Friday 5 March 2004 2.19pm
I was told the following story last night, and wanted to share it with the SE1-ers.
I have an in-law who's a C of E vicar. I'll call him Bob. Nice chap underneath it all, Bob, but one might consider him a bit old-fashioned in his outlook and pretty much of the hanging, flogging, birching, "Mrs Thatcher was a wonderful woman" school of thought.
Recently, Bob was preaching a sermon touching on something like how we have to challenge our long-held beliefs in the light of the way the world changes (or something like that - it was a Bible text and I can't remember it exactly), and he thought it would be good to draw parallels with the recent debate on whether the church should allow gay marriages.
Apparently, he said something like this:
"Much as I personally abhor homosexuality, I do think that the Church should be there to support marginalised people and that in that context we should review our traditional views and reconsider them."
(I'm bound to have misquoted awfully, but hopefully I've got the basics reasonably accurate.)
I was being told this story in the context that parishioners had removed themselves from the church in protest, people had resigned from the parish council, and that there was general scandal through the small village where Bob preaches.
The interesting thing to me was when I realised just what the parishioners were complaining about.
Being (a generalisation on my part, but IMO reasonably fair) a congregation of mainly retired, conservative gentlefolk, the parishioners were unsurprisingly up in arms about having a vicar who, in addition to saying the word "homosexuality" out loud and in front of the women, didn't immediately say something like: "they're all going to hell anyway, but we should probably shoot them first just to make sure they don't linger too long on this side of the veil".
It struck me that if I repeated Bob's words to anyone of my age or anyone who lives in a bit more of a socially mixed place, they too would be up in arms.....only the bit they'd find offensive would be that a spritual leader could stand up in public and tell his flock that he abhorred homosexuals.
There's no real point I want to make by this. I just thought it was a good story, and a reminder that there are still rednecks out in them there woods.
...there's plenty more c**** in the cup.