Movement 101

movementmagazine

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Aftet"iJ-beth

What Happened? What Next?

with Bishop Richard Holloway

February 6 t999, University of Derby

An opportunity to hear from a variety ofkey people who were at the Lambeth Conference, including bishops,

and to work tosether to help thean?llTi.fffil;l#"jJffi:Hrience of lesbian and gav people.

Retreat Holiday on Iona

t0-17 July

Facilitator: Kathy Galloway

Share a week on this glorious pilgrimage island off Scotland's

coast with LGCM members.

E23o + limited no. ofconcessionary places f,90 available to srudents

(costs all inclusive on site) E50 deposit secures place.

23rd Annual Conference

Friday 9 April 6.00 Reception/ workshops/ Entertainment

Saturday 10 April 2.00 Keynote Address: Kathy Galloway

St Albans Centre, Baldwin, London

Sunday 11 April Worship - time/ venue to be announced

Pride Service

Sunday 4 July 3.00 Hinde Street Methodist Church, London

Booking forms md further info about all events, plus membership and mail order details from:

LGCM, Oxford House, Derbyshire St, London, E2 6HG

tel and fax 0171 739 1249 Email lgcm@aol.com www http://members.aol.comilgcm

HELPLINE 0171739 8134 Wed and Sun 7-110pm

Registered Charity No.1048842 LGCM is a non profit company Limited by guilmtee registered in Englild and Wales No' 3092197

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issues of theoloEy, politics'

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Send a cheque (payable to SCM) to: Movement subscriptions, c/o

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Martin Carr wonders if the church wit[ ever be abte to embrace radicat thinking

nwar san

backwards?

E**$*-'

of Bishop John Shelby

Spong, the radical

American Episcopal bishop

yet

- this year's Anglican

conference at Lambeth

clearly revealed that the

bishops as a whole are not

behind such a radical message.

lf we want to

rephrase the above into

'The Church must change

or die'then the message of

Lambeth counters with

stress on continuity, the

traditions of the past handed

down through the ages,

the texts and interpretations

of biblical scripture as

revealed to the Church for ,s there hope for an institution frozen in time in a fast movinq society?

all ages. Two visions, and

of touch with mainstream society, a bastion

we may be tempted to say two

of ultra-conservative thought, institutionalised

insanity? Or perhaps the refuge of

Christianities.

Can the Church survive the conflicting

sentimentality, comforting with carols at

pressure of its continued embattlement?

Christmas, feeding us a diet of coffee

Do we want it to? Might we be better off liberating

the Christian gospel from the repres-

mornings and f6tes? ls the Church but a

living fossil?

sive clutches of an outdated institution, or

might we rather follow a vision of the

Church to take it into the 21st century with

new meaning and purpose?

Let's start with the Church. Okay, groMh

in Africa and other parts of the third world

look promising

-

but if we are honest, the

situation in many parts of Western Europe

is pretty bleak. Even with the Church of England's

new counting methods, it is likely to

reveal only somewhere in the region of 1.5

million people att6nding church each Sunday,

and smaller numbers for other denominations.

Fewer than 6 million are regularly

practising in a country of almost 60 million.

Perhaps more worrying for the churches is

that the youth of today are born into a culture

where they are unlikely to be taught

much past the basics of the Christian faith,

and the public image of the Church has

never been worse.

I have painted a bleak picture but such

extreme warnings aid us in constructing a

vision for the future. And what is the worst

that can happen? A Church increasingly out

I eue$ E's HEnE wE IEED ro

start with spirituality. This rather ephemeral

term is blurted out endlessly in our postmodern

world, but what does it mean? Are

we being spiritual if we read a horoscope?

Are crystals spiritual? Might spirituality be

reserved for 'real' Christians? 'Getting real'

with spirituality starts with a serious consideration

of what it might be. I don't personally

find much spiritual in palmistry or tarot

(though I know some would disagree) but I

believe the spiritual is rather the realm of

human experience which goes beyond the

realm of everyday existence into that part of

our experience where our usual frames of

reference break down. lf we experience a

personal reality in that experience, we may

wish to give it the label 'God'. Most people

believe in God, in some way, but pinning

him/her/il down has proved elusive. lndeed

in our multi-faith and post-modern culture,

there are more 'Gods'than ever before.

Which one is true? ls one true? Are they all

true?!

movement 1

And now I hope the argument

can come full circle

and bring us back to the

Church, and why we might

just have some use for it

after all. Perhaps the Church

is right after all (yes, I admit

it) to wish to maintain the

heritage which it has carried

through 2000 years ofthe

growth of our faith. lt would

be religious suicide to eject

the wisdom ofthese centuries

and plunge into a purely

experiential, personal and

uncharted spiritual voyage.

Just as foolish, however,

would be to stagnate as life

flows past at an increasing

pace.

The Church can be the

crucible in which the past

and present are refined to

fashion a faith for the future.

The radical Christian agenda must be an

agenda for the Church, for Christianity without

the Church is nonsense. This community

and communion between individuals is

the core of the gospel that bears us in

mutuality and love, and is the framework in

which our spiritual life can develop and be

understood. Yet from that spiritual life the

Church must be challenged to change and

find new expression. Living with conflict

which is expressive and creative is the only

way in which renewal can come. The voices

of those already inside, and those on the

outside, must be given chance to be heard.

Only then can the Church be for all people,

for young and old, black and white, rich and

poor, man and woman. ls there room in the

Church for all these agendas? Jesus says,

'My Father's house has many mansions'. lf

God has room, the Church can have that

room also. The radical voice of young

Christians must be to the Church, not

speaking past it. We share the same God,

the same faith, we need only fight for that

share of our inheritance which is already

ours by right. -rtq-

Martin Carr is a final year student at Corpus

Christi, Oxford and is involved in the

Koinonia group there.


ffisvcnGFt

Iss.e 101

whts 1999

Movement is the termly

magazine of the Student Christian

Movement, distributed free

charge to members and

cated to an open-minded exPle

ration of ChristianitY

edltorial address

22 Dowanside Road,

Hillhead, Glasgow

G12 gDA

r (0141) 334 7169

e: movemag@aol.com

SCM central offlce

Westhill College,

14115 Weoley Park Road,

Selly Oak, Birmingham.

B29 6LL

r (0121) 471.2404

f: (0121) 4t4 L25t

e: SCM@charis.co.uk

A couple of couples

lN THE PAST few months it has

been wedding frenzy for the

staff in the Birmingham office.

ln August, Craig got hitched, to

Jo, a primary school teacher

who keeps him in order - the

two fire alarms at the reception

didn't prevent them having a

fine day all round. And on October

10th CarolYn ClaYton

became Mrs Styles. Carrie and

Rob are currently setting uP

home in Brum and are reading

too many interior decoration

magazines. Congratulations to

the both of you and all the best'

This just leaves the Young

eligible Stephen Matthews. At

the last meeting about Movement

he was Pushing for a Personal

ads section, without an

ulterior motive, he claims. We

know him: that twinkle in his

eye... it won't be long'

a

l

A i

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t' t'

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notes

from the

f

CATACOMBS

.--L-

I

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i-,

,., \

edltor

Tim Woodcock

editorial board

Stephen Matthews

Sara Mellen

lrfan Merchant

Carolyn Styles

dlsclaimer

The views exPressed in

movement are those of the

particular author and should

not be taken to be the Policy of

the Student Ghristian Move'

ment

SGM staff

Coordinator

Carolyn StYles

ProjectWorker: Groups

Craig Cooling

P roje ct W orke r : llbmbersltiP

W

Sephen lvhtfetts

membershlp fees

t15(wapd)

t1() (unuaged/sfixlenB)

next copydate

th tvlarcfi 1999

Ursdicibd rnatedal udome.

Askturguilelines

adtetehgondab

19th Marcfi

rssN 0306-980X

CfEriV No.241fFo

HOV€m€Ft

r Ladies and Gentlemen, raise a g/ass to the newly-weds...

Carrie and Rob (above) and Craig and Jo (right)

Weaving a movement

for change

WEBS is a new initiative bY the

National Office to helP local

groups use each others' skills.

The principle is simPle: filling a

term with interesting events can

be a daunting and trickY task'

yet not so far awaY there maY be

someone brimming with ideas.

So you put them in touch and

arrange an exchange. A grouP

says what kind of toPics theY

are interested in: if there is

someone available the contact

will be made. lf necessarY the

SCM Project Worker will find a

suitable resource from SCM's

impressive stock or helP design

a new workshoP, and helP Plan

the event. This is a chance to

develop your skills and find out

other SCM and chaPlaincY

groups. To find out more about

WEBS and to get involved on

either side of the equation contact

Craig in the office.

Apocalypse this March!

ON THE 5th to 7th March Meth-

Soc, the Catholic Student Council

and SCM are collaborating to

bring you a weekend event

called "ApocalYPse Now!" lt will

examine eschatology (thoughts

and doctrines about the endtimes)

and the whole arraY of

imagery that goes alongside

this. ln particular it will focus on

the book of Revelation - You

know that strange one at the

end, that no-one really gets on

with.

Don't worry it won't be Wagnerian

music at full blast all

weekend or anything like that;

nor do you have to dress up in a

cloak and travel by horseback

(though if you really want to...) lt

will be the usual mix of workshops,

discussion and copious

quantities of tea. And the odd

trip to the pub

- although the

movement 2

venue has bar so Perhaps there

is no need.

The key-note speaker is Maggie

Roux, a media studies lecturer

from Trinity College, Cambridge:

she will be looking at film

representations of the aPocalypse.

The joint conference is a

truly ecumenical event and with

three student grouPs behind it

one can be sure to encounter

some new faces as well as

some familiar ones.

It costs 115 will be at Newman

House, the Catholic ChaPlaincy

at Birmingham UniversitY.

Phone 0121 47t2404 for more

details.

coming up: "APocalYPse Now!"

Newnnu Hall, BtRwttrucuaru.

5-7rH Mnncs 1998.


Last year it was simpte living in Edinburgh, this year it is deviancy in Leeds.

Alan Yearsley reports back from this year's SCM conference

Weirdos and freaks welcom€...

book early!

"Displaced or Deviant

A normal way of life?"

Lgros MerHoorsr Mtsstolt,

2O-22No Noveruern 1998

t Richard Burden and Richard Kirker, the two key note speakers at the conference,

'sharing rnsrghts and debating issues'. (see page 4)

Y The plannin+ team standingi proud.

t A delicate moment: playing Jenga

EVERYONE is displaced or

deviant at some point in life,

and the main aim of this conference

was to explore how this

happens every day all around

us. About 40 people came from

all over the country, and each

was asked to think of a reason

for being deviant. The answers

varied a great deal - where

you're from and how you speak

(how one speaks?); not liking

something that everyone likes;

liking Liverpool FC; having graduated;

not being a Christian in a

'Christian environment'.

A variety of speakers and

workshops on this theme were

organised. Richard Burden, a

surprisingly independent-minded

Labour MP, spoke on Arab/

lsraeli relations and what this

means in terms of displace

ment. He highlighted Palestinian

citizens who are often excluded

from Jerusalem. Richard Kirker

of the Lesbian and Gay Christian

Movement examined the case

of a boy who committed suicide

after being bullied and went on

to talk about what it means to

be deviant and to transgress.

Exclusion from society also

featured in several other ways.

One workshop looked at the

figure of 'the stranger' in the

bible - and how it challenges us

(as an individual and a community)

to act more Accountably. ln

another we were told to imagine

ourselves as Student Union Sabbatical

Officers faced with an

lslamic extremist group recruiting

on campus; or how would

one deal with with a military dictator

facing extradition? lt is a

free society, but should we give

freedom ofspeech to those who

want to deny it to others?

Should we tolerate the intolerable?

It was the end of National

Prisoners'Week, and the minister

at the Sunday morning service

reminded us of all the prisoners

who were excluded from

society

- some may have been

found guilty of something they

did not do or others have been

remanded in custody for up to

two years before being found

not guilty. We should not forget

Jesus Christ himself who was

crucified upon a false charge of

blasphemy.

Mis-shapes, mistakes, mistakes

raised on dirt and broken biscuiG.

We don't look the same as you,

we don't do the things you do,

but we live round here too.

(PULP, M|S-SHAPES)

movement 3


At the recent SCM conference Richard Kirker, of the Lesbian and Gay Christian

Movement, gave an address celebrating deviancy. He suggested that those who

transgress have a unique view and speciat theotogical insight.

The outslders

,

Inslght

Y n3 YERY l{AmREr lt{ oRDEn

to call a group deviant, the dominant

culture has to be able to

assume that there is a waY of

being which is nominal, normal, average

and usually, by extension, 'right'. When such

a way of being is challenged by the existence

of those who do not conform they can

either adapt or, and more commonly, they

can exclude. They say, you are so unlike us

that you are 'other'. ln the case of our gender

and sexual identities this can get to the

stage where the 'other' is not even deemed

to share humanity.

You may have noticed that within most

minority groups, there is often a movement

towards reclaiming a sense of their

deviance and a sense that their deviance is

a virtue. ln the case of sexual minorities this

has been seen in the reappropriation of the

word 'queer'. There is no standard definition

ofthis usage ofthe term but in general

terms we can say something about what

queer now means within the lesbian and

gay community. Queer is wider than lesbian

and gay, queer is there to embrace all those

who do not conform to gender stereotypes

and sexuality stereotypes. Queer is about

transgression, queer is political and radical'

and queer is about saying that to be a sexual

deviant is not bad but actually good and

fun. lt is not an entirely representative view

of the gay and lesbian communitY.

However, I would like to offer the idea of

queer to this conference as a way of thinking

about deviance in terms of sexuality and

gender. Most not4bly because queer is

about not being victims, it is about overcoming

the internal displacement within society

by celebrating it.

It would be redundant to rehearse the

sad history of the Christian Church in the

matter of its dealings with sexuality, What I

want to do for the remainder of this talk is

to offer instead a form of theology that I will

call 'cliff-top theologt'. There are advantages

and disadvantages to 'cliff-top theology'.

