Movement 98

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RETURN TO: SCM, WESTHILL COLLEGE, 14116 WEOLEY PARK ROAD, SELLY OAK, BIRMINGHAM 829 6LL


It's time to get our Vour hairshirt, sandals and copy of the Guardian and become an activist

dedicated to the simple life. Colin Mason calls us to action...

Activate your lifel

n this drab post-modern 7

world. coloured with shades

of grey and complicated

with global problems,

humour is a precious commodity.

Do you remember

the days of childhood when

much mirth was to be had

from talking about flatulence?

Well, even today there are still

words that bring a snigger to

the most serious member of

the dinner party. Whereas

in the past we laughed at

words like 'bottom' we

now snort at words like

'activism'.

Why has this word

fallen into such a )

sorry state? The

world is facing

terrible problems.

The population

count is rising to

new heights and

threatens to cause a

crisis. Currently a mino

of the planet consumes

most of the earth's resources.

lf more people strive for this western

lifestyle the earth will be completely

drained and global warming and deforestation

will destroy it.

The only simple and sure thing is our

ability to move from the present day to

the apocalypse in a few sentences. The

problems are very complicated and if any

solutions exist then they too must be

extremely complicated.

Such is the received wisdom, but

the recent SCM conference in

Edinburgh sought to challenge these

notions by mal(ing a case for simple

living. There was talk of positive steps

to make a difference and, horror of horrors,

direct action out on the street.

What sort of action were we

advised to take on this mad retreat?

Predictably we were warned off the car

and urged on to public transport. lt

was suggested that we could avoid

advertised products and the feeling of

being manipulated; think about our

lifestyle and how it could be adapted

to be greener and driven more by need

than want. Other less obvious suggestions

included singling out simple pleasures

like a bunch of grapes and touching

fellow human beings; wasting some

time on frivolous fun activities; getting

involved in the various campaigns

aimed at third world debt such as the

Jubilee 2OOO coalition. Clear out the

physical clutter in your life, we were

urged.

So, there are plenty of

things that we can

actually do and

plenty of stories

of good news

where people

have made a

difference.

irf

There are

also less

clear-cut ways of making a contribution.

Our political system is far, from

being perfect and it certainly is not

democratic. I maintain that good however

small can come from it.

"But" says the cynic, "these contributions,

however heartfelt are not making

that much difference at all." Foreign

aid has been flowing for years and has

not improved the lot of the poor. The

problems are still growing at alarming

rates and it seems that we're still all

doomed.

Here is the point the activist begins

making an intelligent response. Why do

people do all these worthy things? Do

\

movement 1

they really want to change the world?

lmagine if it were possible for several

million people to get together and

alter the course of events and so solve

the big problems. Think how much

power would rest with those few million

(few compared to the billions of

people who inhabit the planet, and all

other animal and plant life). This is the

sort of power that has traditionally been

ascribed to God. lt is abhorrent to me

and belongs with the God of Hosts, of

armies and triumphalism. lt denies any

real link between creator and created

and has caused much rubbish to be

written on the problem of evil. lf it is

so abhorrent when attributed to God

how much worse when to a few million

westerners.

The point of action and involvement

is not to provide global solutions. lt cannot

even be argued that a global solution

is achieved by adding up all the

small efforts. They are just as easily 7

cancelled out by all the negative

events as the cynic knows.

My argument is that we ;

should turn away

from the

fr

ft

big picture

and

then turn away

riefly from what's

going on around us.

Activism must begin from within and

not from without. ln our concerns,

cares and struggles we learn more

about ourselves and our place in the

world.

Our activism moves from an action

to a state of being and begins to

materialise in all aspects of what we do.

This must be our motivation for getting

out there and doing something. Five

billion worthy acts will never change

the world. Five billion struggling people

seeking to understand themselves more

clearly may just do the trick.

I raise the call to you all and to

myself. Get out and get involved but

never confuse the word'simple' with

the word'easy'. @

Colin Mason is a student at the University

of Edinburgh


movefnent

no 98

winter 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 E14 6SN

tel: 0958 730381

MovemntSCM@aol.com

SCM central office

Westhill College

14l1 5 Weoley Park Rd

Selly Oak

Birmingham 829 6LL

tel:0121 471 2404

fax: 01 21 414 1251

SCM@charis.co. uk

editor

Graeme Burk

editorial assistant

Carrie O'Grady

editorial board

Tim Woodcock

Kate Wilson

Leon DeBono

Kate Hodge

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

Co-ordinator

. Kate Hodge

Project Worker - Groups

Craig Coolipg

Project Worker -

M em b ers h ip D anelopment

Stephen Matthews

membership fees

f 15 (waged)

f 'lO (unwaged/students)

next copydate

1st March 1998

rssN 0306-980x

Charity No 241896

@1

998 SCM

YVired Up and Ready To Go

,';;:':{1ffi

:.,,r*ffii

Movement's new internet columnist, Dirk Grutzmacher gives us a tour of what

the SCM is doing in cvberspace....

First there was iust e-mail

I- una international commu-

I nications became even

more extensive then they used

to be. Texts, letters. files, documents

started swirling round

the globe in next to no time.

It soon became possible to

store important documents on

fileservers and then we

"gopher"ed for a while with

some links from page to page.

Then a totally new way of

communication was born: The

World Wide Web. Documents,

enhanced with pictures, graphics

and links to related pages

have come to dominate cyberspace.

The Virtual World of

today. lt was a slow process

at first, but now SCM, as likeminded

groups, are achieving a

good presence on "the Web".

It is a few years now

since the first SCM page was

released on the World Wide

Web, and it was -as far as

we know-Edinburgh SCM's

Andy May who designed the

first page. Today this

extensive site is located at

Meet Stephenl

Stephen Matthews has recently been appointed

by the SCM in the position of Project Worker -

Membership Development. This position is a relatively

new onq and we've asked Stephen to

tell us about it and about himself...

http://www.ed.ac. uk/ - euscm.

Not long after that many

more web sites followed, some

more elaborate then others,

but all of them contain information

about SCM groups and

their activities. There are

extensive links on these pages

to other SCMs-both in Britain

and overseas-and to the World

Student Christian Federation

(http://www.xs4all.nl/ - dethmers/wscf).

These pages are

invaluable in communicating

between groups as well as

providing an important outreach

to the student world.

The electronic age has

certainly not by passed the

office in Birmingham and this

is now online with a Webpage

(http ://www.charis. co. u k/scm)

and with an e-mail address

(scm@charis.co.uk). So there

I I

ello! SCM has recently employed a third

r{ member of their staff team to be.respon-

I I siole for membership, fundraising and

publicity. This has turned out to be me! My

name is Stephen, I am 24 years old and a theology

graduate from Birmingham. The study of

theology has given me skills to critically evaluate,

develop and structure one's beliefs. This

job with SCM has now given me an opportunity

to now assist us all in expressing our hopes and

realising our beliefs.

ln the last five years I spent much of my

time hanging out as a student in Student Guild

trying to be important... After I was elected

Student President I took a year away from lectures

to lay the foundations for the modern

Student Guild, reflecting the needs and interests

of its student members in its activities

and structures. Recently, I have been often

is no excuse not to get in

touch with the office!

For those readers who are

on e-mail and in Scotland,

Scottish SCM runs an e-mail

discussion group. lf you would

like to be part of it. please send

an e-mail to euscm@ed.ac.uk

and you will be added to the

PLACES TO FIND THE SCM ON THE WWW:

British SCM: http://www.charis.co.uk

WSCF: http://www.xs4all.nl/- dethmers/wscf

Scottish SCM: http:i/www.ed.ac.uk/- euscm/Scottish-SCM

SCM in Edinburgh: http://www.ed.ac.uk/-euscm

Warwick SCM: http://www.csv.warwick.ac.uk/- suabi/

list. Also a new forum for the

WSCF has been created in the

form of some "newsgroups".

You can access it at

news://news. knowhaus.co. uk

(These newsgroups can be

found only at this site as it is

not mirrored elsewhere). There

is also a WSCF e-mail discussion-group

for WSCF related

topics. To subscribe, visit the

WSCF webpage or e-mail

majordomo@knowhaus.co. uk

with 'subscribe wscf in the

body of the text.

seen in a suit and tie as I braved the business

world in various positions. I was earning money,

and that felt good, however I

felt my direction needed

altering and I felt the need to

do som'ething more than

answer telephones.

Spiritually, my faith

lies somewhere between me

and God. I am half-Catholic

- it's in my blood. My ecumenical

roots stem from a visit to Taize and my

increasing awareness of denominations and religions

whilst studying theology. I get excited

about the opportunity of dynamically living

one's faith in the reality of the world, questioning

things we don't rightly understand and

expressing in our actions what we wish to

believe.

I hope to meet many of you whilst I work for

the SCM. I shall be listening to how you wish

SCM to reflect your needs and interests. SCM

will work to provide opportunities for your

beliefs to be expressed and for you to realise

your faith.

movemcnt 2


Cutting The Crap in Edinburgh

lI

/Aut The Crap: A

I

V Liuing Simply"

Rough Guide to

was the theme of the SCM

Conference which was held

last December in Edinburgh.

The conference, held at

Augustine United Church, was

thought to be a stimulating

weekend of speakers, workshops

and worships. At the

height of the conference

there were over 5O people

present, marking a significant

increase in the number of

Experience

Romania

The Eastern European Language and

Leadership Training Project (EELLTP)

is looking for a recent gradla-ate with

English as his or her mother-tongue,

who would be able to take responsibility

for extra-curricular activities

during a three-month intensive

English language course sponsored

by the World Council of Churches,

at the Ecumenical lnstitute of St

Nicolas in lasi, Romania, from 15

April to 1O July 1998.

r Would you like to share an intercultural

and ecumenical experience

with learners of different nationalities

and churches?

o Do you have some experience of

organising activities for adults and

of animating them to communicate

in different fields of interest?

r Would you be willing to cooperate

with teachers and learners in language

activities in the classroom?

lf.so, please get in touch with the

EELLTP! 10 Kings Avenue, London.

N10 1PB, UKtel/Fax: 0181 883

3739 e-mail: esther@eclipse.co.uk

The Ecumenical lnstitute of St

Nicolas is run by Romanian

Orthodox Church and is a pleasant

and attractive place to live and

work.

EELLTP are offering full board

and lodging, the air fare to and from

lasi, and enough money for everyday

expenses.

Esther Hookway

EELLTP Coordinator

participants

from recent

annual conferences.

The conference

focused on

the themes

of Ethical/

Anti consumerism,

living simply and lifestyle

choices and the effect they

have on the world. There

were lots of interactive work-

shops,

including

a drama

workshop

which led

to street

theatre

reminding

shoppers

of "No

Shop

Day" (which took place the

Sunday of the conference); a

literature workshop based on

the theme of "clutter"; a

Cutt he

{Crap

workshop based on common

truths in creation mythology;

and an art workshop that

was titled "People's Place ln

The World". ln addition there

was a panel discussion and

base groups.

Everyone who attended

enjoyed themselves

immensely and took home a

useful post-conference

resource packed with ideas

for changes in one's lifestyle

useful for both individuals

and groups.

t- -t

6-8 FebruarV

SCOTTISH SCM

CONFERENCE

Location: TBA

Theme: Peace and Justice lssues

Contact: Kate Wilson

1 L, 6 Ruthven Street

Glasgow G12 9BS

9337351 w@student. gla.ac.uk

L

',

'4,

#qJ

F,fr -., -:

' '"lr? -7,

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\,

20-22 FebruarV

JOINT CONFERENCE

(SCM, Methsoc and Catholic

Student Council)

Birmingham

Theme: "Living On a Prayer"

Contact: Craig Cooling

SCM, Westhill College

14115 Weoley Park Rd,

Birmingham 829 6LL

0121 471 2404

SCM@charis.co.uk

23 Feb-1 March

WSCF EUROPE CONFERENCE

Strasbourg, France

Theme: "What Kind of Europe do

we want?"

Contact: WSCF Europe, Prins

Hendriklaan 37, NL-1075 BA

Amsterdam, Netherlands

+31 20 675 4921

europe@wscf .xs4all. nl

movement 3

€'

!'?

7 March

THE HOSPITABLE KINGDOM:

FOUNDATIONS FOR A THEOLOGY

OF HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS

London Mennonite Centre, Highgate

A one-day conference featuring

addresses from Kenneth Leech and

Philip Wood

A shared initiative of the Churches

National Housing Coalition and the

London Mennonite Centre

Contact: Churches National

Housing Coalition 01 61 236 9321

16-23 March

WSCF EUROPE.AFRICA FORUM

Waldsievershausen, Germany

Theme: "Higher Education -

Community or Commodity?"

Contact: WSCF Europe Prins

Hendriklaan 37, NL-1075 BA

Amsterdam, Netherlands

+31 2Q 675 4921

europe@wscf .xs4all. nl

16-18 April

LESBIAN AND GAY CHRISTIAN

MOVEMENT ANNUAL CONFERENCE

St Alban's Centre, London

With speaker Rt Rev Richard

Holloway

Contact; LGCM, Oxford House,

Derbyshire Street, London

E2 6HG

0171 739 -1249

lgcm@churchnet. ucsm.ac. uk

J


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To some she was a saint who gave her life to the poori To others she was an autocrat who did

little to challenge the causes of povertv. Mother Teresa embodied both and neithe[ argues

Barbara Crowther

Hellts Angel,

Heavents lcon

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Has Girl Power ever existed outside the

minds of seven year old Spice lookalikes

and media hacks? Was

Diana really the most compassionate

royal in the history of

the House of Windsor?

