Movement 99

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MORE TEA FATHER?

So long to Father Ted

and his friends

THE MYSTERIES

Behind the scenes at the

RSC's radical retelling of

the Gospel

getting beyond

he

on

academic debat

legalising cannabis

THE MAGAZINE OF THE

STUDENT CHRISTIAN

MOVEMENT

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The recent death of Dermot Morgan also brought an end to an enduring comic creation,

Father Ted. Terry Orsett offers a tribute

Fathe? Ted YYe

,

Hardly Knew Ye

l^ : : :fl?'; J,T:: iit,.l"" Ini,".,"

I delav the premiere of the

V current series of Father Ted bv

one week. lt was a decision that was,

for all its good intentions, completely

wrong.

I suppose it was thought to be in

bad taste to show it-in the same way

that planners regularly postpone

episodes of London's Burning because

there happened to be a fire in that

week's episode which resembled the

one in Woking the previous Thursday.

But what none of these people think

about is how cathartic laughter is. And

Father Zed is especially cathartic,

because it's especially funny. lt would

have been a fitting testament to Dermot

Morgan, who in his portrayal of Father

Ted has created one of this generation's

most enduring comic creations, not to

have postponed airing the current series.

It could have been a sort of televisual

wake.

I was first introduced to Father Ted

and his fellow denizens of the Craggy

lsland parochial house by friends who

were atheists. For them, the scheming

but incompetent Father Ted, the clueless

but sweet Father Dougal, and the

catatonic but lascivious Father Jack

took the mickey out of the authoritarian

Catholic structure they grew up with.

But it's not only those who are secular

who erupt into riotous laughter. Some of

the ir,ost devoted fans of the series l've

encountered are the Clergy themselves.

Ithink that is'the brilliance of Father

Ted. lt's a comedy about the church

where people on the inside and the

outside of the institution can have a

good laugh at it.

Father Ted's creators, Graham

Linehan and Arthur Matthews, have

gone to extraordinary lengths not to

offend people, far more than I think they

needed to. Ted and Dougal are never

seen conducting Mass or visitationseven

conversation about their priestly

functions are limited to a few isolated

instances here and there. For Linehan

and Matthews, the comedy is about a

bunch of inept people with lots of time

on their hands.

Which is somewhat misleading,

because these people with time on their

hands are priests,

and the priesthood in

Father Ted is

populated by people

who are. frankly, not

that bright. They are people

like Ted, who are in an arrested

state of adolescence (or, like

Dougal, never even got that

far). lt's sad but people like

Ted exist and they became

priests because, probably

like Ted. they couldn't

get a date while in

school (with either

gender) and they

found a profession

where not much is

really required of

them. ln this respect,

Father led is perhaps

more subversive than

Jimmy McGovern's

Priest: it's one thing

to expose an institution

for its cruelty;

it's another to

expose the incompetence

which masks

itself behind virtue

and piety on a

regular basis.

Even so, there's

another level to

appreciating Father

Ied which isn't

discussed as much. For it's not just a

comedy about authority figures, it's a

comedy about being Christian. I think

most of us, if we really searched our

hearts, would find that we blunder

through our lives and the moral conundrums

as Ted does: our lies snowball on

us. We are not as devout or as moral as

we pretend to be. At the end of the day

there's a lot of shrieking and praying

and even when we win, it's a pyrrhic

victory at best.

My favourite episode o't Father Ted

embodies some of these

aspects. lt's the one

where Ted and Dougal

make an lrish Eurovision

entry. Ted, unable to come

up with a melody to

gal's lyrics

(about

tune of an obscure Swedish song from

the seventies only to discover the same

song being played in the lift on the

night of his performance. He ends up

because the judges

want the lrish entry

to fail at Eurovision

And

that's why

Father Ted is

going to

be

missed

'inmy

Iife

from

now on:

l'm going to

miss the man wearing

the collar of moral

authority who regularly proves that

he's no more or less incompetent than

I am at getting out of the moral pits

we dig ourselves into. Father Ted

wasn't just about laughing at the

church; it was about laughing at

ourselves. E

Terry Orsett is a writer in London

movgment 1


fnovefnGnt

no 98

spring 1998

movement is the termlY

magazine of the

Student Christian

Movement, distributed

free of charge to members

and dedicated to

an open-minded exploration

of Christianity

editorial address

PO Box 1 6735

London E'l 4 6SN

tel: 0958 730381

MovemntSCM@aol.com

SCM central office

Westhill Cgllege

14l15 Weoley Park Rd

Selly Oak

Birmingham 829 6LL

tel: 0121 471 2404

fax: O1 21 414 1251

SCM@charis.co. uk

editor

Graeme Burk

editorial assistant

Carrie O'Grady

editorial board

Tim Woodcock

Kate Wilson

lrfan Merchant

Craig Cooling

Stephen Matthews

disclaimer

The views expressed in

movement are those of

the particular author

and should not be taken

to be the policy of the

Student Christian

Movement

SCM staff

Coordinator

Carolyn Clayton

Project Worker - GrouPs

Craig Cooling

Project Worker -

Mem bership Danelopment

Stephen Matthews

membership fees

tl5 (waged)

f 10 (unwaged/students)

next copydate

25th Junel 998

rssN 0306-980X

Charity No 241896

o1

998 SCM

A Tale of Two Conferences

This year's scottish scM conference and our annual Joint conference were great

successes, report James chedworth and Tim woodcock

Scottish SCM Conference

clasgow

13th-15th February 1998

t\ I :l; 11,', l,-J":il:il'"'

I \l ,n", can ertner wetcome

or shun people...offer two

arms or two fingers-and

there is nowhere more interesting

and upbeat as Scotland

at the moment.

ldentity is something that,

try as you might, cannot be

forged alone. Twenty or so

SCMers (idealists. cYnics and

drifters) came together to

discuss such matters. lt was

directed inspirationallY bY

Brian Hardy (a sPrightlY Priest

who was rather like the angel

Clarence from lt's A

Wonderful Lifel

-and ranged

Lesslie

Newbigin:

I go9- I 998

1-his past February marked the passing

I of an old friend of SCM. Bishop Lesslie

I Newbigin was one of Britain's leading

ecumenists whose varied career included

work in Madras and lndia' He was a tireless

proponent for Christian unity, and authored a

number of books on the subject. Often he

worked with the World Council of Churches'

an organisation which he was associate

general secretary of for a time.

Bishop Newbigin accredited his commitment

to ecumenism-and indeed

Christianity-to his days in the Cambridge

SCM, and commented on this in an interview

in Movement in 1986:

"As a student in my first year at college I

was both welcomed and challenged by a

loosely knit group of fellow-students who

were willing to take me as I was, to take my

questions seriously, and who in many

different ways commended me to a faith

which was bigger than any of the denominational

expressions of it.

"We still need the SCM. We can't do

without it. lf the Christian faith is to find

authentic expression in the specific circumsances

of a student community...it needs to

be a student movement, not an organisation

/or students.

from the parochial to the

mind-bogglingly international.

The sentimental to the

dynamic.

Light relief cam from

indoor football, walks in the

rain, flag-painting. trying to

keep the alcoholics we were

sharing the building with

anonymous, and Emily's keyring

torch. The latter was also

a source of frustration for

those of us who needed

sleep.

Although sometimes

circular the topic threw uP a

number of memorable

thoughts such as: "nationality

is where we've come from;

faith is where we're going."

We all left a bit more

gemmed-up. And a bit more

mixed-up.

Joint Conference

Birmingham

19th-21st FebruarY 1998

tt iving on aPraYer"

-- I was the theme of

l-this year's

Conference with MethSoc and

the Catholic Students

Association, lt was one of the

most successful conferences

in recent memory, with an

impressive turnout of

students-including a contingent

of Western EuroPeans

who got lost trYing to find

Edgbaston late FridaY evening

The highlights included the

service on SundaY and indeed

the worship throughout, the

food. the art workshoP and

especially the Celidh on

Saturday night!

movsmont 2

li I


Say Hello To Carolynl

SCM has just welcomed a

new staff member in the form

of Carolyn Clayion (pictured

here with feline friend

Tiggeil. Carolyn began her

new role as SCM Coordinator

in April.

ln what is now become

something of a tradition,

We've asked Carolyn to say a

few words about herself...

I I elloool Mv name is

H Carotyn ano I have just

I I join"i scM as the new

Project Worker (Coordinator)

which basically means I'm in

charge of keeping things

ticking over at Central Office

and making sure we don't

spend too much money!

However I will also get the

chance to travel a bit with

Craig and Stephen and meet

as many SCMers as we can

manage.

l'm 23 years old and

graducated from Hull

University last July with a

degree in History and ltalian,

with a particular emphasis

on History of Art. I enjoyed

the variety of a joint degree

which gave me the chance

to dip into many different

subject areas and therefore

gain a wider picture

of how the world in which

we live came to be as it

is. Unfortunately part of

my course involved

having to go to ltaly for

a year (sobl) where I

was forced to spend

hours sitting in

pavement cafes

drinking cappuccino

and calling it work...l haven't

recovered yet.

Spiritually I started to

think about faith issues

whilst in Sixth Form. This

t-

14-16 June

SCM SUMMER RETREAT

Bath

Contact: Craig Cooling

SCM, Westhill College

14l15 Weoley Park Rd

Birmingham 829 6LL

0121 471 2404

SCM@charis.co.uk

L

28 JulV-7 August

EUROPEAN ECUMENICAL

YOUTH GATHERING

WiHhaus, Switzerland

Theme: Open Your Doors

Contact: WSCF Europe, Prins

Hendriklaan 37, NL-1075 BA

Amsterdam, Netherlands

+31 20 675 4921

11-13 September

TRAINING PROGRAMME

WEEKEND

Bimingham (TBC)

Ever wanted to start an SCM

group? This event will focus on

issues around groupwork-facilitating

groups, how to form and run your

own SCM group. lf you are interested

in running workshops (possibly at

another group near you) or if you

will be running a group next year or

movelnent 3

was the beginning of a

journey that has taken me

through significant involvement

in the

Anglican Chaplaincy at Uni, a

CMS Experience Camp to

Romania, two pilgrimages to

lona and seven months as the

Lay Assistant to the

University of the West of

England in Bristol. I enjoy a

wide variety of worship styles

but am reluctant to tie myself

down to any one. I am more

interested in what we do

with our beliefs and how they

affect the way we live,

breathe and have our being.

Just at the moment I am

busy finding my feet at SCM

but my long-term aims

involve trying to develop links

with organisations with

similar views to see if we can

learn from and assist one

another. I also want to try

and extend the circulation of

SCM resources and generally

heighten awareness of the

movement, what we stand

for and what we do. I can't

wait to start and look forward

to meeting you all and

hearing what you have to say.

if you just find it interesting and

want to come along then this is the

event for you.

Contact: Craig Cooling

SCM, Westhill College

14115 Weoley Park Rd

Birmingham 829 6LL

0121 471 2404

SCM@charis.co.uk

Late November

SCM ANNUAL CONFERENCE

Location: TBA

Theme: Displacement & Deviance

Contact; Craig Cooling

SCM, Westhill College

14l15 Weoley Park Rd

Birmingham 829 6LL

0121 471 2404

SCM@charis.co.uk

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what happens when personal choice clashes with the law? You can campaign, or vou can

ignore the law completely and carry on regardless. This is the route William Straw chose when

h-b sold cannabis to'a reporter. colin Mason takes us through the moral and ethical haze--

Smoke Gets

ln Our Yes

Pftj,fil;tr'"*iil,i;"'l,i*]-

the 'Formula One affair' and the foreign

secretary's infidelity has been unimpressive.

Another embarrassment for the

government was the story of Jack

Straw's son's arrest for suPPlYing

cannabis. The issue of decriminalising

cannabis had become a live issue again

thanks mainly to a campaign launched

by The lndependent on SundaY

newspaper. This I feel is an important

campaign which needs strong

consideration.

Drawing lines in the sand is

something we have to do as individuals.

Our everyday lives involve risk to

varying degrees. So it is necessary to

weigh up the consequences and their

possible effects on other people and

ourselves. However, this is also a collective

responsibility and one of the main

functions of law. and there is great

potential for conflict between these two

decision making processes.

Smoking tobacco and drinking

alcohol are activities which involve

potentially high degrees of risk. Tar in

cigarettes is directly responsible for lung

canQer and ultimately death. Passive

smoking extends the risk to other

people. Alcohol las its own dangers and

is responsible for thousands of deaths

from traffic accidents each year. These

facts are well known and accepted by

most people but tobacco and alcohol

are still widely available and will

continue to be so. There are restrictions

(and taxes) but each person must make

their own assessment and decision'

The same cannot be said of beef on

the bone. There is a minute risk of

contracting the fatal disease CJD from

eating this. lt is now illegal to buy it.

Unpasteurised milk has also met this

fate in Scotland and was seriously at

risk of being banned in the rest of

Britain. These were seen by many to be

further examples of the

'nanny state' interfering with

personal choice.

What happens when the

personal assessment clashes

with the law? The law

draws lines in the sand but

these may be moved through

campaigns and changes in

attitudes. Another possibilitY

is to ignore the law

completely and carrY on

regardless. This is the route

William Straw chose when

he sold cannabis to a

reporter (much to the

consternation of his father

Jack, the Home Secretary).