The major advantage is that whatever

you are doing on the top of a cliff it is going

to afford you a good view The insight and

clarity that can be gained with such a good

view may well be worth the risk. But therein

lies the disadvantage of doing your theolos/

from the top of a cliff: there is always the

possibility of slipping off. Presumably such a

fall would be into heresy and I daresay that

there are many of us who could name,

number and date any such heretical slips; I

would be grateful therefore if you could be a

theological $afety net for me.

I have two ideas from this cliff-top and

both of them relate to how lesbians and gay

men deal with the displacement they

endure at the hands of the Church and the

world.

The idea is that maybe we cope because

Jesus is in fact the ultimate queer himself.

Distinctly uninterested in the family values

of successive British Governments, unmarried

- and how queer it is to be celibate

these days! But the queerness of Jesus

goes a lot deeper than simply what he might

have said or done in his life. The queerness

of Jesus can be seen writ large in the mystery

of the Cross. Let us think for a moment

of how our culture defines normality. I would

contend that it does so in terms of polar

opposites. The traditional qualities of masculine

and feminine, male and female, carry

with them a whole host of defining qualities

and values: dominant and submissive, penetrating

and receptive, hard and soft, intellectual

and emotional, providing and nurturing,

strong and weak, straight lines and

cycles, analytical and discursive and so on

and so on. Such polar opposites and their

deconstruction has been the mainstay of

feminist theology since its beginning. Gay

men and women transgress those

opposites, they queer them.

Tntrx or oun Dotu{Am Intoei oF

Jesus. God on the cross. ln the very image

of the Crucifixion we have an image of Godself

transgressing the boundaries of what it

means to be in a body. On the cross Jesus is

penetrated, his five wounds queer his masculinity.

His body is open and receptive, he

is weak and submissive.

This is not just an idiosyncratic interpre

tation either. Throughout medieval art there

are representations of Jesus on the cross

where the wound in his side is explicitly portrayed

as a vagina. ln other medieval

images the wound becomes a breast, the

blood which pours from it becomes milk and

the saints are seen suckling from that

wound. Jesus has become the nurturer on

the Cross, "drink from me and you shall be

satisfied". The image of Jesus as a mother

has become familiar to us through the

The queerness of Jesus goes deePer

than what he might have said or done.

movement 4

rediscovery of the writings of Julian of Norwich,

and for her too this was based on a

profound insight into the nurturing, traditionally

feminine qualities of Christ as he hangs'

broken and weak from the cross.

For lesbian and gay Christians, one of

the ways in which it is easier to cope with

the displacement we suffer is the same

way as all other Christians cope with the

j


7

w 'soundings

in spirituality

RurH Hnnvry

ECEIITLY lt rlIE REYTEW

section of The Independent there

were three articles which caught

my attention. One, on spiritual

healing, was the second in a series of three

exploring alternative healing therapies. The

second article was based on a number of

interviews with women who had chosen to

become Muslims, some having grown up as

Christians, all having lived most of their lives

in Britain or lreland. And the third article

was an extract from a speech by an East

Timorese priest about the plight of his compatriots

living under foreign domination.

There was a common language in these articles

which pointed to a common search in

our society at the end of the twentieth century:

the search for spirituality which is relevant

to our daily lives, which helps us connect

with the spiritual and religious needs of

those around us, and which doesn't domesticate

spirituality, leaving it in the realms of

clouds and cherubs. But what are the

resources that we have for this search?

There are many people engaged in this

search and looking for useful resources.

Spiritus mundane

Last week I met Jim. He trains people to

work with terminally ill children and their

families. ln the course of his work he comes

across the desire, the yearning among ordinary

folk for ways of making sense of spirituality.

He meets grieving and angry parents,

he meets dedicated, eltremely skilled,

and extremely exhausted carers. He told me

that where religion has often left a gaping

hole for some of these people, there is still

a huge hunger for spiritual reflection that

helps them make sense of their experiences.

Jim was hungry for resources, hungry

to meet other people working in the same

area, keen to learn as much as he could

about spirituality so that he can help prepare

those he works with for their awesome

task. And I met Matthew. Matthew is a

youth worker. He wanted to know if there

were any resources available for working

with young people on issues of spirituality. I

sat at my computer and typed 'spirituality'

and 'youth' into the prompt slot of a world

wide web search engine. Over 30,000

entries were listed. I had a look.

Tnrnt tB A DEEP YEARlure Fon

resources for the spiritualjourney in our

society, as testified by daily newspapers, by

people like Jim and Matthew, and by the

vast amounts of material available electronically.

But if spirituality is only about airy concepts

and neat articles on the web or in this

journal then it is not for me. Spirituality is

about establishing honest and deep relationships

which reach beyond platitudes

and safe definitions and touch on the raw

emotions of what it means to be a human

being: emotions such as pain, anger, frustration,

hurt and fear. These are the emotions

that Jim and Matthew face each day as they

work alongside grieving parents, questioning

young people and worn out carers.

Newspaper articles are great: they open

our eyes to new ideas and new opportunities.

But they are limited. They only ever tell

us about other things and other people. For

Jim and Matthew, engaged as they are in

nurturing vulnerable relationships, in deep

dialogue, using all their skills to listen to the

pain and the desires of others there is a

need for resources which are direct, human.

The greatest resource that we have to

offer are our own experiences, our own

reflections, our own actions. Which is why,

ultimately, the best method of sharing information

and inspiration is the small, local,

reflective community, where work and

prayer are shared in everyday language, and

honesty and vulnerability are the hallmarks

of every conversation. Perhaps we're on a

wild goose chase when we think we can find

resources for spirituality. Perhaps we all, Jim

and Matthew included, need to have the

courage to carry on getting our hands dirty

in the name of the God who got mucky with

us, in order to discover what we mean by

spirituality.

persecution they might suffer for their faith.

They follow Christ and they find in Christ a

reflection of their own selves. When Jesus

says, "take up your cross and follow me,"

there is often a distinct unreality about the

way that is interpreted by the middleclass,

middle-aged, let us say Anglican, reader of

scripture. The phrase is somehow conflated

with, "we all have our cross to bear" and

suddenly, taking up one's cross becomes

about dealing with sciatica or a difficult

mother-in-law. ln fact, when read in context,

it is quite clear that Jesus is talking about

taking up the cross which will derive as a

matter of course from following in his way.

The Church in thigcountry has forgotten

what it is like to be persecuted, and let's

face it: why would anyone bother? The gay

Christian has a more direct route into this

part of our faith, the gay Christian knows

what it is like to be denied fellowship, to be

denied one's humanity and follows Jesus'

example of queering the pitch of what it

means to be a human being, male or

female.

The second reflection I want to offer is

again about a way in which gay Christians

cope with their place in the scheme of

things. lt is to do with identity and a relationship

with God. Think of the story of Moses

and the way in which God deals with him.

The story is one of constantly changing identities

for Moses. He begins life as a Hebrew

baby, but, as the result of a violent persecution

he is passed off as an Egyptian, a life

he leads in luxury until the incident where

he witnesses a brutal assault on one of his

Hebrew fellows and retaliates. Perhaps he is

riled particularly because the abuse is a little

close to home. Like all those who hide

their identity however, he suffers a panic

when he fears that he might be discovered.

He flees and eventually settles down with

the Midianites, blending into their society

and well enough to take a Midianite wife. So

when eventually God speaks to him out of

the burning bush, why are those words so

powerful? They are powerful precisely

because God addresses them to Moses'

true identity, God says, "l am the God of

your fathers, Abraham, lsaac and Jacob."

This is not so much God saying who God is

but rather telling Moses that he knows his

true identity. And in the commission that

Moses is then given, it is quite clear that

Moses is to work out his own liberation by

returning to his own people and working for

their liberation.

This is the kind of Biblical insight that

would be completely lost on anyone who

movement 5

found themselves living the life of the majority,

knowing nothing about the concealing of

identity and the danger of revelation. And

this is precisely because for the majority

identity is not an issue. lt is the same

process which allows white people to think

of others as having ethnicity. White people

are not ethnic surely?!

God here in the story of Moses is the

God of Psalm 139 who knows every cell and

bone in our body and every part of us

before we were made. God is the one whom

we cannot flee from wherever we may go.

For some the very idea of a Gay Christian is

an oxymoron, and I have many a letter in my

filling cabinet which says exactly that. You

cannot be a Christian and have sex with

people of the same sex.

All Christians live with this experience

that they are known by God in the most intimate

of ways and yet for the gay and lesbian

Christian this can become the most

wonderful knowledge of all when it is clear

that those around you and even some of

those in the Church itself do not know you,

do not want to know you and may even deny

your existence. But God knows! /tt

Richard Kirker is the General Secretary of

the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement.


'' -;'.il

Are you up-to-date on your euphemisms? witt outtawing some words and introducing

others reatly change society's attitudes? Maniputating our language for the common

good *uy not be easy as some think. Kathryn Allan exptains why...

Brave new

wor s

been

EYERYOIIE 13 BEGOiIIIIG

increasinglY concerned with one

of the most basic tools at our disposal

- our language. When we

speak we are more self-conscious than ever'

And the message is simple: watch your

mouth.

The emphasis placed on the 'appropriateness'

and'correctness' of language in

recent years has received a huge amount of

attention from every quarter. Suddenly not

what you saY, but how You saY it, has

become significant; more and more, we are

told what is and what isn't 'politically correct';

what will offend and what is 'safe"

Yesterday's problem becomes today's challenge.

Despite the apparent bemusement of

the masses, this is not the first time that

ideas about 'proper' or 'correct' language

have surfaced. ln the fifteenth century, for

example, when English once again became

a'respectable' language (having been supplanted

by French and Latin during the Middle

Ages) insecurity about the language led

to some controversial attempts to inhibit linguistic

change and 'fix' English so that it

would stay'pure" ln present day France the

same sentiments continue to be expressed

and legislated for by the French Academy'

especially in opposition to 'borrowing' (or

accepting foreign words) from English' But

the issues involved in the current debacle

are different - this is not to do with maintaining

equilibrium, but with an effort to

solidifv the connection between what we say

and what we th'ink'

This connection, though it has never

PROTECTED PRONOUN

ln Engllsh there is no sex-neutral 3rd

person singular pronoun that can be used

generically. Thus, 'Man, being a mammal,

breastfeeds his Youn$."

A number of ProPosals have been

made but none have taken off. Here's

some of the best: te[, co, E, thon, et, hir,

Jhe and na.

The only innovation that has made any

headway is (s)he or altetnating feminlne

and masculine Pronouns.

proven to the satisfaction of the scientific

mind, is an oft-studied area of linguistics

and specifically socio-linguistics. At the

beginning of this century, the best known

L You can't have denotation with connotation

work in the field was done by two Americans,

Edward Sapir and his pupil Benjamin

Whorf. Sapir asserted that the language one

speaks directly influences one's world view'

Whorf pushed this further, claiming that

native language "conditions and limits perceptions".

An extensive body of socioJinguistic

research has accumulated since - and'

although fascinating, it is

utterly inconclusive.

A link of some sort between language

and thought has not been wholly dismissed

either. ln my opinion it never will be' The

impressionistic nature of the observations

made over the years does little to lessen

their persuasive power; and this fact is

borne out by the many attempts to exploit

the connection. Look at power struggles of

one sort or another: Hitler was a master of

linguistic engineering, and tried with consideruble

"u.c"ss

to change the conceptual

associations in the minds of the German

people by limiting the use of words to cer-

movement 6

tain contexts. He used his knowledge - or

perhaps it was simply intuition -

about how

words function to use language as a tool to

achieve his plans: think Jews, think vermin'

Words work on two levels: they have denotation,

a first level meaning, and connotation,

more subtle associations which people

attach to them (usually involuntarily and

unconsciously). The word 'churchgoer', for

example, denotes simply a person who

attends church, but connotes a whole spectrum

of extra detail, which varies depending

on the experiences and attitudes of the individual.

Hitler turned this to his advantage:

by using a word only in certain contexts he

endeavoured to change or at least adapt its

connotations as he chose. His strategy was

powerful because by careful monitoring of

certain words he effectively marginalised

certain groups or categories of people

whom he wished general society to mistrust'

This German model parallels the current

movement towards cu ltivating different

mental pictures in the population. But while

Hitler wished to stigmatise, those arguing

for political correctness are attempting to do

the opposite. This time, they want to use


language as a tool to create positive images

and attitudes, to reap the social benefits of

a less prejudiced community where accep

tance replaces exclusion. Much of this

focuses on labels used to refer to minority

groups: ethnic communities, the mentally

and physically disabled, the underprivileged,

those who are substancedependent... in

other words, niggers and pakis, psychos,

cripples, losers and junkies.

Shoutd we get rid of

as wett? Woutd it be

create a new word

or derive one, say

It is easy to scoff at 'political correctness',

but most of us don't like the

alternative either. I don't believe that anyone

professing to be aware of issues of inequality

and intolerance would argue that the

above language is acceptable. Perhaps it

doesn't really matter why it's offensive, the

point is simply that it does offend. And, no

matter how hollow the constant reJabelling

of minority groups or how ridiculously

euphemistic the terminologr seems to

become, we're fairly squeamish about alternative.

'Children with special needs' may

seem like a bit of a circumlocution, but

surely it's infinitely preferable to 'retarded'

or'slow'.

conceivably be punished for using non-

PC language in a professional capacity. Nevertheless

there are other problems that

have to be addressed even if we accept that

it is desirable to attempt to change attitudes

in this way.

The first of these is the practical side of

introducing a change. The first problem (or

challenge, as we call it in the nineties): what

to change and how to change it. How can

'human' ff"irTill'L

is potentially

neeative

language?

better to

tike'jompte' iH;il'"'"

,

i ntel lani mal, ? il;:lo,:","

those to

whom a given label refers: "Nothing about

us, without us". But what if they don't all

agree? (A referendum? Host a phone{n on

Richard and Judy?) The rub is that opinion

will always be divided because it's a totally

subjective judgement.

Take the examples quoted by feminists

about malebiased language. I acceptthe

premise that terms like 'fireman' and 'chairman'

contribute to images of those professions

as predominantly male, and that perhaps

changing them to remove 'man' is a

new word that previously didn't exist, some

thing like jomple or hudgie, or should we

look to the existing lexicon and derive a new

word, say, personbeing or intellanimal?

