Movement 105

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aa SECTION 28

where have all the

liberals gone?

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t. !l Dogma:

LAVINIA

BYRNE

'forced to keep

journeying'

PLUS: Aloysius Pieris - liberation theology in Asia


august2s - 28

ffireenbelt

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The UK's National Christian Arts Festival

Gheltenham Racecourse

working with ..

GhristianlTAid

Boolz

Our ticket offers:

save ttf on all tickets

if you book

before the end of April

1 free adult place for every 10

tickets booked

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for a

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Young Friends General Meeting

of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

is seeking to recruit a young friends co-ordinator

to provide administrative support to young Quakers in Britain

The post will be based at Woodbrooke (Birmingham) for a period of one year.

We are looking for someone to work 20 hours a week on a salary of f6,500 per annum (f"I2,307 pro rata)

For an application form and job description, please send an ,{4 stamped self addressed envelope to:

Youngs Friends co-ordinator applications

c/o Management group,

YFGM office,

Woodbrooke College,

L046 Bristol Road,

BirminghamB29 6LJ.

or check our website http ;//www.

quaker.o r gl y fgml

Closing date for applications is 12th May 2000. Interviews will be held in Birmingham

on Saturday 3rd June with a view to starting in mid-July or shortly afterward'


'i::ffi

Tim Woodcock pays tribute to Schutz, the creator of Peanufs who died in February.

Fifty years of security btankets, kite-eating trees and The Great Pumpkin.

And a tittte bit of philosophy too.

Nuts and Schulz

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I r I'sundavs'unarres M. scnurz dred.

E Four montns earter rn r\ovemDer

he announced that, because of worsening

colon cancer, Peanuts would be comingto

an end and he said: "l have been fortunate

to draw Charlie Brown and his friends for

almost 50 years. lt has been a fulfilment of

my childhood ambition. Charlie Brown,

Snoopy, Linus, Lucy - how can I ever forget

them?"

Peanuts was originally called Li'l Folks

and it is a universe where adults are

invisible, and kids tend to learn the hard

way. Charlie Brown's large bland face is

said to represent Schulz's feeling of being

indistinguishable from the crowd at school

- Charlie Brown is an 'everyman'.

And a no-one. Charlie Brown is famous

for being a loser, although the comic strip

he appears in has been syndicated to

2600 newspapers, and translated inlo 2I

languages and been the subject of an

exhibition at the Louvre. There's something

very charming about Schulz's visual style -

the giant heads, Snoopy's dances,

Woodstock's speech, the way people do

involuntary somersaults when shouted at.

But more than that it has a warmth. There

are funnier, cleverer and

more challenging

\

lssUe 105

Spring 2000

Movement is the termly

magazine of the Student

Christian Movement,

distributed free of charge

to members and

dedicated to an openminded

exploration of

Christianity.

Peanuts, but none inspire the same degree

of affection.

When Schulz died I found myself

trawling through cartoons that I'd

treasured as a kld and re-reading a slim

book called fhe Gospe/ Accordingto

Peanuts (Fontana, 1966). You could argue

that any cartoon strip with such a long lifespan

could be dissected and some kind of

philosophy extracted - but Robert L. Short

claims that there is a distinctly Christian

message behind Peanuts. ln the words of

Short, fhe Gospe/... provides 'a reading out

of' rather than 'a reading into' Peanuts. ln

all the obituaries I read, none mentioned

that Schulz was a lay-preacher and his first

job was with a Catholic publisher filling in

someone else's

speech bubbles!

Ihe Gospe/

According to

Peanuts stills

holds up very

well: it is not

contrived to say that

Peanuts conveys the

major themes of

Christian faith.

Short's book

quotes

Editorial address

2/2 767 Hyndland Road,

Hyndland, Glasgow.

G12 gHT

t: (0141) 339 7343

e: movemag@aol.com

SCM central office

Westhill College,

t4/I5 Weoley Park Road,

Selly Oak, Birmingham.

829 6LL

t: (0121) 4772404

f: (0121) 474 7251

e: SCM@movement.org.uk

movement 1

Editor: Tim Woodcock

Editorial board: Claire Horsnell,

Diccon Lowe, Sara Mellen, Elinor

Mensingh, Carolyn Styles

SCM staff

Coordinator - Carolyn Styles

Project Worker: Groups - Elinor Mensingh

Project Worker: Membership - Mark Depew

Website: www.movement.org.uk

Disdaimen The viarrls expressed in

Mo\€ment are th6e of the particular

author and should not be taken to be the

policy of the Student Christian Movement

Kierkegaard and Barth and Bonhoeffer and

mockingly calls itself 'theological literary

criticism (illustrated)'. On one level it

merely makes facile observations about

human nature: the stubbornness of Lucy,

the insecurities of Linus, the constant

failures of Charlie Brown illustrate we are

less than perfect, or, if you like that kind of

language, 'fallen'. lt is written in that lively

colloquial way that only Americans can get

away with. One chapter argues that "The

Wages of Sin is 'Aaaughh!"' and another

unpacks the phrase "Good grief!"

By far the most interesting and daring

claim is that Snoopy is a "hound of

heaven" and Jesus is a 'Dog God'. Robert

Short toys with, and rejects, the idea of

Snoopy as a Christ figure - but he does

assert that Snoopy is "a good symbol for

faith". Not Snoopy being heroic (as Joe

Cool or the Red Baron) orjudgmental (the

ice hockey umpire), rather Snoopy the

companionable dog, who gets the

leftovers. His main purpose in life is to

'exalt the humble and humble the exalted'.

Now Short's works seem to me twee

and preachy, but it is exciting and edgy

theology, which engages with popular

c u ltu re.

Which got me thinking: what is the

descendant of Peanuts? Calvin and

Hobbes - exactly captures how children

think. The Sirnpsons is the same kind of

world - on the cusp of surreal and real,

with a certain tenderness at core. But the

best comparison, one that Schulz would be

appalled at I'm sure, is South Park. lt too

looks at the world from knee height: but it

is a world where innocence is obliterated

and replaced with experience.

r+?

Membership fees:

t15 (\^aged)

t10 (unu/aged/stLdents)

Next copydate

7thAugrd2000

Ursolicited nratedal lvelcome.

Ask for guidelines.

Ad\€dbir€copldate

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Charity No.241896

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SCM Summer Retreat

16rH - 18rH Jurur 2000

BntNEseuRv Housr, nrnn BnrH

Only f 1-0

TIME TO de-stress from

exams and treat yourself to a

relaxing weekend in the

countryside.

Join us for the SCM

Summer Retreat in

Bainesbury House, a selfcontained

cotta$e with beds

and showers (hurrah!) in the

grounds of Downside AbbeY,

near Bath. A relaxed

programme will be on offer

but the idea is to rest, natter

and eat $ood nosh to$ether.

Bookin$ forms are

available are available from

central office.

?

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notes

from the

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The volunteer student:

a declining sPecies?

CATACOMBS

John Field writes; Anxieties about college

funding have put pressure on most students

to spend a larger part of their vacations

working for pay. Voluntary organisations

have suffered a loss of suPPort in

consequence.

For examPle, ARC, a EuroPe-wide

organisation which provides 3-4 week

residential courses linked with cathedrals,

had almost no applicants in 1998' but

began to recover slowly in 1999. lts

communities, for those of student age (20-

26) are ecumenical, and offer the

opportunity for people from many nations to

live together in Christian commitment, to

learn the history of their host cathedral, and

to take small groups of summer visitors on

,

-..,}}

NEWS

from

scM

in

Britain

and

beyond

guided tours in their native languages. Rev

Lucy Winkett, Chaplain at St.Paul's

Cathedral, who provides pastoral support for

the community there, is a great enthusiast.

"ARC is a tonic," she comments. "The

presence of these young people is good for

us all, for it leads us to re-examine our

relations with one another."

ARC communities are usually held at

Florence, Siena, Cologne, Trier, Speyer'

Reims, Tours, Troyes, Bordeaux, Antwerp,

Utrecht, CanterburY, SalisburY and

Westminster Abbey, as well as at St'Paul's.

Accommodation, food and pocket money are

provided, so the only cost to a participant is

the return fare.

{ tt you are interested contact the director

of ARC England John Field at Callaly Mill'

Alnwick, Northumberland, NE66 4SZ or

CallalyField@hotmail.com.

Mark Depew, who are You?

hl l;T,';Sr',:",lo;liilT'HTi*

El ffi:Y, i 3fi ;:: ;;f i'.?:i:* tTffJ"?l il?i' 0

""", "

0

and lead fundraising strategies, to manage the distribution of

Movement, and devise ingenious methods of convincing greater

numbers of individuals to join the SCM family'

The burning question is, however, who is Mark Depew?

Since finishing my first degree in Politics/Economics at

Assumption College in the United States back in 1987, I have had a

whirlwind of exPeriences'

I have been married for thirteen years and have two daughters'

My wife and l, worked together in Northern lndia for just over a year

in 1989-90, where I taught English and researched human rights

abuses against the Sikhs. Upon our return, life took a strange

changeoringingmeintoseniorRetailManagementforthenextfive

rn po,t and at mv desk

y""r"l Ftot 1S9S-SZ, I returned to full-time education at Birmingham

movement 2

University to read for a Masters Degree in lnternational Studies'

Following my studies, I went to work for Christian Aid and the

Jubilee 2000 Coalition, bringing to Birmingham the world's first

Human Chain. Principally, over three years I have researched,

spoken and advocated debt and development issues to a broad

range of groups. As a fund+aiser, I have increased Christian Aid

Week giving by 62% in my local church.

t proOuceO 'Taking Stock', a report identifying progress made by

Britain's leading supermarkets in producing and implementing

ethical codes of conduct for suppliers in the developing world'

ln my personal life I strongly link my commitmentto serving God

withsocial,peaceandjusticeaction'Whichhasbeenmanifestedin

my recent work as well as my voluntary work and commitment to

social issues in my local community'

Over the next two years I look forward to meeting, with and

working on behalf of all of You.

.l


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Justin Whelan is a gtobe-trotting Australian who found

himsetf at this year's ecumenical conference

Solace in Solihull

a

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I f I aTrarrs ano conTerence gorngs-on

f|| of the Australian scM, it shourd

come as no surprise that one of the first

connections I made after landing in London

was with the SCM in Britain. And that, of

course, led me to the upcoming Ecumenical

conference, with a Taiz6 theme no less.

Being something of a Taiz6 hack I had no

excuse not to attend. This, coupled with a

growing sense of spiritual unease prompted

by an absence of religious activity, saw me

on the 6:55 to Solihull.

There must be a rule somewhere in SCM

H.Q. that decrees thou shalt sit in a circle

and say thy name to the group, followed by a

quirky fact about thyself, for it happens the

world over. lt sure does make a great

welcome, and as a Catholic who claims

some pride in the universality of the Catholic

mass (if it's 9:15, we must be up to the first

reading), a great comfort. The idea that one

will remember more than one or two of the

sixty names called out represents the high

point in SCM idealism. I love it.

The weekend itself, from this

participants' perspective, was a great

success. I generally believe the success of

an ecumenical gathering can be measured

by the ignorance of each others

denomination (and in this case, student

movement as well) as it means people don't

find themselves forced into self-criticism (as

a Catholic!) before they express their

opinions. The quality of singing improved

over the weekend as people learned their

parts and sang more loudly and by the end

a joyful sound was indeed being made unto

the Lord.

Personally I found the weekend an

important time for stopping and letting go. I

took a couple of opportunities for silent

prayer, meditating on Brother Roger's Letter

in which he writes that the desire for faith is

already the beginning of faith - comforting

words in a time of existential confusion. The

disco was a great success. Brother Paulo's

clumsy dancing was a treat. And I found out

my partner knows all the words to

Madonna's LiRe A Prayer. What more is

there to safr

Y tt you have always wanted to go to Taiz6

but didn't want the hassle of arranging it

all, then here's the hassle-free way to do it.

A couple of curates in the Birmingham

Diocese are arranging a trip, open to

anyone wherever you live. The dates are 19-

28th August and it will cost 912$9150,

Contact Richard Wharton on OL2t

4763990.

movement 3

Congratulations to Carrie Styles, SCM's coordinator,

who is pregnant. And also

congrats to her husband Rob. See page t4

for Rob's thoughts on advantages on the

internet when it comes to ultrasound scans

and family ties.

Here's how to get hold of DIALOGUE, the

lnternational Journal for Buddhists and

Christians, edited by Dr. Aloysius Pieris SJ

(see p.8). Annual subscnptions cost US

$70.OO (or equivalent) inclusive of airmail

postage. Contact the Secreta ry, Ecu menical

/nstltute for Study and Dialogiue, 490/5

Havelock Road, Colombo, Sri Lanka.

ecumenel@s ri. I a n ka. net

Some intriguing looking events over the

next few months...

* A one day conference called Virtual

Faith - The Spiritual Quest of Young Adults:

Lessons from the US. For "anyone

interested in the theological meaning of

music video, film, body piercing and

popular culture." lt is led by Tom Beaudoin

who wrote a ground-breaking book on the

'irreverent spirituality of Generation X'. lt is

at Klng's College, London, on 27th May,

11am-3pm and costs f15. Contact Pete

Ward on O2O7 8483L2O.

* Greenbelt - the biggest and best of

Christian arts festivals - is on 25th-28th

August. At one point it billed itself as the

third festival in the Christian calender with

Christmas and Easter and is settling in at

its new home in Cheltenham Race Course,

and August. (See advert inside front cover)

* The Sea of Faith is offering

concessionary places for f'30 to students

at its annual conference in Leicester

(25Ih-271h July). SoF is about "exploring

and promoting religious faith as human

creation." So if you want to get your brain

cells tickled over those long summer

months. Contact John Pearson, 3 Belle

Grove Place, Spital Tongues, Newcastle-

Upon-Tyne NE2 4LH.

* The Lesbian and Gay Christian

Movement are having a European

Conference on 'Forging a Dialogue with

the Churches' in Edinburgh 3-7 May 2000.