The case of cannabis, a

controlled class C drug, is a

good example of this conflict

and also of how camPaigns

to change the law work.

The campaign to decriminalise

cannabis has been

given fresh impetus in recent

months by The lndePendent

on Sunday's coverage. This

has in turn provoked

reactionary items from more

conservative newsPaPers and

a week of programmes on

Radio 1 (interestingly, but not

surprisingly, the I n depen dent

did not support its sister

newspaper's campaign).

Publicity was also generated

by the William Straw case

and the alleged suppression

of a World Health

Organisation report into the

effects of cannabis. The

campaign is definitelY rolling

but to where and whY?

Decriminalising cannabis

is in some sense a minor

movement 4

issue. The new government has an

extremely long list of pressing matters


welfare reform, new environmental

legislation, constitutional reform and so

on. All of these seem more urgent

because they effect us all.

Decriminalised cannabis would be used

mainly for recreational purposes and so

seems to belong to a more selfish

agenda.

This is not entirely fair but it does

sound reasonable. Why not then extend

the issue to take in the bigger question

of drugs in general? This is a big

concern for most people, not least those

addicted, those in prison for minor

offences and those who fear the associated

crime. There are huge questions

about how drugs and drug policy affect

the crime rate, the health of the population

and the economy. Surely this is an

issue fit for general consideration?

Unfortunately, there are serious

problems with such a suggestion. When

words such as 'heroin' or 'cocaine' are

mentioned the shutters go up and

c4

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,I

reasoned debate is an early casualty.

These words provoke an almost unparalleled

moral outrage from the press. Even

the Sun has written fierce leaders on

the subject. ln fact the whole vocabulary

is combative. We talk about a war

on drugs and the image of war is that of

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conflict resolved by force and not

debate.

The use of the military language is

no coincidence. The current President of

the United States (who did

not inhale) has spoken of

, the war on drugs as the

natural successor to the

Cold War. He is simply

continuing the long

American tradition of a hard

line stance against this

'menace'. lt is in this

country that the former

Chief of the Los Angeles

Police suggested that casual

drug users should face

execution; little wonder that

the politlcians dance to this

beat.

American policy sets

the agenda for Britain and

indeed most of the world.

The latest manifestation of

this is the appointment of a

drugs 'Czar' by the government

(a distinctly American

idea). The root of the

Americans' power is the

lnternational Narcotics

Control Board (INCB) which

they dominate. This is a UN

{|i:'-

#

agency which has a

fearsome range of powers.

It can cut off the supply of

any morphine-based and

other medical drugs to a

country which incurs its

wrath. Furthermore it is

willing to use its powers.

Whole rafts of UN legislation

restrict the freedom of

countries to set their own

laws. Conflict on issues of

risk and freedom go all the

way to the top.

With this background it

is impossible to have a full

and unconditional debate on

drugs. far less attempt any

,novcmcnt 5

radical reforms. Yet some countries have

dared to implement reforms on the

medical uses of drugs and even the

recreational use of cannabis. Cannabis is

a lightweight issue and so may provide

a partial solution to the impasse all drug

debates face.

A major advantage is the fact that

cannabis has a claim to be medically

beneficial and people take it for this

purpose. The tone of a debate must

become more civilised when talking

about people suffering from serious

illness who are looking for a brief respite

from their pains. Not only that, there is

an attitude, common enough, that using

cannabis is in the same risk category as

drinking alcohol or smoking. The wide

availability of these drugs and the

illegality of the other can seem absurd.

Further, usage of cannabis is sufficiently

widespread for it to be part of the

mainstream of society. With that

background the debate has been

running for several months now Many

issues have been dragged into consideration.

The long term medical risks have

featured in a World Health Organisation

report where one chapter suggested

cannabis was not as dangerous as

alcohol or tobacco. There were accusations

of suppression on the part of the

INCB and vigorous denials but the

whole affair demonstrated how science

is answerable to its political paymasters.

Concerns about the health risks

involved in smoking the drug have been

raised (as well as healthier alternatives

such as baking it in a cake and eating

it). Drug tests after road traffic

accidents are becoming more commonplace

as awareness of the dangers of

drugs and driving are raised. The wide

variation in the enforcement of the law

has been highlighted especially by Radio

1's series Sorted. The punishment for

possession seems to largely depend on

postcodes.

A lighter touch has been the list of

celebrities and public figures supporting

decriminalisation-a list that has been

steadily growing. People have had to

confront the issue and work out if they

do believe cannabis is comparable with

alcohol.

It may be argued that the campaign

to decriminalise cannabis is here proving


its worth and avoiding the charge that it

does not belong to 'grown up' politics.

ln some sense it is the very essence of

'grown up' politics. The bigger question

has been shown to be too difficult to

handle. This is true of heroin and

cocaine but also of ecstacy. The only

thing to do is tackle an easier issue and

hope that the results can be generalised.

The cannabis campaign has proven

interesting and informative and has been

conducted with some skill and a fair

dash of humour. The list of celebrities is

a particularly good way of humanising

the whole affair. The bigger issue and

the bigger questions are lurking in the

wings and this campaign will have a lot

to teach us when these are addressed.

lf that seems a highly artificial

argument. stop to consider how easily it

can be applied in other situations. The

simple fact is that big changes are

rarely. if ever, made in a direct manner.

Consider the campaign to decriminalise

homosexuality. Many of the original

supporters portrayed this as an 'illness'

not because they believed that to be

true but they appreciated the effect it

would have on a hostile public. ln this

way homosexuality was humanised and

homosexuals could begin to receive

sympathy rather than outright hatred.

Legislation did follow but it was

extremely inadequate. Two men maY

consent to have sex in private but the

presence of anyone else rends the act

illegal no matter what consent exists. lt

is still perfectly legal to sack an

employee for being gay. So these laws

were not direct means of achieving

equality; they dealt with some easier

issues but the whole convoluted

problem is far from solved.

Another example from 'grown uP'

politics is that of constitutional reform.

Government ministers accept happily

that there is no simple and direct

answer to the West Lothian questionnamely

why Scottish MPs are able to

vote on domestic issues in England

(controlled by Westminster) but not the

equivalent issues in Scotland (controlled

by the Scottish Parliament).

By way of firm conclusion it can be

said that considering risks is a risky

business indeed..Do you agree with the

law and why? lf not what is your

response to be? Do you ignore it and/or

work to change it? Why is it important

anyway? lt begins from that first initial

risk: daring to question information you

have been given and being prepared to

stumble into the unknown. 'Twas ever

thus and as for cannabis I suspect the

story has many more twists and turns

left in store. @

Colin Mason is a student at the

University of Edinburgh

Come Out, Come

Out YVhoever You

A1rgooo

I have been asked on many occasions

| *fren I first "came out" as a gay

man. as though it had a precise date

I and time. lt always reminds me of

that breed of Christians who quite

proudly recite the time and date of being

"born again": "l first met the Lord on 13

April 1992, in my friend Kenny's

basement... no, there were no hallucinogens

involved!!"

I have yet to pin down the time and

date of coming out. lt begins at the first

rick gorlond

ties ond binds

inkling of having a self-definition. I

suppose. I can remember when I first

used the word gay, when I first told an

individual. But the second I opened my

mouth for the first time to name myself,

my control over my own destiny was

given to anyone who knew that basic

truth. Not unlike the story of the God of

Moses and Miriam, who was asked to

give a name of self-reference. ln that

story, the name taken is simPlY "l am

which I am", essentially. a non-name.

The power in self-disclosure is an important

theme in our religious history. And

the knowledge of a name or identitY

gives one power over that person.

I must mark my parents as being the

most pivotal point in my coming out, the

point after which I honestly did not care

who knew. I told them in a letter, a

cowardly act which allowed for their

considerable feelings to emerge and

which allowed me to craft my words in

a way that would not be defensive.

Their response startles me to this day.

They came to see me, and assured me

of their love. And without saying it in

words. they made it evident that they

did not want to talk about this anymore.

This was my great fear: silence. I was

prepared for argument and conflict: that

would be a sign of love to me. I was

even hoping for banner waving. t-shirt

sporting, pride-emblazoned-on-bumpersticker

kinds of scenarios. But I got the

same silence I had known for years,

except it wasn't from me anymore, it

was from them.

The knowledge of my confession

hung in the air when I saw them. I felt

the burden of being their teacher, of

having to accustom them to my world'

But how do I do that? lt occurred to me

that I was now in the parent role... and

was without a clue to assist them in

their education.

Six years later, and mY Parents have

attended their first PFLAG meeting

(Parents and Friends of Lesbians and

Gays). lt came out of nowhere, a call

from a recruiter who knew me, and

bang! Bowling was re-scheduled and off

they went to their little meeting. My

mom spoke to me that week and told

me it was interesting and they would go

back. I thought back to our first talk and

saw how much had changed. how

clearly they lT CAlrlE OUT OF

::*J""tr' NowHERE, A

fears. And I CALL FROlvt A

realized RECRUITER

;::il:X1 wHo Kl{Ew }rE,

as well. lt AHD BANGI

took them EOWLING 1YAS

RE*SCHEDULED

A}ID OFF THEY

ItrE}IT TO THEIR

LITTLE UEETING.

the time they

needed, and

their own

way to do it.

They were

naming

themselves to me, and allowing me the

power of their self-disclosure.

It seems to me that coming out is an

expression of change, the change that

happens to all of us as we grow and

redefine ourselves. lt is the courage that

it takes to share this with family, friends,

community. Being locked in an image is

a terrible thing, no matter the context,

and it is something that is as hard to

realize about one's parents as it is to

realize about one's children.

I might even go as far as to say that

God is coming out, in the person of Jesus,

a personal and vulnerable incarnation of

one whose image had been radicallY

different to that point. This was an act

that many were not able to accept, and

yet which held a basic truth that could not

be ignored by many as well. l'm still

working on this theory! lf you agree with

this, great! lf not, well. I hope it brings lots

of mail to Movementl fi

Rick Garland is the National Coordinator

of Canadian SCM

movement 6


Tne Oxford Dictionarv of Modern Slang defines the term as "an expression of contemptous or

angrv rejection." There are verv good reasons why people living with Hlv and AIDS may feel this

wav about the Church, as Mike Way explains

The Minist

Ol F?f?f?f Ofi

I

nce was a time when the very

mention of 'AIDS' in church

situations would generate an

uneasy and uncomfortable

atmosphere. Understandable, in so far as

mention of any sexually transmitted

disease in polite society might create at

least some sort of hushed ripple. Clergy

got fidgety, lay people waited for rescue.

The unmentionable had been

mentioned-a sexual disease which kills.

and which brings into the light those

things which were hidden in darknessabout

as welcome as the incarnate

Word who is held in high regard in

Christian circles as having done

a rather similar thing. But the

exposure promised this time is

the sexual exploits and misdemeanours

of which other

people (if it were not for this

infectious disease) could have

remained happily unaware or

in denial.

Over time, of course, the

Christian compassion card

became played more often

than the judgement or

denial card-and so courses

were run, projects set up.

ministries delivered, concerns

expressed, suffering identified

with and 'the lgve of God'

signalled. The church engine

had cranked into life and now

AIDS could be grouped into the

social, moral and prayerful

conscience of the institutional

churches-at least sometimes.

But hopefully without it

happening to any of their

clergy.

An 'AIDS opening' was

prised in such a way that

AIDS and HIV infec-

tion could

be 'embraced within', rather than 'kept

without'. And so, at its worst,

Religious were writing articles for

Religious Magazines telling other

Religious of how difficult this ministry

among Religious was-how stressful,

tiring, painful and upsetting. Written by

people who were not HIV positive for

people who were not HIV positive, and

who

movemgnt 7

didn't stand a cat in hell's chance of

becoming HIV positive. Many had never

had sex, ever.

Small wonder then. that many who

are in fact living with this life-threatening

condition lost patience yet again

with a church which institutionally had

at first rejected, stigmatised and ignored

them; and which was now holding them

so close it seemed that their very breath

and voice was silenced beneath the

imposed veil of 'unconditional' love.

And this love so often given at the

price of their silence, their

complicity, their passivity

and their expected

gratitud e.

Those who

had been kept

firmly on the

outside had

now been

herded within

the wedding

feast was

suddenly not

full, it

seemed, and

those at the

roadside

were indeed

being

dragged in

and

compelled to

sit and eat.


After all. we wanted to have fun, and

we had alreadY bought the food and

drink, so come and Party You mustwhether

what we have to offer is what

you want or not. You will accept it and

be grateful!

People who are HIV Positive have

had to familiarise themselves too well

with the territory of disempowerment.

So much ministry, however well intentioned,

is experienced by people with

HIV and AIDS and is intrusive and highhanded

because it is often ministry

'with answers' when theY know from

painful experience that when it comes

to HIV 'there are no neat answers'.

AIDS is full of uncertainties-as is lifeand

mirrors the risks of daring to live in

the real world and love in the real world.

There is no place in reality for a 'Jim'll

Fix lt ' God: to face that there maY be

no justice, no fairness, no explanation,

no meaning.

