Category Archives: Uncategorized

Can We Still Be Friends Review

Yesterday I got home from church, poured a large glass of wine, texted Karl saying if he was still to pass a shop could he buy me some chocolate, prayed one of those “sorry God/ help God ” prayers that follows a service you’ve just done hasn’t gone the way you wish it had and settled down with a book and the rugby after watching Fried Green Tomatoes which happened to be on. A proper lazy Sunday afternoon was indulged in.

The book turned out to be one of those plough through to the end in one go and enjoy it loads type – which I was glad about.

In terms of the service which hadn’t gone as hoped – that’s for tomorrow or rather the reason I found it difficult is addressed in tomorrows post -when I review Russell Herbert’s Growing through Church: A practical and theological vision for all-age worship, (which Karl has been given to properly review for something and which I have happened to pick up to learn from/ review on here).

Back to the chill out book that was Can We Still Be Friends by Alexandra Shulman. Before I start I’d like to clarify that I haven’t missed the question mark which should logically be in there, it’s not in the title. It was one of those surprise me type titles I pick up in the local library from the recent titles section.

It’s a book covering three years of post-uni friendship of three friends living in London. The main characters of Kendra, Sal and Annie are contrasting characters of different middle-class backgrounds.

Annie is stylish and organised in PR, Sal is a chaotic journalist and Kendra goes into community work – seeking to do something worthwhile, whilst escaping her higher middle-class background.

The story is a novel by the editor of British Vogue which is on one level just a good read. On another it is a cliched feminist text. Story about a woman who falls in love and then realises she can leave the guy when it shows itself to be a mistake- check, story line relating to a woman’s right to choose – check, narrative about the women in the workplace imitating men for negative results – check, lesbian coming out story – check and so I could go on for quite a while.

There was the occasional continuity error as well. The debate about women priests, which was the one going on at the time, is referred to as the debate on women bishops.

All that said though it is a good read with an excellent story, which contains various cultural and current affairs references of the time which do take you back. The characters come alive and are vibrant and interesting people who you can empathise with in different ways.

The coming out story is dealt with in a way which whilst being very much of the time deals with issues which are just as familiar today as they would have been in the 1980’s. The same is true of the subject of alcohol and substance misuse which is addressed here.

Deletions and Corrections

I have deleted the last post I put up and I edited another one recently. In both cases what I blogged had come from a sense of frustration and I later thought about the way in which whilst the content may have reflected my feelings it wasn’t structured or constructive.

The heavy editing of one post involved removing the a section revealing my frustrations about the way in which the discussion around faith and LGBandT issues tends to fail to have an aspect looking at missiology.

The last post which I removed was less focused and revealed my frustration that people were still having the same old arguments, all be it in a new form, rather than engaging with the reality of what is happening in the country at the moment and has the potential to happen in the coming months as a result of the cuts. I realised that what I had written was unfair on many levels because many of those involved in these discussions, (on both sides of the fence), are people whose lives beyond their writings do involve alot of social justice and community work and who are involved at the sharp end of things. Additionally the catalyst for much of the current discussion has been related to looking at inclusion and impact issues which are important.

LGBandT Christian Resource List

In the aftermarth of the Steve Chalke article being published Oasis have put up this inclusion site, which includes an video from Chalke explaining where he is coming from. The resources section on that site still being put together.

I’ve put together lists of resources for LGBandT Christians and those seeking to support them on here before, but things including the movement forward from Oasis have meant that list now needs updating. At this point I do need to reinforce that this is my personal blog and I am putting together this list as part of an ongoing part of this blog. For those who have been wondering why I have been putting this type of disclaimer up recently on sexuality stuff it is because I now work part time as Community Engagement Officer for a LGBandT organisation. It’s something which has made me even more aware of the importance of sharing information and providing information for people who are coming from different positions.