Speakers include James Alison, John Bell

and Prof Elizabeth Stuart. Also Pride takes

place on 2 )uly and their LGCM's Annual

Pride 'Mardi Gras' Service takes place in

Hinde Street Methodist Church at 3pm.


'.ffiil

Kevin Smith made his mark with tow budget films packed with fantasticatty juvenite

dialogue. So how did he come to make Dogma, an action fil,m about Cathoticism

with Atanis Morissette as God? Claire Horsnell on the vision of Saint Kevin.

9n! tberc citurP t0 paSS in the later days, a maker of

films in the state of New Jersey, and he did make a film

about Catholicism containing many jokes about

flatulence and genitalia. And there was much wailing

and gnashing of teeth, and calling for boycotts.

And the film companY did drop the

movie therewith.

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director rernaineb calm, and souq$out a

second distribbtor, this time llh success. And his name

was Kevin Siniilr, ano theilm was called Dogma. And

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verily, it was good.

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Dfvfne comedy

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when they actually saw the film.

The type of people who would protest

about what they saw as an attack on the

Catholic Church ai'e possibly as likely to be

offended by the dick-and-fart mentality of

much of the humour as much as the

portrayal of the Church itself. Life of Brian iI

isn't. The difference is that, whereas the

Pythons crucified organised religion, Smith's

portrayal of Catholicism shrugs off the

ribbing and still gives us the thumbs up at

the end of the movie. You're left with the

feeling that Christ is probably laughing at

the Golgotha Shit Demon as well.

It's probably this element of the movie

that made film critics all over the country

take a deep breath and write, 'what?' While

no-one much in the UK hated it, no-one

much seemed to understand it, either. God

may possess ubiquity in many cultures, but

Hollywood isn't one of them; while the Devil

made it into Halliwell's Film and Video

Guide from its inception, the good Lord

entered its hallowed pages for the first time

only last year. Christianity was pretty much

relegated to films about the spiritual battle

between good and evil (Ihe Exorcist),

biblical epics (Jesus of Nazareth) and Ihe

Last Temptation of Christ, beloved by

theology students everywhere.

Suddenly, along came Kevin Smith and

made a movie - not a film, as he would be

swift to emphasise - with Christianity and

the search for personal faith smack in the

centre. No cheesy schmaltz, no brooding

solemnity, nothing. Just a glittering carnival

of Catholic tradition and belief packed with

Smith's razor-sharp dialogue and emotional

punches. And not a rainbow-strapped guitar

in sight.

So what exactly was Kevin Smith trying

to do? The concept ofthe movie had been

in the pipeline for ages; the credits of his

first film, C/erks, ended with the promise

'Jay and Silent Bob will return in Dogma'.

They took a diversion through his two

subsequent offerings though; Mal/rats was

gloriously ribald, juvenile and critically

panned, and while Chasing Amy reached

new depths, chronicling the journey of two

average blokes to emotional adulthood, it

still wasn't what advocates of the parallel

universe would call a 'Christian' movie. lt

was 1998 before shooting eventually began

on what Smith would later call 'a psalm of

sorts... my love-letter to God and faith.'

movement 4


However, not everyone saw it in quite the

same way, and even before Do6fma's

release, religious groups were lining up to

castigate a director they saw as

blasphemous, anti-Catholic, and profane.

lronic, considering that Dogma was

ultimately inspired by the RE classes of a

Franciscan nun back in a New Jersey

elementary school. Smith remembers, "She

humanised Christ... Suddenly Christ was

also a guy. And a guy with friends. And a guy

with friends who wasn't above taking the

piss out of them once in a while. Christ was

a walking, talking, dude... Here was a Christ

I could wrap my head around. Here was a

Christ I could actually endeavour to be like.

Here was a Christ that spoke to me, and

that was something I wanted to share with

other people. So years later, I wrote the

screenplay of Dogma."

It also humanises Christ, and not just in

the statue with the cheesy grin, unveiled as

part of the 'Catholicism - Wow!' campaign

either. Alan Rickman's Voice of God

recounting to Linda Fiorentino how he had

to explain to the twelve year-old Jesus who

he really was, for example, has a poignancy

that has the potential to speak to everyone

in human terms, regardless of their spiritual

orientation. Dogma isn't a film about

religion - it's a film about faith.

Iifl:rlif;;ln?,r;lnffi,",

character, Silent Bob, in the role of a

prophet, showing the same quiet sense of

irony that led him to turn up anonymously to

one of the protests against his own film.

The fact that God is played by Alanis

Morissette is also more of a paean to her

ethereal good looks than a calculated V-sign

to the Pope. The 'gender of God' isn't the

point. Neither is the 'dogma' itself - Smith's

enthusiasm for comic books turns out a

pageant of characters that hover halfway

between a Marvel Comic and the Gospel of

St Mark. Angels, demons, monsters,

muses, and Smith's ubiquitous heroes Jay

L Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith (aka Jay and Si/ent Bob)

and Silent Bob pound their way through a

brash road-fantasy with courage, a heart

and a brain. Complaining that the theology

is dodg! is like complaining that The Wizard

of Oz is factually inaccurate. You've clearly

missed the point.

The film's strength seems to lie in a

quiet self-confidence. Smith doesn't feel the

need to justify his faith, and while the movie

may resemble a flamboyant extravaganza of

Catholic allegory, the heart of the movie is

firmly fixed on the search for personal faith,

which leaves it inclusive. "Remove the

trappings of our day-to-day reality and the

world," says Smith, "and you are left with

your faith, whether it be in Jesus Christ,

Buddha, Elijah, Mohammed, Ganesha,

nature, the earth, the stars, whatever." He

explains, "Faith is the glue that holds us

"Suddenty Christ

was a guy with

friends who wasn't

above taking the

piss out of them

once in a while.

Here was a Christ

I could wrap my

head around. "

movement 5

together and binds us (kind of like the

Force.) lt's something we all have in

common - even if you're not a religious

person." Dogma even closes with an

aphorism that would keep any hardened

pluralist happy as well - the idea that it

doesn't matter what you have faith in, as

long as you have faith.

ls this a cop out? Possibly. But Smith is

a movie maker, not an evangelist, and his

sense of humour, irony, and appreciation of

a damn good fart joke, combined with his

ability to write dialogue that packs an

emotional punch has produced another

movie that leaves you smiling, feeling, and,

most importantly, thinking. C/erks and

Chasing Amy were brilliant because they put

onto the big screen the stuff that no-one

else had thought of saying, probably

because it was too painful, or too juvenile,

or both. Dogma works in a similar way, and

it is probably with Sister Theresa in mind

that Smith reflects, "Religion only comes

alive when you don't take the standard look

at it. Religion comes alive sometimes

through a different view."

And, let's face it, if we weren't good

Christian people, then we'd just have to

worship Kevin Smith.

Claire Marie Horsnell is a member of

Warwick SCM.

For the most ludicrously large website see

www.dogma-movie.com. lt includes the

Catholicism Wow! logo, Kevin Smith's diary

and examples of what happens with props

when filming is done.


Atoysius Pieris is a Christian theotogian and a Buddhist scholar. Twenty five years

ago he founded the Tutana Research Centre in Sri Lanka and has used it a base for

forging an Asian [iberation theotogy.

Shanthi Hettiarachchi profiles the man and his work

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LoYsrus Ptrnp 8J, nte

priest-scholar hailing from the

island of Sri Lanka combines

erudition with community

consciousness. There are a number of

books now available both in the East and

the West inspired by his methodology and

thought. As he has sharpened his skills his

work has become a unique resource,

especially for the South Asian scholars, the

churches and even other social institutions

working for the cause of people.

His style and charisma are exemplified in

Dialogue, an internationaljournal he edits

for Buddhists and Christians, which has

gathered a new school of Buddhist and

Christian dialoguers. This dimension of interfaith

conversation has strong links with

those politically, socially and economically

excluded and marginalised in Sri Lanka.

Aloy, as his fellow Jesuits, friends, coworkers

and students fondly know him, has

combined discipline at the desk with

discipline in the field. A heterogenous mix of

people converge under his influence: social

theologians and scholars of all fields;

radical youth and workers; Buddhists and

Christians; Marxists and revisionists; monks

and priests; artists and musicians and

liturgists; activists and contemplatives.

However, they have something

homogeneous about them, they

fundamentally are dialoguers - men and

women open to revision. They leave his

Research Centre in Tulana with a shift in

thought and attitude which then ripples out

t Fr Pieris Aloysius

The 'mother churches' woutd rather

be faithfuI to the western moorings of

their histories instead of devetoping a

truty indigenous community of faith

in their areas of work.

Many who know Aloy's insights into

Christianity and Buddhism, the Bible and

the Tripitaka, call him both a theologian and

a Buddhist scholar. lnterestingly he has

hardly described himself, but what he

prescribes is a dialogue of life - diapraxis.ll

is an invitation for serious communal

reflection, rooted in the dynamism of

pluralism. lt needs diverse expressions to

comprehend the whole.

ln his quarter century contribution, Aloy

has initiated a new vision for mission for the

churches in Sri Lanka. The mainstream

thinking of the churches have made it of

marginal importance and even consider his

thinking antagonistic to their agenda. The

so-called 'mother churches' would rather be

more faithful to the western moorings of

their histories instead of developing a truly

indigenous community of faith. The legacy

of five hundred years of Portuguese, Dutch

and British Christianities are still active.

They have disabled the South Asian religiocultural

ethos in relatingto the Buddhist,

Hindu and lslamic traditions of the lsland.

r3 tosil nEcENT BOOK

(God's Rertn for God's Poor,

Tulana Research Centre, Sri

Lanka, 1999) is the first in a

series to mark the Silver Jubilee of Tulana

(1974-1999) and is written from within the

praxis paradigm of Buddhist-Christian

dialogue in Sri Lanka. lt indicates a clear

departure from the old religious tokenism

and missionary practice when Buddhists

and other religionists were considered

potential objects of conversion. He initiates

a new way of rooting Asian Christian

theology in the language of Jesus. His

proposal of a Covenant Christology is a

hallmark of the present debate in seeking

Christologica I feasibility in i nter-faith

discourses ("Conversion is not necessarily a

change of religion but a radical change of

direction.")

It is indeed interesting how he

theologically challenges the missing

cornerstone of the Council of Chalcedon

when it indulged a scholastic metaphysical

idiom, "God become human" rather than

"God become poor", which is the Gospel

cornerstone of reasonable Christology.

"Jesus in God covenanted with the Poor...

The Asian Poor have right to hear about this

God who is already their God. This God t

who lives and dies in Jesus, and who is tl p.8

movement 6


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TULANA

from tu/; to elevate, wergh,

compare, movetnent

towa rds weiglrtier tlri ngs.

Location, location, location

TULANA RESEARCH Centre, located in

Kelaniya, is a serene environment.

0verthe years Kelanlya's profile has

changed. The clothing industry and

other light industries have attracted

labour abundantly into this area and

is partof the life of the city. However

there is a deep sense of the rural

setting if one were to walk through the

inner belt of Kelaniya. Tulana is one

such place that has kept a critical

distance from the so called

development and retained its unique

identity as a modest place for critical

reflection and diverse religious views.

Though an illustrious Buddhist shrine

with a legendary history are the

cultural pinnacles of this area, it is a

die-hard centre ofextreme nationalist

political views with its notorious

underworld activities. This makes

Kelaniya an ideal social location for

the prophetic dynamics ofTulana.

My reading of Tulana is that it still

continues the discourse which the

Buddha is believed to have initiated

during his mythic visit to Kelaniya

where he preached to 500 monks and

lay Buddhists and listened to their

views - a saga that is enunciated in

the Mahavamsa (Great Chronicle) of

Sri Lanka.

A Home of Discourses

lT lS IMPORTANT to mention where all

these imaginative leaps are rooted.

The word'Tulana" is derived from the

Sanskrit root "tul" - to elevate, weith,

compare, movement towards

weightier things. The research centre

with its varied concerns ls the best

way to convey the Sanskrlt nuances.

Tulana is a modest house built in

an eco friendly desi1n with reflective

murals and paintings. Sri Lanka's

longest river called "Kelani" - which

originates at Sri Pada (Adam's Peak),

where the Buddha is believed to have

sea/ed the "peak stone" with the

impresslon of his foot - flows through

this locality. The River Kelaniflows

from the mountains, throuth the

valleys on to the plains and into the

1cean and becoming part of the

whole. Likewise reflection at Tulana

flows outto become part of the wider

relitious discourse of Asia. It has

generated an understanding of

theology in the context and to express

it in the language and the idiom of

lhe masses. Alols pioneering insight

is the afticulation of a Christianity in

the idiom of the Buddhist culture and

history of Sri Lanka. Tulana is unique

and the longest suviving community

research centre on the island.

Ihe accusations such as 'Asia as

the epicentre of Christological

heresies" have been turned into

i n sightful, ene rgisin g and creative

theolo gies. Asia n theologia ns have

been moved to address the

shameful plight of the teemin!

millions of poor and the poverty of

Asia, and to involve

lssues ofsocia/ and

economic justice as part

of their theology.

/t has set a tone and

initiated a space for

m e a n i n gf u I re I ati o ns h i p s

between Buddhists and

Christians and challenged

the fossr/rsed structures

of powers.

Tulana has made

arrogant colonial

Christi a n ity ch a n ge i ts

emphasis from a

prescriptive relition to an

engaging faith. There has

been the development of c/usters of

true Asian Christian faith

communities rather than lumping

some local elements to an alien way

of understandingtheology and the

life of the church.

The Tulana Research Centre can

be described as an epicentre of

Asian theology. Tulana like many

other centres and movements in

lndia, Korea and the Philippines is

"doing theology" rather than

do gmatisi ng it. Alols contributions

have become major fields of study

and reflection, assedlng an

inditenous way to believe and

belongto a faith rediscovered in

their own soil

( SHANTH I HETII ARACHCHI )

Art atTulana

THE CROUCHING, twisted body of a

woman bows to the ground. Around

her, vindictive male faces and limbs

press forward. Above her is a hand

raised in the do-not-fear gesture of

lndian religious iconography. Blood

runs from the mark of a nail in the

palm showing that it is the hand of

Jesus, deflecting violence from the

woman caught in adultery.