But there is a place for the 'Ministry

of Fuck Off'. lt is a learning ground for

carers and ministers to have to accept

that, unless they themselves are HIV

positive or have AIDS, they do not know

what it is like, or what someone needs.

lf we can accept the rejection of those

to whom we might need to have a

ministry but who themselves might

place us at the end of their prioritised

queue of peoPle they want aroundthen

maybe we have begun to learn

something.

All we can PossiblY bring is our own

actual and real experience of rejection,

pain, victimisation, illness, sex,

sexuality. loss and bereavement: as well

as our affirming experiences of love and

acceptance. We need to be prepared to

'tell our own story' without bullshit-as

it is-for real. Then perhaps we might

discover that ministry is not ours to

give, but theirs for us to receive.

Whether our common bond of humanity

is to be found beyond us in the projections

of a transcendent God. or to be

found within our mutual companionship

on this journey we call life-or both-is

ours to choose. But one thing is for sure,

we have no right to make that choice

for anyone else. Then PerhaPs' to

paraphrase Eckhart, we might begin to

learn what some'with HIV know, that

'Between God and AIDS, there is no

between'. @

Mike Way is Director of The CARA

Tiust. He is an Anglican priest and has

worked in education, psychotherapy and

AIDS ministrY.

. CARA seeks to support the spiritual

exploration of those with HIV/AIDS and

challenge the churches to face the

issues of belief, sexuality and mortality

which AIDS raises.

r The CARA Trust, The Basement, 178

Lancaster Road, London W11 1QU.

Barbara Crowther of CAFOD explains the 'biggest campaign

in the world' - Jubilee 2000

Linldng Up

Against Debt

ebt is arguably the single biggest impediment to human development today' lt

- I I i" a traoJdv and a scandal that an international financial system, which was

fzl able to"fini over f 1OO billion to bail out the private banks and 'tiger'

economies affected by the current Asian financial crisis, has been unable to

mobilise the political will to find money to release the most impoverished countries

of Africa from the slavery of their debts.

ln 1996, a new package on debt relief was agreed by the IMF' World Bank

and major creditor governments of the Paris club. The Heavily lndebted Poor

Country (HIPC) lnitiative was the first really comprehensive attempt at calculating

all the different types of debt owed by individual countries, and reducing them to a

level deemed to be sustainable. Two years later, the so-called 'robust exit from

debt' is failing. of 41 HIPC countries, only uganda has reached some measure of

debt relief - a reduction ol f.2O million a year (out of [190 million it is due to pay)

for two years. Hardly adequate to increase spending on healthcare beyond the current

US$3 a day it is able to spend, and thereby prevent one child in five dying

before the age of five. Meanwhile Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Mozambique, Zambia and

Tanzania are unlikely to receive any debt relief before 2000'

Jubilee2OO0aimstochangethispoliticalclimate.Alreadythecampaign

has been acknowledged by the World Bank as "a conscience that is holding the

financial community's feet to the fire". Already, the GB world leaders (US.

Canada, France, UK, Russia. China, Germany, ltaly) have had to change the agenda

for their Birmingham meeting in May to accommodate the growing public concern

around lack of debt relief.

The goals of the camPaign are:

-A debt-free start to the new Millennium for a billion people!

-To collect 21 .3 million signatures in favour of debt relief , and make the Jubilee

2OOO petition the biggest the world has ever seen

-To mark the G8 meetings in Birmingham in May 1998, and Cologne in June 1999

with a huge public presence pressing for substantial cancellation

_To lobby ind advocate for the Hlpc lnitiative to be speeded up and reformed in

favour of more generous relief, based on investing in human development - or for

an alternative to be found

-To increase public awareness of the effects of debt, especially on the people of

Africa in order to bring about political and economic change

For more information contact Jubilee 2000, P o Box 100, London sE1 7RT' Tel

Ol]-1 4O1 ggg9. CAFOD also has a range of materials on debt, including petitions,

action cards, posters, ideas for group discussion and worship. available from

CAFOD, Romero Glose, stockwell Rd, London swg 9TY. Tel 01 71 733 7900 0r e-

mail sstanes@caf od.org'uk

movement B


Movemenf publishes its 100th issue this summer. Movement's first editon viv Broughton, talks

to us about how the magazine came into being and about SCM in the early 197O's

Present at

the Bl?th

t is hard to believe, but there is no

documented history of the magazine

you're reading. The back

issues exist (at least in a

couple of complete sets),

and no doubt minutes and

files relating to it can be

found in the SCM's

archives in Selly Oak. But

there is nothing said

about what it was like

to be around for the

early days of

Movement.

Which was why

we were so pleased

to locate Viv

Broughton,

Movement's first editor. Viv

Broughton edited

Movement for three years

and was author of the

column "Ear To The

Ground", (a predecessor

of satirical

columns such as lhe

Serpent), for another

two years. He also

designed the famous

"fist" image for the

1 973 "Seeds of

Liberation" conference

which later became the

SCM logo.

Following his time in

SCM, Viv has had a

prodigious career which

has included developing

the ethnic newspaper Ihe

Voice (which spanned 13

years) and producing a

Channel 4 series on the

history of Gospel Music. Viv now

runs The Premises, a recording

studio in Hackney, which has been

the home for then-lndie bands Blur and

Elastica. We gave him some back issues

and started rolling the tape ...

For its first two issues, Movement was

a newsletter known as Bilbo. How did

the one evolve into the other?

Bilbo was done by Chris Duncan and

Maggie Whyte, and they

were the previous

regime, sort of the politburo

of SCM, but they

were great people. There

was a fairly straight

Christian Marxist axis

running through SCM when

myself and a few other people

came in and we were a bit

more surreal than that

and took it off in a

slightly different

d irection.

We thought that Bilbo

was a bit boring, really,

and a bit too earnest. We

been involved-and

when I say we I mean myself

and some others who had

become involved in SCM-in a

magazine called the Catonsville

Road Runner. which was I

suppose part of a mid-sixties

underground newspaper type

thing. lt was hooked up with

the Berkeley Free Church and

various other radical Christian

movements going on in the

States. Road Runner ran

very successfully and

attracted an enormous

amount of interest quite

out of proportion to its

circulation

I was hired as

Communications

Officer for the SCM

on the strength of what

d been doing with Foad

Runner, and it was really to take

charge of the pamphlets and the other

publications of the SCM, so we

launched a new magazine, which was

Movement.

fnovcment e

Movement was a sort of slightly

more grown-up version of Road Runner,

a little bit more sensible. An awful lot of

that stuff is extremely embarrassing

when I look back on it now. But there's

also some very good stuff

-l mean

Thomas Merton lwho had an editorial

posthumously published in Movement's

first issuel you can't really argue with.

Some of it's a little bit sixties, a little bit

hippie/naive. I seem to remember we

had great cartoons-there was a lot of

humour and a lot of self-deprecating

humour as well. We didn't take it all

deathly seriously, which I think was its

one saving grace.

What was the initial reaction to

Movement?

Well, I think there was a certain

amount of unease throughout the old

guard in SCM at the new people who

were coming in, particularly who were

involved at Annandale. our headquarters,

and I can understand that with

hindsight! l've never been a student in

my life, I've never been to university,

and I think a number of the others who

had come in had not been involved

either. We came from radical Christian

movements. lt's difficult to separate

what was just the normal anxiety about

change in Movement and what were

serious objections.

During Movement's first few years, the

SGM sold the Annandale offices and

moved to an intentional community at

Wick, near Bristol. How did that come

about?

There were serious objections to

selling Annandale. lt was reckoned by

many to be the sort of 'nest-egg'-you

were killing the golden goose, basically.

Annandale was this piece of prime

property and it was worth quite a lot of

money at that stage and I suppose there

was a feeling that students can run

around doing all sorts of extraordinary


things, whatever they like, as long as

they didn't kill things off for the next

generation who want to do their own

projects.

It became part of the whole debate

whether a movement like SCM should

be highly centralised with a London

head office in an expensive suburb, or it

should be something based more on the

model of Taize and lona communities,

where there was a spiritual core as well

as an organisational core that both fed

and was contributed to by the rest of

the movement.

So we had people coming from

different directions, but it seem to make

a lot of sense to sell Annandale, buy a

place somewhere outside of London

that's maybe more accessible to people

from different parts of the country where

students could come and have weekend

conferences and week-long conferences.

Really, it was the lona model.

What happened with Wick? Reading

about it today one has one of two

visions of Wick-one is a legendarY

magical place near Bristol and the other

is this sort of highly dysfunctional

community which self-destructed.

Probably both are true in many respects.

Both are absolutely true! lt went

the same way of many communes, if

you like, at the time. They are such

intense places, and you have to be

down to the most basic level of keeping

the place clean, doing the cooking,

looking after the gardens, fixing the roof

through to maintaining a good relationship

with the student constituency, all

of whom had different expectations at

Wick and what it should be. Plus, SCM

is one of those dynamic movements

that continually changes. So within a

year or two there were new PeoPle

coming in who had different

expectations and it didn't necessarily

work for all of them. So there were

lots of pressures. We'd become, quite

quickly, the headquarters, we were

the establishment, and lots of people

were querying that-"who are those

people out in the country and what

are they doing?" and that sort of

thing.

It drove us all right to the edge. I

mean, I can look back on it now with a

lot of fondness and interest and it was

just one of those amazing experiences

to go through, but I wouldn't go

through it again! People survived it in

different ways. And the children

survived it in different ways. My kids

are now 25,26 and they were 3 and 4

when they first went to Wick, and they

all remember it as just this amazing

place. They all got to run around in the

garden and do exciting things, but it

was quite traumatic for them as well

because couples split up.

6fWE IUST TRIED TO BRING 11{ THE

BEST OF THE NEw I'llllDS AND THE

NEW THINKING... I THINK THAT'S

REALLY WHAT SCl.l SHOULD BE

DOING, BRIHGING TOGETHER THE

CUTTING =DGE

OF THEOLOGY AND

POLlTlCS...tt

extraordinarily strong to sustain a

marriage between two people; this was

almost like a marriage between fifteen

people, with very small children involved

and so on. Not to mention 60-1O0

students descending on your house

every week throughout the year. lt was

extremely exciting. There were some

great conferences and we put together

a whole series of exciting residential

courses and conventions and so on. You

know it was great while it lasted.

Could it iust not sustain itself by virtue

of being a 'marriage of fifteen people' or

were there other external factors that

were around in the early seventies?

I think it was more that the intensity

of the community within Wick was so

great in terms of just having to cope

with the life of that community-right

Movement in general had a tremendous

amount of clout with the PeoPle You

interviewed and who contributed-Dan

Berrigan contributed, Dorothy Day was

interviewed, Mary Daly was

interviewed-was it through your

connections with Road Runner?

It was really trom Road Runner times

I think. I remember Mary Daly came for

Christmas at Wick, and it was quite an

interesting Christmas! She wasn't too

keen on Father Christmas if I remember

rightly, although the kids were of

course!

We just tried to bring in the best of

the new minds and the new thinking

and the new theologians and so on. I

think that's really what SCM should be

doing is bringing together the cutting

edge of theology and politics and new

thought and putting them together with

movgment 10

this new generation that are coming up

through universities. I think that's part

of what SCM should alwaYs do. So we

saw it absolutely within the tradition of

SCM, that it wasn't ever a case of

trying to lead all these students in some

doctrinaire direction, but simply to put

them altogether in circumstances in

which they could explore those ideas

and come to their own conclusions of

what they thought and so on.

What was the process of Putting

together Movement back then, both at

Annandale and at Wick?

It was thrown together quite quickly.

There were no computers back then' lt

was typed on a typewriter in strips and

we'd measure it out with pencil lines for

the columns and then cut them uP and

paste them on. All the headlines were

done with Letraset-quite neatly as I

notice now-it was verY laborious.

How do you think radical Christianity, or

even Christianity generally has changed

in the past 25 years.

l've no idea, l've moved on. I

followed a different path. What I learned

then in that period of my life informed

what I do now, and my own relationship

to the Christian Gospel is important to

me and gives me a grounding, a

sounding board, a reference point. But I

don't really keep in touch with what's

going on within radical Christian

movements, simPly because l've been

involved in other things. My 13 years

involvement with lhe Vorce newspaper

and that whole emerging generation of

ethnic publications has been very very

interesting, and lots of stuff that I

learned back then in SCM became

useful. The editing of Movement and the

knowledge of how to put newspapers

and magazines together became

extremely useful in terms of the development

of The Voice and I know lots of

people who went through SCM at that

time went on and can be found all over

the place, all using the things the things

learned then, and l'm sure that that's

true with every generation of SCM. lt's

a university in itself, a sort of spiritual

university.

How did you come up with the name

Movement?

Well I thought it was a bit of a dull

name-it was the best we could come

up with at the time. Obviously it came

out of the Student Christian Movement

and it seemed quite a good name. But it

wasn't as good as the Catonsville Road

Runner.ftl

oComing soon: Movement 1OO,

featuring a history of the magazine and

reprinting some of the best articles from

the past 26 years.

I


For A Friend

A he was my friend and I couldn't

\ rretp ner.

\-,

Her death was, in some ways, quick.

She killed herself in just fifteen minutes.