Why is it that we so

enjoy putting people on

pedestals, creating and

adoring society icons?

Why do we need them so

badly? ls it because they

inspire us for what they

have actually achieved, or

give us something to

aspire to? Or is there a

more sinister motive? We I

build these people up ourselves,

and very often we

seem to do so only to

knock them down again

when they fall out of fashion

or as soon as they

reveal a human weakness (a

few missed goal opportunities,

a stolen lyric or failed

GCSEs).

Like many Christians

(especially Catholics) I was

brought up to believe that there

was only one icon in society with

a real concern for the poor, and

that was Mother Teresa. In the

midst of our self-oriented and

materialistic world, here was

someone who had literally

given up everything

'for the cause',

who was willing

to touch

the untouchable,

love

the unlovable,

include

the outcast.

*

'TT:r

"To me, each one is Christ," she used

to say, "Christ in a distressing disguise."

Mother Teresa's absolute respect for

human life was deeply reassuring-it

movement 4

meant that I too was worth something.

As I grew older, and particularly as I

developed an interest in social justice

issues as a student, I began to realise

! Jo

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that not everything about my icon was

quite perfect. I heard stories about the

Missionaries of Charity order which

Mother Teresa had founded, and which

she ruled with an authoritarian style

which seemed to me out of step with

the soft compassionate image I had of

her. lnvestigative reports into the

homes and hospices she ran were

increasingly critical of the level of care

being provided. Mother Teresa herself

seemed somewhat resigned to the fate

of the people to whom she ministered:

"Sometimes all we can give our people

is a human death. We cannot let a

child die like an animal in the gutter,"

she once said.

As my own interest began to lead

me towards a deeper social analysis of

poverty and a personal commitment

towards charity-with-justice. an

approach which simply picked people

out of the gutter, but never challenged

the system which had put them there

seemed to me to be naive or even irresponsible.

I started to compare Mother

Gresa with other people involved in

working for justice and peace: Desmond

Tutu. Barbara Ward, Dorothy Day and

Oscar Romero. I was very taken by the

words of Dom Helder Camara, the former

bishop of Recife in Brazil, whose

now familiar words brilliantly challenged

the critics of politicised Christianity:

"When I give food to the poor. they call

me a saint. When I ask why the poor

have no food, they call me a communist."

Meanwhile Mother Teresa was

responding to her own critics, "You

change the world. ln the meantime, l'll

nurse it." Mother Teresa only made one

exception to her rule of not involving

herself in political campaigning, and

that was the pro-life and anti-abortion

issue, on which she spoke regularly in

public, once even offering to take any

unwanted babies which might otherwise

have been terminated. I remember

asking myself why she never seemed to

challenge the lndian caste system, the

legacy of colonialism, or the exploitative

terms of trade which must have had a

direct impact on the people who ended

up in her orphanages and Homes for

the Dying.

And so, haying seen Mother Teresa

as the absolute embodiment of Christian

witness against injustice, like many others.

I began to listen to her critics. ln

1994 the British journalist Christopher

Hitchens launched his scathing attack

on Mother Teresa in the documentary

"Hell's Angel" (Channel 4 'Without

Walls: J'accuse' series). accusing her of

promoting conservative and fundamentalist

Christian values, taking money

from unethical sources and providing

inadequate medical care. Despite failing

health, Mother Teresa refused to name

her successor as General Superior of

the Missionaries of Charity until mid-

1997. and this was interpreted as an

unwillingness to relinquish power. The

pedestal began to crumble: so much so

that nearly all secular obituaries following

her death on 5 September 1 997

mentioned Mother Teresa's failings as

much as her achievements.

;\

o which was Mother Teresa? A

a- 'Hell's Anoel' or a 'Heaven's

-\,"on , rne answer rs pro'aory

\./ both anct nerther. we have to

think about why we put Mother Teresa

on the pedestal in the first place. And

the fact is that behind Mother Teresa

the 'Media Star' was Agnes Gonxha

Bojaxhiu, a 4'11" woman of conservative,

Catholic, Albanian origin who never

aspired anything more from her own

ministry than 'accompanying' the poor

-

a simple act of compassion or solidarity.

She treated her sisters harshly,

but no more so than she treated herself

it seems (her 2O-hour working day

began at 4am, was nourished only by

rice and dhal. and ended with sleep on

the floor). Her unthreatening lack of

partisan politics meant she was able to

establish a humanitarian presence in

countries such as Ethiopia, Lebanon and

Cuba where others could not. While

Helder Camara was being 'retired' into

obscurity by Rome, and Oscar Romero

was shot by the Salvadorean military.

Mother Teresa was able to expand her

mission into over 30 countries worldwide.

Would she have been able to

accomplish this if she had followed a

similar radical path? Some would argue

that being in the media spotlight carries

with it extra responsibility-a duty to

speak out against injustice. How often

did I wish that Mother Teresa herself

had seen it this way. How many people

might she have converted to the causes

of disarmament, debt cancellation or

fair trade. at the root of so much poverty,

violence and exploitation.

Mother Teresa was not against people

campaigning for justice. for development

or questioning the causes of

poverty: it was just not her own charism.

movement 5

"How do you love God?" she asked.

"By sharing with others, the hungry. the

naked, the unwanted, the sick. the

dying." Mother Teresa interpreted this

mission literally. ln criticising her for

not doing more, we simply fell into the

trap of criticising someone for not being

the person we wanted them to be - a

bit like criticising the Spice Girls for not

writing anti-racist lyrics, or David

Seaman for not scoring goals as well as

saving them.

Why should we focus all our energy

on creating, manipulating or even

destroying the image and reputation of

one person? ln doing so, we become

pawns in a secular media game of 'set

'em up, knock 'em down', and we lose

sight of one of the most fundamental

tenets of our Christian faith: that of

respecting the dignity of every human

person as created in the image of God.

We might have a romantic vision of

'perfect Sainthood', but l'd be willing to

bet that St Therese of Lisieux picked

her nose as a child and St Bernadette

had the odd fight with her brothers and

sisters.

Personally, I have had to admit,

albeit reluctantly, that although I am at

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odds with Mother Teresa on the best

methodology for challenging poverty,

she was utterly remarkable in her total

and utter dedication to be a living sign

of the love of God. She remained a

hugely powerful counter-culture icon in

a profit-seeking winner-takes-all

world-and who is left to carry that

legacy? Rather than indulging in

knocking icons off the pedestals on

which we've put them, perhaps we

should be concentrating on promoting a

few new ones to stand alongside them

in complementary fashion. And maybe,

just maybe, we could spend a little time

working out how the values and beliefs

of those who have inspired us could be

reflected in our own lives. Now there's

a thought for Christopher Hitchens. E

Barbara Crowther works as a

Development Educator with a major

aid agency


ir

The Ghost of Christmas Past

R v the time vou read this, the fren-

I{ii"a spree of Christmas shopping

lJwill be over for another year.

However. I'm writing in mid-November,

not quite able to come to terms with

the fact that Christmas carols are

already being piped over high street

intercoms and I have to battle my way

through swathes of tinsel and huge

stacked displays of cards and decorations

in order to get to the cheese

counter of my local supermarket.

Don't worry, I'm not about to induce

a collective guilt-trip over the excesses

of the festive season; that would be

hypocritical as well as boring. However,

the emphasis on all things consumable

over the last few months has drawn my

attention to one Christmas story that

hardly hit the headlines, but which happened

right on my doorstep. Recently,

in good time for the Christmas rush, my

local supermarket started opening twenty-four

hours a day. Great, you might

think! I now no longer have to visit my

neighbours in the wee small hours to

scrounge a cup of sugar. or politically

correct Caf6 Direct. I can indulge my

insomniac cravings for peanut butter.

lrn-Bru, even new shoes at any convenient

hour-convenient for me, that is.

As a teenager I worked as a checkout

operator for a large supermarket

chain. lt was badly paid. I worked irreg-

6 emember this song? Io give and

la,i;z:x"1i,";!"i::y,l::,,:":"!u"

count the cost/To serve right gloriously...

These were the moral values of my

youth: inculcated in Sunday School and

reinforced at home, along with phrases

like: 'give expecting nothing in return'

and 'what you give you can't have

back' (trumpeted triumphantly by my

brother in the wake of some rash gesture.of

generosity on my part). lt all

came flooding back recently with Blair's

exhortation to meke this a 'giving age'.

Here are two visions of giving:

Firstly, l'm scouring a card shop in

lslington, searching desperately and at

the last minute for a card for a friend's

birthday. Nothing strikes me as particularly

appropriate, so I buy an expensive

one to make up for the fact that I can't

find the right one. I send it.

Secondly, during a Sunday afternoon

trip out, I come across a little card that

instantly calls to mind someone I like a

lot; who I don't get to see much, and

who I miss. I take it away and send it to

him. lt's free. The latter, to me, is the

ular shifts, I had to wear a ghastly pink

uniform-and, horror of horrors, brown

tights; but as Saturday jobs went, it

was OK. There was a bit of a stir locally

when the shop started opening on

cilidh ruhiteford

thinkpioce

Sundays, but most of the school-age

staff members were willing to work for

the time-and-a-half rates of pay we

were offered as compensation for working

unsocial hours. Eventually, the shop

realised that the public didn't actually

want to do full-scale grocery shopping

on Sundays, and things returned to a

more relaxed six-day week.

The trouble is that since then the

demand for Sunday shopping has

increased; now it seems that we want

to be able to shop around the clock too.

lncreasingly, what were once considered

anti-social hours are now considered

part of the normal working day. Little

perks, like a bit of extra money for staying

up all night, are out of the question.

When I worked on a checkout. manY of

my colleagues were women with children.

The part-time work suited them.

but they were rarely members of the

union and had little job security if a

manager took a dislike to them. They

The Giver and the Giving

better gift, because it's an expression of

affection - in the literal sense. lt says:

even in your absence you still have the

power to affect me-to change the

course of my day and of my life.

olison urebster

tell-tole signs

I'm not sure that ese s res

giving have yet entered the political

equation. As a society we're Pretty

unimaginative in the way we measure

giving. The only criteria we bring to

bear are financial ones. So those who

give and give and give again in terms of

time, eg. carers, lone parents and lowwaged

workers-are dePicted as net

recipients, whilst those who earn a pile

of money, but with little emotional and

personal investment. are depicted as net

givers. lt's these political considerations

that have caused me to rethink mY

Sunday School theology of giving. For

when it works itself out in situations of

structural inequality, it just seems to

bolster and undergird a system where

movcment 6

were reluctant to work at weekends,

prefering to leave such shifts to youngsters

like me. but found it hard to say

no if asked directly.

I doubt if the situation has improved

much for people in these jobs. Of

course, some shift jobs are necessarynurses,

police, even security guards may

be needed during the night. But is it

really necessary to go shopping at four

in the morning? ls it really worth the

social price extracted from families

already on low incomes whose members

have to accept such work or find their

welfare benefits cancelled? ls there any

'consumer choice' for these PeoPle?

Thankfully I've hung up my pink overalls,

but I still feel pangs of empathy for

those I meet when I unload my trolley.

Seeing all the turkey being unloaded,

I'm reminded of Scrooge's change of

heart in Dickens's A Christmas Carol;

instead of forcing poor Bob Cratchit to

work on Christmas Day, Scrooge sends

round a turkey dinner by special delivery

and raises Bob's salary. Oh, that a little

of that Christmas spirit might infuse the

wills of our retailers.

ln the meantime, I won't be going

shopping in the middle of the night, just

in case I run into Marley's ghost. El

Eilidh Whiteford is a post-graduate student

in Glasgow

the net givers are the poorest. and the

net receivers are the richest. There has

to be a limit to the extent that one

should give and give and give again

without counting the cost if you've an

eye to justice.

ln contemporary politics 'the giving

age' seems always to go hand in hand

with 'the opportunity to work'. In this

case work means, of course, paid

employment. But what seems to be

missing is a recognition that work is just

one expression of giving (or gaining the

wherewithal to give). 'Giving' and

'working' (in this narrow sense of the

word) are not synonymous. lt's a grave

theological mistake to make them so. lf

we're going to go buy into the 'giving

age' idea, it's got to be a more imaginative

and ambitious project than a resurrection

of a rotten and joyless protestant

work ethic-or of corporate self

denial (by the many if not by the few).

It's got to be about a rediscovery of

human connection and affection. El

Alison Webster is a freelance writer and

former editor of Movement


The question of gay and lesbian clergv has caused the Church of England's bishops to entangle

themselves in moral and theological knots trving to make the issue go away. Action for Gay

and Lesbian Ordination is making sure that it doesn't. Tim Robertson explains whv he is

involved in Aclo's campaign

Getting Real

Christian churches in 199Os

Britain do not generally find it

easy to grab the attention of

the public. But the one issue

discriminates against gay and lesbian

clergy compared both with their heterosexual

colleagues in the priesthood and

with their gay and lesbian parishioners.

Bishop of Oxford defended

the

policy specifically on the

grounds that it is logically coherent and

does not create a double standard.

What is it that makes intelligent and

normally quite rational bishops behave

in this irrational way? TWo reasons

spring to mind, and both of them are

based on fear. Firstly, the Bishops are

terrified of the division and conflict that

they believe would spring up if real

debate about sexuality were unleashed

movgmgnt z

across the Church. This is why the

basic aim of /ssues ln Human Sexuality

is not to accept the range of opinions

within the Church, but to pretend that

guaranteed to put the churches in the

media spotlight is the very issue that on the issue in the General Synod, the to please everyone. lt is hardly surprising

most church leaders would like to

hide away from-the question of

their own clergy who are gay or

lesbian.