Problem number two: how to introduce

newly appointed 'appropriate' language. The

potential effectiveness of any attempted

change depends to a great e)ftent on the

change in guestion

- and, in this respect,

the process of artificial linguistic

'modification' resembles natural language

change. The likelihood of natural change

depends on how firmly a word is lodged in

the system: words referring to central concepts,

which are used very frequently in

everyday expression (such as very common

verbs like 'to be') rarely change, since they

become engrained in the language; other

parts of language used less relentlessly

(terms used in limited contexts) are less

resistant to change. Words with limited 'currency'

(those that are rarely used) can be

modified relatively easily because when they

are selected the process is less automatic,

and this allows the user to make a conscious

choice and favour a newer 'more

appropriate' term.

This has been clearly demonstrated in

the past few years. The relativety trouble

free replacement of 'Eskimo' (literally meaning'eater

of raw flesh) with 'lnuit' ('people';

less descriptive but strangely preferred by

hrcupnc EilorrEEnrile Gr!il:3 up

ethical issues which are, I feel, overshadowed

by this basic need to replace taboo

language, but perhaps we should still be

aware of these issues. lf you accept that an

individual's linguistic repertoire is one of

their fundamental characteristics, the idea

of altering that repertoire becomes enormously

signiflcant. What I mean is this:

whether or not you accept the whole Sapir-

Whorf theory about native language being

central to outlook, the way a person

expresses him/ herself is a central element

of the image that person projects. lf you

take that further, to dictate a 'correct' version

of that expression is to try to change

and control their individuality in some way.

Before you know where you are, all the

usual associations of'1984 and Newspeak

have entered the q,quation... Whatever hap

pened to freedom of speech? Why the hell

should your average punter be told what

they shouldn't say by some righton academic

who talks too much anyway?

For those of us living in present-day

Britain this seems horribly melodramatic:

true enough, this is a culture where expression

tends not to be punishably enforced,

the challenge to freedom of speech made

by the introduction of PC language is slight

and non-threatening. The bottom line is that

ever

we're not talking about legally enforcing the

use of PC language

- a person would only

Think before you speak

-

sensible idea.Yet there remains the words

'woman' and 'female'. Should new alternatives

be devised, because these imply that

women are only an afterthought, a sub-cate

gory of men whose very name testifies to

their inferior and dependent status? Should

we get rid of 'human' as well? To me this

seems to verge on the ridiculous, but logically

it's a very small step. And just supposing

that there was a mass movement to

bring in a new term, what would it be?

Would it be better to create a completely

movement 7

and think what you are thinking.

natives) is a case in point. This is not a concept

that most English speakers engage

with on a daily basis; added to this, our education

system aided the switch since most

people first encounter this culture at primary

school, where the PC term is being used

ever more consistently in classrooms and

textbooks.

By contrast, the way in which 'Ms' stumbled

into the lexicon was spectacularly clumsy.

This term was devised in response to

the growing feeling that the titular system

t


:--

end nonS€nse

in English was imbalanced: whilst we have a that it doesn't look or sound like a real word

blanket term for all men, Mr, women are is a distinct disadvantage. (l mean where's

classified according to their marital status. the vowel? How is it supposed to be pro-

The decision to try and alter this attracted nounced?)

far more publicity, partly because it involves The crux of the whole matter is, of

a concepts central in our culture (gender course, will any of this make any difference?

and status) and words everyone uses fre Can changing language change attitudes?

quently, but also partly because it was sadly, no-one has yet come up with a

inherently controversial. The whole point of definitive answer' lt is exceptionally difficult

the proposed change - imbalance in the to determine whether PC language does in

system -

was lost in a barrage of outraged itself result in a change in attitudes' or

criticism of women who were obviously whether its emergence is merely a symptom

ashamed of their husbands or insecure of change already underway. Perhaps it is

about being single, When the term finally impossible to know

- the complex nature

began to be used it was introduced as a of humanity in all its glory and variety

thid option instead of a universal title, so complicates any sort of judgement. Unquesthat

women who elected to

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

call themselves Ms were

branded either a )raging femi- * Nlgger'.. neg;o"' black"'

nists b) bitter divorcees or c) * Poof... gay"' queel"'

affair-seekers. The word Ms * lnvalld/ crlpple... dlsabled.... dfferently abled...

itself was designed by combin- *The Thlrd world... less developed world"' the South"'

ing Miss and Mrs, but the fact * Bastard... llleglltlmate chlld... Just an ordlnary kld"'

tionably, efforts to interfere with language

are only ever brought about by existing

awareness of some issue of inequality or

marginalisation; look again at the rise of

gender-neutral or anti-racist labels. On the

other hand, it would be short-si$hted to suggest

that adapting language to reflect shifts

in attitude cannot in itself further a cause'

since it forces the individual to reconsider

his/her own preconceptions in a new light'

Terms like 'special needs' describe ageold

problems with new perspective, and surely

this can only challenge mental images.

Whether or not this really will result in a positive

outcome, or rather a positive outlook,

remains a mystery.

Because after all, words are only words;

no matter how many of them you use, it's

the thought that counts. /a-

Kathryn Allan has just completed her studies

in English LanEluage and will take any

work that involves words

rf

you want to learn about the

world: "liquor is quicker"

ErlroH WHreroRo

tr

AI{UARY TEilDs BE A

sober month in mY 'O Part of the

world. Probably the post-Yuletide

drying-out is prompted as much

by a bleak and arid financial landscape as

by genuine New Year resolve to atone for

the excesses of Hogmanay. Our bodies' or at

My atcohotic geograPhY has

least our livers, are usually in sore need of a

rest by the time it happens.

I'm conscious that in perpetuating the

cultural myth of the drunken Scot I am peddling

a largely pejorative stereotype - but'

curiously, one which many Scots are reluctant

to renounce. For years I thought that

we always talked (or sang) about drinking to

excess more than actually drinking. However

I was forced to modify my views when I went

to live in Canada. ln spite of many strong

social and historical ties between Canada

and Scotland, a totally different drinking culture

prevails.

My first shock was to discover that

'liquor' could only be purchased in staterun

liquor stores: no more popping out to the

offy at quarter-tcten for a bottle of wine.

The next shock was discoveringthat when

people agreed to go out for a drink, they

usually mean exactly that a drink. Where I

come from, going out for a drink means

going out for a drink multiplied by the number

of people in attendance. The third and

biggest shock was what I came to call "the

toast to absent friends". ln Ontario it was

illegal to serve two People

with a 2 litre Pitcher

of beer. ApparentlY

expanded in recent years... I lffi;$il:flff:ffl

have tasted undrinkabte fire f:,fi::n:::y"'ffin:

water from every Part of ;L:li:!!ti:i3i.'i"'

ing liquid, a third glass

Europe.

;$T:1"ii;:'i:;ll'

who, like the third person of another familiar

trinity is present in spirit if not in form.

So I discovered that while some of us are

uninhibited in our revelry, others are more

circumspect.

But don't get me wrong, I don't want to

make scurrilous accusations that our Canadian

cousins are more abstemious than we

are. That's not the case at all. ln fact' my

guess is that once the Sue-Ellen style secret

mov€ment 8

drinking beyond the public glare is taken

into account, North Americans match us

shot for shot in the drinking stakes' And

besides these clandestine encounters with

the bottle, they throw wild tequila parties...

but I have enough dignity to spare you all

the details.

My alcoholic geography has expanded in

recent years

-

mostly due, it must be said'

to that great WSCF event, the Cultural

Evening. I have tasted undrinkable fire water

from every part of Europe. My general

observation from this anthropological investigation

is that the further north one travels

the more vile the spirits become and the

more one is expected to drink them in large

quantities. This may explain the difference

between the congenial English tradition of

the country pub and the Celtic drinking den;

then again, it's probably just another exercise

in crude cultural reductionism' Decide

for yourself.

Personally, I prefer to take the road

south... all the way to the vineyards of the

Mediterranean where everyone seems to

drink at least as much as a seasoned tip

pler here, but manages to do so without

falling over too often, without suffering horrF

ble hangovers and without compromising

the integrity of any meal by failing to match

it with suitable vino. What did the bloody

Romans ever do for us? Not enough'

methinks. So, it won't surprise you to learn

that as the seasonal supplies run dry, I'm

going to make sure that I have more to mull

over than my thoughts in these long dark

nights.

Slainte.


Fifty ways (not) to forgive your lover

Rrcr GnRLAND

WARNING: The following article does not

contain a happy ending, nor any clearly

defined Christian principles. Anyone with an

undeveloped belief system or a weak stomach

may want to skip this page...

FEw Hoxnt3 lco, I wrs

dumped. By a guy with whom I

was in love. Oh, all right, with

whom I am still in love (l know I'll

hear about it if I am not perfectly candid).

I've only been in love twice in my life: once,

at 19, with the church folk choir guitar player...

sigh... he was so dreamy... (whoops,

that was meant for the Teen Magazine article!)

We became very close and eventually

best friends, despite the pain and angst I

had to undergo to not be in love with him

anymore. That situation worked out well. We

each had to work through a lot and forgive

each other even more, in order to preserve

a relationship that worked for both of us.

This situation is different, however. I am

not interested in keeping a friendship with

this guy. Nor do I desire an end to our

conflict. lt is even worse than that: I am really

enjoying the act of humiliating him! We

tend to frequent the same chat room and

when I see him and he tries to sheepishly

apologise, I get overcome with self-righteous

rage and cut him down with great wit and

charm. On the one hand, I can see that this

is our only place of contact right now and I

have only a brief opportunity to be able to

express my pain. On the other hand, it is

just not like me to "act out" my hurt in this

fashion. I am usually the brave, insightful,

balanced one. Not so in this situation. So I

have a few theories about this:

1. I am, after all, a Scorpio. Great is my

ability to love and be faithful; but tread lightly,

all those who choose to wrong me: I have

a sting, you see. '

2. Not to perpetuate a stereotype, but I

am a gay man; naturally I need to inject and move on so thatthey can feel more

drama into every moment of life. And invok- comfortable around me. Because they know

ing Bette Davis and OscarWilde and Joan thatforgiveness is a direction lwill take

Crawford to deal with this messy business is inevitably, so why don't I just get to it noq

easier than facing my own wretched wound- so they can enjoy the cheery, upbeat guy

ed inner child. I come from a proud history that I am normally? Can people not accept

of drama queens, all of whom capture imag- that I get depressed and hurt? Certainly

ination more through tragedy than through some have, but I am disappointed to see

triumph. (Note: see the film "Mommy Dear- how many cannot. lt's strange how a relan:Jl,[Hl"o"'.*

I come from a proud history

3. I can't quite

setoverthefactthat of drama qugens, atl of

everyone else seems

soreadvtoacceptitr

whom capture imagination

The minute I tell

some peopre, ram more th rough tragedy than

encouraged to move

on,rookatthebrisht thfOUgh tfiUmph.

future, find other fish

in the sea, get back on the horse (what is it

with animal references?). I am not permitted

time to sit and wallow and stew and mope.

Well, perhaps this is why I am determined to

do it anyway. Yes, I am here to advocate for

feeling sorry for oneself.

But let me get to the point (because I do

have one...) what is really bugging me in all

of this is the pressure to get to the point

where I can forgive him and then move on.

Now, I can deal with Christian morality in a

balanced and informed way. Hey, I'm a theologian!

I have my Master of Divinity! I've

hobnobbed with church leaders around the

world! But there is something about the

imperative of forgiveness that really irritates

the hell out of me. I suppose it's the

assumption that once you forgive someone,

it is supposed to level the relationship back

to the point before the "sin" against me was

committed. lt "makes everything better". But

you know, I don't want things to be "better".

I'm in touch with an anger that is pure and

clean and invigorating. I like beingthis

angry. And I like that it has created this

black and white world where he is wrong

and I am right. I don't want to leave

this and head back to the grey world

relativity and context and communici

tion.

I also have this sneaking suspicir

that people want me to forgive this g

tionship ripples into the rest of my life in

ways I did not suspect. The act of rejection

from my ex continues in how I cope with it

among my community. People just don't

want to hear about this news. My friends

don't want to hear about this. At least, they

have about three conversations worth of

patlence, then they have had enough. Well,

to them, I am sorry. But my genuine anger

continues. I will continue to be angry until I

am not, and then you can have me back.

But I have to ask: if you don't want my presence

when I am upset, then aren't you just

rejecting me all over again? lt certainly is

how lfeel.

Let's make a deal, okay? Anyone reading

this who hasn't been supportive to a

friend who has been "made redundant" by

their partner, call them and offer to be there

for them. Don't advise! Just listen.

And my part of the deal? I promise to

pick a partner I deserve next time. Not like

that ignorant, self-centred, shallow demanding,

critical pile of parrot turd! That's better.

"You asked me oncet" said O' Brien, "what was in Room 101 .

I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows

it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world...

ln your case the worst thing in the world happens to be rats."

(1984, GEORGE ORWELL)

This is issue 101 of Movement to 'celebrate' we ask:

'What is your room 101?"

Turn to page 18 to find out.

movement 9


Digital conversion?

MY TV lS trying to communicate with me. lt

wants me to learn digital because that's the

language it speaks. But I

think there is a conspiracy

going on here. People call it

'the computer revolution',

but they don't speak of it in

the same hushed tones

from which tales of total

communism emerge. The

technological revolution is

spoken of, almost universally,

with muted passion. All

the while we are being sold

a lie: that technology is a

necessary good, that it will

make the world a better

place.

Jobs are lost as computers

and robots do the work

of many people. lt began in

the factories, we didn't

protest much because we

thought that losing those

jobs did not matter greatly.

Perhaps they'd get better

ones eventually. Those who lost their jobs

often came from the poorest quarters of

town - the state system could take care of

them - and, most importantly, what we

would get is a better quality product. When

we gave technolory a place in our manufacturing

industry, and placed efficiency above

people, we surrendered to this take-over.

Computers are changing our lives and we

simply assume the consequences are

beneficial. I know many of these benefits

having recently updated our office system;

we have been granted creative freedom and

powerful tools of expression. Yet the lnternet

and e-mail may gradually take over where

we would once have conversations. The

diversity of language will be given over to

the digital language my TV is trying to teach

me. As we no longer interact in the same

ways, our range of emotions is narrowed -

and our human nature becomes muted and

slowly suffocated.