A woman, her head bent in grief,

holds across her knees the utterly

lifeless body of her son. Behind them,

a militarytank and a lamppost

collide, making the sign of a cross.

Mary and Jesus become Mother

Lanka and the thousands of youth

dead in overtwo decades ofviolence,

symbol ofthe eternal drama of

The River Ketani ftows from the mountains,

through the valteys on to the ptains and

into the Ocean, becoming part of the whote.

innocence and idealism sacrificed to

the powers of oppression.

Both these are works of art at

Tulana Research Centre in Sri Lanka.

Both were created by Buddhists, the

first by a monk, Ven Hatigammana

Uttarananda, the third by a lay

person, Kingsley Gunatilleke.

It all began in the 1960s when the

Centre's director, Aloysius Pieris, a

Jesuit priest, was visited by a

renowned Buddhist scholar, Charles

de Silva. De Silva handed him a play

called Supreme Sacrifrce, which he

had written after deep disappointment

that a passion play he had seen

performed by the island's Catholics

had not been, "worthy of Christ".

Fr Pieris was deeply moved by the

play. Buddhism recognises the

importance of self-sacrificial action

for the good of others. De Silva had

used this appreciation to bring the

story of Easter alive in a vibrant way. lt

made Fr Pieris acutely aware that

neither the gospel ofJesus Christ nor

the Word of God is the Church's

possession alone. Fr Pieris became

convinced that Buddhists who were

truly working for the good of society

through identification with the poor,

could be in touch with the Word of

God and could help Christians

understand more fully the gospel of

Jesus.

So began a pilgrimage in which Fr

Pieris began to ask Buddhists who

were involved with the struggle for

justice in Sri Lanka, to interpretthe

Christian gospel for him in art. Ven

Uttarananda's mural of Christ

washing the feet of the disciples, for

instance, was the result of long hours

of dialogue. The monk read the

Gospels and Fr Pieris suggested that

Likewise reftection at Tutana flows

out to become part of the wider

retigious discourse of Asia.

he should paint what he saw as

unique to Christianity. Eventually, Ven

Uttarananda chose to highlight the

challenge Jesus posed to accepted

norms concerning power and service.

The resulting work of art greets all who

come to Tulana, bearing witness to

the heart of Christianity.

The vision ofTulana is of Buddhists

and Christians teaching each other

what it means, within Sri Lanka's

violence and social exclusion, to

respond to what Christians would call

the Word of God. lt holds a challenge

for us all - to our theology and our

relationships.

(ELIZABETH HARRIS)

movement 7


Jesus, is no threat to them as the

Colonial Christ had been. For

Jesus is a Crucified God who dies

protesting on their behalf'

AloY critiques the PoPularlY

used theological framework

which divides contemPlation

and action, and faith and

justice. There is an invitation

in this book to revisit Jesus'

Eucharistic language on

God's Reign and God's

Poor. This unique material

introduces a new way to

understand the Person

of Jesus in the context

of Asia, which he

names Covenant

ChristologY. lt is an

attempt to recover a

theology most

appropriate from within the

Asian context, not onlY as a possible waY

to understand God's action in the world, but

also to critique the dominant model of the

absolutised CaPital and the M arket doctrine

(Mammon) which seem to rePlace Divine

sovereignty in the struggle of PeoPle'

It is to AloY's credit that we today have

new concepts I ike the cosrnic and the meta

cosm ic religiositY, where he

makes a subtle

distinction

between the

primal religions/

cosmic (religions of

the soil) and what

we call the major

faiths of the world

(meta cosmic). He

also makes an erudite

adaptation of the

Buddhist distinction

between lhe lokiYa

(natural) and lokuttra

(super natural) as a

critique of the traditional

western distinction between

the secular and the religious'

His Magnum OPus, Asian

Theotogt/ of Liberation, which

is now translated into nine

European and Asian languages, is used as a

source book where some of these concepts

are further explored. lt recovers a

theological axiom derived from Buddhist

apicchata (havingfew wants) and daliddata

(ienial of even basic needs), an interplay

between the voluntary poverty and the

forced poverty. Voluntary poverty is

embraced as a spiritual path whereas

forced poverty is enforced because a few

can enjoy the resources meant for everyone

(victims of Mammon).

Aloy's socio-theological critique goes

beyond a mere reading of the Latin

American Liberation theologians from the

perspective of the spiritually diverse Asian

masses. His genius is to rediscover a soclolutiurat

herrneneutic and Asian conceptual

tools for doing theology, acceptable to

people of faiths in Asia'

' iis most significant contribution' if one

were to sum up, is a challenging invitation

both to the struggling masses and the

'animators' to find their place in society' the

scholars to get up from their theological

slumber, and for churches to make an

u.tiu" lngug"ment with the real wodd' l4-

Shanthi Hettiarachchi is based in Luton and

works for the humans rights organisation

Grassroots.

MysterY tour starts here

trffiH!il***Ifr::,

ihe children joined the adults' Amidst the

whispered story-telling and the squabbling

between toddlers, two elders stood and

welcomed Maeve with love and tenderness'

Their welcome was simple and from the

heart. Before welcoming the slumbering

Maeve, all children were welcomed and told

that they were much loved by members of

the Meeting.

They weie thanked for bringing their

unique qualities to the group, and their

oresence, silent or noisY, was

unconditionally affirmed' The cuddles Maeve

ieceiveO at the end of Meeting, from adults

and from childr'en, were as tender and warm

as the earlier words.

This simple ceremony raised questions

for me about baPtism and rituals of

welcome. Why is it important that my

Jaugfrter belongs to a faith communitl4 lt is

imp6rtant to me that Maeve knows she

beiongs to a wider community than her

immeliate family, and that this community

has a common sense of identity as faith

seekers. A ritual to mark this moment is also

important. The Quaker welcome is a

."i"tony which helps that community

express its welcome to a new child while at

the same time allowing the parents the free

space to say'look, this is our child' we want

ll soundings

in spiritualitY

t Hnnvev

you to take an interest in her life and to helP

her explore the mYsterY of faith.'

More than thirtY Years ago I was

welcomed into a worshipping Christian

community, dressed in our family's beautiful

faith which speaks of the relationship

between God and me in ritual and symbol'

It is this relationship, including the mystery

of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus

Christ which fascinates and invigorates me

as an adult, regardless of the particular type

of faith community to which I belong'

No ritual of belonging can ever sum up

this mystery of faith. All we can do, from

whatever tradition we come, is ask

ourselves: 'do we believe in the mystery?'

and 'what rituals help us to express this

mystery?' My wish for Maeve is that she will

No ritual of betonging can ever

sum uP this mystery of faith ' Att

we can do is ask oursetves: 'do we

betieve in the mystery?.'

f'Littoo* christening dress, hat and shawl' in

u ."r"tony with promises and words' with

water and ritual familiar to many' Now'

despite my frustrations with much of what

ry bnur"f is and does, I still feel that I

O"fong, but not to the Church of Scotland' I

was biptised into the universal, catholic

church, a world-wide network of believers'

And I was baptised into the M/mystery of

movement 8

sense the mystery of faith in her life' that

she will know that she is loved

unconditionally by those around her' and

inat sfre will feel free to ask questions which

take her more deeply into that mystery'

Through the simple ceremony of Quaker

worship she was welcomed into the

universal church. ln the mystery, in the

silence she was welcomed by God into life'


Onwards and upwards

ASSAGE.

The last five years are racing to a

sudden conclusion: I am almost

finished with the Student

Christian Movement. I began with a threeyear

contract, and renewed it for another

two years, and now that's coming to an end

We are in the middle of a search for my

replacement, and by the time most of you

read this, that person will be hired, and will

begin work in August. And 1... will be...

hopefully... in anotherjob. I have never

really looked for work. Every job I have had

has been through someone looking for me

to work for them. I fervently hope that the

same will happen this time, because I am

discovering that things are not winding

down to a close; rather, they are building up

to a big bang at the end of my reign as SCM

Canada's Grand Poobah.

Pause. I am oh-so tired. I altered my

entire life to do this work, moving to Toronto

and surrounding myself with a lively and

consuming SCM community. lt has been a

wonderful time, but now, I don't think I know

how to extricate myself from all of this. lt is

never easy to leave the SCM. I know,

because I've done !t before, as a student, at

my last national conference as a student.

It was 1990, and I was walking away

from the only community who had been my

support network for years. I was bitter and

angry, and not ready for the world. I was

pissed off at everything in those days. I

wrote a letter to the SCM national

magazine, expressing my anger at feeling

abandoned. lt ended things with a bad

taste, something I don't want to do this

time. But now, I feel similar feelings

creeping in. How can I possibly find a

community that matches what the SCM has

been? What other group will introduce me

Rrcr GnnnNo

to the world in the same way? What other

group will teach me as much as give me the

opportunity to teach others? Where else will

I find such compassion, commitment and

critique?

Ponder. "So," I tell myself, "you'll get over

it. Stop being such a baby! Take a second to

count your bloody blessingsl" And it's true.

Now that I am being released into the world,

I will need your help to keep me from

moping about my great days with the SCM,

about world travel, conferences, retreats,

exposures, worship, consultations, lectures,

seminars... These are things that were

traumatic at the time, but with this rosy

hindsight starting to fill my vision, I see

nothing but grand opportunities and

treasured memories.

For instance, over the last three years, I

have had a column in Movement magazine,

the finest periodical cataloguing WSCF work

in existence. I have met political and

religious leaders, made incredible friends,

been challenged in everything imaginable,

and tested to the limits of my abilities. I am

leaving feeling sane, a little harder, a litfle

clearer and with a lifetime of experiences to

draw on. l'm the luckiest guy alive.

Promise. So, whom am I kidding? How

can I be part of a global family like this and

walk away? My only real option is to

recommit, maybe not as an SCM general

secretary, but as a damn fine senior friend,

maybe more directly in a career in campus

ministry, or some other kind of ministry that

can draw on the unique gift of the SCM. It's

just the unknown I fear, not that which I've

How can I possibty find a community

that matches what the SCM has been?

How can I be part of a gtobat

famity tike this and watk away?

come to know intimately, this glorious

puzzle, this bunch of Christian misfits who

will not accept the stories they are being

told by the powers that be. I will always

belong to this gang of friends.

But. For now I am done Tying and

Binding. So when you see me on the street

someday (hint: I might not be wearing the

same hat), greet me as a friend, because

we can not afford to lose touch. Not in this

world.

Rick Garland is the outgoing Grand Poobah

(National Co-ordinator) of Canadian SCM.

Now, he writes, 'My plans are to just let the

universe know that I am ready for a new

job and see what it sends me...'

Doing anything interesting this summer?

Have you considered teachins ()ryU 4

ff^f C(

LINGUA FRANCA is looking for students who are fluent in English or another European language, and are willing to help

students in eastern/ central Europe improve their foreign language skills. ln exchange for your time and language

teaching, you get a unique insight into the life, culture and religious traditions of your hosts.

THE COURSES last for 2-3 weeks each during summer (between July and

September) and can be profound learning experience, as well as great fun,

for everyone concerned.

A formal teaching qualification is not necessary. Enthusiasm is a big

advantage.

l;n3ua

f^rr\

c/o WSCF-Europe, Prins Hendriklaan 37

1075 BA Amsterdam, Netherlands.

t: +31.20.20.675.4921

e: li nguaf ranca@xs4all.nl

movement 9


you,ve may have woken up to her voice a few times. She is a protific broadcaster

and writer, and she catts her a cyber-nun. Eartier this year Lavinia Byrne chose to

resign from retigious orders because of conftict with the Vatican over a book she

wrote seven years ago. Here she tatks to John Hughes.

Accldental

hero

n Lrvrrrr Bvnt: (As gHE

now is known) comes across as a

fairly quiet, very sharP and highlY

self-possessed person - much

more obviously the stereotype of a sister or

an academic than a foaming radical. The

loss of the 'sister' from her name was the

result of her courageous decision to resign

her religious orders rather than submit to

the pressure applied to her by the Vatican's

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

(more infamous under its earlier, less

sanitised name of the Holy Office for the

lnquisition!)

She was alreadY well known to many

from her regular radio broadcasts (including

R4's fhought for the Day) and popular

spirituality books. Early this year she briefly

moved onto the front pages and gained a

certain notoriety as a heroine of free-spirits

everywhere; a champion of religious

freedom against the 'wicked forces of

conservative repression'.

Lavinia joined the English order of the

IBVM (lnstitute of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

when she was only seventeen in the 1960s.

and will continue in her current position

at Westcott, able now to continue

writing and broadcasting without

fearfully looking over her shoulder all

the time. She recognises the

connection between academic

education and power, describing the

opportunity to study theology as the

greatest freedom she has ever

known.

She speaks of seeing her new

situation as in continuity with her

past and she will continue to visit

the other members of her

community in London on a regular

basis. "They have been verY

supportive," she tells me,

"recognising that it is a legal

solution to an unsatisfactorY

Woman

situation, rather than an

at the Altar:

emotional breaking awaY."

When I asked her whether the

change would be a big wrench for her, she

replied that the greatest impact she had felt

so far was the 600 letters (only three of

which were anything less than supportive)

"lf they had asked me to sign up to

offering them a

sense of

intimacy. This

has clearly

touched and

little bemused,

"perhaps because I am

not experienced as

particu larly adversarial."

This is certainly true and

is perhaps what makes her case so

interesting in terms of the politics of the

Roman Catholic Church, and poignant at a

personal level: she is not an angry fire-brand

calling for the storming of the Vatican and

the book that caused the stooshie

ffiJ:i;T:H:fl::il:iJil:;?11i.",n",.

the creeds, I'd happity have done so. [T::i];:#TJiff:T;:'J#lie,i'"".1'*"

Todecidethatitisnorongerpossibre But to do what they wanted woutd have

tocontinuethatrireis'then' nosmail

step to take. DesPjte this ttiuiatised my Cathotic faith and heritage,

immediate effects of her

beressdrasticthan*"'ijn,"iffij

Shfinking it tO tWO qUeStiOnS abOUt SeX. t'

For a considerable wh

has not been living in community with

0"1 i.'

she

had received in the previous 10 days, clumsy, authoritarian attempts at control'

the other sisters of n",.