The debate has an especially

high profile in the Church of

England. This is partly because

the nation is understandably fascinated

with its established

church. lt is also because the

Church of England's bishops

have tied themselves up in

smoral and theological knots to

try to get the issue to go away,

often with hilarious results.

The current policy of the

Anglican House of Bishopsset

out in their 1 991 report

/ssues ln Human Sexualityis

that clergy are welcome to

be gay or lesbian as long as

they don't have sex with

anyone of the same gender.

Gay and lesbian activists

have replied that this is a bit

like saying that it is fine for

people to be left-handed as

long as they use only their

right hand. Or-to make

an analogy with racism- it

is a bit like saying it is fine

for'clergy to be black as

Iong as they make themselves

look white.

What makes this worse

is that the sexual standards set for

everyone else in the church are quite

different. Everyone, including clergy, is

allowed to enter heterosexual marriage,

and lay people, according to the Bishops'

report, are also allowed to have longterm

sexual partners of the same gender

(though these partnerships remain excluded

from marriage). lt is only gay and lesbian

clergy who are required to be celibate.

So this is a policy which manages to

create two double standards at once. lt

!

l

And yet, during the most recent debate the Bishops can come up with one policy

GL

that the report's argument is so incoherent.

The second fear from which the

Bishops are suffering

GY.

is homo- <

phobia. This is the condition whose

symptoms include all kinds of absurd and

exaggerated fears about anyone who happens

not to be heterosexual. lt leads people

to believe that there is something

wrong about two people of the same gender

having sex with one another.

What is particularly serious about the

Bishops' homophobia is that they are in


denial about it. The entire gay and lesbian

community. who first identified the

phenomenon of homophobia and who

invented the word to describe it recognises

that the Church's attitude to gay

clergy is homophobic. But, when a

bishop is in front of any microphone or

television camera, he will insist with no

sense of hypocrisy at all that he is

opposed to homophobia. The Bishops

clearly genuinely believe that they know

more about gay people than gay people

know about themselves. They are like

white people telling black people what

it must feel like to experience racism.

Recognition of this phobia in the

bishops is essential. The bishops would

like us to confine this argument to a

polite and low-key dialogue. But they

cannot be healed of their phobia until

they have at least begun to acknowledge

it. They are not at the first stage

of insight. never mind at the point of

being able to formulate a coherent argument.

lt is not possible to engage in a

rational discussion with people whose

own position is completely irrational.

Action f or Gay and Lesbian

Ordination came into being in 1995 in

order to develop an alternative

approach. AGLO is a single issue campaign

calling for justice for gay and lesbian

clergy in the Church of England.

Our membership is nation-wide and

includes lesbians, bisexuals, heterosexuals

and gay men, lay people and clergy.

And, while we have on several occasions

met with individual bishops to try

to talk, we find that it is more effective

to stand on cathedral steps with banners.

Our demonstrations are peaceful

and we have never "outed" any closeted

gay people. Yet our presence at an

ordination service or in front of General

rather than as the facilitators for lay

people. But /ssues ln Human Sexuality

does cause real suffering. When people

warn that this question

could

split the Church, it is important

to remember that there is already a split

running down the middle of the lives of

gay and lesbian priests. The Bishops'

policy forces many of these clergy into

secrecy and fear, cutting off their public

ministry from a fundamental part of

their emotional and spiritual identity.

The problem does not stop at the

Church door though. The attitude of the

established church is a measure of and

influence upon the moral temperature of

the whole nation. Every time secular

BISHOPS TYOULD LIKE TO CONFINE

THTS TO A POLITE AND LOW.KEY

DIALOGUE. BI.'T THEY CANNOT BE

HEATED OF THEIR HOMOPHOBIA

UNTIL THEY HAVE AT LEAST

BEGUN TO ACKNO}YLIDGE IT.

Synod has often sent waves of panic

through bishops and their staff: it has

helped expose the Church's phobia for

all to see. Our approach is loud and

cheerful. Our aim is to embarrass the

bishops into growing up and getting

real.

Of course there are more important

issues in the world than gay and lesbian

vicars. There is the possibility that our

focus on clergy could feed into a topheavy

ecclesiology in which priests are

seen as the essence of the church

o

@

a o

employers or landlords or teachers or

parents choose to exclude or reject

someone because that person is gay,

they can feel reassured that they are

following the example of the Church of

England. For the bishops' policy makes

quite clear that lesbians and gay men

are to be treated as inferiors. The

wording concocted by General Synod is

that same-sex relationships "fall short

of the ideal".

Fortunately, this influential position

also creates opportunities. Once the

fnovement I

Church of England stops discriminating

against its gay clergy,

homophobia will become

much less tenable in other bastions of

the British establishment.

The Church's first step in this direction

is likely an admission by the

Bishops that they cannot always agree

amongst themselves-that, if the

Church cannot come to one mind on

this question. then dioceses or parishes

will have to decide locally whether or

not to ordain individual gay men and

lesbians. The final step will be to

make marriage accessible to same-sex

relationships: there is no other way to

achieve equality between gay and

heterosexual clergy. When the House

of Bishops digs its heels in over the

gay issue, or when it tries to cover its

ears, this is precisely because the

debate has such far-reaching consequences.

Justice for gay and lesbian

clergy will involve liberating the

Church from the oppression of a supposedly

unified Episcopal authority,

and it will release marriage from the

outmoded constrictions of heterosexism.

lf gay and lesbian ordination is the

issue that attracts the most media

attention to the Church, then this is

partly because it is the issue most likely

to bring about radical change. lt is up

to those of us within the Church to

exploit this potential to the full. E

rAGLO can be contacted at: PO Box

5716, London W1O 6WN. 0171 813

5247.

Tim Robertson is a London-based social

worker, activist and writer

;

I

I

i


Hope Has Two Daughters

\ A /:li; i'il'J:i?J' H,l it"::::

Y U brick, a box of patchwork pieces

and a sign saying 'Fragile: do not stack'

have in common? They were each symbols

brought to a recent series of one-day

conversations exploring spirituality in an

urban context. So much talk about spirituality

gravitates towards an accepted belief

that it is a pursuit for the middle-classes.

often in a rural environment, as a top-up

(i.e an extravagant extra) to 'real' religious

endeavour. When pushed most of us

would probably acknowledge that our spirituality

is more akin to our understanding of

our sexuality: less a top-up pursuit, more a

'way' or a 'manner' in which we live our

lives.

Spirituality is a dimension to all that we

do. lt is a way of living close to the spirit,

the Holy Spirit perhaps, so that our whole

lives are orientated around that drive forwards

to new life. Spirituality is a concept

that can be understood by all world religions,

and by people who claim no allegiance

to any standard religious practice at

all. For the spirit is a force which moves

human beings on, beyond the here and

now to eternal goals. This is why it is

such a baffling concept to many who

maintain rigid adherence to institutional religion.

An open spirituality does not fit.

Wffi#**ilTi:.:mT

great tool to access information otherwise

not easily accessible. lt can also build

communities across borders and time zones.

The work of the United Nations

(http://www.un.org) and its associated

organisations (http://www.unsystem.org)

has been on the Web for a long time. lt is

a powerful information source for all who

are interested in the work of this institution

and it dispels many myths about it. lf you

care about Children, Education and Culture.

then UNESCO (http://www.unesco .org) is

for you. lf you are concerned about

Nuclear Energy'and its control, try the

lnternational Atomic Energy Agency

(http://www. iaea.co.at); even the infamous

lnternational Monetary Fund

(http://www.imf.org) and the World Bank

(http://www.worldbank.org) like to show

their own critiques of what they do.

The world of "governmental organisations"

has its equivalent in the huge number

of NGOs (non-governmental organisations).

More and more, the two realms

begin to depend upon each other as

respect and insight grow lndeed it is one

of the proposals for the reform of the UN

That is why it was so exciting to be

with small groups of people in six different

cities in Britain and lreland exploring what

spirituality in an urban context looks like.

ln Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield,

H, spirituolity

Glasgow, Belfast and Dublin we had invited

up to 16 people to join us for a day of

'conversation'. There were no experts

other than the participants. Each of us

was asked to bring a symbol. a poem, a

song, a picture, an image: something that

represented for us spirituality in an urban

setting. So along with the brick and the

reJighting candle we also had a jar of

canal water, a statue made of coal of a

coal miner, a fossil that was 1.45 million

years old, three maps of the same area of

a city taken over a period of 10O years.

ln the afternoon we talked about the

places where we worked and the cries of

pain and of hope that come from those

contexts. Many of the cries of pain related

to isolatlon, loneliness, lack of belonging or

self-esteem and self-worth. The 'lack of

inner-connectedness','being forgotten',

the many'boarded up windows', 'the pain

of feeling of no worth, often heightened by

Building Virtual Communities

system, that the NGOs should get a

greater influence in the work. (More about

the reform at http://www.un.org/reform).

One of the main sites associated with

the NGO world is One World. Billed as "a

r'q

ruth horvev

soundings in

dirk griitzmochsr

thc @ colurnn

Hcommunity of over 150 leading global justice

organisations under one roof", it is an

impressive site which gives you links to

many "right on" organisation (in Britain and

beyond. Their partners directory

http://www.oneworld. org/partne rs/pa rtners

_list/index.html is an impressive list of

resources and information. Take Christian

Aid for example (http:/iwww.oneworld.org

/christian_aid) Their site provides campaigns,

briefing documents, reports, latest

news as well as all you need for your next

campaign. lf you ever were worried about

Censorship, the lndex on Censorship

(http ://www. oneworld. org/index_oc/)

should provide you with all the banned literature

you can lay your hands on. lt

comes as no surprise that "Third World

First" (http://www. oneworld.org/twf) as

well as Oxfam (http:/iwww.oxfam.org.uk)

movcfngnt e

institutions', 'the invisibility of poor and

black people', the fact that 'people have

stopped crying' were just some of the

cries of pain.

When we looked for words of wisdom

which come from the city we heard words

of hope: 'hope is not believing that what

you're doing changes things-hope is

believing that what you are doing matters',

and 'wisdom is the word made flesh-not

more words.'The phrase that will stay

with me is 'hope has two daughtersanger

and courage'. ln the face of social,

economic, institutional, emotional and

often physical deprivation the fact is that

many people maintain hope through anger

and courage. They have the feistiness to

be the candle that re-lights no matter how

many times it is blown out. Not all stories

of pain in the city end with the re-lit candle.

Yet the hope, anger and courage

expressed by so many people living lives of

social and ecclesiastical exclusion is

summed up for me in a red and white

candy striped re-lighting birthday cake candle.

Spirituality in the urban context. The

power and the courage to re-ignite faith in

the face of exclusion and despair. E

Ruth Harvey is the director of the CCBI

Ecumenical Spirituality Project, with offices

in Milton Keynes and Fenrith

are part of this Family. When I am looking

for news which come from different

sources, I look at OneWorld's Newsroom

(http://www. oneworld.org/news/today/

front.html), where news can also be

viewed by geographical location or theme.

lf you're looking for news from churches,

there is no way past ENl, Ecumenical

News lnternational (http://www.wcccoe.org/eni).

lts "Daily News Highlights"

are available free of charge in English in

Email form (you can subscribe online at the

site). ENI is part of the World Council of

Churches (http://www.wcc-coe.org) which

gives you insight into the work of this large

and important institution.

The World Wide Web is more than a

page three tabloid. lts main concern is

communication and the exchange of information

between people. lts creators originally

sought a "secure" channel of information

exchange in the doomsdays of the

cold war. Today it has become one of the

greatest channels for peaceful dialogue,

offering open interaction and information

for all people. E

Dirk Griitzmacher is co-maintaining several

SCM pages. More about him is available

on http://wwwed.ac.uk/ - dig


ln 1976, the scM published For the Banished children of Eve: An lntroduction to Feminist

Theotogv. Former Movemenf editori theologian and author Mary Condren talks to Sarah

Nicolson about the storv behind this important resource, and the present and future of

feminist theologv...

Tomorrow is

Another Day

ver 20 years ago SCM published

the pamphlet For the

Banished Children of Eve, com'

plied by Mary Condren, then

editor of Movement. Today it is still a

valuable and sought-after resource. and

Mary Condren is based in Dublin as the

Director of the lnstitute of Feminism

and Religion. There have been

immense social, political and ecclesiological

changes in the western

world over the last two decades,

and I asked Condren to reflect on

the currents within the SCM

which prompted the writing of For

the Banished Children of Eve.

She describes the development of

the women's movement as a

strong influence:

"When I first came into the

SCM we had weekend workshops

where we were given a

book in advance, and I remember

being given The Dialectic

of Sex by Shulamith Firestone

- one of the first feminist

books I ever read. And, you

know, at that time we had

lots of money so we'd hire a

conference centre and bring

about 30 students and staff

to a. study group. That

was really my first introduction

to feminism. And

then we had a lot of people

who had been kicked

out of South Africa

because of their stance

on apartheid. "

Connections were being

made between racism

and sexism; also influential

was the work of

Rosemary Radford

Ruether, who was

relating feminism and

ecology and anti-militarism

The issue of women's ordination

was one of the primary concerns of

feminist theology in the 7Os, and an

emotive issue within all kinds of

Christian organizations, including the

SCM. Condren recalls, "Prominent bishops

and clerics were writing vitriolic

anti-feminist pamphlets against the

ordination of

women and there were huge biblical

and other arguments. At an SCM conference

called 'New Heaven, New

Earth' [to which Rosemary Radford

Ruether was invitedl I tried to get a

vote in favour of women priests an the

conference narrowly overturned it-we

wanted to send a message to the

Synod but the conference refused to

endorse it.

