Majesty has no authority to advise him on matters of theology. Sorry, Mr Morrison: it seems she does. Unless, you’re up for disestablishing the Church, or abolishing the Monarchy?
But that, alas, isn’t likely to happen imminently. So let’s do something different about this. Gay marriage – the right for two people to publically declare their love for one another – is nothing to do with Christianity. It’s about conferring what should be the inalienable right on all people, without prejudice, to participate fully in the society in which they live. It is nothing to do with procreation, sexuality or bodily functions – although all of these are naturally a part of being human. It is about recognising that love is what brings two people together, and that should be celebrated.
Suffice it to say that, in the Bible, we are instructed to ‘love one another with a pure heart, fervently.’ In the spirit of pick-and-mix theology, we could easily find another quote to counter that. But that’s just petty. Let’s look instead at the person of Christ, who was just an ordinary man, who did all the things that we do, yet had a vision of a world that could be lived in harmoniously by all, no matter what their beliefs. Through love. Unless, of course, they were hypocrites – like the ‘Church’ of his time. And like the Church in our time. And the government. And me too, I guess. I ought to love Mr Morrison of Inverness. Perhaps I do, even though he’s a poor, deluded fool.
And so to this month’s Canto from my poem-sequence, pointing out that Christ was only human.
Twelve Tones of Blue
Canto VI: The numbers of the beast; basic bodily functions, surely experienced by Christ.
Welcome to the Great High Feast;
I’ll gorge his flesh and rout the devil:
This is the human form to which we all relate.
The second number of the beast,
Shooting up through cold blue steel,
Enters the blood with an animal urge to procreate.
Of all the numbers does the least
Attractive seem the most primeval.
But didn’t Christ himself digest, procreate and defecate?