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Showing posts from January, 2006

Simon Hughes is bisexual, apologetically

Simon Hughes, Liberal Democrat leadership contender, has admitted he has had gay relationships in the past . "I am perfectly willing to say that I have had both homosexual and heterosexual relationships in the past," he said. Now, that sounds like he's bisexual to me, but once again the media seem determined not to use the word "bisexual." "I'm gay too" the Sun spashes across its front page. How can our interpretaton be so differet from the facts? He's not gay, as he has said on many occasions. I wish he had the bravery to stand up and say 'I am bisexual.' "I hope that does not disqualify me from doing a good job in public life and I propose to carry on doing that with the usual enthusiasm and determination," Hughes said. Am I naive to think this goes without saying? Mr Hughes said: "Nobody has a perfect life. I have never claimed I have. Very few people have simple lives." All that is true, but why should b

I'm Pelagian!

I've just done a heretic quiz and have been informed I'm a Pelagian. Not that I didn't know that already. But apparenly I'm only 50% Socinian and only 8% Arian. What's up with that? I'm much more Socinian than that. Clearly my complex personal theology cannot be summarised in a few quiz questions. I'm not even completely sure what Monarchianism is. Ah well back to the Patristic studies for me. Also, I kind of like being told I'm the first Briton to contribute significantly to Christian thought. In your face John Newman! By the way: am I right in thinking Socinianism is the only reformation era heresy - and all others listed here are patristic era heresies? OK, this has been a bit of an abstract theological entry. Sorry if you're not interested. Here are my results in full: You scored as Pelagianism . You are a Pelagian. You reject ideas about man's fallen human nature and believe that as a result we are able to fully obey God. You are the fir

Gender equality and politics

Here are the contenders for the Liberal Democrat Party leadership: Menzies Campbell Simon Hughes Chris Huhne Mark Oaten (now withdrawn) Here's an obvious fact: they are all men. I'm disappointed but not suprised by this. There are no women contenders at all. In the leadership for the Conservative Party a few months ago there were no women contenders. If there is a Labour Party leadership race and not a coronation (which is unlikely) will there be any women contenders? Probably not. I'm not talking about leadership, just potential leadership, and there are no women at all. When will we get gender equality in society and in Parliament? I heard that at the current rate of women MPs coming into the House of Commons it will be 300 years before we achieve equality. 300 years! I was watching Star Trek Enterprise the other day, and that is set only 150 years in the future! That means at the rate that Parliament is achieving gender equality it will still not have achieved it at

How many Unitarians are there?

It occurs to me that with the electoral role compiled for the Executive Committee elections, we now have an absolute minimum figure for the number of Unitarians in the UK. I don't know if this figure is going to be released. I haven't heard anyone talking about it, but I think it would be interesting to know. My electoral number is between 1000 and 2000. How many more are there? I think that the UUA requires it's members congregations to report their membership numbers once a year, though ultimately that is probably voluntary (as is virtually everything in a congregational system). That means numbers are available for anyone to see here . The British equivalent here does not contain membership numbers, I wish it did. It would be interesting to see.

Alternative worship, the emerging church movement and Unitarianism

This is an article I wrote on Fuuse over a year ago. I'm not sure my ideas are exactly the same now, but I thought it was worth sharing. Before I start this article I think it is important to put some definitions on the table. These are not definite final definitions, because the nature of alt worship and emerging church is evolving, but they will do for a start. “Alternative worship: Alternative worship is what happens when people create worship for themselves, in a way that fully reflects who they are as people and the culture that they live their everyday lives in.Because most forms of church have become culturally disconnected from the wider world, alternative worship can seem like a radical break with conventional church practices. It uses the technologies and media of our everyday lives - TV, video, CDs, computers - things that we take for granted in a domestic environment but seldom see in churches. It takes much of its content from the secular world - the music, the lan

The ethics of economics

Increasingly I have come to realise that economics, more than politics or religion, is what makes the world go round. The other day the High Street clothes store Primark was rated the least ethical place to buy clothes in Britain , taking into account environmental damage, worker's rights and dealing with oppressive regimes. This in fact didn't suprise me at all. When I was looking for clothes recently I went to Primark. I needed a suit for job interviews, and I was (and am) poor because I was unemployed. So I went to Primark and got a jacket, shirt, tie, and trousers for less than £30. And I thought, as I bought these clothes, "I'm sure these clothes were made by exploiting the developing world, how else could they be so cheap?" And I was right. And yet, I really needed cheap clothing, I couldn't afford anything more expensive. I'm sure most people who shop in Primark are in the same boat. It made me realise that poor people here in Britain, because the

Liberal Christian book?