"l remember that very

clearly because I

was chairing the

session and there

was almost a riot

when the vote was

n. As

Chairperson I said,

'Well, we can't do

anything more about

it,' and then I paused

for a minute and I said,

'tonight,' because I

knew that this was part

of an ongoing struggle

and I was only taking the

vote for tonight, and

tomorrow was another

dayl And the conference

was in uproar, in total disarraY."

Of course, in the 70s

some Churches already

ordained women. I ask

Condren whether she agrees

with Una Kroll's contention

in For the Banished Children

of Eve that women in leadership

positions in churches

ave done very little to

change the patriarchal structures,

and how this connects

with the colonial paradigm

Condren uses. ls there an element

of 'divide and conquer' in

the ordination of female clergy?

"Well you know that's very

f

fnovemcnt 1o


interesting because here in lreland we

now have women priests, but I was

very hurt and very shocked about a

year ago to hear from one of my students,

a good friend of one of these

women priests who said she should not

be attending courses run by Mary

Condren because I was a bad influence.

The women, you know, would not have

been ordained if it had not been for the

work of the forerunning feminists.

"So we were the dirty Nazi feminists

who had fought the battle on their

behalf, and many women are now coming

and basically repudiating feminism,

or doing little or nothing to support the

aims of feminism."

Condren recognizes that such problems

can arise in any movement: the

forerunners are often the most radical.

She perceives a danger in the forgetfulness

of the next generation of women,

who fail to acknowledge the misogynistic

power patterns which led to the exclusion

of women and refuse to critique

the mindset through which men continue

to perpetuate misogynistic structures.

"For instance, my own work now is

directly related to the wider critique of

Christian theology and a lot of my work

is directed to a critique of sacrifice and

an understanding of the sociological

and theological underpinning of a mind'

set which I consider to be entirely

patriarchal and entirely un-Christian.

"Men sacrifice for power; women

self-sacrifice into powerlessness, but

they do have a kind of what I call

'deviant dominance' to compensate.

And I think the work we need to continue

to do is the work of self-awareness to

transcend those categories."

This raises the question of Condren's

position in the 'reformist/ radical' divide

within feminist theology is Christianity

irredeemably patriarchal? Condren

draws a distinction between patriarchal

mythology and Christian theology: she

believes there is an ethic in the

Christian gospel which has nothing to

do with the advanced patriarchal

mythology of much Christian dogma.

She remarks, "l think the death of

Christ was a murder, not a sacrifice;

Banished Voices

some soundbytes from For the Banished children of Eve

I think the interpretation of that death

has fundamentally impinged upon or

negated the possibility of Christianity

being the kind of radical revelation that

it might have been. I'm trying to develop

a theology of mercy-you know, Jesus

saying, 'l demand mercy, not sacrifice.'

I think mercy is of the essence of the

Christian gospel and sacrifice is negating

the essentials of it."

The quest for the essence of the

Christian gospel has led Condren to

examine the traditions of Christianity in

a post-colonial framework, I ask if she

considers there is any merit in orthodoxy

and she replies that she believes

Christian teaching has been deformed

by a colonial mentality; that Christianity

"Wonran is defined alternately as

submissive body in the order ol

nature and 'revolting'body in the

disorder of sin."

"Surely we believe at this

historical moment the

liberation of wonren is

an eschatological act

of love which is possible

if women and

men are to

towards a

humanity? "

-Sheila

"A

Critique

Law"

move

f uller

Briggs,

Femini

of Natura

"l've never read an article or

heard a sermon on the subject

'Man is evil when he dominates

woman,' have you?"

-Anne McGrew Bennett

"Overcoming the Biblical and

Traditional Subordination of

Women"

"For centuries nonsense had

been preached to women in the

name of religiorr . . ."

". .the Church's divided tradition

on woman and Mary is the

product of male self-alienation."

-Donal Flanagan "Women

and Mary"

"The whole Christian tradition. . .

cannot avoid the criticisms ol De

Beauvoir and Mary Daly which

lrave widespread implications for

tradition, dogma, language and

the whole patriarchal structure of

the churches as they exist."

-Elaine C Huber: "The Woman's "ls the person of God sexually

Bible vs The Patriarchy" male?"

"Mary in every

Christian age was

placed before the

Church as idealised

womanhood."

"Mary's submissiveness

God becomes the model

woman's subjection to

man-the dogmatic sanc-

{or the social fact."

"lndeed to make maleness essential

to the incarnation would have,

in traditional orthodoxy, excluded

women, not merely from ordination,

but from salvation!"

"ln fact all of the theological

arguments against the ordination

of women are based on views

which, if taken literally, would

exclude women from baptism."

"The Church stands as the cultural

guardian of . . . symbols of

domination and subjugation."

Eve -Rosemary Radford Ruether,

"Male Clericalism and the Dread

ol Women"

" iln Protestant churchesl in positions

of leadership women are in

a minority and they seem to

accept and work within the patriarchal

struclures of the ministries

whichtheyjoin..."

". . it is possible to think that

the person of Christ can be united

to the person of a woman through

the activity of the Holy Spirit . . ."

-Una Kroll, "God According to a

Woman"

"All the women listed in the Mass

liturgy are virgirr martyrs, as if it

were befter to die than to copulate."

"The historical accidents ol

Jesus's birth. maleness, and the

social customs of his age are elevated

into ontological systems

which are used to discriminate

against women in the church.

{however that the fact that Jesus

was Jewish has never affected the

entry of men from other cultures

into the power structures ol the

church.)"

-Mary Condren "For the Banished

Children of Eve"

fnovcfn@nt 11


-

has been shaped and formed by those

empowered in the colonial context who

use an orthodox set of beliefs and traditions

to override the traditions and

belief systems of other cultures.

"l think that striving for orthodoxy,

as distinct from orthopraxis, has fundamentally

deformed the spirit of

Christianity, which can be basically captured

in a couple of very practical

admonitions in the sense of how we

live our lives. The rest of it is largely

cultural accretions, and all of them

now have to be examined in a postcolonial

context to see to what extent

they are of the essence of the

Christian gospel and to what extent

they are simply colonial strategies to

colonize the belief systems of other

people. "

An example of colonial strategy

might be the parliamentary motion

tabled by the SDLP and the Ulster

Unionists, which opposes any change in

abortion law in Northern lreland. What

response can feminist theology make

when Churches line up with political

parties to deny women rights over their

bodies? Mary Condren quotes lan

Paisley, "The only thing that Cardinal

O'Faich and I have in common is an abhorrence

of homosexuality," and comments,

"l think it's an attempt to find the common

ground, but the common ground

usually entails the sacrifice of women

or the sacrifice of any kind of what is

6sRevelation is no

patriarchal Yoice from

above...))

an excerpt from Mary Condren's editorial in For tne Banished

Cninren of Eve

The crisis in theology

has many causes,

I but for women it is

f undamentally the fact

that their experience of

God, of the transcendent.

the numinous, can no

longer be mediated

through the masculine

language of the churches,

which despite pretensions

to 'objectivity' in

theory, has served to

enslave historically. The

decline of patriarchal and

authoritarian structures

generally, leaves women

unsatisfied with a patriarchal

mode of communication

or a copywriting

mechanism on the word

of God

-the historical

function of the masculine

priesthood. Women

recognise that the historical

usage of the image of

Jesus and the Bible to

keep them in subjection,

forever puts these

sources into question in

terms of their own liberation-however

much they

recognise that as great a

disservice was done to

the historical Jesus as to

women. The emerging

feminist theology will

therefore be inductive

rather than deductive.

That is to say thatit will

start from the concrete

experiences of women in

history and in the present,

and claim the right

to name these experiences

in ways which cannot

serve sexist purposes

(whether against male or

female). Historical consciousness

now gives us

the opportunity to examine

religious myths in

terms of their social functioning

and the values to

which they gave rise or

legitimated-with widespread

repercussions,..

...For feminists however,

revelation is no

patriarchal voice f rom

above, but the painful

birth of a new consciousness

as women struggle

to lay claim to a dimension

of existence which

for too long has served

only as an opiate rather

than a source of liberation.

Feminist theologians

have no difficulty in

admitting that their vision

will be partial and conditioned

by their experiences

of what is holy to

women or culturallY

determined. That we are

selective in our vision

and world view and theology,

is both the

promise of truth and the

assurance of failure.

Such a theology may not

help towards a foundation

of a universal

Church, but in view of

the atrocities committed

in the name of Universal

Truth, not least to

women, this will not be

seen as any great loss. lt

may be the first steP

toward the creation of a

non-violent theologY,

devoid of pretensionand

the power to maniPulate

and coerce the

name of God is stripped

once and for all.

movemgnt 12

considered to be sexual deviancy, and

this is the traditional way in which politicians

gain the high moral ground, essentially

to legitimize their own political

stance by using women as scapegoats.

"There is a sense in which women

uphold the moral ground; women are

expected to hold tight onto a private

morality, while the public morality can

be fundamentally what we would consider

to be completely immoral. And I

think that needs a level of exploration

that goes beyond women's rights over

their own body, the language of which

is problematic and in itself patriarchal.

"But in terms of our political field I

think what we need is a huge analysis

of the ways in which people gain legitimacy,

and one of the ways they gain

legitimacy is through the common use of

sacrificial rhetoric. Not only the sacrifice

of women's bodies or women's choice

or women's ethics, but also sacrifice in

the wider field-in the sense in which

the Ulster Unionists will claim that

because Ulster Unionists fought in the

Battle of the Somme or the First World

War, Britain would be cutting them off,

or to acknowledging the sacrifices they

made, by allowing a united lreland."

Perhaps because of that political

environment, Condren stresses her

colonial / non-colonial point of analysis,

and in acknowledging the concerns of

movements which have arisen in

response to a perception of middle

class white exclusivity in feminism she

critiques white upper class male theology

on the basis of its stance towards the

word and towards structures of domination

and power; its logos-centredness.

She feels that even among British and

American women theologians there is

"a kind of obsession with logos-centred

theology" and welcomes other

means of accessing the holy, such as

the use of music, ritual and dance

in mujeristic, celtic and womanist

theology. Condren presents challenge

after challenge to the perpetuation of

patriarchal distortions of Christianity.

and her colonial/non-colonial perspective

can be a helpful model. Anyone

looking for a way into feminist theology

will find For the Banished Children of

Eve an accessible gateway; those

already in the garden can cultivate

enlightenment through her later work

in the sure knowledge that "tomorrow

is another day" E

.For The Banished Children of Eve is

available from SCM for f1.50

r Mary Condren is the author of The

Serpent and the Goddess (Harper &

Row), with a new book to follow soon.

Sarah Nicolson has just finished her

PhD in Hebrew. She lives in Perth.


Virtual Relationships

a

I

ir

l

R

V

elationships. Of course, when

Graeme approached me about

I I li:T'.:0","Jilx'lJ,#ii#iiiJ;

sonal relationships, and not, say, relationships

between SCMs or Churches or

political powers. Nope, it was going to

be about... uh... coupling. Well, fair

enough-interpersonal relationships certainly

have their share of power dynamics,

ritual, politics, and subversive

potential. I say potential because a relationship

seems to be one of those

things that calls for certain traditional

behaviours in order to be acceptable to

the status quo. Resisting this call, and

finding creative alternatives, is a testimony

to everyone who has ever used

their relationship to break down damaging

stereotypes and assumptions.

I have to begin by confessing my

context (mea culpa): I am a gay man

and I am in the early stages of what

you might call a serious relationship. I

say serious, because we have discussed

the future, children, curtains, and "His

and His" computer tables. We met (l

similar ideological principles or IRC

channels, the number of connections

being made right now is astonishing,

and is a great opportunity for movements

like the SCM. And, of course, for

finding someone with whom to snuggle...

l've thought a lot about this in these

past few months. fearful that in replacing

my practically lifelong singleness

with a new social identity (l'm part of a

"we" now...) that I'd lose something

vital about myself . l'm happy to report

that l'm still myself. but I have had

some insights:

1. People in relationships take a new

kind of ownership over things.

Since all this began. we've talked about

having our own time together, taking

our vacations together, saving for our

future, having our home. our dog, our

"lfil='ljil&UE{'il}fr{Jh.j {##:r "$'B"##j s'eiff

g?l$"ff

i#"tf ft#rrhBiirfi $ fl.: '"FIj&

*l*kM fr M gS S i{ i$,gAWffi

i.,i ;i :i$4 h:-,g*; ilH-s*q:Bfldrd ?F$d#S ffiXF*FiFA#ffi ruffi ffi

*15 p."#ffiw T'i$qffiffi€Kjzugsffiuss $'l$- ffi$ yffi ffiH

ffi&$qK ffiF dq ruffiw p&wq*smffiffiffi {sffi

trt&ffifdfi ffi"Ys wFtrffi ffiffi 'ffs4ffi 4,:ffi ruffi #yH#e#s

#ffi reffitu&K.ffimffiskfrfrffi$ &ffiffi ffiw

ttffiffiffi ffiffi ffiffiru'ffiffiqp€$ffi ffiffis ffi"w ffi ffi ruffi ffi $qe

dg@ffi &ffiffi tr$ffi&Mg$&&. sffiffiw$a$YY"

still hesitate before saying this) on the

lnternet. Yes, the lnternet. Had I not

found myself in this situation, I guess I

would have scoffed at the prospect of

finding a partn6r on the lnternet, but

here I am, in the process of developing

a relationship with him for five months

now. And, brothers and sisters, there's

even more: Not only did I find my partner,

l've met at least a dozen other people

through this medium, in a number of

capacities connected to my personal

and professional life. And I have to draw

this conclusion: there is a thriving community

to be found on the lnternet.