Most of the sites below have links to further resources and many have confidential lists of inclusive churches who are welcoming to LGBandT people. If you are a minister of a church which is affirming to LGBandT people please consider getting in touch with these groups to add your churches details to their lists.

Whilst understanding the difficulties it would be useful for a public directory to be compiled and to be directly accessible indicating where were inclusive churches but also where non-regular attenders might be able to go for trans naming services, Civil Partnership Blessings, Transgender Day of Remembrance events and so on.

So on with the updated list:

Inclusive Church (Anglican and focused and a range of diversity issues)

Outcome (Methodist)

QLGF (Quaker)

QUEST (Catholic)

Affirming Baptists (Baptist)

The United Reformed Church which allows civil partnership blessings to be held in its churches IF AGREED BY THE INDIVIDUAL CONGREGATION has produced some good resources.

Ecumenical Groups (and those representing specific theological perspectives)

Accepting Evangelicals – provides monthly email and has blog coming from a progressive evangelical perspective. Also provides speakers for debates in clergy training establishments, etc.

Evangelical Fellowship of Lesbian and Gay Christians

The Sibyls – Spirituality group for Transgender Christians

LGCM – more liberal organisation working as a strong pressure group on behalf of LGandB Christians

Gay Christian Network which is an international organisation, with an annual conference in the US

Gay Christian Europe. on line group which also has gatherings and annual retreat in UK

Two:23 network which provides quarterly meetings in London

Greenbelt  has talks aimed at supporting LGBandT Christians within its programme. There are a seperate network of people working alongside the main festival to provide safe space opportunities including a communion service open to all but specifically enabling LGBandT Christians and their families and friends to share communion together. I don’t have the time at the moment to go through all their talks and pick out good ones to signpost, I would invite you if you have time to look through these though. In addition to the speakers already signposted through this list I would add John Bell and Tony Campollo as names to use when searching for talks on this subject.

True Freedom Trust is an organisation whose position I personally disagree with and which I was initially wary of putting on here and including in the list. I know a number of people who have found their services useful, but I also know others who have not had such a positive experience due to the nature of their teaching which is non-affirming. However, I am seeking to put together a list which signposts people to material which will help them and I feel that I have to include this. Again at this point I stress this list is being complied personally for my personal blog.

Web based information

Peterson Toscano has information on his website which helps support those who have been involved in the ex-gay movement and material looking biblically at transgender issues.

James Alison – A gay Catholic theologian who has produced some excellent resources. This site links to his books and talks.

A Letter to Louise – site showing letter of a pastor giving a biblical affirmation of homosexuality

Family Acceptance – For families of LGBandT people

Nadia Boltz-Weber has provided a good example of liturgy for a trans naming rite, which is posted on her blog

This blog post by Rachel Mann may also be useful reading for some

I include Karl, my partner’s, trans coming out post because it contains some useful links and gives an insight which some may find useful.

Books

Lee, J, (2013), Unconditional , Hodder and Stoughton. This is a new resource by the founder of the Gay Christian Network which is intended to help both LGBandT Christians and straight Christians to think through the issues.

Hill, W (2010), Washed and Waiting, Zondervan – a book by a celibate gay Christian who believes that his faith means he has to remain celibate

Marin, A, (2009), Love is an Orientation, IVP Books – book from a straight person looking to build bridges across the divide

Hagger-Holt, Rand Hagger Holt, S, (2009), Living it Out: A Survival Guide for lesbian, gay and bisexual Christians and their friends, families and churches, Canterbury Press (see http://www.livingitout.com/ )

Hopper, G.S.E.,(2005) Reluctant Journey: A Pilgrimage of Faith from Homophobia to Christian Love, (see http://www.reluctantjourney.co.uk/)

Marks, J, (2009), Exchanging the Truth of God for a Lie (Can be ordered from http://www.courage.org.uk/publications/Exchanging-Order-Form.pdf)

Outcome, (2009), And Can it Be?, (Can be ordered fromhttp://www.garyhopkins.net/outcome/bookform.pdf)