A deliberately chosen use of the

maximum chunk of time allotted to her

to be alone. ln other ways, though, it

was the longest and slowest death

-death by severe, debilitating,

seemingly inescapable mental illness.

This is what she was like: bold,

courageous, sensitive, intelligent,

generous, humorous, charming,

persuasivg incisive, persistent and

rebellious. The impact of institutions

was stamped on her being: the military

had shaped her family life; a boarding

school her childhood and adolescence;

the mental health system her short

adulthood. All in their own ways brutal,

fostering dependence then failing to fulfil

their side of the bargain. Yet in many

ways she was a 'light' person-wearing

the impact of these institutions not as

victim but as resister. Apparently just ten

days before her death, on her 32nd

birthday, she was ordering take-away pizza

for herself and her friends in the hospital.

Sitting in laceless shoes, scoffing. Just like

'before' (if there was a 'before').

Surfing Human Rights

l\

id you ever receive one of these

I I rather disturbing pictures in your

l/ letterbox. makiig your breakfast

taste stale? Amnesty lnternational will

have asked you to write a letter of

support for one of the prisoners of

conscience they care for. But then

many of you do this already and thus

need not read further.

But for those among you who never

felt sure about Amnesty and its work. or

who want more background information

about the particular situation, the

answer in only a browser away:

http://www.amnesty.org/. Amnesty

lnternational's website not only offers

you links to all its Branches onlinq but it

offers information on current campaigns

and background information on most

countries.

Amnesty's current campaigns can be

found online at'http://wwwamnesty.org/

campaign/ index.html. Take a look at

"Kenya: Repression and Resistance" or

the "UN Commission on Human Rights

is 50 Years old". The report on Kenya

reveals largely unknown facts about a

well-loved tourist destination. For

example: "Frequent police brutality goes

largely unpunished. Police routinely beat

suspects, while some prisoners have

been subjected to sustained torture.

Peaceful protesters have been violently

attacked by police, and unarmed criminal

*"

Her death flings me back like no

other. Back to school. when we were

close; when she was happier. I

remember the late nights, the long

walks; the'meaning of life' talks. She

was scary even then, sometimes; the

times when she didn't come back,

following the meaning deep into herself

that I worried she'd never reconnect.

We'd feel so close, but then she'd disappear-instantly.

This death flings me back to that

endless puzzle which was: what was

wrong with my friend? How come none

of us could help her; fix things for her?

suspects have been shot dead even

though they posed no threat to life."

The campaign for the UN commission

on Human Rights reminds us so

poignantly that we do have basic rights

t1

olison urebster

tell-tole signs

lf

and we must defend them. The

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

(http ://rights. amnesty.org/english/

rights/index.html), one of the founding

documents of the United Nations, is 50

years old and needs as much support

today as it did at its inception. Many

dirk gr0tzmocher

ths @ Golumn

critics of this declaration claim these are

"western" rights and values and do not

allow for local customs and cultural

differences, thus arguing that it may

well be alright to deny certain rights to

some groups of people, because the

local custom tells you so.

You can sign up to the support of

these rights at http://rights.amnesty.

org/. Follow the "Human Rights

Caravan" round the world, and who

knows, it might come round your neck

of the woods.

Amnesty is possibly best known for

its continued campaign for the abolition

of the death penalty. lt continues to do

this and has a wealth of resources for

Mental health is a mystery, it seems to

me. lt cannot be caused-only fostered.

But mental illness is scary to those of us

who have never experienced it. How can

we not feel this fear? ls it true that

sometimes there is simply nothing we

can do? Are there times in relationships

when we are left powerless, or is that

just an excuse?

It flings me back, also, to spirituality.

My first prayer in ten years: God, love

her more than I would; understand her

more than I could. I feel the need for the

familiar structures and expressions of

God-language, but find in the process of

searching for it that it's now no longer in

any sense familiar, so long has it lain

unused. But it's the only language that

can express the importance of what's

happened, and I need it for that. So a

friend lights a candle for me, for her.

On my behalf because now I am

religiously mute. @

Alison Webster is a former editor of

Movement and a freelance writer

this campaign (http://www.amnesty.org/

ailib/intcamidp/index.html) However not

many of you will know about the

campaign for an lnternational Criminal

Court, about to be founded in Rome in

May this year (http://www.amnesty.it/

eventi/icc/docs/index.htm). The ICC will

be the court in which international

criminal crimes such as war-crimes will

be heard, offering an end to the adhoc

courts trying war criminals, Iike those in

Bosnia and Rwanda. The court will offer

stability and makes it possible to be

called upon by a private person as well

as states. The current discussion is

raging about the exclusion of certain

crimes from the agenda of the court as

the powers fear prosecution on certain

items, such as the possession of nuclear

weapons and other weapons of mass

destruction. The lnternational Court of

Justice, the highest court in the world,

declared nuclear weapons illegal in June

of last year.

Oh, yes, you may like to start closer

to home: Amnesty lnternational UK

(http://www.amnesty.org.uk). However,

if you are interested in human rights and all

its associated questions you must visit the

suite of Amnesty lnternational sites. @

Dirk Griitzmacher is a Ph.D. student in

the University of Edinburgh. Visit his

website at http://www.ed.ac.uk/ - dig

movement 11


According to a 1995 Defence White Papen the objective of Britain's securitv policv is to protect

our "vital national interests". So whv has the church acquiesced over a war driven bV selfinterest

as thev did during the recent Culf Crisis? lrsan Merchant explains the background to

this conflict, and explains why he renouced his confirmation in the Church of Scotland

Empowering

the Barbarians i

.{'"..s

rill

It isn't that

there's a war on.

No,

The horror

is that

we have never known peace,

And that we are

only now

beginning to realise.

(from the Art & Revolution project)

Since the Second World War, the

United States' objective (with

Britain) is control over Middle

East oil-"a stupendous source

of strategic power, and one of

the greatest material prizes in

history" according to the US

State Department. This has

created the 'new world order'-

the establishment of the US as

sole superpower, "the world's

rent-a-cops" as one newspaPer

put it. During the 1980s, with

support from the West, Saddam

Hussein committed his worst

atrocities, including the use of

chemical weapons on Kurds in

1 988.

Noam Chomsky writes

"...the US was tilting strongly

toward lraq to make sure that

they won the lraq-lran war. lt

continued until the one crime for

which Saddam Hussein cannot

be forgiven: he disobeyed orders

on August 2 1990 [the invasion

of Kuwaitl. lmmediately after,

within a few months, the US

was supporting him again. There

was no secret about it. ln

March. right after the fighting

stopped, when Saddam turned to

crushing the Shiites in the South and

then the Kurds in the North, the US

stood by quietly and assisted him".

Operation Desert Storm in 1991 was

not about opposing Saddam's aggression

against Kuwait, but was intended

to contain Third World nationalism. The

current intervention is to allow the UN

to inspect lraq's weapons programs

though it is doubtful that this is the real

intention of the West. ln 1990 Saddam

offered to destroy his chemical and

biological weapons if lsrael agreed to

destroy its non-conventional weaponsincluding

nuclear weapons. The US

welcomed the offer, but rejected the

idea of linkage with lsrael as this would

not be in the interests of the US. ln

general, the purpose of western intervention

in the Third World is both to

demonstrate that 'might is right' and to

justify to western populations the

enormous (and highly profitable) military

spending - necessary because of the

moveanont 12

threat from Third World nationalism.

A. Sivanandan, editor of the journal

Race and C/ass, wrote of the 1991 Gulf

War: "This is not our war, this is not a

war of Black and Third World peoples.

This is not a war for us, this is a war

against us wherever we are-whether in

Europe, the United States, or any part of

the Third World".

The recent Gulf Crisis is yet another

part of the ongoing war on the Third

World, arguably a racist war. As

Chomsky says of racism, "When you

have your boot on someone's neck, You

have to have a justification for it. The

justification has to be their

depravity...That's why l'm doing this.

*$.

Maybe l'm even doing them good. And

if it's their depravity there's got to be

something that makes them different

from me". This could be anything-such

o J

1

o

C

l

1


I

il

l6

as skin colour, way of life or

sexuality. Racism is a dominant

discourse, vital to British society,

which shapes our understanding

of the world, both creating and

justifying oppression.

Sadly, the peace movement

has often accepted the

assumptions of racism

unawares, even while opposing

wars. Many people accept the

justification for the intervention

in lraq-that Saddam is too

irresponsible to possess

chemical and biological

weapons-even if they are

opposed to military action. I

suggest that this is based in

classical racist discourse. A

discourse which upholds the

West as responsible enough to

possess weapons of mass

destruction, while the "darkies"

are irresponsible uncivilised

barbarians who must be

denied them. We need only

remember that the US is the

one country to have dropped

nuclear bombs.

Whenever we use a discourse about

'the Other', we accept the power

relations and assumptions of superiority

within the discourse, whoever we are.

These distinctions of 'us' and 'them' are

central in the media coverage of war. A

'democratic country' is one which

serves western interests. A 'non-democratib

country' is one which does not.

'Stability in the region' and 'international

peace' mban maintaining western

domination. And'national interests'

means the business interests of the

ruling class.

According to the 1995 Defence

White Paper, the objective of Britain's

security policy is to protect our "vital

national interests"-trade, raw materials

overseas. the sea routes for trade and

British investments in the rest of the

world. As Malcolm Rifkind explained in

1993. the purpose of Trident. the British

nuclear weapons system, is to give "an

unmistakable message of our willingness

to defend our vital interests to the

utmost". These "interests" are largely in

the Third World, so British military policy

is openly a war on the Third World. This

I HAVE TRIED IN THE PAST TO

ARGUE THAT CHRISTIANS SHOULD

BE PACIFISTS, BUT I tto LOilcER

cAN, FOR I HAVE UNDIRSTOOD

THAT THE REALITY OF

CHRISTIANITY IS THAT IT HAS

BEEI{ COMPATIBLH 1YITH SOTH

PACIFISM ANT} MITITARISM.

policy has been continued by both

Conservative and Labour governments,

so the recent nuclear threats on lraq by

Robin Cook should come as no surprise

-simply the ongoing policy of war.

I do not trust Saddam with weapons

of mass destruction, but nor do I trust

Blair, Clinton or anyone else with them.

As British citizens working for peace,

our responsibility-and possibility-is to

end British militarism.

Peters makes an example of her-he

presides over a violent gang rape.

Washington is a pimp with many

Third World nations prostituting

themselves economically and culturally.

lraq is a Stella, disobeying orders, and

so, through violence, is made into an

example for the other prostitutes. And

like Stella herself, the country of lraq

contains many internal conflicts and

troubles.

We have a choice. We can either

support the pimp in his exploitation, or

we can support the prostitute who

stands up to the pimp. lt is not in the

interest of the pimp to empower a

prostitute to make choices in her life -

hence there is no Western support for

the lraqi democratic opposition in exile.

lf we are truly to empower a prostitute.

we must allow her to make her own

choices and her own mistakes. To

clarify, I feel we should be allowing the

lraqi people freedom to choose their own

system of government, their own foreign

policies and their own weapons systems.

To trust is always a difficult risk, but

there can only be peace when we

overcome our fear.

ln 1997, UNICEF estimated that

over two million lraqi people had died

because UN sanctions deprived the

people of food, medicines and clean

drinking water. Around two hundred

and fifty thousand lraqi were killed or

died during Operation Desert Storm.

This involved aerial bombardment,

lraqi conscripts buried alive by giant

bulldozers, the use of napalm,

nuclear threats, and. importantly.

consent for all this manufactured in

J

o

o

n the recent film Stella Does Tricks,

Stella is a Glaswegian teenager in

London who finds security in prosti-

I tuting herself for the profit of Peters,

her pimp. Eventually she wants

freedom, so declares that she will leave.

This is a threat to Peters' power, for her

action could inspire other girls. So

movoment 13

:ica

C


the West by media lies and

propaganda.

The response of the Churches to the

recent Gulf Crisis must be of concern to

us all. On February 16, the Church Of

Scotland Committee On Church And

Nation sent a letter to all Scottish MPs

which concluded "l would urge You

to...ensure that we do not embark upon

military action unless it is properly

authorised by the United Nations, it is

clear and limited in its objectives and

will serve the wider purPoses of

securing international peace". The letter

is a secularised version of the 'Just War

Theory' which argues that a war is

theologically justified if it is a last

resort, proportionate and likely to fulfil

objectives of lasting Peace.

Within the 'Just War' persPective of

the Church. the deaths of millions of

lraqi people seem acceptable so long as

these deaths are authorised bY the

United Nations. lt is interesting that the

Church Of Scotland in 1 995 called for

the lifting of sanctions. This contradiction

arises out of applying theology to a

situation which can only be understood

by the dynamics of politics, history and

ideology. Consequently. on the 24th

February I renounced my confirmation

into the Church of Scotland. I cannot

reconcile my perspective on the Gulf

Crisis with statements rooted in the

'Just War Theory'.

Much theology is simply mystification,

the opium of the people, and, by

historical definition, Christianity is the

justification for all sorts of things. I do

not feel that it is honest to justify either

militarism or pacifism by reference to

Christianity, the Gospel or any other

institution or text. I have tried in the

past to argue that Christians should be

pacifists, but I no longer can, for I have

understood that the reality of

Christianity is that it has been compatible

with both pacifism and militarism.

lnstead, knowing deeply my shared

humanity, I feel I need no justifications

for my life. For myself, I choose nonviolence

passionately.