I've been thinking about how I would explain my faith to someone. If a Unitarian came to me who was non-Christian or even quite anti-Chrisitan and asked me about my faith as a Unitarian that follows Jesus, I'm wondering what book I could point them to. I would like there to be a book that was a very simple introduction to Christianity, like a confirmation book, but one that was a liberal and somewhat Unitarian. An inspirational little book about simply following Jesus and loving God, not about believing in a number of strange old doctrines. I don't want anything like John Spong that spends a good amount of time slagging off conservative Christianity. I want a simple introduction to a liberal Christian faith, from the point of view of someone coming from no Christian background. I've just felt like I needed to refer to a book like that in conversations I've had to better articulate what I stand for. Any ideas anyone? Please leave comments.

On the way to ministry

Last week I went down to Oxford for my ministry interview: two days made up of three two-on-one interviews, leading a 15 minute worship service, and one seven-on-one interview, plus the fact that I was constantly being observed in social situations. I felt like I was myself and did all I can. It felt more like a collaborative dialogue than an interview. I got some very positive feedback for the idea that there should be BUYAN-At-Large Chaplains, and some other things that I said. The other candidates were all nice folks, and I knew one of them. We had a couple of drinks in a little pub in Oxford after the first day. Yesterday I got a letter through the post, and I was accepted! Now I need to apply to Unitarian College Manchester, and get a mentor, apply for funding, and work out where I'm going to live in Manchester. It's a scary and exciting prospect in front of me. I don't know where this adventure is leading me. My prayers since have consisted of me looking up to God

Jesus would go to gay nightclubs

OK, that isn't quite the conclusion of this article at The Ooze. But maybe it should be. It is what I believe very strongly. There are a great deal of hurt people in gay nightclubs, and it is a 'bomb shelter' but an ineffective one. There is a need to reach out spiritually to some very hurt people. Jesus would be there, healing.

Executive Committee Elections

So the election is finally here. For the first time the leadership of the Unitarian Church in Britain is going to be directly elected by the membership. The name 'Executive Committee' sounds too coroporate rather than spiritual for me, but then I can't think of a better name myself, so I guess I can live with it. 23 people have put their names forward for 8 positions on the committee. The election is being counted by the Single Transferable Vote method. Don't ask me to explain it. But it means you can rank every candidate, so I think I'm going to. I think I'll vote for every candidate! I might as well. I'm reading through the candidate's election statements right now. The form says that the attributes of an 'ideal' Executive Committee member will be: Understanding of Unitarianism; Leadership; Strategic Thinking; Communicating and Influencing; Decision-Making; Representing; Financial and Legal Awareness; Team Working; and Self-Management. Fai

Charlie Kennedy

It seems to me a great shame that the daggers are coming out to politically assisinate Charles Kennedy . It's rare that one finds a politician that one genuinely warms to. I think Charles Kennedy is a genuinely nice bloke. I'd like to go to the pub with him (as long as he has orange juice). I couldn't say that of Tony Blair, Michael Howard, David Cameron or Gordon Brown. He's the most successful Liberal leader in 80 years. He has a drink problem, but so did George W. Bush. And he managed to get past it. I can't help having a lot of personal admiration for Kennedy. I think he's a very good politician, and a very good opposition leader. His was the only party that stood up against the Iraq War. He doesn't take himself too seriously, yet he often seems much more mature than Blair, Howard, or Cameron in Prime Minister's questions, when he asks serious questions about civil liberties and the war. Having said all that, I don't think he looks like a Prim