Gay marriage and God: what we need now is outrageous grace

Can you love and forgive someone who appears to hate you? That is a question many of us are having to answer right now, as explored in this piece for the
Independent on Sunday.

Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high … there’s a place where people live together peacefully, whatever their differences. That is what is represented by the six-colour flag that has become such a potent symbol in recent days. But how do we get there?

The Reverend Sally Hitchiner has an answer that is breathtakingly audacious. “We can’t move forward until lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people forgive their oppressors. That is the big challenge facing the LGBT community. We are never going to reach Utopia until we all get there.”

Forgive their oppressors? That is an outrageous thing for a priest to say, until you know more about her – and not just because the Church has officially condemned gay people for centuries.

Continue reading “Gay marriage and God: what we need now is outrageous grace”

Five ways for the Church of England to stop making a complete and utter fool of itself over money

slip-trips-300x223Here we go again. The pattern keeps repeating itself. The Church speaks out over money and injustice. The Church finds out it is doing the very thing it is attacking other people for. The Church gets embarrassed, somebody has to apologise and its message – which was a good one – gets torpedoed.

This time it is the living wage, a perfectly good campaign to get employers to pay what it actually costs to live these days. The Archbishop of Canterbury says he is “embarrassed” to discover that some people working in cathedrals – collecting tickets, for example – are being paid less than the living wage. It must be immensely frustrating for him, but he has been here before. Remember the righteous attack on Wonga, the high interest lender? Remember that it turned out the Church had an indirect stake in Wonga? Remember that nearly a year later, when he spoke out about money again, it turned out they still hadn’t got rid of the stake in Wonga? Or for those with longer memories, think back to the days of the crash, when the Archbishops of Canterbury and York spoke out powerfully against the follies and evils of hedge funds – and were told within hours, by the financial press, that they had shares in one of the biggest hedge funds in the country. It’s embarrassing. It’s stupid. It undermines good people saying good things. It has to stop. Here’s how.

Continue reading “Five ways for the Church of England to stop making a complete and utter fool of itself over money”

I Never Really Wanted To Be Archbishop Of Canterbury

Rowan Williams is a changed man. He was weary and weighed down towards the end of his time as Archbishop of Canterbury, wounded by the press and exhausted by the effort of trying to hold together a Church tearing itself apart. Today he is warm, welcoming and even seems to be walking taller at his surprisingly modern home in the grounds of Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he is Master. Is this life easier? “Yes,” he says, laughing. “What do you think?” An interview for the Sunday Telegraph