And so in looking at the intervention

of the West in lraq, let us not use racist

discourse. Let us not speak of the UN as

a peacemaker and the Third World as

irresponsible barbarians. Let us not

forget that the war continues in threats,

sanctions and policies. Let us not

confuse reality with theology, or speak

of peace where there is none. Let us

speak, instead, of the little children. E

o This is an adaptation of a talk "The

Gulf: News, Fact and Fiction" given at a

public meeting on February 2O in

Edinburgh.

lrfan Merchant is an activist and

freelance writer. He lives in Glasgow.

At Peace With Our

Brokenness

r n 1987 Gerrv Huohes SJ wrote an

articte entitled 'Tile Spirituality of

I Peace'. At that time the hot issue

was nuclear weapons, their potential for

destruction and our attitude towards

them. The focus was clear, the choice

was stark: are you for them or against

them? An integrated spirituality meant

that if you took a stance against nuclear

weapons based on religious belief you

^&ii,

ruth horvev

soundings in

spirituolity

would invariably find yourself concerned

also about the food you eat and where it

comes from, care for the earth,

domestic violence, pollution, justice in

relationships ... The ripples on the water

formed many concentric circles of

common concern.

Today the issues around peacemaking

and spirituality are no less stark

and the focus is no less hot. Spirituality

has become a buzz word and for many it

still indicates an integration of our faith

with our everyday action. But in the

post-Cold War. post-Greenham, post

mass CND rallies days when the biggest

single issue is how to care for the

hounds that chase the fox, and when

the voice of Tony Benn is the one we

hear like a worthy but weary blast from

the past, condemning the use of

force(s) in the Gulf, then I have to

know: who cares about spirituality and

peace-making?

On a cold, blue-skied day in January

seven of us met at Woodbrooke College

in Birmingham to share our thoughts on

and experiences of 'Spirituality and

Peace-Making'. This is what we came

up with: spirituality is a concept, like

'peace-making', which needs to be

reclaimed. lt indicates a passionate way

of life, including both joy and suffering,

working towards abundant life and

living. Spirituality is about power. when

it is the kind of 'power-with'(empowerment)

not 'power-over' that Jesus spoke

of . Spirituality describes that place of

truth, pain and discomfort where we

can do no other than act.

We identified a number of tensions

inherent in living out a peace-making

spirituality. The tension between reflection

and action, when we struggle to

find growth in the continual flipping

between silent meditative prayer and

getting our hands dirty. The tension

moveanGnt 14

between being an individual and being

part of an institution when we feel

swamped by 'the common mind' and

invisible in 'the common structure', yet

want to belong to a community. The

tension between fun and duty when we

take ourselves and our cause so

seriously that we cannot relax, and

when we forget that Jesus had a sense

of humour. The tension between church

and peace when so many of our

churches have colluded with the powers

of war and aggression while maintaining

a commitment to Jesus, the non-violent

peacemaker. And finally, the tension

between'one-ness' and'brokenness'.

This last tension was the thread

which ran through our whole conversation.

When war, violence, injustice and

fighting occur we are witnessing a

breaking of the connection between

ourselves and the Gospel message of

non-violence. lt is our task as peacemakers

to SplRITUALlTy

:";il*"J DEscRrBEs rHAr

continually PTACE OF TRUTH

to this AND pAlN

i""?li""l',li: wHERE lYE cAN

ness. Where DO NO OTHER

there is

THAITI ACT.

brokenness,

we are called to one-ness. And yet we

are faced with the question: 'how can

we recognise the vulnerability and

brokenness of the world if we deny this

same vulnerability within ourselves?'

To be peace-makers we must first be

at peace with ourselves, with our own

brokenness. The search for this inner

peace is a lifetime journey. Along the

way we need guidance, comfort,

challenge, support and opportunities to

explore. To find this we may turn to

spiritual leaders, companions, those who

are wiser than us, those who have been

on the path for some time; we may even

turn to the church. ln turning out for

help we are offering our own inner

vulnerability as a gift to our spiritual

leaders. our churches, our holy and

sacred places. lt is in this turning, and in

an adequate and compassionate response

to our own inner vulnerability, that hope

for a truly integrated, world-reforming

spirituality of peace-making lies. @

Ruth Harvey is the director of the CGBI

Ecumenical Spirituality Project, with

offices in Milton Keynes and Penrith


He was a Western student who went to Lahore and taught for a yean Ten years on, Jonathan

ldle returns to Pakistan and India and reflects on the changes that have taken place both there

and inside himself.

Taken Fo?

Granted

n Nagpur Station at 5.OOam

Rosie wondered if anyone

would remember her ten years

on, and would they care that

she'd come back to see them? We

needn't have worried; by lunchtime the

Bishop had interrupted a staff meeting

just to give us tea, and his secretary

was organising our timetable. After

that our main concern was being so

warmly welcomed that we had no time

for ourselves, attending a 'welcome

dance' and hastily-arranged visits to

development projects as if we were

some kind of celebrity.

I had had similar concerns arriving in

Pakistan-who would still be around,

and would it feel awkward to turn up

ten years after losing touch? lt was in

fact exhilarating to meet my closest

friends there. the school servants. They

were equally delighted, and not only

invited us to their homes to eat, but

gave us presents because l'd got

married since l'd last seen them.

We were both returning after ten

years-l had come to show Rosie

Pakistan and she wanted to show me

lndia. We both wanted to see people

and places we had memories

of

-memories all the more intense as

she had ended our relationship when we

came back, but seven years later we'd

got married. We also wanted to see how

our own reactions would be different

this time. As time went on it was those

reactions that most fascinated us. lt

was exciting to note how much I had

changed, by noting such intense and

different reactions to what we were

experiencing.

We didn't simply enjoy the

overwhelming welcome from friends; we

went back to our guest-house and

discussed the limits of cross-cultural

friendship and the nature of intimacy.

We discussed the dynamics of power

and the intrusion of wealth and poverty

into relationships. We found, most days,

a quick link between our experiences

that day and the big questions of life.

Take poverty and our reaction

to it. Mark Tully's answer when

asked how he copes with

poverty is "l don't have to. The

poor do". An equally striking

answer might be "The same as

we cope with the poverty in

Britain". Even the word

'poverty' is too abstract and

sanitised for the destitution

which we find unimaginable

but which is normality for

millions; Tully's answer hints

at the thoughtless and

abstract ease of the

question. My answer

implies that if we don't

notice poverty till we reach

lndia we have closed our

Eating cake in a posh hotel

and then walking past a

beggar feels uncomfortable,

but it is logically no worse

than eating cake when we

can't see the beggar.

whether in Britain or lndia.

We all do this every day,

but it feels worse when the

beggars are more

numerous or their situation

more extreme.

But who is poor?

Poverty is relative, and

closely related to power

So whilst in some ways

we are richer-more

advantaged

-than most

of those we met, in

other ways there are

people whose monthly

wage I could drop out of

fnovcmsnt 15

my pocket and not notice, but who are

no poorer than me in terms of their

status and access to what their

society offers. I got tired of

being asked


for money-whether by beggars, street

sellers or charitable causes. I felt they

just saw a white skin as a pot of money

to be tapped - reducing us to symbols of

Western wealth rather than individual

human beings. But I found myself doing

the same in reverse-seeing stall-holders

and rickshaw drivers as needing our

generosity simply because, well, here

we are in lndia. So we gave some fairly

arbitrary and patronising tips out while

we worked out the pros and cons.

We were also well aware that we

had plenty of money but not much time,

so why not make use of the fact that

othrs had plenty of time but not much

money. We were quite happy to pay

people to queue for our train tickets

while we went sightseeing. This also

involved more trust than the average

tourist experiencg as we handed over

cash up front to people we'd only just

met. (And who didn't let us down.) This

was very different to ten years ago,

when I got a buzz from doing everything

as cheaply as possible. l'd gloat to

myself

-l

bet not many Europeans came

to the grubby roadside curry stall or tea

shop where I felt at home, and I

certainly wouldn't pay f2.OO for a

comfortable bus journey when you

For example, we found

churches more frustrating

than we do in Britain,

although the frustrations

were largely the same. Here

it felt somehow less excusable

because the form of

worship was not even

indigenous, but learnt

from a proselytising

foreign church which

inseparably wrapped the

central tenets of faith in

their own cultural

expression of them. ln a

short stay we could not

build up the trusting

relationships which

make it possible to

probe critically and aloud,

so we just came away and ranted to

each other. What is the church for?

Does it have a different purpose as a

minority religion and in a place with the

spiritual heritage of lndo-Pakistan?

Liturgy and worship did not seem to be

informed by struggling with such

questions. at least from our limited

experience of worship. I was disappointed

that worship is based more on

the middle-of-the-road Anglical worship

],IOST DAYS tYE HAD AN INTEI{SE

DISCUSSION OR TWO ON THE

VARIOUS TOPICS YOU CAN

IGNORE IN BRITAII'I BUT HERE

TYERE IN YOUR FACE ON EVERY

STREET

could get a cramped and bumpy one for

€1.50 that only took an hour longer!

I hadn't quite got out of the habit.

More than once I'd haggle a price

downwards and then get to know the

person and pay up to the original asking

price. And this was partly because we

assumed that because this is Pakistan,

they must need our generosity. But for

all we know they are doing fine. Some

recipients were certainly taken aback;

and irve might also have made it harder

for other whites by giving the impression

that yes, we'are so rich we can pay

over the odds.

So we reflected on poverty. ln fact, we

had brought several books in preparation

for long journeys and waiting for

bureaucratic procedures, but we hardly

read any of them. Most days we had an

intense discussion or two on the various

topics you can ignore in Britain but here

were in your face on every street:

poverty, God, organised religion, gender,

world history, and personal growth. We

then wondered why we thought about

all this so much less in Britain.

which the British brought over than on

the cultural, spiritual and symbolic tradition

of the sub-continent.

At one lndian Catholic church we

experienced lndian music, scents,

decoration and symbolism as the setting

for an unambiguously Christian sacramental

liturgy. This was a moving and

beautiful inaugural service for the new

building and although they don't do all

that every week it was clearly the norm

to have an indigenous style of liturgy,

which contrasted with some very British

services elsewhere. lt was also

disturbed by 20 minutes of fireworks

outside when lndia hit the winning runs

in a thrilling cricket final. To say I didn't

mind missing it on TV is high praise for

the service.

I found myself wondering if there

was any point in having a church, in a

country dominated by other religion(s).

After all, Jesus came not to start a new

religion but to inspire people who

already had a faith to follow it more

genuinely (among other things). Then

logically if Jesus came to Pakistan he

movemgnt 16

would encourage

people to be better Muslims, and in

lndia to be better Sikhs and Hindus.

Ultimately, there is no need for

Christianity-only for a liberation of the

kind Jesus preached in First Century

Jewish Palestine, and which compares

to the mission of the first Gurus of

Sikhism, and of Mohammed.

But who am I to say how lndian and

Pakistani churches should run

themselves? I draw back from doing so

without the context of a two-way

relationship of respect. And yet

outsiders sometimes make the most

telling observers, whether of a church,

an organisation or a culture. I hope I will

listen harder to hear the reflections of

outsiders when I have the chance.

More to the point, if these are the

questions I ask after four weeks abroad,

after a mere four church services. what

questions am I asking of the church I

claim long-term membership of? How

relevant to British life is our church and

our worship? Do we know and agree on

what the church is for? And what am I

doing about it? The answer to all these

questions is clearly not enough, if I am so

struck by the urgency of such questions

in someone else's church.

So if it is shocking that the only

woman in the pastor's meeting served the

tea and was washing up while we prayed;

that one of the three grand pianos in

Lahore has nobody who can play it, but is

merely a status symbol; and that our

friends had to build their own houses but

could only do so after bribing the

authorities, that tells me not that we

were visiting a sexist and corrupt country,

but that sexism and corruption survive

when they are taken for granted. And the

moral for me is not to tut tut at the way

'these people' do things, but to look differently

at the corruption and sexism that I

take for granted daily in Britain. E

Jonathan ldle is a youth worker in Hackney


Postcard From the

Fringes

have just returned from Lithuania

where I was attending a meeting at

the European Youth Form and visiting

the fledgling SCM in Vilnius.

Contemporary Lithuania is an intriguing

and beautiful country; in my conversations

with the SCMers I met there I

became aware of the strong sense of

civic and cultural identity that has flourished

in this small Baltic state since it

gained its independence from the Soviet

Union in 1991 .

Lithuania played a decisive role in

the break-up of the Soviet Union and

like many other former Soviet states, its

people have had a lot of readjusting to

do. The transition to social democracy

has had its share of problems, but I was

bowled over by the commitment of the

Lithuanians I met to play a part in

rebuilding their society as a fair, democratic

and inclusive one.