The destructive power of man comes not

in an instant but through the gradual elimination

of all aspects human. We created

computers and robots and all things technological:

and in our greatest moment of cre'

ation we destroy our means of life. So intent

are we to create life and be its master that

we reach for achievements worthy of God.

Perhaps the human race is going to die in

labour, giving birth to more autonomous

machines. We will have served our part.

Having created something neq we look at it

and assume it is good. Maybe our judge

ment is affected, maybe we flatter ourselves

that we have become like God but end up

inventing ourselves out of existence.

(STEPHEN unrruews)

Po-mo ho ho

ATTENTION arts students! lf you cannot find

that quote you need to support your theory

of whatever, this web-site will find you an

academic text that will give weight and clarity

to your argument. My visit offered the

"Dialectics of Nothingness: Predialectic discourse

and semiotic objectivism" by Stefan

Q. Ashwander. The academic essay meanders

earnestly namechecking all the right

people: Baudrillard, Habermas and Foucault;

with many a footnote to encourage

further reading; it has those useful little

phrases if your supply is running dry ("ln a

sense...", "lt could be said that...") At the

end it informs you, "The essay you have just

seen is completely meaningless and was

randomly generated by the Postmodernism

generator." Very cool, very postmodern' Playfully

deconstructing the hegemonic discourse

of academic neo-imperialism, as I'm

sure Derrida would have it. The only thing

that stops it being fully convincing is that it

lacks (fem)inist bracket(s) and neologisms

and untranslatable French words.

www.cs. mo nash.ed u. a u/cgFbi n/

postmodern

Web sights

EVER NOTICED how arty people always holiday

in arty places

-

Florence, Paris, New

York City

- and spend most of their time

looking around buildings? This then gives

them the edge in conversation: "...but you

should see it in the original"; "David's got

much bigger feet than you'd expect - he'd

never find shoes!"; "The smell of the

formaldehyde really adds to it" and so on.

These aesthete's pilgrimages can be traced

back to the Grand Tour of European cities in

the 18th and 19th centuries. Only those

who can afford to travel extensively (or buy

lots of gorgeous coffee table books) really

know about art.

With virtual reality perhaps

this is all changing. Admittedly,

it is just another way of

reproducing art and I am

not suggesting an HTML

rendition of the Sistine

Chapel or a Rodin

sculpture are much

to get excited about.

But there is hardly a

significant piece of

art that you can't

access; the volume of

specialist information

and discussion is greater

than you'd find in a

library, and a good deal

=

ct

0)

x6

o

0)

o.

o

o)

t

o

o

l

o

o

u')

)a

movement 10


less pompous than a university History of

Art department.

One of the best places to start is Adam

-

a quality assessed overview of Art,

Design, Architecture and Media. This filters

out some of the dross and points you to

interesting sites. lt has recently added a

link to the Millennium Dome website. Let's

face it, it may all not happen in reality, so

one should at least examine the grandiose

plans before they are scaled down. They

anticipate 12m visitors in the year 2000:

but now one can have an interactive tour of

all the zones. ln order to do this it is necessary

to spend some time downloading the

right software - but at Greenwich to get in,

you'll have to wait in line with crowds of

sweaty people waving twenty pound notes -

so I guess, it's the lesser of two evils.

At the opposite end of the scale is understated

art, designed to be hidden away: the

cheeky and quietly subversive Gargoyles.

One can explore the nooks and crannies of

Notre Dame and many other large cathedrals

or learn about the history of these

critters. lt's not

t

as extensive or

imaginative as it

could be

- but

a

this is one of

those web-sites

whose genesis is

as a school project

gone mad.

Not all artl

design is

conceived in this

way, as one definite

item located

'1'

in one place...

Keith Haring,

whose highly

stylised and

joyful drawings

attract a cult

following, has a

very cute and

very clever website

dedicated to

him. This is

appropriate for

the man who

said, "l like the idea that my art could be a

floppy disk and you could send it back and

forth." lt sounds very eighties: how was he

to know cyber-space was just round the corner?

Neverthelesgthe principle is the same:

technology has made Haring's work

portable and his bright chunky figures lose

nothing by being digitalised. The site catalogues

his work including some wonderful

body paintings and some early graffiti on

the NY subway, and showcases some

simple yet stunning animation.

(TtM WOODCOCK)

www.adam.ac.uk

www.dome2OOO.co.uk

www. i ls. u nc.e du/ garg.oyle

wwwharinEi.com

CELEBRry

THEOLOGIAN: #

IvIALCOLM

MUGGERIDGE

So which was he?

Celebrity or theologian?

Both. Perhaps one of the only theologians

to become "a face on the telly" as a cultural

conilnentator with religious convictions

(but without an acconrpanying

obscure timeslot or V-neck sweater).

So I've heard of him, but he's hardly a

theologian?

okay so he wasn't in the strict academic sense. But if we take theology to be 'talking about God' he did little

else for the last years of his life. St Mugg 'did theology' on TV and radio and in print. He was disowned by

many of his journo friends for it - one called him "Christianity's ntost bizarre exhibitionist".

And what did he do before he went all serious?

Bit ofthis, bit ofthat. ln fact mostthings. He taught in lndia, wrote some bad novels, worked as a newspaper

hack across the world, was the Editor of Punch (when it funny and controversial) and then became a

stalwartof theBBC -fionlingPanoramaandshootinghismouth off onAny ouestlons?

What did he say?

Anything that came into his head - and that was his charnt. (Once, when interviewing an expert on Siamese

twins, he ran out of questions

- he asked the surgeon if he'd considerjoining two ordinary babies together

forthe publicity). As an Editor he was ofthe "publish and be damned" school ofthought.

But he was also a very thoughtful writer - he was the first Westerner to describe the honors of Stalinism.

Big deal -

we all know not to trust leaders with moustaches...

Ah.. but not at the time we didn't. Britain was awash with propaganda and left-wingers found the idea of

famine and forced labour in Revolutionary Russia laughable.

So he became a rabid right-winger?

No, not really. He just fell offthe scale and denounced everything.

Maverick Muggeridge?

Exactly. He claims that even as a child he felt like "a stranger in a strange land". He thoughtthe world was

self-absorbed and decadent; civilisation's march ofprogresswas in facta march overthe precipice. He

canre to find the idea of heaven-on-earth a ridiculous distraction and believed in some sort of mystic consolation

for suffering.

So what happened when the times were a-changing?

While the sixties was swinging, so was Malcolm: towards a more reactionary position. His most famous

moment came in 1966 when Malcolm resigned as Rector of Edinburgh Yoonie over attempls give out free

contraception.

Having had his pleasures, he couldn't stand other people being naughty...

Exactly. Especiallywhen, aged 60, hewenttee-total and stayed monoganrous. Aged 79 hejoined the RC

Church. He spent final years being an ascetic, avoiding the 'phone and misremembering his memoirs.

A bundle of contradictions?

Funny you should say that. An advocate of celibacy and monastacism - although a notorious womaniser

a nd ma rried to the long-suffering Kitty th roughout. A regula r broadcaster who refused to watch television,

because it was narcissistic.

So why he did keep broadcasting?

It nright just come to some good. He brought MotherTeresa to the world's attention, with a film made in Cal

cutta. As he never stopped recalling, the camera crew thought the House of Dying was dark to film in -

when processed the indoor scenes had a 'beautiful soft light', the outside shots were dark and confused.

Disti ngu ishing features?

Devouring liberals with a witty turn of phrase; scepticism mingled with sentimentality; disbelief in progress.

Not to be confused with:

Mystic Meg. Malcolm Maclaren.

]

movement 11


Ethics don't betong in the reat wortd. You can have ideats through university as tong

as you abandon them when you enter the tabour market. Right?

Simeon Mitchell tetts us otherwise...

From free love to fair trade

I

ilO tErRS rCO I ilS DEEP trt

ll;T^:;ffi[ffi"J[::ily

utopian communities of 19th Century Ameri_

ca. One graduation ceremony, 11 months

volunteering in the inner city, and many hesitations

later... I find myself paid to spend

my days promoting Fairtrade, a pioneering

trade system which means third world farm_

ers are given a better deal for their produce.

I would never claim to have experienced

something so dramatic as a decisive

'calling'. Like conversion or certainty, it is a

concept which has apparenfly eluded me as

faithfully as it has inspired others. yet as I

came towards the end of my studies, per_

sistent manila envelopes from the

university careers service

nudged me to think about

what I would do next. Or

what the chaplaincy

more dauntingly

called 'exploring

vocation'

As always with me,

the process began with

ideas and values. Believing

that faith without action is

hollow, a commitment to

socialjustice was for me an

essential aspect of my discipleship

and belief in building Christ's

Kingdom on earth

- as well as an

inherent obligation of our common

humanity. My political convictions, too,

were insplred by the holistic visions of a

better world I found in the history of idealist

radical movements, alongside an instinctive

loathing of injustice. I knew that it was this

that motivated me most strongly, but any

specific thoughts about the future had been

somewhat more tentative, revolving around

a hazy desire to play a part in changing the

What need have Africans

for Engtish historians,

and I for mataria?

skills,

world for the better; I thought that thls

vision was all I had to offer.

However, I soon became aware ofthe

importance of reconciling my fundamental

concerns

- humanity, social justice,

sustainable progress

- with my usefulness,

and needs. So far in my life, my skills

and values had only practically manifested

themselves in separate activities: the former

in academic success; the latter in voluntary

activities, campaigning for Oxfam, Christian

Aid, and Shelter, among others. lt may have

been inspired by the right values, but I

would have been more burden than aid if I

had simply jetted off to Africa to

devote myself to the poor. What

need have they for English histori- \

ans, and I for malaria?

Nonetheless yearning for

some

real

t

rt

**r"

'iJ

challenge

to put

my values to the

test, I instead opted for

the rather less romantic destination

of a Manchester housing

estate, where I lived in a community

of volunteers, on a one year

Jesuit-inspired development

programme, JVC. Here I worked

part-time in a hostel, learning

pool and doing resetflement

work with homeless men. I

balanced this unfamiliar practical

project with a support role

in a church-based

housing campaign group, CNHC. lt was a

difficult year, where my ideals and reality

clashed initially; but, with reflection I see

they eventually integrated. My previously

black and white world-view turned, not into

shades of grey, but glorious colour.

As the year drew to an end, my focus

turned once again to the developing world _

and the clear injustices of the trade system.

I was lucky to be offered a job at the Fairtrade

Foundation, drawing together strands

of my practical experience with a passion of

my student activism, justice for the developing

world. I'm glad to be part of a small

team, where the freedom and

quality of working relationships mean that

each member is valued for what they

can offer. My role is about

producers, through

buying products

bearing the Fairtrade

Mark.

As for the next step

- who knows? The politi-

. cal world, the church, and

the voluntary sector all

appeal. Much as I loved

escaping into the utopias of history,

honing my opinions, I think

that now I'd rather be there

myself, doing my small bit to shape

it. After all, concern

- about injustice,

homelessness, the environment,

poverty, freedom, or whatever _ is

good, but not in and of itself, only as a

pointer to action (whether a vote turned,

another heart

awakened, a project born or a single act of

defiance). So if you must judge yourself,

don't do it by how 'right-on'your views are.

What good are opinions, when you are hun_

gry, oppressed or roofless? Do it on what

you have done, what action you have taken,

to challenge the source of your concern.

Otherwise, how are you different from those

who don't care? So while I have never felt

called, I find this a vocation

- to work

towards making my dreams a reality. Which

is perhaps what Christians should be all

about anyway.

Y lt you would like to know more about

Fairtrade, contact Simeon at the Fairtrade

Foundation on OLTI 4OS 5942, or e-mail

fairtrade@gn.apc.org

Y IVC: Britain, the housing project, is on

oL6L226 67L7.

il

n

il

l

movement 12


Ricky Ross was the voice of Deacon Btue and is now a solo artist: stitt handsome

and stilt charming. He discusses his rediscovery of faith and his hopes for Scottand.

And how to organise a nativity ptay. Interview by Tim Woodcock

When the world

forgets your name

t

ilil;ffi1,*s"flJiliffi:l;-

lil]l fi i-fi iJff [T"J,":IJ'":1*; ",

that I fear might be seaweed. This

compounds the nervousness I already feel

-

I can't remember if we arranged to meet

downstairs or upstairs

- and l've managed

to talk myself into thinking if I am on the

wrong floor, the interview will be off. I run

song lyrics through my head like a formula

just before an exam: somehow it might help,

but it's really too late.

When Ross comes he has a definite

presence: the air of someone who has done

things. Yet he is also as gentle and generous

and unassuming as they come. During

the interview Lorraine, the 'other face'from

Deacon Blue and now his wife, pops in: she

has left her purse in his bag. lt is a delightfully

mundane way of puncturing images of

celebrity.

Since Deacon Blue split up in 1994 -

surprisingly amicably for a pop group

-

Ricky Ross has been quietly grafting away:

two albums and an E.P that have made the

odd ripple but don't come near the success

of Deacon Blue. (When the World Knows

Your Name sold 300 000 copies in a fortnight

and when straight to no.1 in the

album charts). The days of Wembley Arena

and Top Ofthe Pops are over- and Ricky

seems grateful for that.

I ask him if being out the spotlight

makes it easier to be creative: "lt was quite

easy at first. But l'm at a funny place right

now. I don't have a publishing deal, I'm trying

to do these negotiations - which aren't

the most relaxing." He has a stack of songs

but it really is a question of what to do with

them: "ln a sense I'd really like to make a

live album. I've worked on my own now for

the last year, I'm really ready to work with

lots of other people". Deacon Blue were a

fairly traditional outfit, and recently Ricky

has moved away from guitar-based rock to

more intimate songs on the piano. He is a

craftsman ratherthan an innovator; and a

songwriter who discovered he was a

charismatic performer.