"ri"i

Cambridge (in a house rv which, because of her public service The furore in fact arose concerning

college!) while she hu, "*"";-ot 0"". *olri,ig u" a training with the BBC, she felt obliged to woman at the Altar 'a book that Dr Byrne

lecturer in Westcott House - an Anglican answei individually!

theological college. when I have passed her

previously on the street she has never stood

wrote in 1993' This sensitive and thoughtful

such an overwhelming response may be treatment of matters of women's sexuality

indicative of a widespread sympathy for and in particular the questions of

out as a stereotypicar ,r;:";;;;i;; t";;;; those whose integritv brings them into contraception and the ordination of women

ordinary (indeed rather stylish) clothes conflict with insensitive and legalistic upset a few of the male, celibate priesthood

rather than habit and wimple. she has no authorities, but perhaps also of the power of in Rome ("They're afraid of fertility!" she

prans to reave the norun'bJir.lori" Cr.'rri.r, broadcasting to reach out to the lonely, smiles at one point) who reacted by using

movement 10


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their influence to get US copies of the book

stock-piled and even some burnt!

ln a manner reminiscent of other

prominent Catholic writers in the last twenty

years, she was then put under 'considerable

pressure' from the Congregation for the

Doctrine of the Faith to assent to a

declaration of her allegiance to two papal

documents prohibiting the use of

contraceptives and the ordination of women

(two things which until recently had not

been regarded as de fidei matters for

disciplinary action). She refused to do so: "lf

they had asked me to sign up to the creeds,

I'd happily have done so, but to do what

they wanted would have trivialised my

Catholic faith and heritage, shrinking it all to

two questions about sex."

It would be unfair though to see this

purely in terms of a uniformly hostile male

clergl, as until recently she had had

defenders at the highest level of the English

hierarchy: While he was alive, Cardinal Basil

"l rather admire

Ann Widdecombe

for being so

comptetety hersetf!

She offers a

cou nter-cu [tu raI

image. "

Hume was tremendously supportive. "He

said to me 'lf they start with people like you

Lavinia, they'll soon move on to us!"'she

remembers. Her final decision to leave was

largely concerned with protecting her

religious order from pressure and manipulation,

as the Vatican refused to deal with her

movement 11

rvlaw

dlrectly, communicating only through the

General Superior of her order. "The situation

had stopped being healthy: it made me too

vulnerable to the abuse of power."

W$x,ry;piffi,

Mary Ward (c.1585-1645) who also spoke

up for women's causes ('And it will be seen

in times to come, that women will do

much.") and was eventually imprisoned.

When I pressed for a contemporary figure,

she astonished me by coming out with Ann

Widdecombe! "l don't agree with her

politically" she explains, "But I find her a

real challenge - I rather admire her for being

so completely herself, her abandon. At a

time when fashionable women are stickinsects,

she offers a more counter-cultural

image."

She recalls experiencing a vocation to

priesthood herself three or four times in her

life, mostly during childhood, and notes that

she only realised with sadness that she was

debarred on account of her sex at about the

age of ten. "l certainly don't have any plans

to be ordained at the moment though - they

needn't worry!" she adds with a wry laugh.

"l do have a vocation to write though." And

that is what she is doing, with a book

planned for September, more personal and

autobiographical than anything previously,

called lhe Journey ls My Home. "ll explores

how choices have forced me to keep on

journeying. That's one of the joys of the true

religious life: not being able to sit down and

vegetate."

ls she despairing about the future of the

Church? "Not at all" she insists. "We always

keep on talking, thank Godl I remain

cheerful about the future, especially in the

light of today's news." lt is the day that the

'moderate' Cormac Murphy-O'Connor is

announced as successor to Basil Hume as

Archbishop of Westminster.

Regarding the issues that were the cause

of her controversy she is also optimistic

about the possibility for change. She

explains the traditional doctrine of

'reception': for a new teaching to be

regarded as finally authoritative it must be

received by the sensus fidelium (consensus

of the faithful) and that if this does not

happen an earlier official stance can be

revised. "lf it's God's will, it will happen, and

there's no way it can be stopped."

ls she happy herself? She looks a little

weary, but quite calm and lively: "l have felt

really peaceful for the first time in a while.

I'm so much happier than when it was a

constant struggle." Reflecting upon the

various changing paths her life has taken,

she chooses to end by quoting an old

saying: "'God can write straight with crooked

lines'."

John Hughes is a theology student in

Cambridge and a member of SCM's

General Council.


Iternatlue

ruorlds

Gendered agenda

TYPE lN the words 'women' and 'web' into a

search engine, and you'll be confronted with

a stark illustration of the two polar

presences women have on the web:

interspersed with sites promising FREE

SEXY NAKED PICTURES OF SEXY NAKED

WOMEN one finds a whole range of web

sites dedicated to women's issues. The

man's man's man's world of the web has a

small corner which distinctly belongs to

women, if you only look hard enough.

I started with WorldWoman www.world

woman.net, a Scottish site that promises

'you make the news as well as read it!' This

site is a spin-off from the wildly successful

Scotswoman experiment. ln lnternational

Women's Day in 1995, female staff on fhe

Scotsman produced an edition of the

newspaper that was commissioned, written,

and edited by women; the paper sold out by

8:30 a.m. The site offers a range of news

and political updates of particular concern

for women, including an exposri on the

chemicals in tampons and a brief

discussion of the persecution of women in

Malawi. ln the 'not women' section

(presumably their equivalent to the small

'woman' section in most dailies) there's a

solitary article by a man on a subject I can't

recall. The paper has definite potential -

provided they keep updating the news

stories, and get a broader readership/ writer

base. Worth a look.

A more unusual site is the one run by the

Network of East West Women, www.neww

org. lt claims to link 'women across national

and regional boundaries to share resources,

knowledge, and skills' and also to 'empower

women and girls throughout Eastern and

Central Europe and Russia.' That's a tall

order. lt includes job and fellowship listings

and a calendar of'conferences and events.

Most intriguing is a database of

commentary by women in Kosovo and

Serbia dating from the 1999 NATO bombing

campaign.

As is typical with web searches, I ran into a

few duds - sites no longer maintained or simply

not there. One of them was the Global Community

of Women, which is alas 'no longer

maintained' by one Katrina MoonDance.

Fortunately, the final two sites I found

were excel I ent. At www.igc.o r g/ igc/ gatew ay,

I found a site dedicated to a wide range of

activism. lt lists 'action alerts' - currently

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concerning timber sales in the US and the

preparations for AIDS Watch 2000. More

helpfully, it provides a link to 'womens.net'

that includes interviews with women

activists, and a clip about the 'Virtual March'

on October 17th. Activists around the globe

will show their support for women's rights (l

take it by logging on but I'm not sure how)'

Finally, www.iwhc.org, the site of the

lnternational Women's Health Coalition,

gives enlightening updates on its sexual

health programs in Latin America, Asia, and

Africa, and explains how these projects are

established and maintained.

I'm still an e-sceptic, and not wholly

convinced by the wondrous world wide web,

but I did find out more than I expected in a

short trawl through the ether. Who knows,

maybe I'll be one of those people who goes

on line on October 17th, to virtually march

for women's rights. See You there.

(KATY GORDON)

$

World wide ebb?

STANFORD UNIVERSITY claim the internet

makes us lonely. They recently released a

study showing that the internet causes

social isolation and increases workload; but

does it? Has Stanford missed the point?

Being a geek (and reasonably heavy internet

user) myself I see flaws in their argument.

Amongst their assumptions, they appear

to class the telephone as a superior form of

communication to the lnternet. I agree that

the current text-based chats and e-mail are

pitiful, but so is the telephone. I imagine

when first introduced people claimed it

would replace more traditional forms of

communication such as the letter and

visiting for tea.

The lnternet can provide much richer,

faster communication than anything

previous. Would my mother, for example,

prefer an e-mail every few days to a phone

call once a month? I can spend five minutes

here and there scribbling an e-mail when

there is no hope of me picking up a phone.

The lnternet is richer because I can quickly

and easily make copies of my first baby's

ultrasounds available to all my friends and

family by popping it In my 5Mb of free

webspace. Later we'll add baby's first

footprints, drawings and so on. I could never

have done this over the phone and would

probably never have bothered by post - so

the web has increased the level of family

contact and i nvolvement signif icantly.

They also miss the fact that when 13% of

heavy internet users say they spend less

time attending events outside of the house

that means 87% don't spend any less time

socialising. Also, because this figure is

derived by survey, it is based on what

people think is happening, this is known to

be unreliable. lf we assume that this 13%

do genuinely feel that they do 'get out less',

we have to ask ourselves who this group is'

Based on personal experience I would

imagine this 13% is made up of the circle of

friends around me on my Computer Science

degree and while they are all great people,

'getting out' was never their fort6.

So, Stanford have missed the Point

because the lnternet doesn't replace the

forms of social contact we have now, it

enables more and better ways of sharing

information and experience with groups of

people you could never otherwise have

known.

(ROB STYLES)

Stanford's report can be found at

www.sta nford.ed u,/grou P/siqss/

And coverage from the American press at

www.wash i ngtonpost.com/wpsrv/busi ness

/teed/ a56927-2000feb16.htm a n d

www. usatoday.com/ lit e / cybey'techlcth381

.htm

I

movement 12


,

o

You're pushing the boundaries of Celebrity

Iheologian again, I see...

Not necessarily. Henri Nouwen may be first and

foremost regarded as a Christian writer or

Christian thinker, but he was a proponent of a

theolog that was as radical as it was simple.

Do tell.

Nouwen in 40 books over a 30 year span

encouraged people to embrace their humanity in

all its frailty, and to use that as the basis by which

they engage in ministry with others.

Ho-hum. Been there, done that, have the T-Shirt

Certainly this approach to ministry is now

regarded as old hat, but Nouwen was one ofthe

first, and the finest, proponents of this approach.

When he wrote in his book Ihe Wounded Healerin

1972: "Compassion is born when we discover in

the centre of our own existence not only that God

is God and man is man, but also that our

neighbour is our fellow man." lt was, to use a

clich6, like bringing fresh air into a stale room.

And just how did he get to this point?

Nouwen grew up in the Netherlands and became

ordained as a Catholic priest in the 1950s. He

was interested in pastoral ministry and studied t0

become a Psycholo$st - quite a radical path to

take in an age when the discipline of psychology

was frowned upon ln Church circles. He

developed and taught courses in pastoral

theology that reflected this background. He wrote

two highly regarded texts on the subject in the late

sixties.

Sounds pretg academic.

It was at first. But Nouwen was offered a teaching

position at the Yale Divinity School and

demanded as part of his acceptance that he

would not be required to do any academic writing.

Ihe tone of his work became much more

accessible, more contemplative. Duringthe 10

years at Yale, he wrote some of his finest work.

Someone who wouldn't let a thought go

unpublished then?

Sometimes it seemed that way. Nouwen tended to

write slendervolumes and so he tended to have

books published with a frequency that seemed

sometimes disconcerting. Some of his books are,

admittedly, a bit light in content. But much of his

work uses its pithiness as a strength, and is able

to communicate simple but powerful ideas.

Such as?

Nouwen exhorted people to acknowledge their

loneliness, their frailties and their brokenness.

That only by acknowledging these things can we

best engage with people and find a sense of God.

He also wrote simply and passionately about the

need to live contemplatively, dwelling in the lonely

places thatJesus did, as itwere, to find strength

and hope.

Where did he go from there?

He made an abortive attempt t0 live in Peru

among the poor, but this did not seem to work for

him (although he did write two books on the

subject). ln the mid eighties, he became involved

with Jean Vanier, the founder of L'Arche, an

internati0nal movement of communities where

people with developmental and physical

disabilities and their friends live together. Nouwen

moved into Daybreak, a L'Arche community in

Canada, nearToronto. He lived and worked with

the residents in this community for the next ten

years.

A million miles away from the lvory Tower, then.

Nouwen was hardly cloistered, but L'Arche

affected his work profoundly. His bookAdam,

Gods Belovedlalks about his relationship with

one of the community members, Adam Arnett, a

severely disabled man, and how simply helping

him with his morning routine changed the way he

saw himself and so much of his work. When he

wentto speaking engagements, he always

brought a member of the Daybreak community

with him. He wrote duringthis period, We are not

healers, we are not reconcilers, we are not givers

of life. We are sinful, broken, vulnerable people

who need as much care as anyone we care for.

Died?

Yes he did. He died in 1996 while he was visiting

his native Netherlands. He was buried not far from

the Daybreak community.

ls there a list of recommended reading?

You are keen. His bestworks areTheWounded

Healer: Ministry in Contemporary SocieU 9972),

Outof Solitude (L974),ln Memoriam (abook

about his bereavement over his mother, 1980),

Ihe Road to Daybreak ( 1986), ln The Name of

Jesus (1987)

Any last words?

Nouwen said it best "The mystery of ministry is

that we have been chosen to make our own

limited and very conditional love the gateway for

the unlimited and uncondiUonal love of God.

lherefore ministry must be mutual. And, For a

compassionate (person) nothing human is alien:

no joy and no sorrow, no way of living and no way

of dying."

GRAEME BURK

movement 13

Mea

Culpa

A GUIDE TO THE FACIAL EXPRESSIONS

OF A MOVEMENT EDITOR

(1) The pout

used when

begging for

food (or pay

cheques or

late copy)

(2) The fear

grin displayed

when approaching

an animal

of higher rank

(usually in

Editorial Board

meetings)

(3) Dang it! Another typo

The last issue of

Movement carried

more than its normal

quota of mistakes.

Some gremlin crept

into the t6te-d-t6te

piece so that the

lettering was so huge

on the end credit that

half of it fell off. lt

should have read: "Craig Russell is an artist

involved in the Art and Spirituality Network

and the newly formed United Religion

lnitiative. Matt Bullimore is a theology

student, formerly of Cambridge SCM and

currently studying at Harvard."