One of the first things I noticed

about Vilnius is that it is a city full of

churches. However, during the Soviet

era many of Vilnius's most beautiful and

anci.ent churches were turned into sport

centres or art galleries. Now many of

these fine buildiqgs are being restored

to their former glories and original

purposes. Walking around the streets I

couldn't fail to be struck by the eclectic

mixture of architectural influences-a

testimony to the city's rich and varied

cultural and religious diversity. The

largest proportion of Christians is

Roman Catholic, but Lithuania also has

significant Russian Orthodox and

Lutheran communities. The historical

process by which Lithuania has come to

have such an ethnic and religious mix

does not really make happy reading and

provides plenty of scope for potential

conflict.

ln many parts of Europe (indeed,

here within the British state) the legacy

of troubled histories-displaced persons,

religious and ethnic discrimination.

economic disparities, remote political

eilidh urhiteford

thinkpiece

control-has been, at best, the maintenance

of deep-rooted resentments and,

at worst, the eruption of organised

violence. Yet it seems that Lithuania has

fared better than most in its attempts to

acknowledge and overcome the traditionally

harboured resentments that

have existed between communities.

But what does all this have to do

with us? Lithuania is a long way away,

THE MOST POWERFUL THIHG I

]IIOTICED TYAS THAT THE

LITHUANIAHS WHO DIED AS A

RESUTT OF THE MO]'IENTOUS

EVEilTS OF I99 I WERE AGED

BETWEE]T I8 AND 2I YEARS. IN

oTHER TYORDS, lT wAS YOUNG

PEOPLE WHO ACTED TO LIBERATE

THEIR COUNTRY.

after all. The most powerful thing I

noticed in Lithuania was that young

people actually seemed to feel part of

their society-there was no ghetto of

youth politics or youth culture to be

found. As the Speaker of the Lithuanian

Parliament has pointed out, almost all

the Lithuanians who died as a result of

the momentous events of 1991 were

aged between 1 8 and 21 years. ln other

words, it was young people who acted

to liberate and re-create their country.

It saddens me that so many young

people in Western Europe have become

so deeply alienated from the civic values

that, at least in the case of Lithuania,

have launched one small Baltic nation

on a road to positive transformation.

l've never subscribed to the view that

young people today are more lazy,

apathetic or selfish than earlier generations,

but when I find myself identifying

with characters in Trainspotting ot

Generation X or turning up Alanis

Morrisette, I have to ask myself "what's

gone wrong?"

I guess that if you're reading

Movement you are probably a person

who is also writing letters for Amnesty

lnternational, or collecting signatures for

Jubilee 2000, or making soup in a soup

kitchen, hanging out at a peace camp,

or whatever. But why do so many

people who share a commitment to a

just and peaceful world feel unable to

participate and feel themselves on the

fringe of society? Why have such activities

been marginalised from the

mainstream of public life?

Compared to the great bulk of

humanity, we enjoy a high level of rights

and privileges in this part of the world,

including the freedom to make a fuss

about things we don't like. We're able to

make lifestyle choices that simply aren't

open to young men & women in other

places. Arguably, the most precious

consequence of this personal liberty is

that our society cares less about

someone's colour, ethnicity, class,

religion, sexual orientation, gender or

living arrangements than in the past. Yet

l'm afraid I have a nagging doubt that

behind this liberal fagade lurks a less

palatable symptom of our latetwentieth

century cultural malaise

and loss of civil identity: maybe the

truth is that we just care less, full

stop.

What is certainly true is that we in

the West could learn a great deal from

the emerging democracies of Eastern

and Central Europe; however, they too,

as they embrace Western political and

economic models might be well advised

to exercise some caution, heeding the

harsher lessons learnt in the West about

the consequences of creating a young,

alienated populace. I can only wish the

Lithuanians well in their continued

efforts to forge a vital and inclusive

sense of cultural identity and look on

with not a little envy. @

Eilidh Whiteford has just received her

doctorate in Scottish Literature. She is

the Ghair of the European Region of the

World Student Christian Federation

movgmgnt 17


The Royal shakespeare companv's recent adaptation of the medieval mysterv plavs, Tne

Mvsteries, retells the Biblical stories in radical new wavs. Graeme Burk spoke with writer

Edward Kemp about his work on this project, and how it has changed his own thoughts

uilding The

D

D

ysteries

Getting my tickets lor The

Mysteries, the Royal

Shakespeare Company's

retelling of the medieval

mystery plays, I had an experience akin

to having the Riot Act read aloud. The

friendly person at the Barbican's box

office first said to me: "You should be

aware that the performance is six hours

with two intervals". Alright. Then: "The

text has been radically changed from

the source material so it's very

different." Fine. "There's nudity,

vulgarity and some swearing." Okay.

Finally: "and Jesus doesn't get

resurrected at the end, so if you are of

strong beliefs you may be offended."

ln spite of this rather daunting

preamble (which is, strictly speaking,

not even accurate: there is a resurrection

at the end), and in spite of its

appropriately Biblical length, Ihe

Mysteries proved to be a phenomenal

theatrical experience. People looking for

a Sunday school pageant retelling of the

Bible (or, indeed, a presentation of the

medieval mystery plays) will come away

disappointed. What this RSC production

managed to do was strip away the

Biblical stories to their basic, mythic, core

and retell the basic story in a powerful.

effective way. /see Sidebar, opposite)

"What we shared was a fascination

with Jesus, as a historical, totemic and

religious figure,"'explains Edward Kemp.

Kemp was initially brought onto the

project as a "dramaturg" (a writer who

basically adapts other's work) but found

over two years that his role expanded,

to the point where the most accurate

billing for the script has been "adapted

from the medieval mystery plays, with

additional material from the Bible the

Ou'ran, the works of Dostoyevsky and

Bulgakov and with additional writing by

Edward Kemp."

The road to this began in 1996

when Katie Mitchell, the artistic director

of the RSC's The Other Place in

Stratford conceived of a season of pre-

Shakesperian plays which included the

medieval mystery plays and Everyman.

lnitially choosing to do an amalgam

of the four different English cycles,

Kemp set to adapting the work, but as it

progressed it was clear that the original

source material was not working as well

as had been expected, in part due to the

polemical origins. "We kept saying 'this

material is

anti-

Semitic,

we'll have

to do

something

about

that' or

'that

material is

misogynist,

we'll

have to do

something

about

that'and

we

seemed to

be further

and

further

from the

medievals

and with

every turning the medievalness, which

once seemed so charming and

delightful, was actually becoming a real

barrier. "

After infusing the text with new

material-mostly from the Biblical text

itself but written in rhyming verse-a

new dynamic to the project came when

it came to rehearsals. "We had this

extraordinary rehearsal period where we

found that the actors had come on the

same journey as we did...and so all the

discussions about the devil and evil

movement 18

came with the rehearsal process. We

spent a lot of time discussing the

theology of the piece, which was

exciting. "

The production opened in Stratford

in 1997 to favourable reviews, but there

were still frustrations according to Kemp

"What we began to discover was

that the debates we had in the

rehearsal room were much more

dynamic and felt much more of our

time than what was happening on

stage." ln moving the play to

London this winter, the text was

completely rewritten in the hopes of

reflecting these debates.

Key to this was a shift to contemporary

language. "ln some ways, in

Stratford, we asked difficult

questions, and put them on stage

but because it was couched in the

old language and was rather austere

and beautiful, people received it as

something which had not changed.


"So unless one clranged the

language unless one deployed slrock

tactics by having Peter swearir-rg and

rluggirrg Jesus-- unless people canre at

these stories fronr more oblique angles,

people sir-nply wouldn't listerr. "

Part of the process of getting people

to listen has been to bring the stories

back to their archetypal roots. The

stories that ur.rfold throughout lhe

Mysteries do not take place in ancient

Palestine br-rt rather a war torn

lar-rdscape. Tl.ris enables the story to be

retained in a mythic place Jr-rdea but

also our owr-r time-and seems appro

priate given the bloody conflicts which act

as a backdrop to nruch of the Bible,

something with which Kemp colrcurs. "Tlre

nloment one yoLr go into a war zone you

acl.rieve sornething rnythic," he explains.

"What connects the Old Testanrent and the

New Gstanrent as human l-ristory together

is the l.ristory of war."

ln adaptlng the New Testanrent, a

decision was made to reexanrine the

stories of Jesr-rs for their rlythic qualities

rather than trying a straightforward

historical interpretation, "fhe number of

verifiable I'ristorical facts about Jesus

are about as rrany as Shal


-t

quickios

llVhat's totr fanouite pocsesll&rt

My imagination

What are you reading at the

moment?

Proust, Faulkner's Collected

Short Stories, Bulgakov's

The Master & Margarila,

Julia Cameron's The Artist's

Way, Muriel Rtrkeyser's lhe

Life of Poetry, last week's

newspapers ...

lrllhat's ptr favourite fimi$ay?

Paris, Texas ! The Cherry

Orchard

How do you relax?

By working - the curse of

letting your hobby become

your lob

What do you most like about

yourself?

My bemusement

What do

you most

dislike about

yourself?

My envy

What's your

favourite

word?

Besotted

ll you could be someone

else who would you be7

Picasso

Wh€n tr you last cry?

Last Sunday

What's your favourite joumey? Wtlat ae yan sca€d d?

Anywhere by plane Not lulfillirrg my potenlial

more than you get frorn Dennis Potter's

Son of Man or Jesus Christ Superstar."

And yet, there are some striking

reinterpretation of other figures in

Christiar.r iconography.. Satarr in lhe

Mysteries is simply than a nressenger

angel and as such neutral in his affairs

with humanity. This, explains Kemp,

carne out of a reading of the Biblical

text itself . "lf you ransack the Old

Testament you find that Satan and the

Devil are barely there at all, which

seemed to us to be a bit interesting.

"So what began as a bit of biblical

scl.rolarship to remove the devil then

became a moral issue- there is no

longer a character in this story on

whom one can blame anythit'rg.

ln the absence of any character to

blame, the focus of The Mysteries turns

towards humanity and their own cruelty.

The stories of the Old Testament-an

expansion of the medievals, who relied

only on Genesis- are stripped of any

triumphalism whatsoever. The world falls

into greater disarray due to human choice.

Edward states that the play takes this

theme from Liberation Theology: "God

creatbd the world and it was good. lf it's

not

,W

right, that is creation's fault and duty

to fix it."

hat's been exciting

about the project

overall and important

about the project is

to say 'these are the stories of our

culture'. Even if you don't know the

story of Abral.ram and lsaac-and it's

fascinating to know the number of

people who don't know that story who

come out-that story of a father sacrificing

a son in that way has informed

our literature over and over again. That

Descdbe a recurring dream

that you have

One day we will all come lo

our senses

What do you never miss on

TV?

A long list of American silcoms

What music do you listen to

most?

This week - Ani Di Franco,

The Divine Comedy. Afro-

Cuban Allstars; rrext week -

Janacek, New Order, Mozart

and Professor Longhair

What pet hates do you haveT

Theatre critics

What would your motto for

living be?

When shall we live. iJ r-tot

now?

was the fascinatir.rg thirrg abor.rt going

back into the history bit of the Old

Testament if you haven't done it before.

There are er.rtire Shakespeare history

plays lyirrg around in the books of Kings

and Samuel. lf we lraven't gotterl it

directly frorn the source, we've gotten it

from a wlrole lot of other places. lt

seems to me we have to keep tl-rese

stories alive ir-r the same way the Greeks

knew you had to keep retelling the rnyths."

And yet the reaction to tlre London

production oI The Mysteries has

indicated sonre resistance

- at least on

the part of some critics and others

{even, as my discr,rssion getting tickets

revealed, within the RSC itself) towards

retelling the Christian mytl.rs. "People l.rave

no trouble when doing this with someone

else's culture and its terribly nice,"

observes Kemp, "but somehow when you

do it to our culture, you discover that

people really don't want it to change."

"So the fact that we've tried to say

'look these stories can be living, these

stories can be alive' and what one

discovers is that in this'Christian'

country there are lruge numbers of intelligent

people who think it's really important

that Christianity doesn't change."

This is something which doesn't

surprise Kemp. "l think most of us have

a sort of cardboard box which is called

'What I believe' which somewhere

towards the end of adolescence we shut

up, put some string around it and put it

on the shelf somewhere and it only ever

comes down if we encounter some kind

of a life crisis. This is something which

had to be revisited by all who have

been involved in The Mysteries.

"What all of us had to do in this

project was take that cardboard box

out and see what was in it. And one of

fnovemcnt 20

the thirrgs we discovered during the

process of doing that was all the sort of

tl'rings yor-r thought yor-t could accept jLlst

falls apart. "

And what about Edward's owtt

cardboard box? "l don't tl'rirrk the

cardboard box is going bacl< ot.t the top

shelf for quite some tinre and it feels

like I have the contents spread around

nry living roorr. I believe the process of

nroving Ithe play] to London has made

nre ever nrore Clrristian in that l'm rnore

and nrore deeply fascir-rated by Jesr:s

Christ than ever before. The overall

project, and again it going to London,

has rnade me more atheist, which is to

me a process that began sorne years

back, br-rt I sirnply realised tlrat l'd redis

covered rry spiritual journey where I

sirlply no longer rreeded tlre word

'God'. I was very happy for other people

to use the word 'God', br-rt to rne the

word 'God' was a barrier to further

exploration. So I kind of surrendered the

word 'God', and tl.re project has

constantly reaffirllred for nre persorrally

to do that.