Deacon Blue's biggest single was a

cover version of l'll Never Fall in Love Again

originally sung by Bobby Gentry (a girl if you

need to be told). He sang the melancholy

words, intended for a female, "What do you

get if you fall in love/ A boy with a pin to

burst your bubble," when it could just as

easily have been sung by Lorraine Mclntosh.

'A good song is a good song. [Gender] is

such small barrier." He points out the great

Tin Pan Alley songwriters didn't write with an

artist in mind: when Goffman and King

wrote Say A Little Prayer lhey wrote a male

and a female version

- not knowing who

would end up performing it. From the outset

Ross has written lyrics undoing the sexual

stereotypes of rock lyrics. ("He knows she's

a Chocolate Girl,/ 'cos he thinks she melts

when he touches her" satirises male bravado.

The achingWhen Will You Make My

Phone Ring? conjures up the image of a

boyfriend desperately, passively awaiting

that call.)

movement 13

The essential criteria for Ross, one that

comes up repeatedly in the interview, is that

it is "something human". These days such a

universal claim is out of favour

-

we define

ourselves primarily in terms of race,

sexuality et al and empathy does not allow

others to speak for us. Ricky argues that it

is insight not origins that matter: you must

be "someone who hears, who senses and

can get a proper picture".

Empathy was certainly a part of his early

working life: in his native Dundee he was a

youth worker and then a teacher. Having

drifted into teaching, the profession offered

only increasing paperwork and specialisation,

which did not appeal. "l still really

enjoy working with kids. I would really enjoy

a certain amount of teaching: if it was just

so many weeks of the year". His upbringing

was in the Christian Brethren

- a disparate t


o c

n

l

F

m

lf*I I

i*

What's your favourite possession?

My piano.

'r

What are you reading at the moment?

Richard Holloway -

"Dancing on the Edge"

How do you relax?

Golf. Football -

playing and watching. ln the

garden... you can see that winter is difficult. I

still love listeningt0 music and the radio (3, 4

and 5) and I really enjoy cooking.

Whafs your favourite journey?

There isn't really a big one. But as I'm an exile

from Dundee I love driving or even takingthe

train up there. The last stretch through the Carse

of Gowrie is probably my favourite stretch of

road.

What do you like most about yourself?

I like to think I'm open to new things.

What do you dislike about yoursel?

How long have you got? At the moment I realise

my body is failing me -

I seem to take ages to

get over injuries and am as supple as something

that isn't very supple !

Whafs your favourite word?

Sturrock lget a Scots dictionaryl

lf you could be someone else who would it be?

I'd have loved to have a been a footballer. I know

I could never have been so I imagine being a

manger and l'd love to be Alex Ferguson.... The

reality is l'd settle for being anyone involved, so

being a commentator on R5 would be the best it

could get!

When did you last cry?

0n stage atthe end ofa VictorJana Foundation

benefit a few weeks ago. The sight of Chilean

exiles all singing a traditional song, "The People

United will Never be Defeated" was incredibly

moving.

What are you scared of?

Dying and the loss of my wife or children.

Describe a recurring dream that you have.

Being in front of an audience without knowing

what to say or do.. no, wait a minute, thats life

What do you never miss on TV?

Stars ln Their Eyes.

What music do you listen to most?

It depends on the year. The last two have been a

shrine to Randy Newman. At the moment the

Jackie Brown soundtrack and "The Protecting

Veil" by John Taverner.

What pet hates do you have?

Bad questioning byTV journalists and failure to

present the real issues. Recently this means that

we all get fobbed off with right wing theories for

job cuts.

ln fact journalists are really my pet hates: the

fact that music reviewers hunt in packs is the

most depressing. I would say radio DJs but I

think everyone hates them.

What would your motto for living be?

Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke.

evangelical church without formal doctrine

or clergy, a more open offshoot of the Plymouth

Brethren. Their strong ethos of community

and philanthropy made teaching an

unproblematic choice. ln Dundee the

Brethren was a tight-knit community and

Ross was outgoing and a 'faithful' member

of the youth network -

"we grew up with a

real strong thing of Christian young people

must.mix with other Christian young people.

Every human being was looked at in terms

of what they believed... a real misconstruction

of what Jesus was saying." Elsewhere

Ross has said he used to be very hung-up

about his unconventional upbringing until, "l

reached a turning point when I realised that

my background was actually quite rich and

quite unusual." He absorbed this is into his

songwriting and talks of it as a heritage

-

and that is surely better than the adolescent

bitterness some people drag through life

with them. Although he has left the Brethren

behind, Ricky's family are still involved and

he stays in regular contact.

His passion for listening to and playing

music was not encouraged; popular entertainment

was generally distrusted; and

ambition, no matter how it is channelled,

was felt to be sinful. But the urge was too

great: "l realised there was something inside

me that wanted to make music. lt just

nagged away at me." At that time, aged 24

and married to his first wife Zara, he moved

to Glasgow where a teaching job had come

up. This was crucial in terms of meeting

band-members-to-be and learning about the

music scene.

lntriguingly, when he first moved, Ross

was involved in a loosely structured intentional

community: it didn't have a name or a

leader, it just'was'. "They met, lived in the

same area, shared some money and tried to

do some good

- and worshiped and took

communion fairly regularly." He seems

ambivalent about close community as an

idea

- it is "very unrealistic... those who

have done it in high style, written about it

and all the rest, have usually fallen apart

big-style, leaving a lot of scars". On the other

hand he has great affection for the people

and although "l didn't stay... I remained very

good friends with them". The community is

movement 14

still going, 20 years later, due largely to its

informal structure and the fact they don't

unduly encroach each other's freedom.

When the band took off, faith

- somewhat

inevitably

- took a back seat. Yet

throughout this time Ricky was aware of a

fundamental human need: "People have a

spiritual side to them -

whether it be Christian

or whatever. ln the eighties that kind of

got lost for me."

Deacon Blue were a politically committed

band (small 'p': we're not talking

obsessives like The Levellers or Chumbawumba

or anything) and gave voice to the

movements against nuclear weapons and

the Poll Tax. They were a vaguely

socialist band on corporate bandwagon.

Yet, as he said, if you are trying to pull a

bunch of people together artistically you

don't need unnecessary 'issues' getting in

the way. Does he wish they'd been more

explicitly political and used their influence

more? "lf you're in the charts people don't

expect a big political thing. lf you had a

message behind what you say, what would

be the point of writing songs? You'd be better

putting out your message standing on a

street corner."

l{sv:nnrrl:ss Rrcxv rB ENcAcED

with political issues and seems thrilled by

the prospect of the Scottish Parliament: "l

grow more excited by the day. lt's only just

dawning on people how big a thing it is.

Once you start dismantling the British Constitution

it'll never come back. For some

bizarre reason Tony Blair seems to want to

do it." lt is possible that independence will

follow

- and Ricky feels sure that it will:

"Look at any country that has moved away

from being part of the British State: they've

never wanted to come back". He acknowledges

the dangers of nationalism but

espouses an inclusive and outwardlooking

vision. "Scotland is about the people who

live in Scotland

-

Asian, Chinese and English

people living in Scotland - they're my

neighbours." Then he adds mischievously,

"Alan Hansen is English as far as I'm concerned

- that's what he wants to be: he

wants to live in the Home Counties and talk

to Des Lynam."

He did not abandon his commitment to

socialism when he made it big

- at the time

of Thatcher and huge tax bribes. Unsurprisingly,

he is disappointed with New Labour:

"We've replaced one lot we've the same lot

-

who are doing it in a kinda smiley, kinda

nice way." Ross' politics and beliefs are

firmly rooted in where he lives and his own

experiences. "l'm a very great opponent of

private education and private health. But I

wouldn't like to say if it was my daughter

that had a life-threatening illness... what

would you do? lt's great to have principles

yet when family come along you have to be

very real about things."

It is these forces

- the generation

before and after, being both a parent and a

son - that seem to shape Ross' thinking.

Ricky Ross has had a gradual rediscovery


and reassessment of faith, sparked by the

death of his father: "l realised when it happened

I hadn't got rid of all my intrinsic

beliefs. I expected to immediately step back

into, Ah, but he's gone to a better place'

-

then I realised a few months later it was,

'Hang on, I don't actually think that'. So

what does that mean? Having declared the

words: 'l don't believe in God', I said this to

my wife (she went, 'What?! You can't believe

that.') lf I do, what kind of a God do I believe

in? How do I fit into this? And who am l?"

tr

E SI(EIGHED SONE IDEIS OW

for me- and he was not the

world-weary liberal I was expecting.

Ross is passionate but not

preachy, his tone confident and also full of

doubt and scepticism. "lf you are going to

be really open and journeying, one has to

journey with other people. There's no point

in saying, for example, 'Oh yeah, I'm open to

new ways of discovery, new interpretations

and stimulating ideas and I can't talk to

them because they are conservative evangelicals'.

Either you're open or you're not."

It was one of the most sustained and honest

conversations I've had about faith and

'big things' for a long time

- all more surprisingly

considering the circumstances.

He fires rhetorical questions into the air

("Was Mary the first priest? Was Jesus

scared to go to the cross?") and enjoys that

intellectual twang and trail they create. But

the 'doing' of faith is more important. He

tells me about the church he and Lorraine

have been going to for a couple of years.

There were a couple of loyal old ladies

- "l

got talking to them and found they had

incredible stories to tell, real personal hardship.

The woman who sat behind us had

lost a daughter in early adulthood. I thought,

'What do I have to offer? What smart alec

thing about faith do I have to say to you?'.

Nothing I've learnt has anything on that

experience of faith."

Lorraine and he take their role seriously

as parents of three young daughters and

grapple with the difficulties of transmitting

faith. "Lorraine was telling the kids one of

the stories from the Old Testament, and one

of our daughters said, 'l don't like God'. I

don't like him in this story either, not that

kind of God." Given that faith is a mixed

blessing - what is the best way to convey it

to a child? "We sat down and discussed

this: we want our kids to be brought up in a

faith in a way that is hopefully enjoyable

enough for them to want to carry on for its

own sake - and open enough for them to

say 'This is not me' and be able to spread

their wings. That's all you can do." That's as

healthy as you can imagine, without even

the smug glow of enlightened parenting:

"l'm sure we'll make the same mistakes as

our parents made - but in different areas

and different ways." Ricky Ross is an annoyingly

balanced person. So the kids go to

church each week: "Let's not kid ourselves

there is any free will in this you

- could take

them off to Satanic Mass." Feeling guilty for

dumping three kids in the Sunday School,

he found himself teaching "a brilliant program...

it has posters of heroes of the faith:

pictures of Desmond Tutu, Martin Luther

King." His next creative project is the nativity

play. My mind starts to wander at this point:

'Can I have a bit more bass for Joseph? No,

not the strobe of Bethlehem yet.'

The church is Catholiclite (aka Episcopalian)

which is a happy solution

-

one side

of the family is Catholic, the other Protestant.

Although content in this tradition he

has no intention of abandoning his roots. "l

attach a lot of importance to how I was

brought up. One ofthe good things about

evangelicalism, which is overlooked, is that

people know their bibles incredibly well."

This theme comes up again and again: the

gospels, the power of stories, reading the

bible creatively. "That's what it is all about -

Raintown was a strong debut itwas soulful

sequence of songs ab0ut a dead-end city - the

need to belong and the ne€d to escape. The songs

were bul$ng with etcry kind of passion. lt featured

theirtrademark juxtaposltion of Mclntosh's

voice with Ross' growl. And band gelled in the studio

and demonstated their proficiency

- which

was exactly the problem, they seemed like interchangeable

session men.

Deacon Blue's label GBS were pushing them

very had: 1987 was a year of hard toudng and a

very delibelate attemptto go mainstream.Ihe

vulnerabillg of Raintown's tracks was replaced by

a morc rocky sound a more coclry attitude. At the

time Ross c-ommented, 'There's no waywe could

do another set of songs about being unemployed

and tapped when we're nof. When the World

know Your Name, the diffi cult-to-listen-to second

album, now sounds dated and rushed. Circus

U$tts was a tender and powerful moment - otheruise

only the big singles Real Gone Kid, Wa(es

Daystand ollt

Deacon Blue were never darlings ofthe music

press. As tfiey established themselves as an act,

the stadium rock ambitions and self-confidence

of U2 and INXS were beginning to look absurd.

asking questions: questions you want to

ask. You want to find out more about lthe

storiesl and not just someone's gloss on

them."

It all seems to boil down to how one

deals with Christ and what it means to be

Christlike in this day and age. "The incarnation

is so important -

if we are trying to

understand God, Jesus is the most important

model we have got. There was a Christmas

song (l say brilliant ironically): 'The road

leads from Bethlehem to Calvary'. lt

summed up for me what my evangelical

background believed about the nativity: it is

a nice little story, but let's cut to the chase:

the real stuff is the Easter story. The point

about Jesus' life is that we don't cut to the

chase

- we've got a whole load of stuff to

get on with now." ,/t1-

AN OPINIO}.IATED HISTORY OF DEACON BLUE

This was soon overtaken by cool ofthe late eighties

and Madchester scene. Big music was out

Shambolic and ironic was in. And Deacon Blue

lost out

Having said that, Deacon Blue were more

prone to experiments than most would admit; but

having been labelled a dependable corporate mck

outfit n0-one took it seriously. Ihe release of 0oh

Las Vegas

- a collestion of b-singles - surpdsed

some: but it is a spaftling record with some great

moments. Where else would you hear Abidewith

Me and a Julian Cope song on the same record?

Fellow Hoodlums, perhaps the strcngest album

and certainly the mostioyfully eccentric, is a

series of vignettes about the dark often drunken

streets of Glasgow. Ross' intriguing and poignant

lydcs were set alight by the most varied instrumentation

to date.

Ihe final studlo album was produced by Paul

0akenfield and the indie-dance sound was unlike

anything else thefd done. Ihe singleYourTown

offered some promise butthe album seemed to

be unsure what itwas aimingfor. Commercially

speaking it was the final nail in the coffin. In 1994

the the end ofthe band was announced.

About time, I guess. But what a time it was.

movement 15


tAte-a-tAte

Dear Ellen,

ls God more Present in some

spaces than others? Of course not' we say:

he wouldn't be much of a God if he was.