Bradshaw,T, (2003), The Way Forward? Christian Voices on Homosexuality and the Church, SCM Press

Films

Fish Out of Water – Documentary exploring relationship between homosexuality and the bible

For the Bible Tells Me So – Film looking at the experiences of lesbian and gay people and their families

Through My Eyes – Film sharing the experiences of young US LGBandT people

Prayers for Bobby – Film based upon the story of a young man who commits suicide and his families response

Other info

The Marin Foundation seeks to build bridges across the divide of opinion. Andrew Marin founder of this organisation has spoken at Spring Harvest.

Some local groups and churches exist which support LGBandT Christians. The following are just some I am aware of:

 Soho Masses – Catholic local group in London

 First Sunday in Oxford have a very good resource list

MCC Newcastle – MCC churches exist at different places within the UK and worldwide

Folk getting on with it

Folk music is one of those things like Marmite, you’re either into it or you’re not. It’s also a bit of a bit sub-cultural and so when the BBC announced Mike Harding was leaving Radio Two and Twitter/Facebook revealed that it was Harding being pushed out rather than really choosing to go there was a sense of both loss and anger. The key issue to many within the folk community was the fact Mike Harding is one of them and his show is excellent because he isn’t just a presenter he is part of the sub-culture.

So pleased then that we live within the digital age and that when the mainstream broadcaster decided to cast him aside he has come up with a solution. The Mike Harding Folk Show  is going to be a weekly podcast starting December 30th at 5pm.

Christmas was good, quite quiet but lovely. Gift wise from my dad I got the Greenbelt 12 Talks CD which I was expecting and a Bellowhead CD, Matachin, which I wasn’t. Both are going to be great to listen to, although the former is going to be a dip in affair; it contains all 128 talks from this years festival.

Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas everybody, don’t know if I’ll be back on here before Christmas or indeed how soon afterwards.

To fill space find the sermon I did for today – not sure if somebody might find it useful. It’s talking about Elizabeth and Mary.

Readings:

Micah 5 v 2 – 5a (ending with “and he shall be the one of peace.”)

Luke 1:39 -55

You know what it’s like when everything’s suddenly turned upside down and you go to visit somebody. It can be a bit scary, not knowing if you’re going to be hugged or whether it’s going to be a stiff welcome where everybody is awfully polite before sitting down to have a serious talk. I’ve had a few of those moments in my life.

It can be especially difficult if there is a bit of a journey involved to get there or you haven’t had a chance to speak to the person you’re visiting before you get there.

That’s how it must have been for Mary. She was a young woman, probably still in her teens and she’d gotten pregnant in circumstances she knew were good and holy, but which others wouldn’t have seen in the same way. She was sent off to stay with her relative in the hill country of Judea which may have been up to 50 miles away. A long journey in those days. She didn’t know what reaction she’d get from this older relative, if she shared what had happened and her excitement about it would she have been believed or would she be judged by Elizabeth and Zechariah too? Remember this wasn’t just any couple she was being sent off to, Zechariah was a temple priest – a religious man.

Then think what it would have been like for Elizabeth, she was having this young relative come to stay whilst she was pregnant too. An event which others were rejoicing about, but would have been confused about too. She was going to have to explain that Zechariah couldn’t speak and what was going on there.

There must have been an element of nervousness on both sides as they got ready to meet. Was this going to be one of those awkward meetings or would it be a chance to share the excitement about everything that had been going on however strange it all my seem?

It is in this atmosphere that the two women meet each other. Mary greets her older relative as would have been customary but as I say it would probably have been with some apprehension.

When Elizabeth hears Mary’s greeting the baby within her jumps within her and she is filled with the Holy Spirit. She gives a loud and joyful cry because she recognises that the baby Mary is carrying is the Lord.