"l can't at the nroment base a

morality or-rtside rnyself , outside

creatiorr. lcan't base nrorality on a

creator. I don't yet l-rave a solution to

how you create a morality based on

creatior-r, because orre inevitably gets

back to genetics and genetics doesn't

really teach one muclr more than the

fact that rnorality may be useful

because it will keep the race from

wiping itself out and l'm not sure if

that's a very good basis of rnorality. So

it's incredibly sharpened my interest in

nroral questions. Tlre cardboard box is

out and the contents are lyir-rg around

the livir.rg room and it's made me mucl.t

less morally relativist than I used to be. I

find myself agreeing with people who

talk about responsibilities rather than

rights, which suddenly makes me step

back and wonder if l've become my

grandfather. "

Theatre is an art form tlrat, perhaps

like no other, can stimulate and

challenge thought. That a play is

capable of making its audience reflect

on issues related to freedom, morality,

cosmology and religion and make its

creators do so as well is an impressive

feat. The paradox of the RSC's production

of The Mysteries is that it is a

sensitive, powerful and thoughtful play

that defies all expectations, particularly

those given at the point of sale by the

RSC itself . Which is a shame, as rather

than offending people of strong belief , it

should do the opposite. At its best, Ihe

Mysteries f ulf ills Edward Kemp's belief

tl.rat "Every single scene in this play is

based on the core of how one can

dramatise Jesus' teaching." @

Graeme Burk is editor of Movement


Robert Jones samples the gospel-influenced stylings of Nick Lowe's Dig MV Mood

Struggle, American Style

NICK LOWE - DIG MY MOOD

Produced by Nick Lowe and Neil

Brockbank

Demon Records

first thing one notices on

7he

I

hearing Nick Lowe's new disc is

how rooted in American musical

I tradition it is. lndeed, Lowe

covers a lot of ground here. from Tin Pan

Alley jazz balladry, Sixties soul, hardbitten

folk. right down to full-on

Nashville country. This is a "down

home" record, a comfort record, not

because it is not sophisticated in many

places, but because it is obvious that

the man who has crafted these songs is

obviously in love with the legacy of

American popular music which is

celebrated on Dig My Mood As the

album progresses, one can almost

imagine driving down a motorway,

windows rolled down, with these

sounds flowing out of a car radio. Lowe

carries the mantle of great American

singers such as Nat King Cole, Sam

Cooke and Johnny Cash with equal

dexterity and in these traditions, Lowe

doesn't seem like an intruder due largely

to his obvious enthusiasm. Despite the

sombre shading which goes to make the

disc so rich in atmosphere, he really

sounds like he's having a good time.

Another credit to this collection is

Lowe's seemingly God-given gift of

being able to hear the essence of a

musical style and being subsequently

able to construct a sound around his

mainly original compositions without

compromising the basic spirit of the

genre in which he is working. His many

years at Stiff Records and his tenure as

Elvis Costello's most revered producer

have seasoned his own mastery of

musical style. .

ln contrast to this enthusiasm of

classic American music is the undertones

of loss, despair and loneliness

which, on some tracks, seem to

transcend the expectation that these

elements are a convention of style. lt

would not be out of the ordinary to

expect despair in a country song such

as the album's closing track, Lowe's

cover of lvory Joe Hunter's "Cold Grey

Light of Dawn" which starts with "That

old alarm clock gives a yell/ Starting

another day in Hell/Facing a world I

can't face with you gone". The lyric is a

model of country traditions and demonstrates

Lowe's understanding of how

country songs are constructed and best

presented. lt is interesting to contrast

this with Lowe's own, "l Must Be

Getting Over You", the track which

precedes it. ln this song, also a country

song, the

singer decides

" I must be

getting over

you/ Because

today I saw

the bluebird at

my window.../l

saw the sun

breaking

through my

window",

these lines of

hope also

suggest a

certain sense

of tragedy; the

singer doesn't

sing to a

lrrcK r0wE

departed lover so much as he sings the

song to himself as a way of getting over

a cherished life once shared with

someone who is palpably absent.

The convention of lost love is

explored on many tracks here, from the

Sam Cooke-esque "Lonesome Reverie"

to the equally soulful "What Lack of

Love Has Done" and go to cast Lowe as

the scarred troubadour, who seeks

solace in singing about his fear of love

and what it can do to someone who

surrenders to it. lt is portrayed as

something which can cause misery

("Love's a hurting thing/ For I know it to

be true") yet also it is seen as a

motivating force, best embodied on the

jazzy "You lnspire Me" as the singer

proclaims "The road is long/ And it

winds through the night/ But when

you're near/ You let there be light" to an

accompaniment of shimmering vibes,

lyrical piano and rich backing vocals.

The language here is religious and it is

part of a trend which Lowe furthers

thorough out the album; the importance

of the spiritual and yet, its equally

troublesome elusivity.

The waning spirituality which

features in many of these songs can be

best seen in the Johnny Cash-inspired

movemsnt 21

folk song "Man That I've Become"

which portrays a good man who has

become an outcast to everybody

including himself, because he has

become spent by too much living in a

harsh world. The singer explains that "

He can't go to church/ 'Cause his faith's

all gone/ The sweet singing of the choir/

Nothing but a

row". The gospelinflected

"High on

a Hilltop"

describes a futile

search for earthly

spiritual fulfillment

as something

which is, simply,

"far away". ln this

vein, the grimmest

track on the album

is Henry

McCullough's

"Failed Christian"

because of the

underlying bitterness

which runs

through the song's

spare, but direct lyrics "l'm a failed

Christian/ And if I'm going under/ Than

you're coming with me/ That much I

can tell". Again, it must be mentioned

that many of the themes explored here

are conventional; American music has

been born out of these kinds of spiritual

struggles, from the gospel music of

American southern churches which gave

birth to the blues and to soul, to the

tent-meeting hymns which evolved into

modern country music. However, Lowe

has captured both the essence of this

music and created an emotional subtext

as well, so we can see that these kinds

of sentiments are still relevant to human

experience and are relevant within the

confines of popular song.

Dig My Mood remains to be a

puzzling title. ls this an invitation to mine

the troubled soul of the artist himself, or

is it merely to draw attention to the eclectic

range of style and voices which Lowe

employs? Perhaps it is enough that we are

left with a solid collection of songs, well

crafted originals and well chosen covers, by

an artist who has a true love for music and

musicians who have come before him. E

Robert Jones is a writer and poet based

in London


i

Tim woodcock examines Steven Spielberg's historical epic, Amistad

Whitewashing History

AMISTAD

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Starring Djimon Hounsou, Anthony

Hopkins, Matthew McConaughey, Pete

Postlethwaite

WHj,lfitfit,,,*$i'i

Something like Amistad: it has

compelling cinematography; a very

competent cast; beautiful vignettes; a

provocative and moving story, told with

intelligence and compassion. Yet it

doesn't satisfy. Hollywood can turn

worthy themes into worthless

tirades-but that is not the problem

here. Nor is it caught in arty obscurity or

the sludge of historical pedantry. Neither

is it cheesy. idealised, simplistic or any

those other usual celluloid pit-falls.

Amistad simply misses the mark.

Some background: Amistad is the

Spanish name of a ship that mutinied

during a voyage to the United States. lt

is 1839, a particular moment in history:

by now slave trading is illegal, unless

they are 'born slaves' on a plantation.

The plot goes forwards and backwards:

what in legal terms should happen to

this human cargo? And who are they,

and where did they come from?

Some would argue that Amistad is a

white man's black film and there is

some truth in this: a friend told me of

standing in a cinema queue behind a

black woman who said, "Steven

Speilberg is going to tell us about

ourselves again." lt would be an utterly

different film if directed by Spike Lee.

Amistad is more interested in apologies

than empowerment; and apologies

rather than repentance. Despite the

numerous black'actors there are only

three proper black characters and

Cinque is the only fleshed-out

slave-the rest are a huddle of pity, a

disputed human cargo, an embarrassment

for New World Americans and

Spanish Merchants. The film's subject is

as much the decline of a trade as the

liberation of a race.

Allow me to pick out three problems

that muddle this potentially earthshattering

film. The first one perhaps

explains the other two: with

Schindler's l/sf (the only comparable

Spielberg film) there was Thomas

Keneally's novel to whip the historical

material into shape, to craft a coherent

story by selecting and dramatising

history. Here direct transfer of history

onto screen leads to too many strands

of plot, too many characters and

multiple half-baked heroes. Whereas

Oskar Schindler the "scoundrel-saint"

was clearly the focus-in Amistad, who

or what is? The lawyer Baldwin... the

string-pulling politicians... the slaves?

Where is it set? The courtroom... the

boat from Africa...or Africa itself ? I

honestly can't remember the sequence

of the plot.

Secondly, the Spanish speakers

(although subtitled) are easily understood

by their gestures; whereas the

Africans' impenetrable speech is

subtitled. putting a layer between them

and us-and, yes, it is that explicit. The

Africans are often shown as ignoble

savages; as irredeemably foreign. lt was

courageous to make language into a

barrier. but it makes it hard to follow: a less

ambitious film would have put the most

eloquent speeches into a black mouth.

The particularity of the legal case

greatly saps the film's potential

power-What should be done with

illegally obtained goods (albeit human

beings) when lost at sea? Under which

loophole of which piece of legislation?

Baldwin is a brilliant lawyer who

specialises in property law There is a

climactic court case in which the slaves

gain their freedom-then a tedious

movcmcnt 22

appeal so Anthony Hopkins can do his

stuff . The fidelity to historical accuracy

blunts the dramatic edge. Despite

Amistad having a constellation of

virtues there is an underlying narrative

incompetence.

This film oscillates between the

individual circumstances and Big

Themes. rather than demonstrating one

through the other. "To make a universal

point one must begin with the

parochial." lt is a marvellous truth of

storytelling-and for me a key to understanding

what the incarnation is about.

The crucial scene for any Christian

engagement with the film is when one

of the slaves flicks through the

engraved pictures in a Bible,

constructing his version of what is

going on: he identifies with 'a race full

of suffering' and then sees, 'when He

was born everything changed... he

heals and protects... He walks across

the sea... but he was captured and

accused of a crime'. The slave has no

idea who this man is. When 'He rose

into the sky' the point of connection is

lost-Ascension may as well be called

The Day of Buggering Off. The

problem comes here for us too: was

Christ- another torn and beaten

captive-only a prophet and a revolutionary?

lf we say he is more, that is where

faith begins. E

Tim Woodcock is a student in Glasgow

and the editor of Moziak, the magazine

of the WSCF European Region


Graeme Burk puts stephen May's examination of christianity and science fiction stardust and

Ashes under spectral analysis...

The Truth ls Out Wherel

STARDUST AND ASHES: A CHRISTIAN

PERSPECTIVE ON SCIENCE FICTION

Stephen May

SPCK

ne of the most interesting

sermons I ever gave was during

the first week of Lent a few

years ago. The texts were the

stories of the fall of humanity and the

temptations of Jesus. Because it was

the week of the Annual

General Meeting I had

five minutes to preach

and, out of sheer

desperation, I preached

it in a Star Trek

uniform.

It wasn't that

hard: the future

presented in the early

days of Star Trek:

The Next Generation

struggles for a

prelapsarian perfection

which has more

or less has been

abandoned in later

years, and I asked

why it's so hard to

envision a perfect world in our culture. I

also attempted to examine the various

aspects of the fall and the temptations

by reflecting these stories through our

own cultural myths and it was surprising

how compatible they were.

I don't think this was just anorakishness

on my part-although there is

admittedly an element of that! Some

time before I had attended a diocesan

Synod and watched as clergy and laity

(and even, I suspect, the episcopate)

huriied to their cars to get home in time

for the opening episode of the sixth

season of Star Trek: The Next

Generation and talked about it enthusiastically

the next day. We may be

Christians, but we are a part of a

science fiction world. Science fiction is

our culture's mythology and the stories

of Picard, Kirk, Mulder, Scully and the

inhabitants of Ringworld are as vital to

us as Gilgamesh and Jason and the

Argonauts were to the Mesopotamians

and the Greeks.

This is something which Stephen

May admits in his thoughtful assessment

of the science fiction genre,

Stardust and Ashes. May has the

unenviable task of producing the first

work of serious scholarship to examine

science fiction (or "sf" as it is known by

aficianados, not "sci-fi" as SPCK consistently

call it in their promotional

material) from a Christian perspective.

What emerges is a fascinating examination

of Western thought from a novel

point of view.

For May, sf are stories humankind

tell about themselves. and their hopes

for self -transcendence

('stardust') or their fears of

self-destruction ('ashes'). ln

examining sf, he looks at,

and provides a lucid and

intelligent critique of, the

history of sf, examining the

contributions of authors such

as HG Wells, lsaac Asimov

Philip K Dick. Ursula LeGuin

and others.

ln looking at the genre. May

indicates some intriguing

enamoured with rugged

humanism, but at the same time a

gnostic valuation of the mind. A genre

with great emphasis on human achievement,

but little consideration for

ordinary humans. A genre filled with

wonder, but also loneliness.

ln setting the groundwork for a

dialogue between sf and Christianity,

May starts out with the premise that

both share a common sense of wonderment

with the universe. The bridge

between "thy power throughout the

universe displayed" to "space: the final

frontier" is perhaps shorter than most

would admit and it's an excellent

starting point. lt's a disappointment that

it is not developed better or further.

movemsnt 23

Rather than engaging and dialoguing

with the texts that comprise sf , May

decides to answer them instead, making

preachy statments such is "lt is entirely

understandable and natural that. in a

genre which methodologically rejects

the existence of God, one part of

creation is given his role. But it is

wrong."