Then we start reading Scripture and run into

problems. Although God is everylvhere then

I wonder whether PeoPte

who pray in pubtic with

great tucidity PraY on

own in a tike manner

Arks and Temples are sanctioned. The Old

Testament shows a God who sets boundaries

around his original holy mountain

before he will deign to 'touch down' (Exodus

19). All this creates a picture of God as a bit

like the Queen Mother: to be approached

with great deference, subtly flattered' but

never embarrassed.

The incarnation can be seen as another

form of containment: a different way of

giving God 'an address'. lf God created

everything, then surely everything must be

infused with God. But it is also so true to

say that is our Lord was more infused with

the divine that we are. I don't believe in a

cooped-up God - but it would appear that

God appeals and responds to the human

need for containment.

But what I want to ask is where does the

heart of an encounter with God lie? For

some the Church is a place to meet God'

Therefore the Church should not be afraid to

spend its money on great art, because art

has the power to take us out of ourselves,

cl6ser to God. The principle used by all

(good) artists is that of 'defamiliarisation'.

Good art can ta'ke people to a strange

place, a new place, an uncomfortable place

- and with the jolt of the new you get a jolt

of reality.

The Church is where people get together

(the New Testament word for.Church, ecclesia,

simply means a 'get together'). And

where people get together there will necessarily

be noise - this is a given.

God's use of silence in the Elijah in the

cave story is quite revealing. lt seems to be

all about listening and discernment and

attentiveness. At the heart of this story is a

joke: God's bombastic, loudmouthed

prophet never stops to listen.'. El'tjah is

unable to discern God in the silence, and

starts to repeat himself (1 Kings 19)'

Whether you are of the opinion that prayer

is something easy or something difficult

seems to depend on your personality, what

kind of books you read as well as what kind

of night you had. lt seems

thei I

to boil down to fundamental

differences in theologies

of revelation: to Put it

crudely, whether one is

tne kind of person who

says

"l met Jesus at the bus stop" or the

kind who says, "ultimately God is unknowable,

and I'd hate to Pin him down".

One often has cause to wonder whether

people who can pray in public with great

lucidity pray on their own in a like manner.

Silence confronts us with being on our own

'in secret' with God, with nowhere left to

hide. Part of the reason why we go to

Church might be as a rehearsal for being on

our own with God. And the way people pray

is a good index to what they believe about

God. The liturgy is a microcosm of daily life'

and if there is only noise in a service one

worries about where the silences will be in

daily living. We are all, not just some of us,

called to the prophetic task of the church.

And part of that calling is to discern the

voice of God. r ir

f t^^

Dear Tom,

t thinkthatthe definition of sacred

space is of utmost importance here. For me

the idea of sacred space is not about a

material place of bricks and mortar, set

apart as a place in which God is more

present, or manifests himself more

profoundly. I would define it as a place

within us, something personal which (,rows

as we spend time set apart exclusively and

wholly for God.

At the moment, when Jesus drew his

last breath on the cross, the temple curtain

was ripped in two, top to bottom' From this

time on the Holy of Holies no longer existed

in the physica/ sense but was internalised

and our bodies became the temple of the

Spirit (2 Corinthians 6:76)' There exists th,s

vital shift from Old to New Testament which

Jesus brings about, allowing us a direct

relationship with a livin{ God' We are not

enacting a reli$ion but livin$ a faith, it is a

constant reinterpreting, reunderstanding

and re-living of truth.lt rs a continuous

revelation that comes from spendingtime

with God, setting aside a specific 'sacred

space'for God.

Retigion, however,ls static - a cultural

mechanism, a set of traditions and rituals

which are habitual and lifeless' The whole

idea of sacredness is ideologically

constructed and props up the status quo of

relision: established by the few, for the

many. We shouldn't need prescribed rituals

to remind us of what God has done, our

focus should be on what God is doin!. The

movement 16


We take two people from opposite'sides of the fence'and put

them together in order to answer this:

ls God more present in some spaces than others?

And what kind of places of worship should we try to create?

performance of religion can be a diversion,

a distraction from maintaining a direct relationship

with God.

Now to jump to a further point that you

made with regard to art works 'in the

church'. You introduce the idea of "good art

as havingthe powertotake us outside ourse/ves"

and thatthe "church should not be

afraid to spend its money on great art."

Here you are buyinS into the notion of

'universally great art'. The problematic

words here are good and great

- how do we

Dear Ellen,

define what is good and bad in art? Surely

such a thint as taste is socially constructed

and personal to each individual. A piece by

Damien Hirst may 'transport' me

or have a profound effect on me,

where as it may utterly repulse or

disgustyou. How can a priest or

vicar

- one man - justify spending

corporate money on satisfyingj his

own tastes and pleasures? Surely

a church's financial resources

should be focused elsewhere

-

externally (that is, social action)

rather than on internal self gratification.

Finally you approach the subject of your

practices inside the church being focused

on the use ofsi/ence. You also pose the

question 'where does the heart of an

encounter with God lie?"

- and I think this

question is vital. An encounter with God

happens on both a corporate and personal

Ievel, within that inner sacred space. However

there is a certain dynamic when people

Eather together, and that dynamic needs

to be expressed and exploited, rather than be no outreach

-

denied. I would suggest that the time to be

still and silent before God is when one is

alone, and this is what you refer to with Elijah

in the cave

-

he was alone.

When we come together as ecclesia, we

need to ac4nowledge ourse/ves as part of a

wider body, the tihe for inner contemplation

and meditation happens in private and thus

feeds into our times together. Ihis gives the

space for celebration and building up the -

body in a corporate settrng. We need to get

away from this introspection to function and

interact as the effective body of Christ. The

idea of noise and celebration is certainly

not somethingthat is forbidden by God

-

many of the Psa/ms are loud and jubilatory

- surely celebration is to be encouraged.

€{(n^

I have a slight difficulty with your emphasis

on internalised sacred space as 'the only

sacred space we've got'. There is a sense in

which the presence of God's Spirit in all living

things is what makes them beautiful,

'sacred' to us. And, if art has the power to

take us outside ourselves, this can only be a

good thing. lt reminds us that the place of

revelation, of encounter with God, is primarily

outside ourselves: in creation, in other

people. lf we internalise too much, to the

extent that there's nothing left 'outside', we

might lose any sense of God as transcendent,

as 'out there'.

I would go as far as to say that without

art we die because art is a way into the

transcendent. Nor would I claim, as you do,

that the power of art to move us is

ultimately a matter of taste. Good art has

the power to 'defamiliarise' us: it surprises

us by presenting reality to us in an

unexpected way. And, as one theologian put

it, faith's name for reality is God. Art for me

is irreversibly caught up within the business

of worship. And without worship there can

no outreach or social

action that would have any Christian

integrity, that is.

You bring up the subject of ritual when

you say, "we shouldn't need prescribed rituals

to remind us of what God has done; our

focus should be on what God is doing". I

believe, however, that ritual has precisely

this power, to show us what God is doing.

And that it is only in the 'living out of' ritual

once we have 're-lived' what God has

already done for us

- that we are in a fit

state to see what God is doing, both in us

and in the world. I am arguing for the

possibility that ritual, like art, has a power

of its own.

C lC^^

Dear Tom,

By talking about sacred space as being

internal, I didn't imply that this was the only

space in which God is present. I agree God

is omnipresent in the universe, but the personalised

aspect of a relationship with God

cannot be ignored. lt is in that innermost

secret p/ace that, for me, an encounter with

God takes place. It is not a transcendent

experience: it is very much part of who I

am, and is about a deeper level of self,

ratherthan an outsde or beyond oneself.

What worries me about this external idea of

a God encounter is its potential for a duality:

this separation of the sacred and the

You are buying into the idea of 'universatty

great art'. How can a priest or vicar -

one man - justify spending corporate

money on satisfying his own tastes?

movement 17

secular, of spiritual and material, has

throughout history caused the retreat of the

Church from society and culture.

Sure/y Jesus came to allow us a holistic

lifestyle and is as much concerned about

the mundane as the spiritual. l'm still very

sceptical aboutyour use ofthe word good

with reference to works of art. For me taste

- the appreciation of beauty -

is always

going to be sub.1'ective. I would like to

believe, as you do, that art has the power to

effect me on a level beyond that of the visual,

but I've not yet experienced it. As for it

being a prerequisite for social action

- we

can't put a hierarchy on these th,ngs. yes,

art can be used as vehicle for worship, but

surely social action can be used to Elortfy

God in just the same way.

Co m pa rtmentalised Ch risti an ity is

dangerous.

€((n'^

Tom Lusty ls tralning for prlesthood at Mlrfleld

college. lt is Anglotathollc ln fiavour

wlth an emphasis on the sacraments and

selfdlsclpllne.

Ellen Thornhill ls studylng Art Hlstory and

Theory ln Leeds. She ls lnvolved ln a cel].

based church plant called Revrve, whlch

alms to expless falth creatlvely ln the

context of the culture of whlch it ls a part.


What's your greatest fear?

\flhat would 6e in your Room 101?

William Hague in boxer shorts

What is in Room 707 changes with

time. You might not know what is in

there until the door bursts open one

day. Sometimes it's a question of finding

someone e/se who knows where

the light switch is, then whatever is in

there might

not seem so terrible after all. Perhaps.

The tiny screaming mice that

swarm around Bagpuss in the

old children's programme of the

same name. Are you aware that

they cry, "We will kill you"?

The thought of all those stained glass

windows that Cromwell, like a spoiled

toddler, wrecked in the name of

some.versionof-God

Getting eaten by a shark whilst witnessing

Falling

down

steps;

especially

those

in big

towers.

Heights

my girlfriend having an affair.

The darkness and unknowing: the

vulnerability that comes from having

no idea of how to defend yourself.

Darkness destroys your first defence.

Our friend from East

Timor was not scared of

anything. Maybe after

all he has been throuSh

the most frishtenin$

moments of his life are

behind him.

movement 18


G ia nt spiders

Being

sta bbed.

After splitting up with my ex- I had this fear that she, after

barely speaking to me for two years, would suddenly ask me

to go out with her again. That really freaked me out.

I'm scared that l'm

not socia lisin{,

having sex or

travellin{ often

enaugh.

Being crushed in a

stampede of any kind.

But particularly one of

stilletoed wimmen on

their way to Cliff Richard

concert.

Grocodiles

and

alligators

Gher's

wardrobe

I'm scared of missing

the last train home

from a strange part of

the world.

Ever since lwas a kid, I've had nightmares about

being in burnin{ rooms with no way out: doors shut,

windows which won't break and only open two inches.

The heatrs intense and overpowering. I can't breathe

andcanfeel panicrising' Aburningsmell pervades

No matter how hard '-'- vou trv. '

everything, lt is me who is burning.

being unable to communicate

with anyone. And worse: they

think they know what you are

trying to express' In a word, theologians. lf I hear the wardexegesis

a$ain I ain't sure where it'll end. And that phrase,

'in the Greek". I don't care really what each sin$le

word meant; it's what it means that interests me.

movement 19


Graeme Burk argues that ER and The Bill ftout the most basic rule of storytelting:

by refusing to have a beginning, a middte and an end. That's why they're so good

Endless cycle

tr ******'*'''r*gillib*lil+#*i*r

claiming to be in labour. She is not, has to decide whether to take her

and Dr Greene gives her some comatose husband off life support'

medication to make her more lucid. We enterthe lives of these people and

0ncethewoman iscoherent, itturns experiencetheirjoysand heartache,

out that she is pregnant

- Dr Greene and come to grips with the painful

neglected to give a thorough examina- choices they often have to make' But

tion - and the medication she has just as suddenlythey are gone. We

been given may have damaged her never find out how they resolve these

We were stunned. How il:ili"'

coutd a pre-watershed iUT:'.'

crime drama thrust us n'unu'lfro

in the middte of this li;;:|ffi'J

and then not resotve it? ilif:ffii

is a far cry

unborn chitd. The woman, who was off when Grange Hira trtrnltiJ,lt fstt

her meds in order to protect the price for not saying no to drugs, or lhe

unborn child in the first place, is left to sweeney either won or lost in the fight

consider whether or not she is capable against crime. Even medical series

of ta king care of a ch ild and if she like Dr Finlals Casebook, or it could

should have an abortion. Do we See be argued, Casualty, usually gave you

this woman again? Probably not. a resolution to people's struggles' lf

A couple of episodes earlier, we we were introduced to someone

see Physician's AssistantJeannie and their problem early on,

Boulet treat a man who is experiencing

kidney failure. He's already had a

you knewtheywould be

kidney transplant and it turns out he's

now drinking away his second kidney.

Jeannie agonises over the moral

issues and then blows the whistle on

him to the donor program. What happens

to this man? Who knows?

Welcome to the world of non-closure'television:

a world where dramatic

situations transpire before the viewe/s

eye; where we never see any resolution;

where very human experiences

are witnessed briefly before moving

on. Anton Chekhov once said ifyou

see a loaded gun in Act One of a play,

the gun musttherefore be used in Act

Two. Non-closure television ignores

this rule of dramatic resolution

completely. We may see the loaded

gun, but whether or not we see it again

is another matter entirely.

ER is perhaps the leading American

series to practice this form of

entertainment. During the course of

an episode, the doctors and nurses in

cured, orwould make a

tough decision, or would

die bythe end ofthe

episode. You would never

simply not know what

they did.

British television is

becoming increasingly

fond of non-closure television.

ITV in particular

has made it a staple of

its evening programming.

Series such as Londorls

Burnin9pul us as viewers

in the midst of human

beings who face the loss

math for these people. For decades,

British crime drama has been fond of

presenting viewers with a glimpse into

life's rich - and often sordid -

pageant; but only a glimpse. This

began as far backas Z-Cars and continues

even today in what can be

called its spiritual grandchild, Ihe Bil/.

I rememberthe firsttime my

flatmate and | - both of us Canadians

- saw Ihe Bil/. The episode in question

found the stalwart PCs of Sun Hill

investigating a shooting where the

only witness, it transpired, was in fact

an illegal immigrant living in hiding

under a restaurant. The witness had

been an au pairwith a wealthyforeign

family who abused her, and she fled,

fearing her life. By the end ofthe

episode, the suspected marksman

was looking to get off, and the witness

was about to be deported.