Whether it is through chat groups,

online services for connecting people of

al

#,

.,llr1

.:4

rick gorlond

ties ond binds

kids, our friends, our furniture, our

stuff ... all things I hadn't been concerned

about before. lt seems that

developing security is an important

aspect of relationship-building. Hmmm

2. Gay relationships are not expected to last.

The times I have been asked: "Hey. are

you still seeing What's-his-name?" far

outnumber the more congenial "How is

What's-his-name?" Let's face it, gay

and lesbian people have a lot of barriers

to overcome in relationships. There is

the omnipresence of homophobia, all

the decisions to make around "coming

out" and the fact that we are still not

sanctioned by most legal or societal

bodies, not to mention many religious

bodies. The piece of paper, the sacred

ritual, the public celebration, all these

things make a significant contribution to

most straight unions, somehow "sealing"

the relationship. Naturally, this can

lead to problems for relationships that

should end. As well, many people simply

assume gay relationships are about sex.

And while there may be more examples

among the gay community of strictly

sexual relationships, there has been very

little credence given to other aspects of

a gay relationship.

3. There will always be risk in relationships.

And well there should be Those things

that are most worth preserving are the

things that should bring us to take risks,

whether it be social programs, human

rights or a valuable relationship. lt is

dangerous for anyone to do anything

that does not belong in certain segments

of this society. So imagine what

it must be like to BE something that

does not belong.

I think one of the most dynamic

learnings I have gained from this experience

is how tremendous it is to be part

of a new paradigm of family. where the

conditions of relationship are no longer

determined by gender, age and financial

security. People are coming together and

calling themselves family all over the

place today, whether they be unmarried

heterosexuals, co-parenting heterosexuals,

single parenting families, multi-partnered

bisexuals, virtual cyber-partners,

intentional communities, etc. The religious

right should feel threatened by the

attack on the nuclear family- it is no

longer the ideal for many, and that is

clearly a gain, not a loss. As in all

things. our diversity is strength, and the

place of learning.

I grew up trying to figure out how I

would fit into a heterosexual relationship

somehow, and had no idea that I could

have other options. The thought of children

and teens growing up today with

the education that they are allowed to

discover where they will belong is

astounding to me, yet a sign that

progress has been made in the last

twenty years. So, in the end, I can't

really tell you about relationships... but I

can tell you about my relationship,

because it is the place of my experience.

And maybe l'll do that-on

another occasion. @

Rick Garland is the national coordinator

of the Canadian SCM

movcment 13


-{

Want to go see a film? Who are Vou going to trust

- patrician Barrv Norman on BBC1's Film

'98 or Johnnie Vaughan's weeklv samplings from the proletariat on Channel 4's Moviewatch?

Tim woodcock evaluates the viewer's right to choose...

Auteurmatic

tor the People

With so many cultural choices

we could do with the

someone to sample

them all for us-in

the way that a King had a trusty

courtier to test every morsel that

might pass his lips (in case of

poison). We have review programmes.

And although they

may be ostensibly the same

-half

an hour of film reviews

interspersed with interviews

and features-they can be profoundly

different in outlook.

Channel 4's Moviewatch

is brash, pacy and aimed

at the yoof of today. lt is

a relative newcomer

(although it has

already notched up

100 episodes), but

unlike most other

shows of that description

it is also intelligent

and discerning. The effervescent

Johnnie Vaughan is a charismatic

but not over-bearing

presenter. lt is broadcast

at six in the eveningbefore

you go out to

the pub and talk

endlessly, arranging

to go and see

some film you saw

mentioned on t$e

telly.

You get back

from the pub- it has

been a long, strange

night: Tuesday when

you go out. Monday

when you return!- the

continuity

announcer

introduces

,,.'an

quality

program

fr

it,

q r -!r

4

Top to Bottom:

Moviewatch's

Johnnie Vaughn;

and Film '98's

Uncle Barry

Ar*p $ffi*{ffi# ffiffifituffiffiffi

PSp RffiL$ruffi ffiffire A

€L&S$ ffitr SFflffiffiRYfrom

the BBC". The plodding themetune

of Film 98 reassures

you: here you are

again almost ready

for bed, whilst

Uncle Barry sits in

his swivel chair

and harmlessly

harangues about

the state of cinema

I like to imagine that

when the recording is

done Trevor

MacDonald and John

Geilgud pop

round for a glass

of sherry with him

TF$AT WFXffiro WhfiH

The opening credits

indicatethediver- $AffiCSRmflFSG gS ffiffiF*ffi

gence of approaches:

Fitm e8 (n6e Fitm i/) TR€Vffiffi &*A#ffiffiru$L,ffi

is much the same as it

always was, sometimes

the graphics are updated but

the music remains. At the

start of Moviewatch the

uests grin into a distorting

camera lens as they are

introduced, "Annalise: shop

manager and rock climber

Passionate. Broad-minded.

lmpatient!" These are the

reviewers. an abnormally

beautiful slice of the public

who practice the underrated

critical procedure of

'speaking your mind'

Moviewatch is a model of simple

democracy. The four panel

members are sent out to the cinema

and return bearing colourful

numbers (marks out of ten),

which are totalled to give

the Recommendation of

he Week. One member,

ne vote. No all worthyilm

short-lists.

Film 98 is Barry

orman. His opinion of

movemsnt 14

a film is the only one given. Furthermore

he is An Expert, a wise man committed

to his art: someone who has sat in

darkened rooms for so long that, so the

rumour goes, he has rickets. Who else

could sit on national television and say

nonchalantly, "And as I've said

before.."? Even if you take BarrY

Norman The Film Expert's analysis with

a generous pinch of salt it is still the

dominant input; whereas Johnnie

Vaughan earnestly asks his team,

"Should I go and see this film?"

-which after all is the crux of a review

fi il-;KF Yffi greAffiTF$H

programme. There is a plurality of opinions

to respond to and sometimes you

want to go to the flicks just to know

who you agree with most; whereas

Film 98 can degenerate into a one-man

"smash or trash?" format.

Ma Vie en Rose is a recent French

film and of course has subtitles. Credit

goes to both shows for reviewing it on

an equal footing to the latest Hollywood

offerings. lt deals with a 7 year-old boy

who simply wishes he were a girl. Not

an easy topic to discuss. Barry Norman

glibly summarises: "...Ludo can't understand

what the fuss is about, God had

absent-mindedly mislaid one of his X

chromosomes and sent him a Y instead.

Could happen to anyone. But Ludo's

parents aren't convinced and neither

are the neighbours whose prejudice and

homophobia soon become onlY too


apparent." This is plot synopsis rather

than analysis and when we are told it is

"a charming film" it seems to have "

How much more refreshing to hear

Ross ("medical student and people

lover" ) confess his prejudices: "To be

honest I wouldn't usually be a big fan

of these small budget arty-house

things. lt's great when you don't

expect much from a film-and then it

delivers and you come out and say

'Wow."' lncidentally Ma vie en Rose

topped the table that week with 34

points.

ls Moviewatch a dumbed-down,

tarted-up version of Film 98? Possibly.

The canine equivalent would be a wellgroomed

Labrador and a mischievous

but irresistibly cute mongrel. And I

know which I prefer. But this about

more than taste.

Like many things it is about the use

and abuse of power: the two shows

represent almost perfectly two opposing

approaches to knowledge. The first

relies on a single knowledgeable figure

(preferably male, preferably older);

Wisdom and Experience are cited as

justifications for their opinionated, idiosyncratic

views on life. lt is easy to

be persuaded as long as they are-like

my Uncle Barry-charming and everpresent.

Actually, I came to university

expecting all my lecturers to be like

that; but instead they are predominately

'90s PC know-nothings-that is to

say the younger and lower-paid members

of staff. Talented and bright of

course, but hopeless lecturers (no genuine

opinions. only quotations); yet

these people are far superior in tutorial

discussions. They guide things along,

share their expertise but do not dominate

the input. Senior members of

staff are. let's face it, often senile and

very intimidating: therefore nobody

speaks, so The Tutor does and again we

are in a lecture.

lf this observation is as true for

teaching as it is for TV programming.

the dangers are the same: intellectual

authoritarianism (idiosyncratic rambling

with no reference to anyone

else); or, in the case of Moviewatch

and its ilk, becoming a triumph of

style over content. Perhaps-on second

thoughts-these two are not

"opposing approaches" but complimentary

discourses. The problem

with that is that they must co-exist in

the right proportions. The questions

raised by these two programs are pertinent

to our faith: Who should contribute?

What is the most appropriate

language? And most chillingly, what

happens when Barry Norman dies? E

CS Lewis

Oh dear it's the Evangelical Christian's Renaissance Man Tut, tut don't

be so flippant. CS Lewis is much bigger than any one pigeonhole of

Christianity. Anyway, we have a lot to thank Clive Staples ("Jack")

Lewis for

Such As? Well, there's most of his fiction. The Narnia Chronicles

are some of the best known and best-loved children's fiction of

modern times. Ihe Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe placed #21 in

Waterstone's "Best 100 Books of the Century" survey. He also wrote

some pretty good science fiction and a beautiful novel around the Greek

Myth of Oural and Psychg Till We Have Faces.

Oh I see, we're calling the column "Celebrity Fiction Writers" now lt goes without saying

that much of his fiction is rooted in a desire to imaginatively re-tell the Christian story. and for

the most part he does. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is as good a representation of

the Easter story as anyone could hope for, and it works because he doesn't try a literal

retelling, but gets at the allegorical roots of the story.

Strange, I thought you just used the "allegory" word Lewis was, after all, a tutor at

Magdalen College. What attracted him to Christianity was its enduring value as an allegoryhe

was eventually converted sometime after JRR Tolkien said to him that with Christianity

the "Dying God" myth (ie. Balder in Norse mythology) came true.

But doesn't an allegorical approach fly in the face of the literalism of so many of Lewis'

followers? That's the trouble many have with Lewis'fiction. Aslan et al don't fit into a

systematic theology-by-numbers, like The Christian Mother Goose. He grasped that stories

work through the emotional, mythical and archetypal resonances they give, rather than some

thing more concrete.

Did that filter through his theology? Not really. His autobiography Surprised 8y Joy makes his

conversion sound like a carefully weighted rational process. Emotional factors, such as a

sense of romantic longing, only held sway when they were compartmentalised into a rational

argument. This showed in his apologetical works

Ah yes, his apologetics Best known work is probably Mere Christianr?y based on a series of

BBC lectures he did in the 1940's. He believed that Christianity could be rationally proved,

and spends the first third of the book proving it.

Go on then, don't keep me in suspense Lewis felt that because people are basically moralthey

know that there's right and wrong-there must be a moral law that governs our actions.

And if that's the case, then there must be a higher force beyond that law. He sort of lumps

from there to proving that God exists

Not the most coherent of apologists, is he? He only really wrote apologetic books during

the 1940's, all of which were similarly murky. He stopped apologetics altogether idue n part

to a debate with Catholic philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe at a Socratic Club which he

chaired. Apparently, she beat the stuffing out of him, Socratically speaking, pointing out the

flaws in his "moral" proof.

What solt of a bloke was he anyway? He belongs to a part of 1930's and 1940's Oxford

culture, hanging out with other academics-cum-artists JRR Tolkien and Charles Williams at the

Eagle and Child pub as part of a group called "The lnklings". lt was there that Lord of the

Rings and Narnia got their first readings. He lived mostly with his semi-alcoholic brother

Warnie. Earlier in his lifq he took care of the mother of one of his army chums for a number

of years. Recent biographies have begun to speculate in earnest why he did this.

What about all that romancein Shadowlands? Yes, he did get married to Joy Gresham, an

American, but whether it was as mushy as that movie makes it sound is highly debatable.

He was, by all accounts, a terrific misogynist. By the way. the BBC version CS Lewis

Through The Shadowlands is probably far more accurate than the film version (where Joy has

both sons compressed into one); it's certainly better- for one thing, Joss Ackland makes a

far superior Lewis than Anthony Hopkins.

Died? 22 November 1 963, the same day as President Kennedy and Aldous Huxley. Don't

bother -

someone else already wrote a book about them talking together in limbo.

i:1

Tim Woodcock is a student in Glasgow

and a member of the Movement

Editorial Board

His legacy? Mostly purchased by an American evangelical seminary, Wheaton College. His

theological and apologetic works are still read by people, but it's through his fictional worlds

that people can really come to an understanding of the God he tried to all-too-rationally prove.

movgmont 1b


..,r.Fffi -:r..;h[SN

;r;SgS

"0irl Overboard", a column in The Observer's "Life" Magazine, tells the story of what it's like to

reclaim a life alone, with wrv and sometimes painful clarity. Graeme Burk talks to writer

Kathryn Flett about confessional writing and what it takes to be honest in this dav and age.