However two typos that cannot be

blamed on a gremlin is misspelling of Claire

Horsnell as Clare Horsneer and Ellie

Mensingh, who became Mensigh - and that

is exactly what this man does, very deeply,

whenever he spots a typo. Sometimes he

pulls the expression known as 'editor's

grimace' - shown in picture 3.

There was no excuse except an addled

brain and too many late night editing

sessions. These

were probably the

best mistakes since

the mix up with the

spot colour cover on

M103 when lime

green became

mushy pea green.

Tasty!


;:l&&

":..91

t6te-a-t6te

Dear Nick,

Perhaps the most famous testimony of

the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) is

their historic peace testimony. lt is

characterised by a vision of the world

transformed by the spirit of Christ. The

teachings of Jesus have called us to love

our enemies, turn the other cheek and hold

love up as the greatest power of all.

Quakers Interpret the preaching of Christ as

a call to 'live in the virtue of that life that

takes away the occasion of all wars'.

Furthermore, Quakers extend this logic to

maintain the advice that 'all preparations

for war are inconsistent with the spirit of

Christ' (Advices and Queries No. 31).

Pacifism does not deny the potential

existence of conflict and evil. However, it

does not equate the two as the same. The

principles that recognise evil is not a

straightforward matter and the fact that all

conflicts can be seen as the pursuit of

human needs and objectives that we all

share informs this position. Quakers believe

that there is that of God in everyone, even

those that we polarise and judge to be a

'threat' or 'evil'. Thus, to take any life is a

breach of and an insult to this divine

creation.

More quantifiable is the view that to

resolve conflicts destructively with the use

of violence is not pragmatic. Since Christ,

this view has been informed by Kantian

philosophy. Of Kant's most famous

propositions related to pacifism are the

categorical imperative: 'act so that the

object of your will may be capable of

Even when

threatened by

the spread of eviI

we must resist it

peacefritly.

universalisation' and the moral law: 'treat all

humanity as an end and never as a means'.

This is of course a reiteration of Christ's'

challenge to do unto others as you would

have done to yourself. With this point in

mind, any scale of violence is incapable of

meaningful universalisation and thus

implausible.

War and violence are ihstruments of the

pursuit of objectives. Morally, we are then

obliged to evaluate the nature of these

goals and their acquisition. We then need to

pursue objectives non-destructively in ways

that respect humans as creations of God,

maintaining all life as ends and not means.

Treating human life as a means creates an

unstable world. The only potential exception

to this stand is when the goal itself is

destruction, where one group seeks to

annihilate another, which is used to argue

the case for a Just war'.

,1.t

il

I d"t"L Je'(l''**rri,"-{/,

t.-

Dear Edd and Harry,

The day after your e-mail arrived, I

watched John Pilger's new documentary on

the effect of U.S./U.K./U.N. sanctions and

bombing in lraq. After that I scarcely had

the heart to reply. I certainly don't want to

wave a banner for the military-industrial

complex. Nor do I want to question the

value of pacifist witness against war. During

the Vietnam War, my uncle refused the New

Zealand ballot-draft on grounds of

conscientious objection. ln his position I

hope I would have done the same. During

the second World War, my grandfather

fought with the N.Z. Expeditionary Force in

North Africa and ltaly. Having read his war

diaries, I suspect I would have done the

same.

What I want to argue for here is not so

movement 14

much that war can be just, but that in some

circumstances violent resistance presents

itself as the least evil option. I have no

doubt that Christ commands us to lead

lives of non-violent love, forbearance and

forgiveness. He also asks us to sell all we

have, give it to the poor and follow him. He

teaches that marriage is indissoluble. He

bids us be perfect as our Heavenly Father is

perfect. When God's reign is brought to

completion, perfect is what we will be. I

suspect that perfection will include

communism and pacifism. But, in these inbetween

times, we live in less than perfect

circumstances.

I think it was Churchill who described

democracy as the 'least worse' system of

government. I think that most social,

economic, ecclesiastical and even military

structures fall under the same indictment.

They are more-or-less temporary

arrangements for living with the fact that I

and all other humans are far from perfect.

This certainly doesn't mean that any of

these arrangements should be accepted

complacently. Nor does it mean that we

should give up on the struggle for a more

just and peaceful society. But this side of

death, the struggle is the thing; not the

arriving. When Christians believe that they

have arrived at their goal this side of the

hereafter, it is usually a totalitarian

nightmare or something that only a select

few can practice

N ck t


Ernest Bevin claimed that: "There has never been a war yet which, if the facts had been

put calmly before the ordinary folk, could not have been prevented." But that is not how

things happen. What is the best way to resolve conflict? ls absolute pacifism a practical

position? ls there such a thing as a just war?

Dear Nick,

Arguments for a just war generally

revolve around the need to protect oneself

or another group from the potential threat of

total annihilation. From such a position,

exponents of the just war propose that it

would be less evil to go to war than allow

evil to spread. However, such an occasion

has not occurred historically. Due to the

nature of the Holocaust, the Second World

War has often been referred to as a just

war. But before the escalation of events, the

primary cause of the war was economic. ln

their quest to remain economically

competitive, Germany and Japan sought to

acquire markets by force after the

imposition of sanctions, a process which

witnessed the scapegoating of minorities. ln

both preventing war and responding to it,

our positions need to be informed by the

spirit of Christ, which call us to love one

another even if threatened with annihilation

or the spread of evil..

This does not mean doing nothing.

Pacifism is sometimes rightly or wrongly,

equated with being passive in the face of

violence. The term 'non-violence' however

can be used to imply an active alternative to

violence. Jesus' life is an example of active

non violence. He was presented with the

possibility of ruling supreme over the

kingdoms of the world using the weapons of

this world, those of power and violence. He

refused the temptations of the devil to fight

power with power. He chose instead the

path of love which is also the path of

sacrifice and humble service. Jesus said to

follow him you must deny yourself and take

up your cross. (Mt 10:38 & 16:24). This is

not the selfish road of individualism but a

way of community and love of others, even

enemies. Jesus' crucifixion shows us the

reality of the cost of obedience to God.

When we are given the choice of enacting

God's will, we must deny the temptation to

commit violence and choose God's way, love

and peace, even jf this results in immense

sacrifice.

This has been best displayed in modern

times by Gandhi's stand against the British

Empire in lndia, where he tried to meet

violence and the potential threat of

destruction posed by an invading army not

with passivity or aegression but with active

non violence, non co-operation and at all

times loving one another. Even when

threatened by the spread of evil we must

resist it peacefully for aggression and

violence are evil themselves. When you fight

fire with fire you end up with an even bigger

fire, which then escalates into an inferno.

Such is the nature of any war. Meeting evil

with evil only results in there being more evil

in the world. This is represented by

escalating violence, hatred, mistrust and

military expenditure that accompany war.

God's call to love is perhaps the most

important point of all, God is not of this

world and we are called to obey this higher

law above all others. This higher law calls us

to love, which violence and war turns its

back upon. Through God's grace, we are

offered the opportunity for eternal life in

heaven when we accept God's way. lf we

genuinely believe this, when we refuse to

accept responsibility for our actions, and

permit the killing of fellow children of God,

we also deny them their opportunity for

redemption, a right given and taken away by

God alone.

allies had kept out of the second World War,

He claimed that this would have been the

case even if Hitler had been allowed to kill

all of European Jewry. This of course is an

argument of hindsight.

So is any argument about the economic

causes of the war. lt seems to me that the

second World War was a little bit like a

My grandfather fought in the second

Wortd War. Having read his war diaries

I suspect I would have done the same.

C"t

L ,Je,Un'"zt-

Wint*

Dear Edd and Harry,

The historical criteria for a just war

usually focus on whether war is likely to

result in a less evil outcome than not going

to war. For example, if you expected that

more lives could be saved by violence than

by non-violent resistance, then human life

would be better served by violence. On this

basis, by the way, nuclear war seems to me

absolutely impossible to justify. Some other

criteria for a Just war' are the exhaustion of

all other avenues of resolving the conflict

and the taking of all possible precautions to

avoid death of non-combatants. According

to just-war theory, any person or group

contemplating the use of violence has to

have a reasonable expectation that these

criteria will be met. But no-one's reasonable

guess about the future is infallible. Even if

hindsight suggests that it would have been

better not to have used violence, all this can

tell us is to think more carefully in future.

A.N. Wilson recently argued that fewer

people would have died if Britain and its

house on fire. Normally we wouldn't smash

other people's windows or break down

doors, but in a fire we have to resort to

emergency action. More importantly, it

seems to me that a world in which Jews and

others had been allowed to die for the sake

of a wider peace would have been one in

which human life was treated with

contempt. Warfare doesn't have to involve

the stigmatisation of one's enemies as evil,

though it does involve making judgements

about their actions. At the same time,

warfare this century suggests that we

should be deeply suspicious of the jingoism,

demagoguery, bigotry, propaganda, and

popular-hysteria which pass for political

deliberation in times of national and

international conflict. We should also be

very suspicious of claims that all other

means of resolving a conflict have been

exhausted.

I suspect we'd probably both agree that,

while we have the opportunity, we should

work to ensure that violence is an option

that no-one feels compelled to. This involves

action at an international and national level,

as well as in our own cities and home. Here

Gandhi, the Quakers and Jesus have

everything to teach us.

Ni.t<

Edd Sellman is a Peace Education

Worker and is writing a thesis on

promoting conflict resolution and school

culture. Harry Kingham is a former

member of Aberdeen SCM and a Youth

Drama Worker. They are both Quakers.

Nlck Thompson is a New Zealander doing

a PhD in Church History at the Univeristy

of Glasgow.

movement 15


Section 28: absurd, reactionary and quite possibly here to stay. Tim Woodcock

reflects on recent events and asks...

Where have all

the liberals gone?

]IGE UPOI{ A NTE THI]{G8 WERE

simple. Girls and boys played

mummies and daddies, to

prepare themselves for their roles

in real life. They would pretend not to enjoy

kiss-chase, but soon grew out of it.

Adolescence meant spots and bulges in

unexpected places; snogs and the odd grope

too. But no-one, except the very wildest, had

sex until they were married and that sort

ended up in Paris or New York or some other

hell-hole.

This is all nonsense of course. But it is

the kind of fantasy-world evoked by those

who want to retain Section 28. lt only holds

if you insist that 'natural' is the same as

'normal' (a fallacy to which Christians are

especially prone) and it is the same

conformist instinct that justified kids being

caned for being left-handed, or for saying

'aye' instead of 'yes' in the classroom.

Sex education is always an explosive

subject, but the response to the proposed

repeal of Section 28 has surprised many,

because it seemed so straightforward. lt

refers not only to 'the promotion of

homosexuality' but also to 'the promotion of

homosexuality as a pretended family

Section 28 has

become a

potiticaI hot

potato. ln fact, a

throbbing hot

perverse potato.

relationship'. You hear a sneer in that word

'pretended'. lt is an absurd piece of

legislation, the commentators said, as

irrelevant to modern Britain as the 37p dog

licence that the same 1988 Act of

Parliament abolished.

But the issue of how homosexualitY

should be dealt with in schools has revived

old rifts and spawned headline after

headline. Section 28 has become a political

hot potato. ln fact, a throbbing

legislation - Scotland is forever

telling itself what a liberal, tolerant modern

country it is.

Their new parliament would rid the

statutes of prejudice before Westminster, it

would stride on with its distinct, progressive

agenda. But then there was a backlash, a

polarisation of views, that no-one was

prepared for.

ln January Brian Souter, the owner of

Stagecoach buses, millionaire and member

of an evangelical church in Perth, pledged

t500 000 to 'Keep the Clause' [it is called

Clause 28 north of borderl. Cardinal Winning

also threw in his inflammatory opinions. And

there was a mass mobilisation of grassroots

support, with conservative churches being

instrumental in this. But it should be noted

that the Methodists and the Church of

Scotalnd, not renowned for their radicalism,

movement 16

--t

have

supported repeal

The Daily Record - probably the

most influential and volatile paper in

Scotland - began to campaign against'gay

lessons'. Tabloids have never been too

worried about explaining the subtleties, and

are always happy to find a scapegoat, in this

case Wendy Alexander, the Communities

Minister. The Scottish Executive were of

course happy to let her be identified with the

campaign against Section 28, because it

retains their credibility, at least partially,

when it goes horribly wrong.

With the exception of the Conservatives

(who will use a three-line whip), all the main

parties want to repeal Section 28. On this

issue politicians seem to be more markedly

liberal than the general populace (a parallel

l.


I

il

, .:t !i

'.1

might be capital punishment). lt is a sign of

healthy democracy that people are talking

about this and making their opinions known

- but there's something skewed and

simplistic about the debate and the intense

lobbying.

Calum Smith is an assistant to Roseanna

Cunningham, MSP for Perth. The

constituency office has been deluged with

letters, and a cheer goes up when a prorepeal

letter comes in. He said: "There's no

doubt that most letters that most MSPs are

receiving about Section 28 are opposed to

repeal. The majority of those letters are

written from a Christian perspective. lt may

be helpful in balancingthe debate if more

Christians who support repeal were to put

pen to paper and write their elected

re prese ntatives.

"A lot of MSPs are new to the game of

being elected politicians and will never have

experienced the sort of lobbying which they

are now encountering. I have no doubt that

many of them would welcome support."

Liberals are now on the defensive, having

complacently assumed that repeal would go

through.

Keep the Clause have run a series of

posters across Scotland, which feature a

photo of a parent and a short powerful

quote, such as "This Government doesn't

care what we parents think" or "My son

could be asked to take part in homosexual

role playing in school. That horrifies me."

Their leaflet expands on what this 'horrifying'

role play is: "Michael is 15 and his boyfriend

wants him to have sex. He really wants to

but he is nervous. Michael knows he should

use a condom but doesn't know where to go

for help. What should he do? How do you

feel?" Which, to me, from my liberal ideasloving

non-parenting position seems a very

useful exercise. Even if said son is straight

and never encounters such a situation, not

even with a girl five years down the line, it is

still a good exercise in empathy.

Many pro-gay campaigners have said you

simply can't promote a sexuality. Angela

Mason of Stonewall, looking back to when

the bill was first passed, writes: "Section 28

tal ked about'promoting' homosexuality.