My flatmate and I were convinced

this was the first of a two part story,

but the next day found the Sun Hill CID

tracking down anothervillain on an

unrelated matter. We were stunned.

How could a pre-watershed crime

drama thrust us in the middle of this

and then not resolve it?

Very easily, it turned oul.The Bill

is an expert in non-closure TV. One of

the best moments on television this

summer -

proving that the switch to

hour-long episodes may be the best

thing to happen to the programme -

was an extended episode which featured

a PC's investigation ofthe skeletal

remains of a woman found in an

excavated Blitz-era crash site. By the

end ofthe episode, the PC had

tracked down the woman's killer, now

in his eighties and an invalid. He was

a close friend who had accidentally

killed herwhen he pushed her into

wreckage 50 years ago and is still

close to the victim's sister. The

episode ends with the PC walking

away, as the broken, sad old man is

left to talk with the sister... leaving so

much unanswered or unresolved.

Wxene nEsolrmor GotEs

in non-closure TV is through the ongoing

characters. We may never know

what happens to the schizophrenic

woman's pregnancy, but during this

series of ER we get to see how Dr

Peter Benton tries to deal with his

infant son's deafness. Benton's

of their sunoundings,

their families and indeed

their lives. And as

painstakingly as it often

sets up these situations

- the "before the fire"

sequences are often

harrowing to watch -

we never see the aftermovement

20

-a


esolve to see his son have surgery for

hearing implants - a process which

will obliterate any residual hearing -

is slowly eroded as he encounters

challenges from the disabled and from

the deaf. lts compellingviewingto be

sure. As are the trials of his girlfriend,

Dr Corday, who undergoes the profound

humiliation of becoming a resident

again in orderto say in the US.

Likewise in lhe Bil/ we have a

large cast of engaging characters. And

while we know the characters more

from a few identifiable traits (Reg Hollis,

annoying butsweet; DCI Lyons,

hard-bitten but fair) and the actors'

charm ratherthan fully{leshed out

writing, we do have their interaction to

a

l.'ilF

keep us entertained. (Am I the only

one who wishes Polly and Luke had

got together?)

The continuity that the regular

characters bring only enhances the

lack of closure of the drama they are

involved in. The lack of closure affects

the characters - not surprising, since

that's rather the whole point of it - but

it also heightens

us to the dilemmas

created by

the open-ended

plots because

we have a surrogate

in the regular

cast.

There should

also be no big

surprise that

most ofthe

series l've

described are

also series

!

about

{ professions that

help people.

lnteracting with

society automatically

opens

oneselfto problems

without

end. The job

description simply

does not

allow for more

than treating the

immediate

problem at hand. Who the people

being helped are, and what they will

do, becomes moot. Programmes like

ER andThe Bill are possibly the most

realistic shows on television, just for

admitting this very fact.

Curiously, the series about Christian

communities that exist in Britain -

none presently exist in the US - are

set in rural idylls. Ihe Vicar of Dibley

and Ballykissange/ both involve a

vision of a community that is entirely

based on living in a village of

eccentrics. And yet, increasingly,

Christian community is not about this

at all. lt's about being involved with

people briefly, journeying with them

for a while, helping where you can and

then partingwlth them and never

knowing what happened to them.

And the stories in the Gospels

often have little closure too. We will

never know what happened to the

woman at the well, or the lawyer who

had to bury his father, orthe woman

caught in adultery. We don't know how

much, or for how long, these people

were changed. All we know is about

the quality ofthe interaction between

them and the lead character in the

drama. And so itgoes. /{t-

Graeme Burkedited Movement 98-100

and masterminded the feast that was

the in retrospective last issue. He is

now back in his native Canada.

Greenbelt's death knell?

Absotutely not says Stephen Awre. Although it is changing its venue and format,

GB remains the most important Christian festivat after Christmas and Easter.

And no-one is taking that way from us.

FOR THE past few years all I ever

heard from my friends was - "you

must go to Greenbelt, you must go to

Greenbelt!" 0n August Bank Holiday

weekend this year I finally capitulated

and - though slightly wary about the

po0r weather the festival has endured

in recent years

-

packed my tent for

three days and nights of unadulterated

pleasure.

Greenbelt is like a small town

(although this year it was rather

scaled-down). From the campsite you

could gaze across the valley at a skyline

of giant tents, stalls, colour,

music, lights and, most important of

all, people from every kind offaith

and, probably, those with no faith at

all - just sheer curiosity! My concerns

about the weather were comprehensively

dismissed by persistent, warm

sunlight. lt was a joy to have the time

and space to reflect about faith, life

and why it is fun to completely fill

someone's tent with balloons! There

was a constant and exhilarating buz

throughout the festival.

There is actually an frustratingly

large number of things to do at Greenbelt.

The timetable was crammed full

oftalks by such inspirational people

asJohn Bell (of the lona Community)

L Fat & Frantic: re-formed to play

main stage and close the 25th

Greenbelt festival .

movement 21

and many others from around the

world. Two music stages offered a

continuous (well, almost) variety of

folk, jaz, dance and popular music.

The site was generously

scattered with fairtrade shops, selling

clothes and international food (including

an organic bakery!), and a wellstocked

bookshop and information

stalls for many organisations.

Greenbelt is, of course, a Christian

festival and a space for all Christians,

regardless of their denomination, to

gather and celebrate the faith in God

that they all share. There were

countless opportunities for worship,

from large formal services to smaller,

more informal prayer tents and gatherings.

You could even join a religious

community at their campsite for

evening prayer and cocoa.

Greenbelt has been on the go for

twenty-five years and has become a

by-word for Christian unity. The distinctive

nature of Greenbelt is that it

bridges not simply the gulf between

Christian churches, but the generation

gap as well and it is a shame that

'teenagers', in effect, will be less likely

to enjoy the company of other generations

next year. Thus, it is a shame, in

my opinion, that Greenbelt'98 was

the last of its kind. Don't panic!

Greenbeltwill be back in 1999, but

the original format has been changed.

The bands might be bigger at Glastonbury

- butthe vision isn't. Choose

Greenbelt in'99.

Stephen Awre is the National Co-ordinator

for the Catholic Student Council

Y Nert year there will be'Greenbelt'

at an indoor venue with a seminar

based program (30th July - 2nd

August 1999). And a new outdoor

music festival called 'Free State'

(27th-3oth August 1999).


1r

Tim Mackenzie assesses a new biography of J.R.R. Totkien that tries to ctaim him as

a Christian apologist comparable to Chesterton or C.S. Lewis

Tolkien: fact, fantasy and fibs

-F/-

Tomeu: Meru nuo Mnu

byJoseph Pearce

Harper Collins Publishers

GEI READY for more Tolkien. 0n top of

being voted Book of the Century in

Waterstone's 1997 Readers' Poll,

Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings is currently

being transfened to the silver

screen as a 3-paft epic by New

Zealand film director PeterJackson. To

the dismay of its many detractors,

Tolkien's grand tale of self-sacrificial

heroism and adventure shows no

signs of vanishing from the readers'

shelves.

Yet Tolkien-detractors there certainly

are, and Pearce's book is written

as a direct rejoinder to the vitriol

directed aIThe Lord of the Rtnf,s in

the wake of the Waterstone's poll. At

best.Tolkien's detractors claim that

The Lord ofthe RinSs is adolescent

and escapist fiction for those who can

not cope with the real world. At worst,

it is the proto-fascist work of a reactionary

ideologue with covert designs

on his readers.

Pearce unashamedly attempts to

defend Tolkien from the antipathy of

these critics by means of biographical

and theoretical investigation. First, he

examines those biographical incidents

which may have shaped Tolkien's literary

creations. Several important

themes in Tolkien's fiction - the dignity

of ordinary people, the beauty of the

natural world, the ugliness of mechanisation

- can be attributed to his

upbringing in both rural and industrial

England and to the devastating experiences

ofthe trenches. Pearce then

examines Tolkien's theory of myth

which influenced the way he wrote.

Myth, Tolkien believed, leads towards

the light, and can in fact be the only

nation of Tolkien's works is

attributable to their Christian foundations.

Tolkien's defence to the charge

that faerie stories are escapist is a

case in point. His response elaborates

the Christian view that life in a fallen

world is a life in exile: "Why should a

man be scorned, if, finding himself in

prison, he tries to get out and go

home?". All Tolkien's imaginative writings

(but especi ally The Lord of the

Rinf,s and The Silmarillion) represent

the reflections of a committed Christian

on death, immortality and the

longing for eternity. They concern, in

their author's words, "the mystery of

the love of the world in the hearts of a

race 'doomed'to leave and seemingly

lose it". They point, in Pearce'sterms,

to 'the fullness of reality'; through the

'physical' to the'metaphysical'. ln

addressing these inescapable human

preoccupations, Pearce argues that

Tolkien's work is anything but facile.

Tolkien: Man and Myth thus provides

a helpful (if not especially original)

introduction to the religious

dimensions of Tolkien's work. Yet, in

his insistence th alThe Lord of the

Rings is a work of the Christian imagination,

Pearce runs into some dangers.

Although lam an admirerof

Tolkien's achievement and a sympathiser

with his views on the truthtelling

potential of myth, I fear that

Pearce's attempt to claim Tolkien as a

Christian apologist is s0mewhat overstated.

For a start, establishing that a

literary work is consistent with Christian

theology does not automatically

justiry its literary quality. Further, while

it is possible to read and enjoy Ihe

Lord of the Rings with no knowledge

of its Christian underpinnings, Pearce

suggests that knowledge of Tolkien's

philosophical and theological beliefs

is as necessary for understanding the

book as it is lor understanding Dante.

While such knowledge may add to a

reade/s appreciation ofTolkien, this

conclusion almost turns The Lord of

the Rings into the theological allegory

which Tolkien insisted it was not. lt is

the work of a Christian imagination,

but it does not depend on Christian

theology in the overt way The Divine

Cornedy does.

0f course, the Christian background

to Middle Earth is fundamental,

yet Pearce perhaps focuses on

Tolkien's theology to the exclusion of

other important influences. He does

not, for example, treat the influence of

Northern mythology at any len$h, but

he does discuss such issues as the

similarities between Tolkien and G.K.

Chesterton. This discussion is interesting,

but as Pearce himself admits,

Chesterton had little direct influence

on Tolkien. Although Tolkien occasionally

quotes Chesterton with approval,

much of the affinity between them is

attributable to their common faith.

Pearce appears t0 have launched the

comparison because he knows a good

deal about Chesterton and not

because it adds anything particularly

vital to his defence ofTolkien.

ln the final analysis, Tolkien: Man

and Myth falls slightly short of its stated

purpose. lt does not really meet

the dust-jackets claim of being'a

literary life', leaning heavily on

Humphrey Carpente/s biographies of

Tolkien (1977), his entertaining book

on the lnklings (1978) and his collection

ofTolkien's letters (1981). Ihose

seeking biography should probably go

to Carpenterfirst, and with the information

which Carpenter supplies,

readers may deduce for themselves

much of what Pearce says. Alternatively,

although Pearce provides a useful

sketch ofTolkien's literary value,

those interested in Tolkien's merits as

an author may wish to consult Brian

Rosebury's bookTolkien: A Critical

Assessment or Charles Moseley's

J.R.R.Tolkien. Both develop more critically

issues on which Pearce touches

without lapsing into the name-calling

of Tolkien's ideological detractors that

Pearce rightly attacks.

I am left with the nagging feeling

that I have been rather hard on

Pearce. His book is a useful summary

of Tolkien's thought for those readers

who sense that there is more behind

Middle Earth than Tolkien's imagination

alone. lt marshalls a useful anay

of quotations from Tolkien himself and

from some of his commentators. One

of the sagest of these comes from

Tolkien's friend and encourager, C.S.

Lewis. Pearce rightly quotes Lewis'

ffi'.,i'*::lJ'J#5,ilii'5, Some ca[[ Totkien escapist:

inexpressible".

;*il:',',',Tfi'*ll',11r, "Why should a man be scorned , if

and biography are united

rorTorkieninhiscathoric finding himsetf in prison, h€t tries

faith, and suggests furtherthattheriteiiryrasci-

tO get OUt and gO hOme?tt

insightful reviews of Ihe Lord of the

Rings. Lewis foresaw, rightly, that "we

should ration ourselves in our

re-readings", but insists that it is a

great book because, after reading it,

"we know at once that it has done

things to us". Tolkien's ordinary readers

would agree, For all its shortcomings,

the unashamed romance of lhe

Lord of the Rints continues, as Lewis

said, to dery the cynicism and antiromanticism

ofthe age. ln this, Pearce

is surely rightto insist its harmony with

the Christian vision of renewal. tlr?

Tim Mackenzie is a PhD student in

English Literature at Glasgow University.

He read The Lord ofThe Rints

aged 8 and has lived in Middle-earth

ever since.

movement 22


Reading rights

Drnrn Blossorvrs: Reructrotrs

FnoN n PRsotteR or Corusctrrucr

by Mumia Abu-Jamal

Plough Publishing House

THIS WRITER describes himself as "a

writer, a journalist, a columnist and a

professional revolutionary." ln

personal stories, poems and reflections,

he explores questions of life,

materialism, God and the politics of

the media. He recalls the suffering

caused by Christians through slavery,

the occupation of Native American

land and present-day racism and the

death penalty.

This authorwrites, not in a booklined

study, butfrom a cell in America's

Death Row, in Pennsylvania's

super-maximum security prison. Pennsylvania's

Supreme Court rejected all

tioning and uncomfortable writing.