D

D

?utal Honesty

ror the past year or so l've been

I moved to, alternately, tears and

laughter in Kathryn Flett's column

I "Giil ou"rbourd" in the magazine

section of the Observer.Her column has

a dry wit and what has been termed by

others a'brutal honesty' that has made

reading it, for me, as much a Sunday

ritual as going to Church or watching

the EastEnders omnibus.

Until February of this year, Kathryn

Flett's front-page column was "Party

Girl"- what she described as being

"Tara Palmer-Tomkinson without the

legs or the invitations"-but this

changed with a Travel article in the

Observer on the 9th February 1 997.

Her brief was to write about a romantic

weekend with her husband in Bruges.

However, in-between the commissioning

of the article and the actual trip, her

husband-she had been married 16

months-had asked for a divorce. ln an

article titled "By Waterloo Station I Sat

Down and Wept" she interspersed into

a simple travelogue the recounting of

the final dissolution of her marriage; of

being in a chocolate box of a romantic

city while a mutual life eventually dies

into a painful and awkward silence.

I have never been in a relationship

longer than three months, much less

ever been divorced, but when I read "By

Waterloo Station" I was profoundly

moved by the rawness of it. When she

wrote of the end of the weekend: "At

Waterloo, people were being met by

their'partners. As I watched mine striding

ahead to the taxi rank, I felt him let

go even more, unbouple and move on.

By the time the taxi had taken us home,

I knew nothing would stop him." I

momentarily lost the ability to breathe.

Subsequent articles in her rechristened

column "Girl Overboard", continued

with the same raw honesty about

what it's like to find oneself on one's

own. With sometimes painful clarity,

the column talks about what it's like to

go through the mundane experiences of

loss (filling time in an evening, sorting

out what to do with the rings, going to

other people's weddings) as well as

some difficult experiences (like discovering

your husband has a new girlfriend).

"Girl Overboard" isn't only about

this-it's also a very funny column featuring

Kathryn's funny and true observations

on life-but it's the "arc" of the

story of reclaiming a life alone. told

with such unreserved

honesty, that makes

the column such a

great, and sometimes

powerful, read with a

cuppa on a Sunday

afternoon. And l'm

not alone in this, as

Kathryn discovered to

her surprise when the

post came in after

the Bruges piece and

her first columns.

"Previously in

/*

one's career if you

wrote something you

only ever got negative

responses

because people will

only ever pick up a

pen and a bit of

paper and write

something if it's

going to be negative.

and this is not the

case any more," she

explains. "With this

column I have had

most incredible positive

feedback, particularly

in the early

stages of it, which

was just kind of a

shock. As a writer

you get so used to having people giving

you a hard time and it was a very odd

feeling to know that there were people

who were rooting for you in some way."

The word "honesty" is repeated

constantly in my description of Kathryn

Flett's writing. and it is probably what

my "angle" is in interviewing her. lt

strikes me that being honest isn't

something that comes easily to us.

Watch any edition of Newsnight and

you can see that not being honest

movemsnt 16

about screwing up is as natural as

breathing to a politician; if asked how

l'm doing during a difficult patch I tend

to say "fine". Which is precisely what

"Girl Overboard" doesn't do.

I ask her about whether it's this

honesty that touches a nerve for others.

\?

ffi

a,

raF.-.-

"l think so. I think people are becoming

increasingly wary of the kind of

columns which say 'Oooh when I went

to Sainsburys a very funny thing happened

to me in the frozen veg counter'.

I think-l wouldn't say I was wholly

responsible for this at all, it's been

going on forever-that when people

read something which clearly comes

from the heart they respond to it very

intuitively, almost without realising why

they're doing it. Which means that as


a writer you never can go back."

But the honesty which touches a

nerve in some people equally irritates

others. "Girl Overboard" is very much a

litmus test for people's comfort levels

with this. One of my good friends

the expectation that one will get on

with it. She points out that after a column

last summer where she reflected

on Vogue's comments "l got the single

biggest postbag of any week, which

was people saying 'yes you're so

.JIF YOU DON'T LEARN FROM

EVERYTHING} tF YOU DOil'T

LEARN FROl'l RELATIOISHIPS,

TYHETHER THEY GO WRONG OR

RIGHT, THEN WHAT IS THE POINT

OF BXIXG H*REI LIFE IS VIRY

]VIUCH SCHOOL; WE'RE HERE TO

LEARN.''

can't stand the column and thinks it's

"whiny" and self-indulgent. Vogue and

Pilvate Eye had a few negative things

to say as well, the latter proclaiming

Kathryn Flett to be one of the "New

Solipsists".

To me, the negative reaction indicates

something about how people deal with

being honest, and the lack of comfort

our culture has towards this. "lt's a

very English thing," Kathryn notes.

"Certainly up until the point where

Diana died and we all suddenly became

American, to express your feelings in

public is something we wouldn't do.

It's a part of the national psyche. But I

do think we are loosening up a bit. I

think the recent Louise Woodward case

has sort of unleashed a lot of touchyfeely

emotions in people, whether rightly

or wrongly. lthink this year (1997)

may go down as the year in which people

started to think 'Hey, being English

needn't necessarily just be about stiff

upper lips' and the whole thing. There

are a lot of columnists and other writers

pouring it out, letting it all hang out."

Part of 'letting it all hang out' in

"Girl Overboard" is talking about the

after-effects of a divorce months after

it happened. ln a recent column,

Kaihryn herself admits that the readers'

third-hand relationship with her husband

has lasted almbst as long as the

marriage itself. A tension expressed

throughout the columns-and this certainly

seemed to be the bee in Vogue's

bonnet- is a sense of discomfort with

this duration, a sense of 'okay you've

talked about it and now be finished

with it'. I've found that to be not only

true of divorces. but bereavement of

any sort, whether it be for a relationship

or a death in the family. lt seems

in many ways that Kathryn Flett is challenging

an unwritten rule about how

long one can talk about one's pain, and

right- why is it that people say it's

been five, six months, they're going to

be alright, don't mention it again, just

carry on."'

"There becomes a point when the

grieving process-and I use 'grieving' in

the broadest possible sense- when

people want you to pick up the pieces

and carry on, and of course you do,

inevitably- you are doing that, you are

moving on. But it doesn't erase all the

quickies

What's your favourite

possession? Things

that connect me to the

past. Old photographs,

letters, my great-grandmother's

wedding ring

{which I wear every

d"v)'

What are you reading

at the moment? There

are always several on

the go. Currently:

Graham Greene's lhe

End of The Affair, Ford

Madox Ford's The Good

Soldier and Roddy

Doyle's The Woman

Who Walked lnto Doors

{doomed lovers the lot

of them!)

What's your favourite

film? For All Mankind (a

feature length documentary

about the

Apollo missions), The

Right Stuff, ET ll'm

into space!) and, er,

Babette's Feast.

fnovement 17

How do you relax? I

don't!

What's your favourite

journey? Life

What do you most like

about yourself? My

honesty!

What do

you

most

dislike

about

yourself?

My self-absorption

What's your favourite

word? Bonkers

lf you could be someone

else who would you

be? l'd only ever be

any good at being me

What are you scared

of? F6ar

Describe a recuning dream

that you have I wrote a

pain, because time has gone by, you

actually take what you've learned and

discovered about the situation with you

and I don't think it ever goes away. lt

gets compartmentalised, but it doesn't

get forgotten and it doesn't go away. I

do resent that [sentiment that you

should pick up and carry onl, and from

the reaction I got for saying that, a lot

of people felt the same way. Some of

the criticism l've had in the past few

weeks has been 'oh for God's sake,

when is she going to stop banging on?

She's got one note and she keeps playing

it.' But for me it's a part of my life.

And even though I'm a lot happier in

many ways, inevitably the results of

what happened in the first part of this

year are going to continue to effect me

in numerous ways."

Another recurring theme in "Girl

Overboard" is, not surprisingly, change.

I wonder how she sees herself having

changed from the circumstances of the

past year. beyond living alone. "Oh God,

l'm going to slip into therapy-speak

without being able to stop myself," she

says wryly. "lf you don't learn from

everything, if you do not learn from

relationships, whether they go wrong or

right or whatever happens to them,

then what is the point of being here?

Life is very much school; we're here to

learn. Hopefully, we get a bit cleverer

column about it once.

It's called 'smooth

planet/spidery planet'

It's a bit complex!

What do you never

miss on TV? Well, it

used to be EB until

they moved it to Sky.

Guess it's time to get

cable.

What music do you

listen to most This

week: The Verve's

Urban Hymns, The

Beach Boys'Per

Sounds and Primal

Scream's Screa ma delica

(revisited !).

What pet hates do you

have? Male companions

automatically being

given the wine list in

restaurants.

What would your motto

for living be? All Of

Life ls School


J

along the way. I learned an incredible

amount and it's very tough for me to

say I would not have had this experience

for the world, because clearly I

would rather be happily married and

have life be all jim-dandy but that hasn't

happened. So, the way I see life is

that it hasn't happened for a reason."

I point out-incorrectly, I later

learn-the Chinese character for chaos

and change are one and the same. and

ask if she finds that true in her own

life. "Absolutely. I think we should

embrace change. When it's wrapped

up as chaos we tend to avoid it. I

think most people's lives are spent

trying to avoid pain, which is a very

real and sensible thing to do and

understandable. "

She points to her own experiences

this year, "l had to confront whatever it

is that made (her husband leave her).

whether I liked it or not. Which means

that although I've had my confidence

fairly bashed I maybe have a bit more

insight into how I want to do stuff in

the future because it's about not being

reactive. When change is forced upon

us, we tend to resist it but it's not

always when change is being forced on

us that we tend to make the great

leaps. "

The letters she receives tell stories

of how others have had to confront

their own pain. "On the whole it's

tended to be people saying 'oh your

experience corresponds with my experience'.

There's a common thread of

people saying 'you can be confessional

and coy, but I can be really confessional

and the great thing is that my letter is

not going to get printed' I read these

letters and tend to be astonished by

these people's rawness. Some of the

letters have reduced me to tears, even

when l've been feeling quite robust.

People respond to your honesty with

their own honesty and that's very gratifying

and the most powerful aspect of

it. Whatever the circumstances of their

story, it's that they tell it to you

straight. And that's a privilege."

This sort of a response, I think, is

indic.ative of a need that people have to

be more honest with themselves and

with others. Cleprly, a 600 word column

in a Sunday magazine hasn't

caused this alone, but I do think that

Kathryn Flett's writing has given people

much to consider. As she says, "l think

that without honesty you're screwed

really. lt's a fine line between being

honest and bludgeoning people senseless

with 'l feel this'. You've got to

strike a balance but if you don't start

from a base level of emotional honesty

you haven't got a hope in hell." @

Graeme Burk is the editor ol Movement

christian Aid on Ethical Trade and their creat Supermarket

Recei pt Collection campaign

Change at the

Checkout

B

ritain's supermarkets are filled with products picked and processed by workers

from Third World countries. Christian Aid researchers have investigated conditions

for a range of foods and found the workers are getting a bad deal;

women poisoned by pesticides on grape plantations;

workers earning poverty wages picking apples; people

packed into rabbit hutch housing on tea estates. lf

they dare to complain, workers face harassment and

sacking.

One year ago, Christian Aid launched its'Global n.,,. ,..-

Supermarket' campaign to persuade the UK's i;-- --t -'.r

biggest food retailers to improve working condi- ,ri:i';: .l lii

tions for workers in Third World countries. lt

asked the powerful British Supermarkets to work v 'i9 ;: r-r

r-iii':'Dris r,..'i]'. '

with suppliers to improve conditions and to guar- '' 1ii

antee that their own-label products are produced

l-'0n.,;51

--.i. ''.rt0L,jj-;t

ou"o,t,,-..

to minimum standards of security.

t..oi.;: -.$Li

Tens of thousands of consumers have taken 5,.-'..;F1J 4lrep

up Christian Aid's call. Across Britain church rr** 'u'-i t:ilFrri

congregations, students, youth groups, guides, .i-.15! I0IAI

groups of employees, women's groups and clAri0:

individual consumers have been putting pressure

on their supermarkets, asking them to

adopt a code of conduct to guarantee decent working conditions

and to have the code externally verified. Their demands have been

backed up by millions of pounds' worth of till receipts handed into supermarket

managers and tens of thousands of letters sent to supermarket directors. The message

from them has been clear: that if the supermarkets want consumers' loyalty,

they must show loyalty to the people who produce our food on the other side of

the world.

A year on, no less than seven out of the top ten British supermarkets have

drafted ethical policies. Six have adopted a code of conduct and agreed in principle

to external verification. Several have launched pilot projects overseas - testing

their own commitment to the principle of giving Third World workers a better deal.

Christian Aid is calling for in the next year:

o the adoption and monitoring of codes of conduct in three-quarters of the major

supermarkets' suppliers of own-brand products

o the introduction of third party checking where it has been agreed in principle

o publication, in annual reports or other publicly available forms, of the results of

these efforts

. training for the supermarkets' own staff on ethical issues.

What can you do?

S;-.tg,;,. ,_ .-

*a' I rfiui.-rH i 4i. .'';i 5- i : ri 7; o _..,.:i0i tSi..,;,

1 . Get members of your SCM Group/Chaplaincy Group/Church to collect

supermarket till receipts

2. Bring the receipts you collect to the group, where they are gathered together

3. Sort out your receipts according to which supermarket they come from. Then

hand them in to the local managers, with an explanation that the people who have

spent all this money in their stores care about the way Third World workers are

treated

-

and want the supermarket to use its huge economic muscle to do

something about it.