Nobody ever tried to promote homosexuality.

Nobody could. Nobody wants to."

I would debate that point. I remember

being at an event where Peter Tatchell (of

Outrage!) was speaking and I was cornered

by a zealous gay qctivist, who had just

moved up to Glasgow from London. He told

me: "Try it you might like it" and "l like

women... as long as they bring their

boyfriends." He was far less relenting with a

woman in her early thirties, who'd been

widowed about a year before, so should

obviously use the opportunity to 'change

sides'. That tota I ly u n represe ntative exa m ple

shows that homosexuality can be promoted -

and promoted unhelpfully.

Britain is a more liberal society than it

was fifty years ago and, it seems to me, this

was achieved by promoting certain

For some teachers to follow Section 28 would mean doingtheir job badly - dodging issues, re-enforcing

prejudice, perhaps even disguising their personal life. We spoke to four teachers about their experiences -

names have been changed to protect their identity.

Dean MacGuire is an English teacher at a comprehensive school near Manchester and has had to dig

deep to find texts that will interest his students. He said: "There's a dearth of good plays from the twentieth

century - four or five are recommended, but mostly they are stale. At the moment I am doing a play called

Beautiful Thing byJonathan Harvey with my year 11 class. lt is an 'urban fairy tale' and was written in

response to Section 28."

The play depicts two boys who fall in love. lt unclear how old they are, although it implies they are under

16. Beautiful lhing never claims that the boys sleep together, but it cannot be discussed adequately

without referring to homosexuality. "l had second thoughts about doing Beautiful Thing. But the kids loved

it. lt is a very funny play, although I had to be careful about how I introduced it." Mr Dean also said that

although there was some sniggering, it was "the basis for some very good debates".

No teacher would ever take on such a controversial play without an awareness of its difficulties and Mr

MacGuire made a point of clearing it with his Head of Department beforehand. But is teaching such a play

illegal? Should it be so, even with a group of students who are about to leave school - and some of whom

are deemed eligible to marry, join the army ortake a full-time job?

'The subject is more sensitive and wonying than I ever thought. Section 28 assumes that somehow

sexuality can be promoted - which is ridiculous in terms of what most people believe about where sexuality

comes from."

Caroline Aspel n0 longer teaches but has taught English and history and RE, in a variety of settings in

Scotland, including a private girls' school and a progressive school. She describes herself as bisexual

although she was manied for most of her teaching career. Private schools are outside local authority

control, therefore Section 28 does not apply and in this situation, she recalls, discussing homosexuality

was "absolutely not problem and it was really valuable for the kids."

When the Scottish poet Edwin Morgan came out it was in the late 1980s; he was in his sixties and

established as a popular poet in schools. Caroline Aspel remembers the fallout - with some schools taking

his books offtheirshelves. Generally, however, Section 28 has not caused problems for her and was glad

to be teaching subjects that encourage the discussion of identity and morality.

Kate Ratchford teaches sociolo$/ and English literature at a grammar school in the South East, and coordinates

personal and social education in the school. When teaching she always uses lessons as a way to

open issues about'the real world' and she said of Section 28: 'lt's an inelevance really. I don't think there

is a policeman sitting in on classes."

She points to the absurdity of the idea of promoting homosexuality: "You are either gay or you are not

gay. You can't make people gay. You try to explain the issues in a rational way - with a degree of

compassi0n, t0lerance and common sense.'

She sees the current debate as a 'media constructed moral panic" and says that: "Parents trust us

more than the media suppose. lt makes me really angry - you are supposed to do and say everything.'She

recalls being in a personal and social education class and contraception and condoms came up: 'And

someone said 'You can only get AIDS if you are gay'. lt is my job to respond and challenge that."

Chris Wallace is openly gay and is in Glasgow trainingto become a maths and science teacher. "As a

teacher I cannot say to a child that being a homosexual is okay. Ihis would then be a breach of my contract

and could therefore be subject to disciplinary proceedings. However I can refer that child to someone else

even though I think I would more 'qualified'to $ve that pupil advice.

'When I was at school I was taught only heterosexual sex and shown methods of contraception. lt didn't

make me want to go home and try out I have just learned. Why should it be any different for gay sex? Gay

or straight, if people are going to have sex n0thing is going to stop them, but we must educate them on the

consequences if they do.'

0f the delicate pastoral situation, of a pupil coming out to him, he said: "l am restricted as to what I can

say without causing myself problems. As long as the child was not in any danger of'abuse', I would handle

it in a confidential manner and reassure the child they are not a freak!"

Rethinking Section 28 is not ab0ut letting gays and lesbians proselytise for their cause, but about laying

the foundations for a tolerant and diverse society. At present gay issues can be discussed in most schools

- whether head-on in sex education and personal and social education, more obtusely through academic

subjects - but the limits are not clear. What seems to be balanced advice to one person can seem like

propaganda to another.

Section 28, and the recent revival of interest in it, has created a climate 0f fear in which classroom

discussions of relationships and sexuality are nanowed and teachers are inhibited from planning

challenging lessons. All the major teaching unions want to see it repealed. ln the meantime teachers go on

with theirwork teaching, tryingto help children engage with the world around them and become decent

compassionate citizens.

TELL ME THE TRUTH ABOUT

Does section 98 prevent teachers from being good teachers?

We asked four secondary school teachers how S28 effects them

I o.r, movement 17


Stuart Ullathorne reftects on Britain's participation in the arms trade and our

inevitabte complicity in it. what can be done about it?

When prayer

gets p

olltlcal

EOR TE PRAYER I8 AII

important part of everYdaY of mY

life. As this year's co-ordinator of

the Campaign Against Arms Trade

(CAAT) Christian Network Day of Prayer I

have taken the opportunity to reflect on

what exactly my understanding of prayer is'

As an Quaker attender I relate to the

words of Louie Horne, a Quaker, who wrote ,

"Prayer is not an occasional nod given in

passing to God. lt is more like marriage - a

closeness of living , a constant receiving and

giving." To me prayer is a source of strength

which helps me to put into practice God's

will. ln essence this is prayer into action.

My recent work at the CAAT Christian

Network has given me a great insight into

British arms trade which directly and

indirectly employs 130 0OO people and is

worth around lSbn annually. The trade in

death has always been a cause of outrage to

me butthe more I have learned of Britain's

involvement in it as the world's second

biggest arms supplier the more I have felt

the need to act. Companies in Britain are

supplying the hardware of killing to

oppressive regimes, are fuelling wars and

are ensuring moneY best spent on

development in Third World countries is

spent instead on the militarY.

The sheer size of the issue can be

overwhelming when an individual faces it

but I have found great inspiration from the

ideas of Walter Wink and his book lhe

Powers That Be which I find relates to prayer

intg action. I have been further influenced by

,, ad.

peace activist Chris Cole who led a seminar

late last year which related the ideas of

Wink directly to the arms trade.

(to be published in A Matter of Life and

Death Pax Christi, June 2000)

Wink states that as Christians we should

engage with the concept of the powers that

be or the New Testament Powers. To identify

these powers we must understand that

everything has a visible pole which is a

physical form and inner pole which is a

driving spirit. Both exist simultaneously.

There are divine powers and fallen powers.

Divine powers have a vocation for which God

created and this is for the general welfare of

the people and such powers can be

physically represented in, say a Church, and

have this divine presence working at their

centre. However idolatrous powers and

fallen powers only work for their own

interests and not for the general good of the

people and could be represented in a profit

driven and exploitative arms company.

Wink believes that the powers are good,

the powers are fallen and the powers must

be redeemed. He states that nothing is

outside the redemptive care and

transforming love of God. As such to

transform the fallen powers they must be

named, confronted and engaged with by

Christians. Such engagement must follow

Jesus's way and this is the way of nonviolence

and love. This way ultimately led, of

course, to Jesus dying to the powers on the

cross and through his death being liberated

from the enslavement of the powers.

movement 18

r..:'...|i*

r Yes Robin, we're as confused bY the

ethical foreign policy as You are.

As such on the CMT Christian Network

Day of Prayer, June 18th, I feel it is

important that we begin to engage with the

"fallen powers that be" that control the arms

trade in this country. Engagement through

prayer is vital and for me this is seen

especially in Matthew 5: 38-48 which

includes the passage "love your enemies

and pray for your persecutors." For some

this may be as much engagement that they

wish to make but for me it is a beginning of

the process of prayer into action. Such

action can take many forms including the

nonviolent direct action.

On June 18th the focus will be on

praying for those who are involved in the

arms trade and that they consider the

consequences of their business. Conversion

of hearts and minds, and for serious efforts

for conversion of industry towards productive

purposes will also be prayed for. Finally,

prayers for decision-makers in Britain will be

said and for their policies so that they may

be directed towards peace and human

rights, rather than the continuation of war

and repression. The ideas of Wink are not to

imply that those involved are demons, but

that the ethos of the arms trade which they

have embraced is what needs to be

redeemed. Prayers for the victims of the

trade in death are also to be focused on.

The named powers the CAAT DaY of


Prayer will focus on include Sir Richard

Evans the Chair of BAe and the Foreign

Secretary Robin Cook. Each has a key role

in sustaining the arms trade in Britain

whether in business or politics.

Sir Richard Evans as Chair of BAe

Systems has overseen the creation of this

new company through the l6.7bn merger of

British Aerospace and GEC's military

electronic's arm. Having joined the

company in 1969 he has held a number of

senior positions and is now leading the

company that is dominating the trade in

death in Britain. BAe Systems policy of

selling death includes selling Hawk aircraft

to the lndonesian government when they

were involved in carrying out genocide in

East Timor.

Robin Cook the Foreign Secretary

committed the Labour Government to an

ethical foreign policy but has seen these

words come back to haunt him time and

time again as he has allowed the sale of

arms to oppressive regimes.His statement

that since lndonesia is now a democratic

state, that arms can be sold to it, sums up

how much he has greatly compromised any

ethical stance Labour ever had. lts

instability and appaling human rights record

do not seem to concern him.

The Day of Prayer is to me a start of a

process of engagement. A time when those

of faith can join together in union to focus

on the evil of the trade in death. But more

than that it is an opportunity for a large

body of people to realise the potential for

action against a culture of death and to

take strength and courage from the day and

take action to embrace the culture of peace

which is God's will.

Stuart Ullathorne works for Pax Christi in

London and is co-ordinator for Campaign

Against Arms Trade Christian Network's

Day of Prayer.

S Further information on the Day of

Prayer is available from CMT's office at 11

Goodwin Street, London N4 3HQ

V Walter Wink will be in Britain from the

6th-14th of May on a speaking tour that

includes Birmingham and London.

The Campaign Against the Arms Trade is

also involved in an ongoing Clean

lnvestment Campaign. This campaign

aims to lobby companies, organisations

and institutions which hold shares in the

arms trade to disinvest. The next big

protest is to be at the AGM of an arms

company, due to the fact the Church of

England has shares in the company. lt is

hoped the protest on the 26th of May at

the Lancaster Gate Hotel in London will

send the message for the Church of

England to disinvest.

ideas over other ones. lt is not that

homosexuality - or heterosexuality (or a love

of football or dog-walking, for that matter) -

can't be promoted, rather it can't be

enforced on people. No kid is goingto say

"That sounds like a good idea. I'll be gay

then." Sexual orientation is something at the

core of identity and personhood, to be

discovered and understood and not to be

talked into.

The compromise proposal of scrapping

Section 28, but insisting that teachers

"promote marriage as the key building block

of soclety" means something that was

merely prohibitive could become a

compulsion on teachers. Whether marriage

can legitimately be seen this way, and

whether other kinds of stable relationships

should be treated with parity, is another

debate.

The ever elusive 'public opinion' is far

from clear: a NOP poll quoted by Stonewall

says 66% of parents support repeal of

Section 28; a newspaper poll quoted by

Keep the Clause says 640/o of parents want

it to remain. Perhaps we will get a true

figure, because Brian Souter is now offering

to pay for a referendum on the issue...

The way this whole debate has been

framed has been to say the only people's

opinions who matter are parents. How about

askingthe bullied kids, the average curious

and confused school-child, as well as those

who waited until middle age to come out?

According to Stonewall, the Gay Rights

Campaign, L9o/o of lesbian and gay

Londoners aged 15-20 in a survey had tried

to take their own life. 48o/o of gay young

people had experienced violence because of

their sexuality, and 90% had been verbally

abused.

One characteristic common to all these

opinion polls is that homosexuality is

deemed more acceptable the younger you

are (and there is no blip of homophobia

amongst those educated under Section 28).

Attitudes are changing and a more tolerant

society is being created.

It reminds me of a part of Kahlil Gibran's

The Prophet:

"Your children are not children.

They are the sons and the daughters of Life's

longinE for itself .

...You may give them your love but not your

thoughts,

For they have their own thoughts

You house their bodies but nof their souls

For their souls dwell in a place of tomorrow

Which you cannot visit, not even in you dreams."

lf I had as much money as Brian Souter I

would print that up on billboards.

Follow that rabbit!

r\

bubble

Snn q Mru-rN

WARIIilG: THIS GROWII{G

up lark is very much overrated. I

speak to you from the

trARIY

other side, gentle reader. I

am in a place where libraries are no

longer a good place to snooze in but

something you are obliged to pay

council tax for. I write to my MP (or

AM, if you're in Wales) about the

state of the roads. I'm even looking

at houses. I've had to grow up. And

I'm not sure I like it.

For most people, going away to college

is your first move out of home. Coming out

the other end is an entirely different matter

You may have had lots of opportunities to

grow, or you might be roughly the same

person you were at eighteen, with one or

two more letters after your name.

I remember being sixteen, and having a

good friend who was ten years older. I used

to think he was there, that he'd made it,

that he was really an adult. Now I'm that

age myself, the lie is laid bare. Age doesn't

necessarily create maturity. The secrets of

movement 19

adulthood were not revealed to me on my

twenty fifth birthday in a puff of smoke that

came after the candles were blown out.

I'm still the same person inside - a little

bit intimidated when people use long words,

tending towards my extrovert side when the

company is unknown, still not sure about

God.

