Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Confused of Sevenoaks........

I am following with close interest reports about this week’s Synod discussions about Women Bishops and in particular plans to establish measures for those basically opposed to the idea. As a staunch advocate of equal rights its odd that I find myself (and very happily at that) in that part of the church that believes that women cannot be admitted to the priesthood. Other blogs will explain why that is not necessarily a contradictory place to be. I have drawn some comfort from them although its fair to say that I still have some residual unease. But anything which relies basically on faith I guess must also bring with it at least a few doubts. And I know I am not the first one to experience that.
Personally I think Codes of Practice are a poor substitute for proper legislation. I am sure people will point to excellent examples of codes that work. But they generally strike me as little better than trusting things to luck on the grounds that the matter being regulated does not justify full legislation. Is that the intention here?
It seems that in any case that what is being offered to everybody is a sticking plaster to deal with a gaping wound. If the reality is that two very different “Churches” exist within the Cof E it is surely better to proceed on that basis rather than pretend that there isn’t a problem. I think there is a pressing case for the traditional Anglo Catholic wing to devise a straw man structure which we believe would offer a sustainable future and to discuss how that could be accommodated within a wider – more federated – C of E. If the remainder of the church concludes that traditionalists cannot be accommodated then maybe it is time to move on. I hope and pray it doesn’t come to that: we would all of us be the poorer for it and it hardly squares with a Christian ethic of reconciliation and tolerance.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Do you feel lucky?

From time to time I stumble on a website and it keeps me going for days. Last year it was the satirical website Newsbiscuit from which I now get a daily e-mail with the story of the day. Newsbiscuit is a spoof e-news site. The best "Stories" are those which are patently a fiction but close enough to some of the absurdities of everyday life to  strike a chord of recognition. Yesterday's headline - "Government announces improvement in daylight hours" - was spot on.
This week I have stumbled across something better - and I trust and hope - legal. The site streams current movie releases and after enjoying  Frost/Nixon last week, I hit on another I would have taken in had the local cinema not closed down.
Its a Clint Eastwood piece called Gran Torino. Eastwood is the central character, Walt Kolowski, a former Korean War  veteran, recently widowed and aware now that the world is very different to the one in which he worked, married and raised a family.  The Eastwood persona at the start of the film is very much an older and angrier version of Harry Callahan from Dirty Harry. He is racially intolerant - not  a great advantage in a neighbourhood dominated by immigrants - but the story focuses on the  unlikely relationship between Eastwood and his neighbour's son, Thao,  who is part of a sizeable Hmong immigrant community where he lives. 
At one level the film is about racial tolerance - although not delivered with the power of the very wonderful Crash. But its real power is as a story of individual redemption. Eastwood's character - supported more than he thought he would ever need  by a young Catholic priest - puts his anger to one side and focuses on giving  Thao a chance in life that would otherwise have been denied him.  In turn the anger that consumes Walt is replaced by a real sense of purpose and, I would guess, inner peace.  Eastwood is now nearly 80 so he may not have too many more films in him. But this is a wonderful piece of story-telling and one with a spiritual dimension sadly missing from so much of what turns up in the cinema these days.