For further information about this campaign, contact Christian Aid at PO Box 1OO,

London SEl 7RT or PO Box 11, Edinburgh EHl 1EL.

movemcnt 18

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Tim Woodcock reviews Elvis Costello's latest compilation CD, Extreme Honev

Sweetness and Spite

ELVIS COSTELLO - Extreme Honey

(the very best of the Warner Bros years)

Warner Bros Records

"The Circus Animals' Desertion"

..Those masterful images because complete,

Grew in pure mind, but out of what began?

A mound of refuse or the sweeping of a street

Old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can,

Old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut

Who keeps the till. Now that mv ladder's gonq

I must lie down where all ladders start,

ln the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart.

w.B. Yeats (1939)

This

I

whole eighty-minute album

could be summarised by its first

five seconds: the delicious harmony

oi a potential doo-wop

number and then the disruptive crash

and snarl of a drum. Elvis Costello is

all sweetness and spite. This is mostly

due to his extraordinarily distinctive

voice which could never be described

as pleasant but is too captivating to be

dismissed. A rough measure of how

good an artist is, I think, the number of

records you once had-the three Elvis

Costello albums I had were lent to

friends and never returned.

Costello has been'best of-ed' several

times before: but this is a selection

hand-picked by the man himself to celebrate

his ten years on the Warner Bros.

label. The period saw Warner Bros

become Time Warner, Thatcher fall and

Blair rise; and Costello learn to drive a

car and write musical notation (so says

the indispensable sleeve notes). issue 6

fresh albums and his whole back-catalogue,

write soundtracks for Alan

Bleasdale's dramas, collaborate and

tour with the Brodsky Ouartet, and

direct London's eclectic Meltdown

Festival. ln this time the only commercially

successfu'l album was 1994's

back to basics Brutal Youth. Therefore,

say some, it has been a decade of

digression - once a shouty speccy

punk, always a shouty speccy punk.

And it would be folly to argue that the

3-minute, 4-piece slices of rage are not

his forte.

But he has diversified, experimented

and irreversibly matured. Even working

with The Attractions second time

around was something new: "l wanted

to make a record out of pieces that I

had taken some time think about. with

a few songs that I couldn't have written

when I was twenty-two". ln pop

music only a select handful of mainstream

artists combine longevity with

credibility. And unlike Bowie or

McCartney, Elvis Costello has drifted

from his roots in a consistent direction

(that is, towards classical music). The

most satisfactory result was the Juliet

Letters project, in which a sublime

string quartet is fused with Costello's

voice singing letters of some

sort. The apparently upbeat

words, "Banish all dismay, extinguish

every sorrow/ if l'm lost

or l'm forgiven/ the birds will

still be singing" bely the actual

meaning: the dour arrangement

indicates that this is an ironic

suicide note. Conversely the

unstoppably bouncy "The Other

Side of Summer" invites you to

sing along, in fact insists you

join in, "Iit'sJ tragic without reason/

there's malice in this

magic". lt is a curious habit,

but Costello likes to write lyrics

that work against the melody.

The words are as far from

clich6 as one can get, and are

loaded with meanings that only

reveal themselves after numerous

listens. The cumulative effect is

that even the impenetrable lyrics (for

me 'Poor Fractured Atlas', '13 Steps

Lead Down') take on an arcane power.

Even if you have no idea what he is on

about it has an effect - you may still

get the neck mohican.

The political songs are rare but

understated masterpieces (remember

'Pills and Soap' or 'Shipbuilding'?).

Heie he hopes to outlive Thatcher so

that he can 'Tramp the Dirt Down' on

her grave. There is something of an

overgrown Sixth Former in the words:

"When England was the whore of the

world Margaret was her madam/ and

the future looked as bright and as clear

as the black tarmacadam". There is

surely a more constructive way of venting

such anger, but Costello has no

desire to be a spokesman or a sloganeer;

for him such songs are "very personal

songs.. the ones I write because I don't

want them in my head a second longer".

On faith he is equally sour: "Please

don't let me be anything I can't explain/

movement 1e

I can't believe/ I'll never believe in anything

again" ('Couldn't Call it Unexpected

no.4'). Such eloquent cynicism

almost becomes its own moral code,

"Nonsense prevails, modesty fails/

Grace and virtue turn into stupidity".

Hope springs sporadically. But the light

relief of 'London's Brilliant Parade' and

'Veronica' are anomies.

The problem-as ever-is how much

can you identify the artist with his

work? Certainly Costello is playful

and knowing, and would love us to

think he is just like the characters he

speaks through. But it should be

noted that the characters tend to

gravitate towards the same twisted

outlook.

There is the existentialism-for-effect

of "l want to vanish/ this is my last

request/ l've given you the awful truth/

Now give me my rest"-and you think

perhaps it is all a showbiz persona:

each evening he goes takes off his

trademark glasses and scowl. But then

there are marvellous personal notes

such as: "1 989. very cold so start to

grow hair and beard. Seems to scare

people, so grow it longer".

This myopic misanthrope is someone

of extraordinary talent and output. I

wish we could be sure that we're

enjoying his malevolent creations without

them encroaching on us. @

What shall we do?

What shall we do with all this useless beauty?

(Elvis Costello, 1994)


Robert Jones reviews the film adaptation of Ceorge Orwell's Keep the nspidistra Flving

The Money God

KEEP THE ASPIDISTRA FLYING

Written by Alan Plater {adapted from

the novel by George Orwell)

Directed by Robert Bierman

Starring Richard E Grant, Helena

Bonham Carter

ortrait of the Artist as a Self-

PObsessed Git might be a more

accurate title. Based loosely

upon George Orwell's novel, the

film version is not so much about the

social landscape of 1930's London as it

is about the struggles of a man who is

repulsed by the trappings of his own

class. lf Orwell was concerned about

classism as it affected the whole of

society, then this film explores classism

as a conflict within one man, Gordon

Comstock, a gifted advert writer and

would-be poet who one day (rather suddenly

in this film) decides to chuck it all

by quitting his job and becoming "a

poet and a free man". Although he

seeks to continue his writing, he is

forced to take a job in a bookstore

which, as it is pointed out to him, pays

minimal wages, offers no prospects and

no hope of advancement. He is forced

to move into a room which is "brightened"

by a potted aspidistra plant, the

sign of a "respectable household" and,

to Gordon, the symbol of all things middle

class. His mission to become the

artist he wants to be is further driven

on by his hatred of his surroundings.

which is epitomised in the plant. to

which Comstock once refers as "you

verdant bastard".

Richard E Grant lends considerable

charisma to Comstock, although the

character remains one who annoys

more than one who gains our sympathy.

Helena Bonham Carter plays Rosemary,

his graphic artist girlfriend, a woman of

superhuman patience and long-suffering

who believes in Comstock's talents but

doesn't understand his need to escape

his middle class life in order to pursue

them. There are certain scenes when

Bonham-Carter seems to be coasting.

but her glowing screen presence is, as

always, undeniable. Grant once again

puts his manic signature to the role

given him, and though we've seen it

before, it is as watchable as any performance

he's given. lndeed, his sense of

urgency is what makes Comstock's

questionable idealism believable and

what keeps us watching for what

happens next.

Comstock speaks of the middle

classes as being mundane and the

working classes as being something like

"the noble savage" figures of American

westerns, who may indeed be barbaric,

but who are honest about their barbarism.

lf we as an audience are looking

for a hero who is out to buck the

system. we must look beyond Gordon

fnovcmgnt 20

Comstock, who longs to use art to

boost him upward and into the world of

the upper classes rather than seek to

expose its hollowness and corruption.

He cannot approach the honesty he

appreciates in the working classes,

himself because his poverty is a contrived

reaction to the world around him.

His poem about "the MoneY God" is

just that-a poem.

Despite the lack if symPathY we

have for Comstock almost through out

Keep the Aspidistra Flying, one if the

things which is put across most strongly

is the pretense of the class system and

the falseness of its trappings. The man

who shovels horse shit and sells it to

his neighbors is the same as Comstock,

who sells bottles of perfume in an ad

campaign. and is the same as

Comstock's upper class publisher who

sells the books which Comstock seeks

to write. This idea is wrapped up rather

neatly for us near the end, when

Comstock decides to re-think his attitude

to his art, his life as a mundane

advert writer, his lot in the middle classes,

and his relationship with Rosemary who

seems to have understood everything with

which Gordon has struggled from the start.

Unfortunately, the resulting bYproduct

of all this is a rather cynical

view of art, but I suppose a movie

about the role of art in society might

have been a bit heavy handed in this

kind of film. Despite that, it is surprising

that Plater and Bierman could get

around the themes of "classism as

social ill" and the aforementioned "role

of the artist", while basing this upon

the work of George Orwell. PerhaPs

this "the class system is false" moral to

the story was thought to have been

enough and remains so for those of us

who just want to see a story presented

well and don't want to have to do any

reading of manifestos beforehand. The

film, largely due to solid performances

by the two leads, is an enjoyable comedy

in the spirit of movies of the 1930's

which often concerned the story of the

everyman and his struggle to overreach

his grasp. lndeed, this is the case here,

although at times we find this everyman

a bit trying on our patience E

Robert Jones is a writer and poet who

lives in London


The writer of Judge Dredd and a bunch of comics' best artists tell the stories of the great

martyrs. lt's as loopv as it sounds, reports Sean George

Biffl PowI Martyrdoml

THE BIG BOOK OF MARTYRS

By John Wagner and Various Artists

Factoid Books / Paradox Press

he idea of longtime Judge Dredd

writer John

Wagner

putting

together a book of

stories about the

Martyrs of the faith

seems bizarre. lt's

even more bizarre

that he got some

of the best

artists in

comics-including

David Lloyd

(V For

Vendettal,

Colleen Doran

lThe

Sandmanl to

work on this

venture as

well.

The Big

Book of

Martyrs

tells in 3-

4 page

segments

the story of a particular

martyr of the faith. Wagner and

his cohort use the term "Martyr" in the

most Catholic sense of the word, thus

the stories told are of those martyrs

who have made sainthood.

The tales are brief and-characteristically

for a writer whose best work

appeared in 2OOO 4D-usually bloody.

The depictions of martyrdom are gory

(although a lot of the time this is done

through suggestion rather than an actual

visual representation), but then so is

the material Wagner is working from.

Along the way. we get to find out

about the lives of some interesting

Saints most people will have never

heard of, such as Phocas, a gardener

who hosted his persecutors to a feast

and dug his own grave before his execution,

and Maxmillian Kolbe, who died in

Auschwitz in 1941 . My favourite

remains to be Wilgefortis, a woman who

rather than be married to an unbeliever,

prayed that God would make her unattractive

and subsequently grew a beard.

Even the saints we've heard of get a

decent treatment: Thomas Becket's

well-known story is told in a suitably

moody style; Edmund the Confessor's

tale, while positively revelling in cartoon

manages to make the

central character

sympathetic to

the end. Best of

all is the story of

Joan of Arc. which

dramatically told

with some of the

best artwork in the

collection.

The style is reminiscent

of the small

comics of Bible stories

we used to get in

some Catholic and

Evangelical churches

growing up, in that

much information is conveyed

ina

very

short

space.

after

point the

similariend.

While the pamphlets

of our childhood

wanted to convince

us of the absolute

truth of the

situation.

Wagner is

prepared to

take a step

back and

admit when

a tale is fanciful,

or in

the cases of

saints like

Olaf and

Wenceslas,

admit that

they probably

weren't

as saintly as

their PR make them out to be.

Even so, there is an apriori assumption

throughout that supporting the

Faith is the One True Cause. The

recounting of those who were martyred

in Asia and North America makes no

effort to mention the negative impact

such missionaries had on the indigenous

populations. This proves to be disquieting

on more than one occasion.

Still, Ihe Big Book of Martyrs is

hugely entertaining and educational.

The stories are dramatic but informative

and the artwork-which ranges from

cartoony to realistic and uses influences

as diverse as Disney, woodcuts, and

even Japanese brushwork- is always

impressive.

Call me a lowbrow but it beats the

staid antics of Foxe's Book of Martyrs

any day. E

Sean George has spent far too much

time reading comics and is praying to St

Wilgefortis

Top left: St Paul is next up for the chop; Top right: St Wilgefortis' prayer gets

answered; Bottom: Joan of Arc is tried and burned at the stake

tnovglncnt 21

\


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Mary Gillie and Ruth Hawksley explore Richard Holloway's latest book

Talldng Sense

DANCING ON THE EDGE

by Richard Holloway

Fount i HarperCollins

book is a liberal's vision of

I Chri.,iunitv. and those who

-his | eveiything liberals say to

I "*p""t

be vague and woolly will be surprised

and impressed by the cohesion

and persuasiveness of its arguments.

The central theme is the Christian claim

that "we are accepted in our sinfulness,

forgiven and understood as we are, with

all our moral confusions". lt's a message

of unconditional love which does

not depend on any moral code. The

moral structures we impose on our

society are there for convenience, to

order our community and to benefit the

people in it - at least, this is usually the

original intention. The danger lies in

our tendency to claim divine warrant for

our moral systems, and to assume that

they are fixed and unchangeable, at

which point they become oppressive.

This rigidity of belief tends to stifle

spiritual exploration and growth and to

drive people away from the church.