I'm not altogether sure that that's a bad

thing, though. lf we can pin what we believe

down to a piece of paper, then it is no

lf we can pin what we

believe down to a

piece of paper, then it

is no longer living.

longer living. I believe we were born to

question, to argue, to not be sure.

I prefer the idea of God I once heard Liz

Stuart, the theologian, use. She saw God

not as a constant comforting presence but

as the White Rabbit from Alice in

Wonderland - always around the next corner,

running on ahead. You can always see

enough to follow, but the call is to keep

moving on, keep searching, keep asking

questions.

I don't know about anyone else, but the

child in me really likes that idea.


Ellie Mensingh went to see the National Gatlery's new exhibition Seeing Salvation

which exptores how Christ has been represented in visual art.

Blood from

a stone

SrsNe SRrvRrron:

THr luncr or CHntsr

National Gallery, London

26 March - 7 May 2000

(free enty, nearesttube Charing Cross)

trreflect on the christian

3 WE Et{lEn fflE llil

century, the art world is

giving us an opportunity to

beings. lt also considers how these

paintings were perceived by

audiences at the time and what

purposes these paintings serve. We

tradition and spiritual matters more are made aware thatthe use of visual

generally. Heaven - An tuhibition that images can sometimes deepen our

will BreakYour Heafi, at the Liverpool understanding of complex concepts,

Tate (which I unfortunately was not

such as the Trinity ( I )' in a way that

able to see) invited people to consider words never could. They address

the relationship between religious issues that are part of human life,

experience, art and popular culture. such as suffering, love, sacrifice, loss

The group of60 international artists and hope, makingthem relevantto all

involved, explored the contemporary

'worship' of glamorous celebrities not.

people whetherthey have a faith or

including Madonna and Diana, as well Artists are faced with a major

as the ,biauty cult predominant in problem when pain1ng Christ, namely

western society and the rituals in the Bible says virtually nothing about

which many of us engage, in the hope Christs physical appearance. They

of attaining the perfect body. have, therefore, tended to present him

I did, however, get

:'"f:l#:'f"'- Visual images can

:illiffix,'[ii.:, sometimes deepen

the National Gallery

.;;1ile$p;i' our understanding of

anything for the

iHliTiil',',',[T.. comptex concepts in

;ilfi'il,'J:g'','# a way that words

'demystify' Western

religiousirtforthose nevef COUtd.

who enjoy visiting art

movement 20

galleries but have

iittle knowledge of Christianity. lt is as a thirty year old man would look in

also aimed at Christians who don't their own cultural context. Thus, we

necessarily understand the symbolism are stuck with a white, European

commonly found in this type of art' I image of Christ'

am one such person !

The exhibition reminds us that the

Although most of the pieces on existence of paintings of christ is itself

display are part of the permanent amazing because there was a time

National Gallery collection, the

when many cultures feared producing

exhibition has been imaginatively images of God. They were afraid of

divided into various themes whicS breaking the second commandment -

somehow makes the art mgre making false idols. For this reason,

accessible and inspiring. artists used symbolsto represent

The information provided enables christ, symbols often based on Bible

even the most ignorant visitor to

explore the way in which certain

images 0f Christ have come to be

established. lt discusses the

passages describing Christ as a

shepherd, lamb, vine or light of the

world. A striking and somewhat

disturbing example is Francisco de

difficulties artists have gone through Zurbaran's The Bound Lamb'This

in attempting to portray Christ and his image obviously refers to Christ's selfrelationshipio

God and to human sacrifice, powerlessness and


vulnerability at the time of his death. lt

is also an image associated with the

regular sacrificial offerings to God of

unblemished lambs in the Old

Testament.

The dual nature of God, both

human and divine, is an important

theme in the exhibition. Artists have

sought in various ways to express this

paradox. A lot of the paintings 0n this

subject contain images which speak

of both his birth and his death and

resurrection in one piece ofwork. Ihe

Virgin with the Dead Christ (The Pieta -

Italian for pity or mercy) does exactly

this by showing Mary holdingJesus'

corpse in a posture typically

associated with Christ's birth - the

nativity scene. This sculpture has no

scriptural basis but is an imaginary

scene that could have taken place

afterJesus had been taken down from

the cross and before his body was

placed in the tomb.

The sculpture reminds us of Mary's

significance in the Passion - her

willingness to give up her son so that

the world might be saved through him.

It encourages us to share in the grief

and personal suffering she went

through at this time.

During the Medieval period artists

became more interested in expressing

Christ's weakness and vulnerability in

the Passion, ratherthan his power.

Christ on the Cold Stone, another

disturbing image, is a sculpture which

compels us to respond with

compassion and pity for Christ, seen

here as sonowful, suffering, defeated

and abandoned. This scene is not

described in the Gospels, but again

the artist has imagined that on his

way to the cross, Jesus withdraws

briefly from the crowds. He has been

drained of all energy and hope, so he

just sits in despair. His vulnerability is

emphasised by the fact that he is

naked apartfrom the crown ofthorns.

Another section of the exhibition

devotes itself to the resurrection.

Jesus's body in these paintings either

has obvious wounds from the

crucifixion (quite graphic at times) or

is a very pale shade of white to

indicate thatthe body is in a

Francisco de Zurbaran's The Bound Christ

< Chrlst on the Cold Stone, unknown Dutch artist

transformed state. The collection also

contains some more modern images

of Christ, such as the well-known Dali

piece.

I would seriously recommend that

you go and see this exhibition if you

have the chance. Whether the styles

of art appeal to you or not, you are

guaranteed to learn a lot about the

i1.iffi

development of the Christian religion

in the West, as well as being provoked

to reflect on your own ideas about

Christ.

Ellie Mensingh is SCM's Groups

Worker.

Martin Davies has a good time listening to Moby's latest offering

Play's the thing

Puv

Moby (Mute)

tr*tr*trfuri

the music. Try and imagine Liam

Gallagher getting his feather-cut

round this little mouthful from one of

Moby's micro-essays:

"Trying to understand the world

can be fun and, attimes, helpful. But

ifwe base our beliefsystems on the

humble assumption that the complexities

of the world are ontologically

beyond our understanding, then

maybe our belief systems will make

morg sense and end up causing less

suffering."

Musicians are rarely encumbered

by fluency when speiking on spiritual

matters and usually fall into two

unappealing camps: Aquarian

psycho-babble indulgence (see

Morissette, Madonna, O'Connor) or

toe-curling Christian literalism (see

Van Morrison, Dylan, Cliff). Most

musicians have the good sense,

decency and all-round inarticulacy

not to bother God at all. Moby is a

rarity - as explorative and creative

spiritually as he is musically.

"Fundamentalism (of any kind)

troubles me. The world is too big and

"',''il,+*iffig;, S

too intricate to conform to our ideas

of what it should be like."

At the heart of Moby's beliefs and

songs is an intense openness to new

ideas and forms. The music and the

ideas interplay with a natural, often

mischievous, ease. There is a feeling of

childlike exploration, tinkering,

messing. The title is a metaphor just

waitingto happen. The artistas a

playful child; the studio as playground;

instruments as shiny new playthings;

guest singers as jubilant playmates.

And what part does the listener

play in all this? Well, all we have to do

is press the right button: play.

The music itself is anarchic and

intense: hypnotic ambient loops,

folksy guitar twiddling, bluesy-trance,

techno-thrash. lt's an invigorating 18-

track ride and, atthe heart ofthe

album, is a clear, sustained note of

confidence and optimism - felt most

acutely on tracks like'Everloving, 'The

Sky is Broken', 'Natural Blues'and

'Why Does My Heart Feel so Bad?' lf

you're looking for comparisons, think

of Matt Johnson without the acridity or

Massive Attack gone vegan.

It's no surprise that record shops

find Moby hard to label but - as

another difficult{o-define artist once

put it - the play's the thing.

Martin Davies was the editor of

Movementlrom 1995-97.

movement 91


*tT,.ffi

Two recent btockbusters exptored the theme of wasted passion - one against the

backdrop of war, the other against mind-numbing suburbia. David Anderson gets

under the skin of American Beauty and The End of the Affair.

L fe

O

I before

eath

Auenrcnru Bmurv

directed by Sam Mendes

tri'.ffiftf#.

So Kevin Spacey's character, Lester

Burnham, says in a voice-over at the

start of America n Beauty. Spacey is

playing an ordinary guy for a change,

and he'sverygood at it. Thatsaid, he

is playing an ordinary guy with a

dysfunctional family, a boring

repressivejob, and a crush on his

teenage daughte/s bestfriend. And

as he says, he's goingto die. The film

is on one level a detective story: how

is Lester Burnham going to die, and

will one ofthe other characters kill

him? 0n other levels, the film is a

satire upon family values, a comedy

whose outward cynicism disguises a

genuine idealism, and a serious

meditation upon love, life and death.

Almost everyone in the film is

pretending to be something that they

are not. Lester hasn't made

emotional contact with either his wife

or his daughter for a long time. His

wife, Carolyn, (played superbly by

Annette Bening) is an estate agent

who tries t0 appear the perfect career

woman ('the wayto be successful is

always to project an image of

success') to cover her increasing

insecurity. Their daughter, Jane, has

lost contact with both her parents.

Lester is embarrassing, with his crush

on herfriend, and Carolyn only uses

her daughter to express her own

frustrations.

The family who moves in next-door

at the start of the film is even more

dysfunctional, and equally afraid to

admit it. The father, Colonel Fitz, is a

violent authoritarian, who beats his

son. His wife has hardly any selfassertion

left. His son Ricky is atfirst

sighta deranged voyeur. Colonel Fitz

is also extremely wonied about his

son's sexuality, which should tell

anyone with a little knowledge of pop

psychology something about Col0nel

Fiu.

The only characters that seem to

have the ideal American relationship

are the Burnham's other neighbours,

a homosexual couple,.lim and Jim.

They are friendly, happy and, as far as

we can tell, squeaky-clean. They are

also pretty much ciphers ratherthan

characters. This may actually

undercut the film's satire on

conventional family values. Another

problem here is that the women seem

to exist chiefly in relation to the men.

Carolyn Burnham, who has her own

career and earns more than her

husband, is selfish, narcissistic, and

hiding a deep-seated lack of selfconfidence.

She cares more about

the covering on her sofa than about

reviving her sexual relations with her

husband, so one can tell she's a

superficial person. American Beauty

is a little like a well-meaning liberal

whose underlying attitudes are

actually conservative.

Lester Burnham finds a secular

,'fl:ffi?.X';:lfi?ilflfi Carotyn cares more about the

ilildJ$,'f,fi{itr' covering on her sofa than reviving

supporttheirimages. The

^

sarvationthatherindsi, >€XUdI retations with her husband,

il",?illi'#;::Jli,ry so one can tett she's superficiat

banal and the destructive

parts0fit,asbeautiful' . Thecharacterwhoexpressesthis beautythathesees. ofallthe

This reminds me of the doctrineof uuii.itrr*tn.ir is beauiy even in the characters in the film, he is the one

some theologians that eternal.life it

roti runoine or oistu rbing facts of best able to distinguish between

not infinitely prolonged life but.a form ritrlr nirrv iiu. Rttnougn nlcny is

reality and the image: he acts the part

of aesthetic satisfaction in seeing

initiurr]/ fu'pirt.o as a voyeur wiro films of an all-American ichoolboy for his

one's life as a whole. I don't believe ni, .r,ghOir" .n a hand_held video tyrannical father while running a

that myself, but the film

camera, it tu rns out that he does so business dealing drugs (to Lester,

convincingly embody the idea that this n.J ri. .i t'ii oesire to record the among others). bn. of the .entral

could indeed be one answer t0 death.

movement 99


inrages of the film comes when Ricky

shows Jane Burnham his filnr of a

discarded plastic bag being blown in

the wind: a film that he describes as

being so beautiful that he felt like his

heart would burst. This could easily

have fallen flat. However,

ntarvellously, the filnr does convince

us that this plastic bag is truly

beautiful. lt manages to do so chiefly

because the director shows us that he

really can find beauty in the ordinary.

Many of the scenes are contPosed

with the sort of simplicity that it seems

anybody who tried ought to be able to

achieve; the sort of simplicity that

characterises the highest art.

ln addition, the filnr does question

its own message. ls the ability to find

beauty even in death not nrorbid?

Ricky's character never ceases to

seem slightly deranged, and even

Lester's rejection of conventional

values is occasionally abusive.

Despite nry reservations about the

film's sexual politics, this is a truly

great film: warm, funny, thoughtprovoking

and often achieving

sublimity. And you will never look at

discarded plastic bags in the same

way again.

TxE Eruo oF THE AFFATR

directed by Neil Jordan

tr$*i.,','lm'*

(which I haven't read) set in World War

ll. A woman pronrises God that she

will give up her lover if God saves his

life in the Blitz. The three principal

characters, Sarah, played by Julianne

Moore, her husband, played by

Stephen Rea, and her lover, the

novelist Maurice Bendrix, played by

Ralph Fiennes, are all very well acted.

The film starts out well, as Bendrix

hires a detective to discover whether

Sarah is having an affair with

somebody else, and discovers why

Sarah ended the affair two years

before. However, to my mind the filnr

falls flat in the second half, as it alters

the book in a rewrite which almost

rivals the version of King Lear with the

happy ending.

ln the film, Bendnx learns the truth

by reading Sarah's diary, and

confronts her. They then resume their

affair before they discover that Sarah

is dying. Modern film seems to have

no language to express the idea that

two people love each other except

through the vigour of their sex scenes.

(American Beauty is an exception). ln

addition, there seems to be a secular

discomfort with the idea that

sympathetic people could ever act

because they believed in God. The

effect of this on the film is to reduce

God from an Old Testament figure,

disturbing and possibly amoral, who is

in serious competition with worldly

love, to a figure who can be

comfortably contained within purely

religious categories. This removes

some of the film's earlier ironies

against secularisnr. For exanrple, the

private detective interprets all of

Sarah's relations as almost certainly

leading to 'intimacies.' But it also

makes the religious elements less

morally ambiguous. For example,

Bendrix' jealousy of God seem more

petty ifSarah has not given hinr up for

God.

