An Asian Christian woman living in London blogging about the everyday issues of religion

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

'Church Should Rejoice Over Same-Sex Marriages'

'Church Should Rejoice Over Same-Sex Marriages' is the title of the letter which was printed in The Times newspaper on 21 April 2012 and signed by Canon Giles Goddard (my vicar), Chairman of the Inclusive Church, and by The Very Rev Jeffrey John, Dean of St.Albans which also included the Bishop of Buckingham among others.

Due to the wall of payment by The Times not many of you may have read the letter so I am reproducing parts of it below.

'Recent statements by church leaders past and present may have given the mistaken impression that the Church is universally opposed to the extension of civil marriage to same-sex couples. We believe that does not adequately reflect the range of opinion which exists within the Church of England. Marriage is a robust institution which has adapted much over the centuries. It has moved beyond the polygamy of the Old Testament and preoccupation with social status and property in pre-Enlightenment times. While the Prayer Book states that marriage was ordained first for the "procreation of children" the modern marriage service begins by emphasising the quality of relationship between marriage partners "that they shall be united with on another in heart, body and mind".

The Church calls marriage holy or sacramental because the covenant relationship of committed, faithful love between the couple reflects the covenanted love and commitment between God and his Church. Growing in this kind of love means we are growing in the image of God. That there are same-sex couples who want to embrace marriage should be a cause for rejoicing in the Church.

...We believe that the Church of England has nothing to fear from the introduction of civil marriages for same-sex couples. If will be for the churches to then decide how they should respond pastorally to such a change in the law.'

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Coptic Christians, Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood

In The Times newspaper this week Professor Amr Darrag, Secretary General of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party in Egypt, wrote an article in which he repeated the words of the late Pope Shenouda: 'Egypt is not a country in which Christians live, but a homeland that lives in the hearts of Christians. We share this sentiment entirely. An Egyptian Christian is an Egyptian citizen with rights and responsibilities. There is no differentiation between Muslims and Christians in our party...'

A surge of hope and optimism filled me when I read that because of the suffering of the Coptic Christians in Egypt in recent years. Coptic Christians make up 10% of the 80 million Egyptian population. Their stalwart leader and protector Pope Shenouda III died in March. Pope Shenouda was instrumental in speaking up for the rights of Coptic Christians. In the post-Mubarak political arena of Egypt the field is open wide and a resulting fear for the future of Christians in Egypt is a real one. However, Professor Darrag offers a conciliatory and inclusive tone. He states that the true teaching of Islam is about social harmony, justice and prosperity and that one of Islam's guiding principles is the freedom of individuals to choose their own faith.

The persecution of the Coptic Christians in Egypt goes beyond the faith realm. They are denied jobs in the civil service and are discriminated against when it comes to other forms of employment. Please click on the link for further information.

Islam is often portrayed as the guardian and censor of other religions and as being unwilling to scale back on its' combative rhetoric but Islamaphobia goes the other extreme too and refuses to offer an Olive branch. This was evident recently when the Brotherhood visited Washington and President Obama was attacked by Republicans for granting them a visit. Note, the Brotherhood didn't actually meet with the President but a visit to Washington was sufficient for Islamaphobia to surface. Professor Darrag calls on the Western world to help Egypt rebuild itself. Prayers please for our Coptic brothers and sisters to be a part of a new and peaceful Egypt.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

ABY - Another prejudice of Christians

'Anyone But York' (ABY) is a stealth campaign being waged to stop Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, from becoming the next Archbishop of Canterbury because he is too old,apparently, at the age of 62. That is ageism, age discrimination, and I hope it does not become on par with the battles being fought over gender and sexuality.

According to a member of the ABY campaign: 'Just as the initials ABC are used to designate the Archbishop of Canterbury, the initials ABY have been used for York, But now, for those against him, they are being used to mean "Anyone But York"'.

Age, just like Gender and Sexual Equality, is a legally protected characteristic and there is a reason for this which age discriminators in the church need to take heed of. We have enough dinosaurs roaming around the Church yard without adding some more. Golly, at this rate we will run out of space to house all you out of touch Christians.

The 'Ageing Population' is a global demographic. What this means is that people are living longer and societies have to find a way to incorporate older people who previously were viewed as being 'redundant' purely because of chronological ageism views. Anyone over the age of 50 who has had to put up with 'old' jokes will welcome these proposals. With the retirement age being raised 62 years old is considered well within the limit of being able to function as a working member of society. This is an economic necessity. Together with this economic necessity comes a responsibility to remove the cultural and legal barriers as to how older people are perceived. Discrimination against older people is entrenched in layers of society like employment, cultural expectations, sport and the distribution of goods and services because so much of these are targeted at younger people.

There is also the moral argument for viewing older people as intrinsic members of society. They are what we will become if we are lucky enough to live that long. There is much social capital invested in them that we can all tap into. According to the World Economic Forum older people's social capital is often obscured by overly negative views of ageing that result in underutilized talent and wrong perceptions about abilities.

Our church pews are full of the elderly who were brought up in a more faith fuelled way than contemporary times. Their Christian worship is a role model to follow. The Church of all cannot afford to fall upon the false stereotyping of people which bears little relation to reality. Let not age become a battleground in the same way that the ordination of women and gay-rights has become. 

Friday, 13 April 2012

Twitter Tweets about Anglican Mainstream