Our culture, and what it finds acceptable,

changes over time. As culture

changes the church has also had to

change and adapt; Christianity is not a

fixed set of rules, but something active

and dynamic. The recognition that we

are free to change our systems, to

adapt and improve, has many consequences

for Christianity, its place in

society, and the role of the church, and

these are what the book explores.

It is divided into three parts:

"Making sense of God", "Making sense

of ourselves" and "Making sense of

community". The first part discusses

our understanding of God. contrasting

the way we can describe the world

around us with science, using reason,

and the fact that God can only be

encountered in a way we can't explain

scientifically. Faith is doubt, risk, trust,

rather then certainty. There are chapters

on fundamentalism and suffering,

and throughout a demonstration that

the scientific and Christian worldviews

are complementary, rather than

in opposition.

The second part is

devoted to morals and

behaviour, concentrating

on sexual relationships

as a good example of

the church overplaying

its authoritarian hand.

Holloway makes a

strong case for marriage,

but recognises

the seriousness of the

commitment involved.

There are people who

aren't prepared to

make this commitment,

nor to remain

celibate. To condemn

them will only

turn them away

from the church,

whereas knowing

that we can fail in

our relationships, or

any other aspect of

life, without condemnation, can give us

the courage to try and to succeed. He

exhorts the church to encourage and

support honest relationships of whatever

kind, and to treat everyone equally,

male, female, gay or straight, instead of

trying to force them to conform to one

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fixed ideal.

The third part of the book concerns

the role of the church, and its interpretation

of the Christian faith. lt shouldn't

be about rules and regulations, or reliance

on church structures and systems: "this

lust for absolute systems and the ideologies

that underpin them is itself a kind

of faithlessness, an inability to live with

the provisionality that characterises

human existence, and a refusal to adapt

to it with grace and courage". lnstead

movomcnt 22

it's about being free and unafraid,

"playing jazz with God", making music

and improvising together in a rolling jazz

session, about joy and exhilaration, and

about dancing on the edge.

This book is well written and carefully

thought out, based on a sound

knowledge

both of

truth, because

Christ is truth

before he is

anything else,

and if we choose truth we cannot go

far without falling into his arms". lt is

challenging and thought-provoking.

Dancing on the Edge was written for

people who find themselves on the

edge of Christianity, feeling uncomfortable

or unwelcome in church. lt aims

to show them that Christianity really is

compatible with truth, honesty and

freedom, and indeed that these should

be its main characteristics. However, it

is also a challenge to the assumptions

of the establishment, In the same way

that Jesus challenged the establishment

of his day. Some Christians will be

horrified that Richard Holloway considers

even the idea of marriage or the interpretation

of the bible to be provisional

and revisable, and will shock those who

use their faith as a crutch.

Others will be delighted that a

church leader can talk so much sense.

The book has something to say to

everyone. Read it. @

Ruth Hawksley and Mary Gillie are students

at the University of Edinburgh


Rosie Mifes on the collection of writings about Christianitv and sexualitv Dreaming of Eden

Dream On

DREAMING OF EDEN: REFLECTIONS

ON CHRISTIANITY AND SEXUALITY

edited by Kathy Galloway

Wild Goose Publications

ne of the great pleasures of

reviewing tor Movement is that I

always seem to end up recommending

books which I think are

excellent. Dreaming of Eden is no exception.

Put together by Kathy Galloway. whose

excellent poetry and work with the lona

Community SCMers may already be familiar

with, this book is an extremely readable

collection of short essays and poetry

engaging with human sexuality in all its

diversity, delight and difficulty.

Part of what so appeals to me is that

these essays aren't academic pieces, but

they nonetheless contain a high level of

insight and perception. Reading this book

gave me the sense that each contributor

has attempted honestly and with integrity

to consider how s/he understands being a

Christian in relation to his/her sexuality.

And Dreaming of Eden, as its title suggests,

embodies the vision of a Christian

community which can welcome and

reflect on the sexuality

of all people:

straight, gay, celibate,

divorced, married,

female, male.

One of the most

insightful essays is

written by Tom

Britton, a young man

of 28 who writes eloquently

and honestly

of the impact of feminism

and gay thought on his understanding

of himself as a heterosexual man. He also

offers some extremely good comments

on the masculinity of the disciple Peter.

The essays are interspersed with

equally rich and resonant poems, by Kathy

Galloway and others. The poetry adds

another dimension to the book, taking its

consideration of sexuality beyond analysis

and reflection.

oominic Heaney reviews Yvonne Burgess' The MVth of Progress

Onwards and Upwards

THE MYTH OF PROGRESS

Yvonne Burgess

Wild Goose Publications

writer claims that she was

inspired

I

to produce this work following

-he

a conversation with a

I member of the new black elite in

post-independence Zimbabwe. To this

man,"progress" in his country was epitomised

by the achievement of "jet-set"

lifestyles by a few of those blacks who

had been denied such standards of living

by the ancien regime, while the conditions

of the vast majority remained essentially

unchanged and the material and materialistic

aspirations of the society stayed the

same. A truly "Animal Farm" situation.

This then is Burgess's starting point.

She moves on to a quest to explore the

concept of "progress", tracing it back to

the Hebrew notion of life as an "onward

and upward", but above all spiritual, journey

with G-d, following its metamorphosis

into the medieval Christian ethic acted out

in the Crusades, through Victorian piety

and into its present-day manifestation in

an essentially secular, materialistic form.

An innovative insight of Burgess' is found

Dreaming of Eden

R.fd;w on Cbir,ierir 6d s4tu1i4

Karhy

Galloway

in her insistent claim that even many of

those things which would appear to those

of a liberal persuasion to represent moral

progress in fact have other. more perfidious

origins. Thus the abolition of slavery

in the 19th Century CE is shown to serve

above all the economic and political interests

of the West, while in the present day

"ethical consumerism" comes in for criticism

as being too tied in with the Western

way of life in all of its greed and materialism.

The second half of the book, subtitled

"The Way We Are Now" seeks to present

a overview of the world as Burgess finds it

as the close of the 2Oth century CE; a

world in which "both Western capitalism

and Marxist socialism", uniquely among

social philosophies and structures, "have

dispensed with God and resorted to materialism".

The spiritual condition of the

West is diagnosed as being one of CSS

(Cultural Superiority Syndrome), expressed

in self-centered arrogance. Burgess

attempts to offer a solution to the problem

as best she can ; this is one of being,

rather than one of doing ; relinquishing

control and power, giving up material luxuries,

and being able to let events happen

of their own will.

movomont 23

This is a book you will want to return

to time and again. lt is also a book that

fills me with hope and optimism. When

people who wish to identify themselves as

Christian can produce essays and poems

about their sexuality of such interest and

engagement, despite the lorry loads of

unhelpful attitudes and denigration of all

things sexual which the church has traditionally

handed down, then there really is

hope.

Perhaps the last words should go to

Kathy Galloway, who ends the book with

an enthusiasm and passion that I can only

hope and pray may one day be normative

within the church: "l love my body. I love

the fact that I am a carnal. sexual being. I

am thankful to God with every breath I

take for my incarnation, and for the incarnation

of Jesus that said a great 'yes' to

mine."

Dream on with Dreaming of Eden ftl

Rosie Miles is doing postgraduate research

in London

At times the text seems to lose direction

amid a confusing ocean of personal

anecdote and factual information, and

the genuinely startling and perceptive

comments that Burgess makes are occasionally

perilously close to drowning in a

sea of indifferent words. The all-out

nature of the attack on the West that

Burgess makes is also a cause of concern

; ls everything in Western history

and culture really inherently negative?

lf the text were to be somewhat

shortened and its overall ordering and

coherence refined (particuarly with regard

to the way in which personal anecdote

and factual statement relate to each

other in some of the chapters) , The Myth

of Progress could be a genuinely inspirational

book worth the effort of re-reading.

As it is though, it remains a readable.

although cluttered and confused,

overview of the notion of "progress" as

understood in the Jewish and Christian

traditions, with conclusion of note being

found in the final call to healing and

repentance @

Dominic Heaney is a member of St.

Andrews SCM


1

TELETUBBIES V THOUGHT

FOR THE DAY: YOU BE THE

JUDGE

What to do on a weekday

morning- get up and watch

Teletubbies ar 7 .15, or have a

lie in for the extra half hour

and listen to Thought For The

Day at 7.45 instead?

As a public service, I have

compiled this relatively unbiased

comparison between the

two programmes to enable the

reader to make a balanced

decision:

TELETUBBIES: Four sprightly

babies frolicking in a distant

never-land

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:

Several old geezers blithering

on about a distant never-land

TT Live in a colourful world

surrounded by oversized bunny

rabbits

TFTD: Broadcast on radio, so

you're forced to only imagine

the world they live in...brrr.

TT Live under the watchful

eye of a sun with a laughing

baby at the centre of it.

TFTD: Commentators often

live under watchful eye of a

God who hasn't laughed since

he was busy smiting the

Heathenous Tribe of the Week

TOOO years ago.

TI Constantly repeat the

same activity again and again

TFTD: Constantly repeat the

same theological point again

and again.

TI Led by Tinky Winky, a boy

who carries a handbag, and

therefore something of a gay

icon.

TFTD: Often features homophobes

who probably think

Tinky Winky is the spawn of

Satan.

TI Remember the one where

they chased Noo-Noo, the sentient

hoover, around the room

again and again?

TFTD: Remember the one

whete some priest from Exeter

expounded about how life

could be made be,tter if we followed

the example of St

Athanatius and...well, never

mind.

TT Catchphrase: "Eh-Oh".

TFTD: Catchphrase "..." erm...

TI Thought to be incomprehensible

to most adults

TFTD: Ditto

THE WEARING OF THE

PURPLE

There's cross-dressing and

then there's cross-dressing.

It would seem that in

Ecuador, the Anglican Church

has been plagued by one

Walter Crespo, who has his

episcopal papers from a breakaway

sect in the US.

Apparently Mr, er, Bishop

Cresco been pretending to be

a bona fide Anglican Bishop,

and doing, well, whatever it is

that Bishops do.

The thought has occured

to me that this could easily

happen over here. All you

need to be is male, over 55

and of a suitably curmudgeonly

disposition. lt'll take a few

bob to get the purple cassock

and a big Cross, but you could

easily recoup the loss from

appearances on Newsnight,

where lately it seems all it

takes is a phone call to get

into their rota of cranks who

fight for the moral vanguard

whenever they need a senior

clerical figure to claim the high

ground. Who knows. perhaps

it's happening already. Do we

have proof that Richard Harries

is actually licensed?

COMING TO A PETTY

CLAIMS COURT NEAR YOU

This year's Christmas campaign

by the Churches

Advertising Network, is simply

the slogan "Christmase" (note

the use of the copyright symbol

at the end) This demonstration

of pithiness is apparently

to make up for disastrous

campaigns in previous

years where they showed a

picture of the Virgin Mary and

said she was having "a bad

hair day" (which, never mind

the religious qualms, is never

the most tactful thing to say

about a pregnant woman).

The idea is to remind people

of Christmas's religious origins.

And while this may be a

laudable purpose, the fact is

that no court in any land

would support a claim that

Christianity can have copyright

over that December holiday.

Most Pagans would probably

submit to the defence evidence

that the placement of

this holiday in December was

done to stamp out their winter

solstice celebrations, since the

little tyke was probably born in

September. What the bright

folks at CAN should have done

was copyrighted sure-fire, nodispute

religious festivals, such

as "EPiPhanYo" or "Third

Sunday after Tiinityo"

CAN follow this dubious

slogan with the text "Great

Singing. Friendly Atmosphere

movcmgnt 24

and Something to Think

About, lt's not a Genuine

Christmas without Church".

lsn't it spooky how much

this sounds like a Butlin's holiday

camp?

IS BEER BETTER THAN

CHRISTIANITY?

I don't know how we survived

before the invention of the

internet. How else could

inane lists such as this been

distributed across the globe

along with the subject header:

"Fwd: (fwd): Re: Fwd" as

though they were decals from

various parts of the world.

I include this as l've been

pondering this myself recently

over some Carlsberg Special:

Top 10 Reasons Why Beer is

Better than Christianity

10. No one will kill you for not

drinking Beer

9. Beer doesn't tell you how

to have sex

8. Beer has never caused a

major war

7. They don't force Beer on

minors who can't think for

themselves

6. When you have a Beer, you

don't knock on people's doors

trying to give it away

5. Nobody's ever been burned

at the stake, hanged or tortured

over his brand of Beer.

4. You don't have to wait

2OOO + years for a second

Beer.

I

I

1

I

3. There are laws saying that

Beer lbbels can't lie to you.

2. You can prove you have a

Beer

1 . lf you've devoted your life

to Beer, there are groups to

help you stop.

YOU OWE US EVERYTHING,

AND YOU'RE UGLY TOO

I was thinking about the size

of my own student loan the

other day then what should

come through my letterbox but

a brochure from the Royal

Bank of Scotland. Along with

the pitch on how to use the

Royal Bank of Scotland to

increase my student debt, it

provides helpful tips on how to

make a simple bolognese

sauce. The Dearing Report

never offered this sort of help.

What I find absolutely

unforgivable about this

brochure, however, is their

graphic depiction of students

as refugees from a Troll Doll

factory. I would like to draw

particular attention to the

female mutant spawn at the

far left, who appears to have a

thumb growing out of the centre

of her hand.

Admittedly, none of us may

look our best after an '80's

night in the Student Union,

but honestly, the idea that we

look like Slade doesn't exactly

give me the will to live,

much less rush out to open a

student account.

THE SERPENT


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