The first half of the film is based

upon Greene's pre-Vatican ll

Catholicism. Like American Beauty,

the filnr nrakes it plain how ideas of

salvation can be nrarginal in relation

to our ideas of sanity, how they can

break in and disturb our lives. But the

filnr as a whole, after starting to raise

questions, decides hastily to bury

them again.

David Anderson is doing a PhD in

English Literature at the University of

Sussex.

History reveals itself

CrLrgRRnlc THE CHRtsrRru CrmrRtrs

by Andrew D. Mayes (SPCK)

T0 BE HoNEST I wanted to read this

book wearing my (mEtaphorical)

historian's hat and criticise. From

that point of view I was disappointed,

but I ended up reading a really great

book and finding an excellent prayer

resource. So lwasn'ttoo miffed!

Andrew Mayes is a Christian with

vast experience of Christian traditions

- and other religions, and this is very

evident throughout the bo0k, alth0ugh

he seems to marry the various styles

very well. He focuses on one Christian

figure from each century (most of

them fairly well known).

He sets the main events ofthe

century in context exceptionally well

(the historian speaks...), but concisely

and with enough interestforany

reader. He then goes on to give a

short biography ofthe person,

followed by an extract from their

writings. Some of the pieces are very

moving, others thought provoking,

and all seem to make you want to

read further from their works (whether

or not you'll ever get round to it).

He gives suggestions for further

reading at the end of each chapter. I

was particularly touched by the reworking

ofthe Love hymn ofSt. Paul

( lCor: 13) by Clement of Rome.

" Love binds us fast to God. Love

casts a veil over sins innumerable.

There are no limits to love's

endurance, no end to its patience"

It was so refreshing to read what is

a very beautiful theme for a passage

from another pen. This book is full of

good thingsl

All of this is very interesting for the

lone reader, but Mayes offers more.

Each extract is followed by up to a

dozen questions on the themes

mentioned, aimed at a discussion

group. After this are two or three

imaginative suggestions for group or

individual prayer. "Hold a hazelnut in

your hand and reflect on its beauty

and fragility. Think about your life;

precious in God's hands, and give

thanks" ' 14th Century, Julian of

Norwich.

Although I haven't yet used it in my

prayer group, I intend to do so.

The book gives you the chance to

look at inspiring Christian literature

complimentary to the Bible in a user

friendly format.

I tried very hard to find fault with

this book, but in the end found it

fascinating in its narrative and useful

in all kinds of ways as a prayer

resource. And in case anyone else is

as taken with it as me, I'm not risking

lending out my copy.

Alison Gilhespie works for the

Catholic Student Council and and is a

history graduate from York University.

movement 23


-l

Tim Nicholls takes a look at Richard Hotloway's most recent book: an attempt to

take God out of ethics. He discovers it's the right message for the wrong audience.

Moral mtnonty

o

o

Goouss Monnlrv -

Krrptruc Rructolt our or Erutcs

by Richard Holloway

(Canongate)

tcHARD HottomY's

book makes an admirable

attempt to remove religious

absolutism from debates

about ethics, and in particular the

tedious and often immature

assertions that a concept must be

right "because God has said so "or "it

is in the Bible". As a result he also

shows the worrying prospect of

continued isolation and alienation

between the Church and secular

society.

The'controversial' aspects naturally

lie in areas where Holloway is talking

common sense - suggesting that

homosexuality is not necessarily evil;

that an absolutist approach to

abortion is not especially constructive;

that masturbation and sex in general

need not be viewed as sinful and there

to be monitored by the Church with

fear and apprehension.

The radicalism and controversy

almost certainly lie in Holloway's

standing within the Church as the

Bishop of Edinburgh. Don Cupitt

states in his review on the back cover:

"Godless Morality is a brave and

necessary book, and all the more

remarkable as coming from a Bishop."

To have a Bishop take such an

enlightened view, little caring about

the conservative back-lash especially

in these post-Lambeth days, is indeed

remarkable. lt is all the more

incredible when one considers the

cllmate within the Church and press,

which appears to advocate a

marginalisation of Liberal and radical

theology, instead of advocating 0pen

dialogue and debate.

The issues that Richard Holloway

addresses in the book, lie with the

issues that our Millennial/ post-

Millennial society is endeavouring to

engage with, namely: homosexuality,

abortion, euthanasia, drugs and

issues surrounding genetics. Holloway

advocates that we try to

work out our ethics in

relation to the situation

we find ourselves in

rather than returning

solely to a literalistic

reading of the Bible

for our ethical

guidance. We

should prepare

ourselves to

enter into daily

living with an

open, tolerant,

n0njudgmental

mind. 0nly

through

doing so

can we

offer a

mature,

n r,- .

M

,-r a.- -

G

responsible 0utlook to the ethical

conundrums we find ourselves in.

Consequently Chrlstian teaching 0ught

to become more willing to engage in a

dialogue with secular society.

The motives behind the book to an

extent remain unclear. Like all

theologians Holloway naturally seeks

to provoke a response, especially from

those within the Church whom he

does not agree with. He appears

through his provocative and

entertaining style to be trying to

challenge the Church into greater

openness and tolerance.

0n the surface, Holloway's book is

worthy of a read. The style is clear and

engaging, and there is little of his

ideas within to shock the intelligent

Christian reader. Yetthis is my primary

concern with the book. lt does little

more than say what liberal and radical

Christians have been sayingfor

a number of years

Ra

.i,(D

lJ()!

I (j tl..\.

A love-centred

approach woutd have

offered a greater opportunity for

reftection by att readers, Christian,

agnostic or atheist.

movement 24

Irsc

!rrv

n0w

namely

that

religious

absolutism is

not a healthy

or constructive

way of engaging

in ethical

dialogue. ln this

respect he does

not appear to be

advancing the

ethical debate at

all.

ln addition, the

ethical debate atthe moment is far

more centred upon concerns over

globalisation, and international

affairs, through the likes of 0liver

O'Donovan and Hans KUng. Nothing of

this is mentioned in Holloway's book

which I found disappointing.

The title of the book leads one to

believe that there is to be a genuine

attempt to develop an ethical formula

without God. Holloway recognises the

difficulty of trying to do so and

consequently God is a critical aspect

of his ethlcal formula.

"lf we reject the role of God as a

micro manager of human morality,

dictating specific systems that

constantly wear out and leave us with

theological problems when we want to

abandon them, we shall have to

develop a more dynamic

understanding of God as one who

accompanies creation in its evolving

story like a pianist in a silent movle."

There is not actually a successful

rejection of absolutes either. The

ethical basis of the book appears to

lie in the concept 0f 'First do no harm'.

This appears to be a highly undynamic

ethical stance to adopt.

Homosexuality and most sexual

experiences are thus justified by

Holloway as a result of this position.

What would have been interesting

is if Holloway had based his ethic

more on a love-centred approach.

Homosexuality, and a more mature

understanding of the drugs debate

could still have been justified, but

within a more fluid, active approach to

Ethics than the "do no harm"

principle. An ethical formula based

upon a love that provokes and inspires

justice could have offered a greater

opportunity for reflection by all

readers, Christian, agnostic 0r atheist.

God/ess Morality appeats to be not

much more than a book that would

challenge all readers that Holloway is

in opposition to, if only they would

read it. Yet they are precisely the ones

who will not read such books because

of a lack of desire to have their beliefs

challenged. The book is almost

certainly set to become a standard

textforall Liberal and Radical readers.

However, I would suggest that it will

do no more than confirm to such

groups why they hold their particular

opinions, it will not seriously challenge

any Christian with a developed

theology. Godless Morality exemplifies

the diff iculty of writing any liberal,

radical theology. Those who ought to

read it will not, and those who do not

need to, will.

Tim Nicholls is a member of Leeds

University Christian Focus and a final

year student of TheologY and

Religious Studies.


.,Ml --':aliifl[ltl

* EASY DOES IT

It was a real pleasure

to find Ladybird's ,A

First Book of Saints,.

A slim hardback

costing 15p, which

deals briskly with

St George, Andrew,

David and

Patrick, who

were all good

men. Except

Patrick who

was a nasty

piece of work

who drove me

and my family

0ut of lreland

accusing us of

being bogus

asylum seekers. St

Christopher was good

man because he was tall

and gave people

piggybacks. About St

Francis of Assissi, the

Doctor of Doolittle of

Christendom, it says:

"one story about

Francis tells how

he met boy

carrying a

basket of

wild

I

doves to

sell in the

market." And it

goes on: "Francistold him about

music festival where he would get a

better price for the wild doves." Saint

Margaret of Scotland, was a prissy

princess, but became a saint on the

virtue of the fact she didn't cut

anyone's head off. And then the

Ladybird treasury reaches a finale

with Jeanne D'Arc, that saint-witchmystic-militarist,

a complex tale

squeezed into three pages of large

print text. We learn that "one day

when Joan was alone in herfathe/s

field, she heard a heavenly voice

telling that she had been chosen to do

brave deeds." She denies it had

anything to do with the pills St Francis

gave her. But she pursued her vision

and headed up the French army and

won many battles. This being a British

publication, and the reader already

being a bit confused about how you

become a saint, itfailsto mention

exactly whose arses she whipped.

"Much later on, Joan was captured

and put to death by those who refused

t0 believe that the voice had come to

J

* WEB OF

DECEPTION

herfrom God. Butall

over the world she is

now known as Saint

Joan of Arc."

The staid Gleneagles golf club,

having decided to get itself a

swish web-site with live footage

ofthe 18th hole, came up

against a big problem. All

)

it would show was a

hazy blur, as ifthe

camera was flat on its

in back in the 19th. The

techies scratched their

heads and checked the software. Then

someone went out to investigating and

found that a spider had made its web

across the lens.

* WEB OF PERCEPTION

Space exploration isjust not as

glamorous as it once was, is it? What

do NASA do having set to fire to billions

to humiliate the Ruskies in the space

race and gained their Fool's Gold

medal? Well they investigate spiders.

And how they use space. And how they

respond to certain stimulants. Please

refer to the diagram below.

(1) A normal spider spins a

conventional web. (2) A spider given a

bit of marijuana chills out and tries to

get a new sense perspective on

things. (3) Shows a pitiable web, "a

haphazard affair" according to NASA,

as likely to provide an appetising meal

as those packets of powdered stuff

that astronauts live off. And what had

our eight-legged friend been given?

Caffeine.

* UNNATURAL CAUSES

Forthose people who are

wedded to the concept of 2.4-

kids-a-Ford-Mondeo-and-bankholidays-spent-doing-DlY

on

the basis that any other lifestyle

is'unnatural', mightwe kindly

offer a list of more worthwhile

'unnatural' things to campaign

against. Things are just plain wrong:

scratch and sniff websites, football

matches that kick off at 1lam,

William Hague, Spice Girls pursuing

solo careers. And then there's

butterscotch polos (as Voltaire

said, they are like the Holy Roman

Empire: neither butter, nor scotch,

nor polos) and Britney Spears

(surely, the musical equivalentto

raising veal: young, expensive, totally

in the dark).

* NO HAWKERS PLEASE

Tony Hawks - who are you? Does

anyone else remember

Monis Minor and Majors'

novelty hit Stutter

Rap? Quite good so

far as novelty

songs go, but the

single joke is

In the

title.

Then he

had as

stint as

troubadour,

traversing all the light

entertainment quizes

from Radio Fourto BBC2,

filled in with the odd turn as a

stand-up comic. And now he has

metamorphosed once more: into a

novelty travel writer.

The premis is this: a 'spontaneous'bet

goes wrong and ourTone goes Round

lreland With A Fridge.ll's amusing

stuff as he charms his way across

lreland encountering rent-a-quote

local'characters', while chuckling to

himself, '0h, this really is the last time

I hitchhike round the Emerald lsle with

white goods!'.

As Michael 'the nice Python' Palin

could tell you travel-journalism-with-atwist

has a limited life: you start off

gloriously, whizing Round the World in

80 Days and trudging Pole to Pole, but

soon you're visiting places where

Hemingway quite liked with that pesky

BBC crew who won't leave me alone.

It's the kind of career trajectory that

would find Kerouac writing the Rough

Guide tojaz Caf6s.

But back to the Mr Hawks and his

utterly contrived restrictions. Having

dismissed the obvious follow ups

Route 66 by Rollerskate, and the

rather more leisurely Round Cuba with

a loaster, Tony Hawks settled on

Beatintthe Moldovans at lennis. Due

to a 'spontaneous' bet he decides to

prove he could beat the whole

Moldovan football team at tennis -

tsk.. Men once they get bragging - but

first he has to track them down and

persuade them to co-operate. 0r

otherwise he has to stand naked on

the Balham High Road singingthe

Moldovan national anthem.

So be warned if are supping your pint

and are approached by a strange man

saying, "l bet you don't think I could

joust my way through Chile in a C5 do

you?", he might only want to put t10

on it, but you can be sure there's a

commission in there somewhere.

* OPPORTUNITY KNOCKED

Compared to all the palaver when the

Star Wars prequel came out at the

cinema, the video release on April 3rd

was very understated. lfthey'd

postponed it for a month and a day and

they would've had the best marketing

line: May the Fourth be with you I

* YOGIC YOBS

Loaded is the publication that brought

the bottom shelf and top shelf closer

together in the mid-90s and reinvented

the men's magazine market, almost

single-handed. ln fact knowing Loaded

readers it probably was single-handed.

Well, bizanely enough, a recent issue

carried a 16-page feature on 'The

Meaning of Life'with a yogic slren

with bejewelled nipples on the

front. And actually it was rather

good. A reporter and

photographer were

packed offto Nepal

o

observations:

o

and Tibet and

Jerusalem to literally

'get reli gion'. Amon gst

the flippancy and flatulence

there are some astute

"l've

o

a

always wanted to go

Jerusalem because

its so beautifully

fucked up. lf any one

city stands as an

example of the

achievements of

religion, it's this one.

Never in the history has one piece of

land been so fought over, shot up,

burned down and rebuilt." And: "You

can't bust a monk for skiving because

he can always use the 'l'm

contemplating' excuse.

movement 25


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