Readers will discover how someone

thoroughly isolated from society can

be incredibly connected to contemporary

issues and questions. (AJ)

Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng

was recently released after an

Amnesty lnternational campaign, he

had been held in a labour camp as a

prisoner of conscience for the last 18

years. Trr CouRlce ro SrnHo At-oHr

(Penguin) is a collection of letters

from prison and otherwritings. His

writings helped to inspire the students

who protested for democracy at

Tiananmen Square and the prodemocracy

campaigners in Hong

Kong. (AJ)

South African poet Antjie Krog's

TnE Couurny or Mv Sruu- (Jonathan

righting wrongs

Article 79: everyone has the right to

freedom and expression.

his appeals. As I write this review,

Gape) is a collection of reports and

Mumia Abu-Jamal expects the Governor

of Pennsylvania to

reflections on the Truth and Reconciliation

Committee. Her

sign his death

wanant any day now.

task of listening to months 0f testimonies

of victims of abuse and vio-

personal nanative follows

This book is a welcome solace for

this brave

attempt of a nation coming to terms

any student who is weary of bland,

lence. The work is as good an answer

with its past, from

irrelevant

the Committee's

academic texts. Here is a

as you'll get to what it means to be a

chocolate box of provocative, queslegislative

genesis to the hanowing South African today.

...Ernd the best of the rest

rcvlews

Related but different: Waterstone's

have just released an elegant

f, 1 pamphlet to celebrate

50 years ofthe Universal Declarations

of Human Rights. lt is very

wittily introduced and illustrated

by Ralph Steadman - he argues

that the struggle forjustice can

only be entrusted to humans as

individuals. "E\pect nothing from

the state except your passport

and your ticket home to a prison

of your country choice. A free

hotel for you and your kind. The

rats that came ashore with the

cargo have got a sporting chance

of survival. They can hide and set

up house and they don't need a

passport, and they don't speak

out except in times of plague."

He ends more positively with this

blessing: "May the whole world

reach a state of Mandela, tomorrow

if necessary, but preferably

today." You may have had a sneak preview

with The lndie publishing the Articles

day-by-day along with Steadman's

abrasive cartoons. 1tw)

Snres or Buss nno

Yrnnntrue : fiE MARKs AND

MEANS OF AIIIHEI,ITIC CHRISNAN

SPIRMJATITY

byJohn Bell

Wild Goose Publishing

IFYOU'RE a novice to

the world of liberal

Christian thinking,

an lona junkie, or

simply in need of

a bit of spiritual

reassurance then

this may well be a book worth

picking up. lt s one of the many books

I wish l'd read when I was 18 so as to

have avoided all those years of angstridden

decision making - had I read it

then, the fog (caused mainly I suspect

by too many CU meetings) may have

lifted just that little bit sooner.

#FF

The book is a real mix of sermons

and speeches made'in a varieg of

settings 0n a varie$ ofthemes. There

is little in the way of chronology or link

between the'chapters' and Bell

makes no apology for this, and somehow

it doesn't seem t0 matter anyway.

What does matter is that he makes

sense. He takes issues and texts you

thought you had heard the last word

on, turns them upside down and presents

them to you in a way that you

had perhaps never even considered.

His sgle is light and accessible with

an almost Bill Bryson-esque love of

anecdotes. Academic it is not, but

challenging it most certainly is.

This is no Noddy's guide to

carefree Christian living.

It challenges the reader

to live holiqtically,

thoughtfully, creatively

instead of purely, passively

and in the Christian (or secular

for that matter) monoculture.

He challenges traditional

teaching on old chestnuts

like homosexuality and the

Ten Commandments but also

applies the Bible to the World

Bank, multi-national companies

and the lnternet. 0ne ofthe most liberating

things he does is to dispel the

image of God as a 'celestial sadist'

who enjoys watching us continue to

fail to live up to the required moral

standard. lnstead he unveils a God

who created us all as unique, thinking

individuals, who can change his mind,

who despises the same things that we

despise, who is probably worth getting

to know again. lts not a book of easy

answers or of traditional thinking and

ils not for those who think they

already know what they do (or don't)

believe as they may find it too 'easy'.

It's a book for people like me who are

weary of others forever telling them

what to believe and want to think

something out for themselves. ln

short: a book so steeped in that which

is SCM l'm surprised we didn't write it

ourselves. 1cs1

FoR Goo's Sme... Uruw (Wild Goose

Publishing) provides a startlingly

broad and diverse perspective as to

why unity of the church is a goal all

Christians should be striving for. Each

of the eight contributions which make

up the book combines the author's

account of his or her experiences with

the more general conclusions he or

she has drawn from them.

I identified two common themes

between the chapters. Firstly optimism

that there is at least a latent

willingness for denominations to reconcile

their differences, and secondly

a strong beliefthatthis should be a

priority.

THrs ls My Srony -

Voyeces on rHe Sel

or Fnm (Sea of Faith Network)

SHARING personal stories is for me

one ofthe most useful ways of exploring

theology. lt is all to easy to

become angry and confrontational

about abstract concepts and forget

one is listening to a human voice. The

book 'This is my story' provides a collection

ofthese personal stories, all

from members of the Sea of Faith network.

lt is not, as one ofthe contributors

points out, "a learned defence of

non-realism" (for that is the theological

thread throughout Sea of Faith)

nor an explanation of how each 'found

Don' (Don Cupitt, the philosopher and

central figure in the Network).

Each presents a unique struggle

with the questions relating to the

As a liberal Anglican struggling to

reconcile my understanding of faith

with the rather more evangelical

approach ofthose around me, I seized

upon the opportunity of reading "For

God's Sake... Unity" in the hope that it

would give me some guidance as to

how to g0 about this task. ln fact, I did

notfind a step-by-step programme,

but I was at least convinced that the

struggle is worth the effort.

The book also served as useful

reminderof the widersignificance of a

divided church within a divided world.

Maxwell Craig s account of events in

South Africa, Bosnia and Northern lreland

were particularly poignant. (cc)

understanding of language, faith and

religion. Needless to say the feelings

are very mixed and personal butthere

was a great deal which struck a cord

with me, my story and my idea of

beauty. A quotation from one may be

the best summary: "l have only my

own experiences from which to build

the collage which you will view. They

may seem rather naive perhaps, simple

at least, but were very real in

shaping me. My awakenings, as I have

called them, have merged to build

walls within which I dream my daydreams,

the only defence I have

against my fears."(cM)

B00K REVIEWERS: Catherine Carfoot,

Alwyn Jones, Colin Mason, Carrie

Styles & Tim Woodcock

,;i A movement 23


-l

'l; i*i

* BIG TIME SERPENTALITY

I'm big: I've made it. The

last issue featured a Best

0f Serpent, a greatest

hits. Soon I'll be releasing

satirical duets with

Elton John and Bette

Midler. My label, SCM

publications (a

subsidiary of Sony)

ananged "an

audience with"

show with all the

friends I've accumulated

over the years.

The studio was

empty.

* RHYMING

SINGLffONS: Have

you seen those T-shirts

that say "l like the Pope, the

Pope smokes Dope"? 0bviously

this scurrilous slogan has no

basis in reality and was chosen

simply because the words

rhyme (and it is a great deal

easier, metrically speaking,

than the Archbishop

of Canterbury).

Having said that,

the rhyme is as

good as any -

it is equally

unlikely that

you would

I

associate John Paul

with'hope','grope' and'elope'. As in:

"l love the Pope and we're gonna to

elope."

* HELLISH DGM: The following is an

actual question given on a University

of Washington chemistry mid term: "ls

Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or

endothermic (absorbs heat)? Support

your answer with a proof."

Most of the students wrote proofs of

their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas

cools off when it expands and heats

up when it is compressed) or some

variant. one student, however, wrote

the following:

"First, we need to know how the mass

of Hell is changing in time. So, we

need to know the rate that souls are

moving into Hell and the rate they are

leaving. I think that we can safely

assume that once a soul gets to Hell,

it will not leave. Therefore, no souls

are leaving. As for how many souls are

entering Hell, let's look at the different

religions that exist in the world today.

Some of these religions state that if

you are not a member of their religion,

you will go to Hell. Since there are

more than one of these religions and

since people do not belong to more

than one religion, we can projectthat

all people and allsouls go to Hell.

With birth and death rates as they are,

we can expect the number of souls in

Hell to increase exponentially.

,

Now, we look at the rate

of change of the volume

in Hell because

Boyle's Law states

that in order for the

temperature and

pressure in Hell

to stay the same, the volume of

Hell has to expand as souls are

added. This gives two possibilities.

)

1 - lf Hell is expanding at a slower

rate than the rate at which souls

enter Hell, then the temperature

and pressure in Hell will

increase until all Hell breaks

loose.

2 - 0f course, if Hell is expanding at a

rate faster than the increase of souls

in Hell, then the temperature and

pressure will drop until Hell freezes

0ver.

So which is it? lf we accept the postulate

given to me by Ms. Therese

Banyan during my Freshman year

'That itwill be a cold night in Hell

before I sleep with you,'and take into

account the fact that I still have not

succeeded in having sexual relations

with her, then, #2 cannot be true, and

thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic."

The student got the only A.

* VIRTUALLY FORGIVEN:

The categorisation ofsins should be

broadened to taken account of all the

modern ways of sinning. I'd suggest

mortal, venial and virtual sin. Obviously

the new kind is a low-grade sin,

covering only those sins commited in

cyberspace: copying software, using

CAPS thoughtlessly in e-mails, impersonating

sixteen year old nymphomaniacs

in chat-rooms. Sins should be

confessed electronically, by sending

an e-mail to fathe@sinulike.com with

"Forgive me Father I have virtually

sinned" in the first line.

This is not as strange as it seems. The

Vatican have announced a special

offer - the year 2000 will offer all year

round special offer on forgiveness. Thir

marketing people have decided to target

smokers and drinkers, who can

earn an indulgence by abstaining

for a single day! The decree is

called a Papal Bull. Exactly. The

next step is surely theloyalty

card: "Have you got an RC card,

sir?" Save up enough points and

you get a wedding, christening

or funeral or your choice.

* MoNK FIGHT: Recently the Buddhist

Monks of Chogye Temple in

Seoul have had a few brotherly bustups.

lt leftseven people injured and a

whole lot of 'oranges' to go the laundry.

Assmebled riot police were too

amused to step in. The fight was

between the Purifiaction and Reform

Commitee and the Consititutional

Safeguards Comittee. They need better

names for the gangs and, quite

frankly, The Safeguarders wouldn't

do. Mods and Rockers, Roundheads

and Cavaliers, Axis and Allies - all

great names to rally around. But

there really is no hope forthese

people: they were scrapping

JELLY: You

can sue

anyone

for

anything

these days as

long as your lawyer

about the election of a new

administrator.

* SUBLIME

q

is up to it. A Tennessee

womean sued her

pharmacy for supplying the

contraception that failed her. You

can sympathise with her when she

says, "Who has time to sit around

reading directions these days,

especailly when you're sexually

aroused?" Though she couldn't have

been in that much of a rush:- she had

time to make toast, spread the contracepive

jelly on it and eat it before sex.

*JESUS WENT INTER.RAILING

An Edinburgh academic has written a

book, Jesus The Master Builder, suggesting

that Jesus was an well-travelled

architect. "l can't be sure butthe

evidence is there if you look for it". The

word tekton, usually translated as

'carpente/, is closerto'man skilled in

woodwork, metalwork or masonry'.

The argument proceeds thus: he probably

would have had worked on Sepphoris,

a new city and the local prestige

project. Joseph ofArimathea was

a friend and patron, he dealt in tin. Tin

came from Cornwall. Seeing as the

trip was on expenses and he had a few

druid friends he wanted to catch up

with, Jesus probably came with him to

Britain. So Q.E.D.:Those feet did in

ancient times walk upon England's

mountains green.

By the same count: Jesus didn't make

iit big for a few years

-

we know nothing

about him between 11 and 30. He

probably had a gap year, he probably

went travelling. And probably went

inter-railing round Europe and wouldn't

have missed Londonium outfrom

his itinerary.

* THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO BILL

lln the beginning was the Word and

then Word 98 was released.

* FRY-UP FRAY-UP: The things going

on just outside the gates of Buckingham

Palace are becoming as weird as

the stuff going on inside. Apparently

the competition between vendors for

the right to sell low-quality food at

high prices has resulted in protection

rackets and gang fights. You've got to

fight... for your right... t0 fry-up! The

lucrative Palace patch is controlled by

a man called, believe it or it, 'Turkish

Dave': he threatens to turn those who

do not co-operate into kebabs. He has

been able to dominate the terrority

because of dwindling powers of old

timer local crooks Greek Phil and German

Liz.

*D0ME-STICITY: So it's been settled.

The Millennium Dome's figure to represent

humanity will not be a woman

as originally planned (represents only

half the population and is kinda frightening

at that scale); not genderless

(that's just silly - it doesn't

exist); but a golden cuddling

heterosexual couple.

During the time of

Dome is open the couple

will snugle up a

bit closer, the foreplay

will progress throughout

2000... When the dome

o'fi1?,ix'#Jll,'.xffi ITL

she will be light up a

o 3.tJl;,T.*no*"

o

O

sponsorship deal.

The only one of the 14 Millennium

Dome zones not have a sponsor is

the Spirit Zone. Itwill include a Zen

Buddhlst Garden and a monastic

cloister but no business wants t0 go

near it. Your suttestions please...

movement 24


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White poppigs ror o sorer,nonvioren,futurg.

80 ye(ofs since the wor to end oll wqrs, yet in the lost ten yeors,

2 million children hove been kired in wors oroundtheworrd

Time for . GUltufe Of pegGe ' o new cenrury of nonviolence.

Time fo,. €dUG|Clf iOn for peoce inrernorionol co-operorion

. redirection of militory resources to peoce building

Join us in the work for o sofer ond sustoinoble future

ond weor o White Poppy this yeor. White Poppies ond o

wide ronge of reloted moteriol ore ovoilobe from the PPU

4l b Brecknock Rd Loncion N/0BT

0171 424 9444 wwyv gn opc.orglpeocepleclge/

I

PEACE PIEDOE UNION WORKING FOR PEACE WITHOUT VIOLENCE


It doesn't have to

be this wayooo

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SCM is an opportunity to explore faith

in an open-minded, not a simple-minded way.

It is a'place where it is okay to ask questions,

debate issues and laugh at men in uniforms.

I

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lf you are interested in the contents of this magazine and SCM sounds like

your kind of thing, please get in touch. But ask mum and dad before you

use the phone.

CONTACT: the Student Christian Movement, Westhill College, 1'4/LG Weoley Park Road,

Selly Oak, Birmingham 829 6LL. l: OI21,41,2404 e: SCM@charis.co.uk

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