A copy of the letter sent to the Archbishop of York, copied to the Archbishop of Canterbury, on 12 June 2018 concerning the referral of my letter about the Bishop of Maidstone to the Pastoral Guidance Group.
The Archbishop of York has replied to my letter about the Bishop of Maidstone’s response to the Bishop of Lichfield. My letter is being referred to the Pastoral Advisory Group for advice. The views and practices directly advocated by the Bishop of Maidstone to his clergy could, if acted upon, endanger the physical or mental well-being of adults who may well be vulnerable in their faith and sexuality. I believe the Archbishops of Canterbury and York are the people responsible for taking action in this matter. It is a safeguarding issue affecting the practice advocated by a bishop.
When I sit deep in the presence of God every morning for 30 minutes, sometimes contemplating a crucifix of the self-emptying Christ, I experience the presence of God as caring about and affirming my love, my fulfilment in relationship and my openness to and love for my partner. God cares that my self-giving mirrors the self-emptying of Jesus the Christ. This morning my mind roamed over the Gospels and the narratives of Jesus’ ministry, actions and encounters. Crowds clamoured after Jesus, pursuing him across lakes and up hills and mountains. They clamoured because they knew they were in the presence of someone who held the key to the transformation of life. The crowds I encounter in congregations and at wedding breakfasts and the blessing of same-sex relationships are wholeheartedly supportive of equal marriage.
Catherine Keller, has written about theological thinking from a process perspective in On the Mystery: Discerning Divinity in Process, 2008. She proposes “a way for theology to avoid the garish neon light on absolute truth claims, which was out our vital differences.” Two vital differences are being washed out of the Church of England for me. One is my sexuality and the other is my deep contemplative faith. The Church diminishes my faith by treating both as being questionable elements of my core experience. Catherine explores an alternative path of theology which is not a middle ground nor a compromise but something else, something emerging (a theme common in recent theology), something on the way (echoing the ancient image of Christianity being people ‘of the Way’).
This is the blog it has taken me nearly three weeks to write because I knew that engaging with the hostile energy of the Peter Ould’s blog was futile. Our wisdom, attention, time, and creative energy needs to be focused not on engaging with those defending abusive, hierarchical, dogmatic ways of thinking and acting based on Scripture and an anthropomorphic idea of God but on the divine energy which is always evolving and flowing through creation and inspires people, despite the unfortunate endeavours of the church, to trust their feelings and intuition, marry the person they love, live with the person they choose, and share uninhibitedly the glorious liberty and freedom of creation in which the poor and disenfranchised are tenderly blessed by God, “the internal, the infinite, and unnameable”, to quote my young, wise South African friend Zinana.