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Showing posts from November, 2005

This poem is illegal in the UK

Essex Hall are having a Celebration of Blasphemy next week in defiance of Britain's blasphemy law. I'm preaching the next Sunday at church so have decided to preach on blasphemy. I'm researching now and thought I would share the poem that was prosecuted the last time the law was used. This is to affirm my belief in religious and civil liberty. The Love That Dares To Speak Its Name By James Kirkup As they took him from the cross I, the centurion, took him in my arms- the tough lean body of a man no longer young, beardless, breathless, but well hung. He was still warm. While they prepared the tomb I kept guard over him. His mother and the Magdalen had gone to fetch clean linen to shroud his nakedness. I was alone with him. For the last time I kissed his mouth. My tongue found his, bitter with death. I licked his wound- the blood was harsh For the last time I laid my lips around the tip of that great cock, the instrument of our salvation, our eternal joy. The shaft, stil

Remembrance: 1945 Sermon

I found this little sermon turned into a leaflet in my minister's office. He said I could have it. It's from the week the war ended. Sermon preached at the Church of the Messiah, Birmingham, May 9th 1945, by Gordon Stuart The war in Europe is over. After five-and-a-half years of labour and danger and sorrow we have attained the end we set before ourselves. But we cannot greet this attainment with any simple feelings. Our feelings are mixed, and they must differ according to the part we have played, and the degree of our suffering and loss. But we must all feel a deep and humble thankfulness that the killing and maiming of men by men is over, whether it has been done by us or to us. We are thankful too that the way of life which we cherish in this country has been preserved to us - that government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from the earth, as it seemed at one moment so like to do. We are thankful that it has been preserved to us here,

Cutting through the bullshit: the reality of engaging with other cultures

There is nothing like sitting listening to a Rastafarian to help you cut through the bullshit. Last night I meditated at church with my minister and a Rastafarian guy who’s been coming to these meditations a lot. After the meditation this guy got pretty fired up talking about Rastafarianism, race, nature, God, Christ and all kinds of stuff. A good proportion of it I didn’t understand because of his strong dialect. But in general it made me realise a lot of things. I realised I was encountering something radically “other.” This guy was from a culture so radically different from my own that it was really hard work for me to understand him. I realised that I had never before encountered a person so culturally different in a Unitarian setting. I realised that frankly U*Uism is not multicultural at all, despite all the talk. For two years in America I was not once challenged to work hard to understand a different culture in U*Uism. Even though I was in a different country, it never felt th

Poppies: Red and/or White?

I bought a red poppy yesterday, though I feel ambiguous about it. Partly I feel there's a big pressure to conform and wear a poppy in British society. It seems like politicians and newsreaders are required to wear them for two weeks, like people are scared to be seen not wearing one. I suppose I have no problem with supporting war veterans that need support, though there must be fewer and fewer left from World War II now. My granddad, who was a prisoner of war in North Africa, is still going at 85. But then again, does that mean conscientious objectors, or those who didn't fight deserve less support? Shouldn't we support all people that need it, shouldn't we support elderly charities or disabled charities, regardless of whether those people are war veterans or not? Plus I'm never sure if I'm being overly nationalistic and glorifying war by wearing a poppy. I'm pretty close to being a pacifist, though perhaps not one entirely. I can imagine that war is som


On Friday I went to Harris Manchester College Oxford to speak to the tutor there about Unitarian training. It was cool. Oxford would be a good place to study in many ways. Lots of good books and a chance to rub shoulders with intellectual folks. But I kind of feel like I've already done that a bit living in Boston and having access to lots of intellectual stuff. I have a degree in theology, what I really want to do now is learn how to be a minister by doing ministry. And there's more chance of that at Manchester. The thing is I'm good at theology, so in some ways it would be easier and safer to be at Oxford, it would be more challenging for me to be in Manchester where I would be in a church the whole time, and applying everything I learn directly to ministry all the time. It would be more difficult, but that's what I need, to be stretched. Plus, something in my (sort of) working-class-ness reacts against Oxford. It's Oxford, you know? A bit posh. Seems too remove

Spirituality in a Unitarian church.... there's something new

About two and a half years ago I began only attending Unitarian worship. Before that I was also going to Anglican and Quaker worship as well. But at that time I decided to stick with Unitarianism. There were a variety of reasons for this. One was graduating from university and moving away from the campus-based Anglican and Quaker communities I was a part of. Another reason was the homophobia of the Church of England revealed by the Jeffrey John affair that finally made my separation with the C of E into a divorce. Another reason was the realisation that at one point in life it is important to make a proper committment religiously, with all that that implies. So since then I have been a Unitarian, and only a Unitarian (not that that precludes a lot of theological development). In some ways this has been a great period of my life, most of it spent in the United States. I enjoyed my studies more than any other time of my life. Personally, intellectually, and in a lot of ways it's be