Two ‘must read’ recommendations from me today. You must read Andrew Goddard’s book review on the Fulcrum web site http://fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/page.cfm?ID=456 and you must read the book he reviews: Andrew Marin, Love is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community; IVP USA, 2009. ISBN 978-0-8308-3626-0, although reading Andrew may be enough – but I definitely want to read the book –asap. (Andrew is Tutor in Ethics at Trinity College Bristol and a member of Fulcrum’s leadership team)
I was very, very tempted to quote much of Andrew’s article here, including most of his quotes from Marin. Quoting the majority of both article and quotes would be ridiculous, so go and read Andrew for yourself – he gives an extensive summary of the book. Here are two quotes to persuade you to go there, NOW!
“[I]t is a book like no other I know, a book which desperately needed to be written, a book which sadly very few people could write, a book which every Christian – or certainly every evangelical – who wants to learn about homosexuality and a Christian response to gay and lesbian people – should read” and, quoting Marin “There is also the stark and perhaps for some readers shocking testimony that “I have never met a more loving community in my life than the GLBT community” (166).”
What does this mean for Fulcrum, Changing Attitude, conservative evangelicals, and others?
I’m wondering what kind of conversion experience Andrew might have undergone. We are due to meet for lunch this week (after too long a gap thanks to his relocation from Oxford to Bristol) and I hope to discover more over lunch.
I’ve learnt a lot in recent years about the subsets in the traditional, conservative wing of the church, the overlaps and distinctions between Fulcrum, Reform, Anglican Mainstream, CEEC, etc. More recently I’ve begun to discern subtle differences within each subset, and I’m now wondering about Fulcrum in particular, with the Rt Revd Graham Kings, Fulcrum’s Theological Secretary now a bishop in my diocese, Andrew responding so positively to Marin’s book, and the Bishop of Durham using language that Marin would question.
Andrew Goddard say that Marin:
“… warns against using “homosexual” (“instead use words like gay, lesbian, GLBT, gay and lesbian community” (60)) and shares three lessons he has learned over the years: get past our own issues regarding the GLBT community, do our homework (“we have to go to the culture before we know the culture”) and “prepare ourselves to not say or do anything that would be contrary to our intent to learn or serve…” (63).
One of the things that made me angry last week was the Bishop of Durham’s use of words and phrases which are offensive to LGBT people – ‘non-celibate homosexuals’, ‘homosexual behaviour’ and ‘those with homosexual and similar instincts’. Will Andrew be recommending ‘Love is an Orientation’ to the Bishop? Will Fulcrum’s leadership team follow Andrew’s advice, read the book, and discuss its effect on them and implications for them?
Let me conclude by quoting Andrew once more:
“I found that Marin powerfully expresses much of what I’ve begun to learn (and warns against much I continually have to un-learn) but also made me aware how much more I need to learn – intellectually, experientially and spiritually. In particular, his book showed me how narrow and in-house my listening – and probably most of the (admittedly limited) evangelical listening to GLBT people – has been, focussed as it has been on the church debate. It has left me wrestling with whether and how I can participate in that debate from a traditionalist position and also find a way of doing at least a small part of what Marin has been doing by going beyond the confines of the church and its political battles and seeking and sharing Christ in the GLBT community.”