Which is a great pity. Much of

Stardust and Ashes works effectively by

standing back and examining what sf

says about our culture and structuring

that examination in a manner condusive

for theological reflection. Providing a

didactic commentary, however, is both

boring and boorish. Sf is, if nothing else,

a genre about diversity: it can encompass

authors and points of view ranging

from the fascistic Robert Heinlein to the

eco-feminism of Ursula LeGuin.

Engaging with such a pluralistic genre

with a unilateral claim on truth seems

ingenuous. lt's also unnecessary: at its

best. sf, as a literary genre, credits the

j'J'i'Ji3:""ffi11"r.".

THE BRIDGE BETw=EN

the obvious, but

{5THY

well-founded case POWER

that sf's fascination

with the "other" or THROUGHOUT THE

:[?f"?ii":: ;T:',',,:"".,. u N I v E Rs E D I S P LAY E D' r

[J:?i,;:.H:,Ib"l'ff To ('sPAcE: THE FINAL

carr sagan,s book FRONTIERIt lS PERHAPS

Contactl. He goes deeper

than this, thoush, and rooks SHORT=R THAN MOST

1fi"il",""J":,:Tx?l'jt!;." uf o u tD A D t*t I T

reader with a great deal of intelligence.

Likewise, May should credit his readers

with the intelligence to draw their own

conclusions.

Stardust and Ashes should be

applauded for looking at the mythology

which is increasingly shaping our

culture. lt is for the most part a

delightful and intriguing look at those

myths and what they say about

ourselves but it is weakened by its

failure to do what Captain Picard said

best-"Engage". fit

Movement editor Graeme Burk is a

reviewer for the science fiction

magazine Dreamwatch


I

j ,.i.;

. : li.:l

i;..i

, l' '!

: t:

itlri.l

., . r-. :.1.'.1

Dominic Heaney on Peter Vardy's introductory analysis of Sexual Ethics, The Puzzle of Sex

Ptlzzling lt Over

THE PUZZLE OF SEX

Peter Vardy

HarperCollins/ Fount

t the outset it is worth stating

that this book, one in

HarperCollins"'Puzzle" series

dealing with ethical and philosophical

issues. and which claims to be

"an outstanding introduction to the

whole realm of human sexuality", would

appear to have as its target audience A-

level students as well as a wider general

audience. Hence it is "popular theologycum-philosophy"

for the chain

bookstore from a chain book-publisher.

But it is not so bad as this may imply

to some.

lndeed as an introduction to its topic,

The Puzzle of Sex works reasonably

well. Of greater concern are the facts

that the text occasionally lapses into

truism ("one cannot decide what the

correct reaction should be to sexual

issues as the dawning of the new

millennium merely by referring to the

understanding prevailing in ancient

lsrael "), over-simplification, and

indiscreetly over-provocative "insights"

("Today any 17-year-old knows more

about human bodies thant St. Augustine

or St. Thomas Aquinas"). These relatively

minor quibbles aside though. Vardy has

succeeded in producing a book that

manages to combine accessibilty of style

with challenging content and a wide

range of reference.

The Puzzle of Sex is segmented into

three sections, each followed by

questions for (presumably classroom)

discussion. An opening which appropriately

cites historical and theological

precedent for challenging conventionally

accepted notions of religious truth and

practice (referring to the books of Job

and Jonah as well as to more recent

controversies) is followed by the first

section, entitled "How We Got Where

We Are". Here Vardy provides a comprehensive

and concise oversight of the Old

Testament Hebrew and subsequent

Christian attitudes and teachings

relating to sexuality and sexual practice.

This section is one of the highlights of

the book, in which the evolution and

implications of concepts such as

Platonism and Natural Law are explained

in terms clear to the lay reader. A significant

gap may be found in the almost

complete omission of Jewish teachings

since the beginning of the Christian Era,

but with regards to the teachings of this

latter faith-in its Roman Catholic,

Anglican, Protestant, and, as occurs all

too rarely in British textbooks, Eastern

Orthodox forms-Vardy is coherent and

cogent, as he is with regard to pre-

Christian Judaism.

The middle section of the book,

"Finding A New Way

Forward", serves above all

as a reasoned critique of

some of the attitudes

towards sex expressed in

parts of the Christian

communion. Above all

the Thomist and Natural

Law-inspired outlook

that characterizes much

of the stand of the

Roman Catholic Church

on matters sexual

comes in for criticism,

as do some of the

more obvious consequences

of society

being male-dominated

in structure

and thought. The

need for contextual

understanding of doctrine

\

J

.J

THE

P,....

PTITR VARDY

and practise is stated and restated, the

logical adjunct to this argument being

that there is much that Christianity

might learn from modern phenomena

such as psychology and psychotherapy.

Vardy expresses the hope that the philosophical

"advances" of the modern and

post-modern dpoques would inform

Christian and indeed post-Christian

conceptions of morality.

The closing unit, perhaps disingenuously

named "Dealing With Current

Problems" explores ethical and religious

approaches towards what in fact are for

the most part universal dilemmas of

sexual ethics. The author is daring in his

argumentation, going forth to outline

circumstances in which. for example,

adultery may be viewed as morally

justifiable. At times the extent to

which Vardy seeks to reject that which

has gone before is such that one in

inclined to accuse him of the mutiny

of lvan Karamazov "lvan doesn't have

(a) god, he has an idea", but on

f urther inspection this is proven not

to be the case. Vardy's religious or

spiritual vision is rather one in which

the selfhood and the inherent sexuality

of each individual are respected, and in

which love and trust are the essential

prerequisites for intimate physical

relationships. This is a "positive" image

of sexuality, in contrast to that which

Vardy shows

to have been preached during a large

part of the history of (particularly

Western) Christianity. The book

embodies a clear vision of

sexual, and indeed

social, ethics in

society, one that is

perhaps best

summarised in the

book's final sentence,

emphasising "the need

to be gentle with

ourselves and with one

,

t

OO

another as we grapple

with difficult problems,

and to see that the

presence of genuine, deep

and committed love,

humility, compassion and

gentleness provide the

best signs of God's

presence....(that may be)

found in the most

unexpected places."

The coverage of the

book is at times patchy, perhaps

excusable given the enormity of its

subject-matter; there is very little on

the conventions of Courtly Love, and

nothing on the use of medical

"knowledge" to.oppress women, eg.

the issue of hysteria, to give but two

examples, but this is largely counterbalanced

by an impressive range of

reference points and footnotes, the

occasional and very welcome greeting

being given to mystics such as William

Blake and Vladimir Soloviev. The ethos

conveyed though is small-l liberal,

small-c christian yet far from being

secular or materialist. Despite certain

shortcomings, The Puzzle of Sex

largely lives up to the claims made for

it-to provide what after all is an

introduction to the massive realm of

sexual ethics, and one that for the

greater part is written in a sensitive,

impression-creating fashion. @

Dominic Heaney is a student at the

University of St. Andrews

movement 24


LITURGY SHOCK

HORROR: A headline

from the lr'mes recent

coverage of General

Synod screamed from the

front page in deathless (if

not breathless) prose:

"New Lord's Prayer

Divides the Church". So

just what is this new

Lord's Prayer and why

has it rent the moral

fabric of the nation in

two? Are they ProPosing

a PC "our parental units

in heaven, we just

stopped by to say hello"?

Or offering thanks to

Sophia from whom our

life matrix springs?

Alas, the boffins which

legislate the C of E's

worship were instead

debating whether or not to

change to a "modern"

version- "modern"

meaning what the rest of

English speaking

Christendom has used

since Spandau Ballet had

a number one

single

- which uses

"save us f rom the time

of trial" instead of "lead

us not into temptation".

I don't know what's

worse: the perception

that the C of E is

populated by ageing

fossils rejected by the

local Amateur Dramatics

Society and forced to

vent their desire for

pretty costumes and

Elizabethan verse into the

Church; or that it's true.

THANKS FOR THE HELP:

Thought For The Day's

answer to Zoe Ball, Anne

Atkins prefaced a

typically moderate article

in the Sun last summer

with:"This is not oPinion;

it is fact" and Proceeded

to statd that a GaY Man

has a life exPectancY of

43 years and theY are

likely to be 17 times

more likely to be a

Paedophile. For this

breach of accuracy and

journalistic imPartialitY,

the Press ComPlaints

Commission made them

print the results of their

adjudication, which the

Sun dutif ully Published

somewhere near the

shipping forecasts.

It should be

something of a victorY.

except the language of a

Press Complaints

Commission adjudication

takes a lot of the joy out

of it. They tend to read

something like this:

"Mr S Newman of

London SW7 complained

to the Press Complaints

Commission that an

article headlined "The

Earth ls Flat" failed to

distinguish between

comment, conjecture and

fact in breach of Clause 1

(Accuracy) of the Code of

Practice.

"The complainant

argued that none of the

statements were fact.

They suggested that the

American research upon

which they suspected the

claims had been based on

was flawed and that

Euclidian geometry. the

work of Copernicus and

the view from the moon

contradicts this.

"The newspaper and

the journalist stood by the

story and submitted

references to academic

research and calculations

which they said supported

the claims. However. the

newspaper offered a clarification

which accepted that

the statistics on which the

journalist had based her

case had been challenged

and that 'although broadly

accurate' her interpretations

should not be

regarded as absolute.

"As in previous cases,

the Commission was clear

that claims such as this

should not be presented

as fact."

Still awake?

THE DOUBLE LIFE OF AN

EASTENDERS PRIEST

Never mind Joe Wicks,

the latest schizoPhrenic

to hit Albert Square is

Alex the Vicar. Since his

introduction a year ago,

Alex has the most bizarre

personality switches

depending on the needs

of a plot.

One minute he's

everybody's right-on

priest, straightening out

Sarah Hills, taking on lan

Beale and getting a

Hospice built for ex-cons

built in Walford. The next

he's all conventional and

card igan-wearing.

Especially when it comes

to sex.

With his brief relationship

with Kathy, it looked

as though he was trying

out for Richard

Chamberlain's role in

The Thorn Birds. One

night of passion and

soon there's so much

angst and misery I

thought I was watching

Brookie instead.

I have no idea what

the BBC think Clergy do

on their nights off -read

Thackeray to invalids,

perhaps-but it brings up

an important point. I dare

anyone to identify one

person of the cloth on

telly who does not seem

like a nineteenth century

stereotype when it comes

to sex. Let's face it.

someone needs to tell the

television writers of

Britain that being a goodie

doesn't preclude doing

the nasty now and then.

THE TWIN DILEMMA:

Everyone must have

wondered at some time in

their life if they have a

doppelgdnger, a twin who

has taken all the

divergent paths we never

took. For example, I feel

certain that there's a

reptillian counterpart to

myself, far better

adjusted, listening to

Graham Kendrick and

dealing in pithy aphorisms

on Thought For The Day.

Apparently, our mate

Jesus has a twin brother,

with the convenient

moniker "Christ Didymus

Thomas". Didymus has

announced his twin

divinity via e-mail to all

and sundry.

Didy's apologia takes

up a good 1O pages chock

full of Biblical proof-texts

such as "Daniel

12:5-then I Daniel

looked, and behold, there

stood other two, the one

on this side of the bank of

the river, and the other on

that side of the bank of

the river (TWO CHRIST

FIGURES) I AM THE TWIN

BROTHER OF JESUS."

This somehow escaped

my notice the first time I

read it in the Bible, I must

confess-perhaps I should

check the original Hebrew.

It would seem Didy is

not like his brother, who

opted for the rather

impractical stance of

loving one's neighbour.

Didymus is something of

a hardliner; Catholics in

particular take up much

of his ire. And while his

brother had something of

a knack for the odd

parable or metaphor, Didy

tends to be a bit more

brusque in his use of

language, utilising

evocative turns of phrase

such as "The Pope

wanders the earth claiming

to speak for God. Yet he is

a beast child of Satan"

He concludes, as so

many of these people do,

in upper case: "AS MY

FATHER PROMISED I AM

HERE TO ESTABLISH HIS

KINGDOM, ALL THE

WORLD WILL KNOW ME

BY MY WORKS."

Keep taking the tablets,

Didymus.

TIE ME ARCHBISHOP OF

CANTERBURY DOWN.

SPORT George Carey has

become the softest

target in religion today.

Long time readers will

know that I have on

various occasion accused

Georgie boy-last heard

giving a Christmas sermon

over the Tannoys at ASDA

last December-of being

out of touch and

something of a quack.

Well, tell me what l'm

supposed to do when the

Primate of all England

says he's a bit like Rolf

Harris, as he was quoted

in the newspapers last

month ?

I'm still practicising

self-restraint even now.

THE SERPENT


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about religion artd

politics. ))

Wedo

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