Imagine the relief for Mary, all those “what if” thoughts she must have been carrying throughout the journey are dispelled. She knows that not only is she welcome but that Elizabeth gets what is going on and is going to believe her. She is going to be able to share her excitement and talk about what is going on.

It seems like in that moment Mary is able to let everything out because she knows she is in a safe space where she is understood. And so she replies to Elizabeth by letting out a song of praise. Mary’s song which has become known as the Magnificat is a huge song of praise and celebration.

Tom Wright explains that Mary and Elizabeth shared a dream, the ancient dream of Israel; that one day all that the prophets had said would come true. They believed that one day Israel’s God would do what he had said to Israel’s earliest ancestors that all nations would be blessed through Abraham’s family. However, they understood that for that to happen the powers that kept the world in slavery had to be toppled. Nobody would normally thank God for blessing if they were poor, hungry, enslaved and miserable. God would have to win a victory over the bullies, power-brokers and the forces of evil which people like Mary and Elizabeth knew all too well. They were living in the dark days of Herod the Great whose casual brutality had been been backed up by the threat of Rome. *

Mary and Elizabeth like other Jews of their time would have searched the scriptures and soaked themselves in the psalms and prophetic writings which spoke of mercy, hope, fulfilment, reversal, revolution, victory over evil and of God coming to the rescue at last. Prophecies like the one we heard from Micah.

So this song of praise comes from two women who understand something of the fact their children are going to be involved in fulfilling these prophecies. Yet, as we find out later when Mary goes with Jesus brothers to speak to him in Matthew 12 verse 46, presumably to try and take him home, Mary doesn’t understand it all. She doesn’t know that the baby she is carrying will eventually take the road to the cross and die a brutal and painful death before rising again.

At this moment her hymn of praise comes from a place of hope, excitement and celebration.

Part of the excitement and celebration will be coming from the fact that these two women knowing that God, through their pregnancies is breaking 400 years of apparent silence since he last gave a prophecy through Malachi.

That all happened 2000 years ago though, so what does it have to say to us today?

Well I want to say quite a few things.

Firstly, Mary wasn’t praising God from an easy place. She was a young woman who had become pregnant in wonderful yet unusual circumstances. She was living in an occupied country under the rule of a king who was cruel and that was on top of the day to day difficulties that people faced then just to survive.

The words of her song of praise speak of a God who has blessed her in that place of difficult living, just as he has been with and blessed others living difficult and painful lives over the years.

It is a song which uses the language not of the rich and powerful, but rather of those without much in material terms.

When I was bringing my daughter up and we were living on very little and she couldn’t have alot of the things that other people at school had there was something important that I taught her and that was we were skint but we weren’t not poor.

We may not have had the foreign holidays, or the nice house some of her friends had and sometimes we were looking at the gas metre working out if we could afford to put the heating or not but we had our flat, and we had food. We also had a good extended family and she knew ours was a safe home where friends who didn’t have such easy environments to live in could come and be welcomed. She knew part of that welcome was tied up with our faith and that God particularly cared for those who were struggling. She grew up knowing that we were blessed and that God was to be praised for that blessing.

So we are called to be Mary’s and Elizabeth’s praising God for the reality of his love and his care in the mist of circumstances which aren’t always great by the worlds standards.

Secondly, both this hymn of praise and Elizabeth’s greeting come out of a place of knowing God and being filled with the Holy Spirit.

It was the Spirit which filled Elizabeth and caused her to cry out and it was the spirit which influenced Mary’s heartfelt hymn of praise. Both of these women were filled by God because they had met and recognised God. Their words were a response to God coming from the Spirit of God.

Now I don’t know about you but I’ve seen and heard some things over the years which may or may not have come from a filling of the Holy Spirit. They are things which make me think um…..not sure about this. Then there are things which I have seen, heard and experienced which I do know come from the Holy Spirit.

There are various things which differentiate those things which I’m not sure about and those things which I am certain of. The first thing which is different about those things which I know definitely are of the Holy Spirit is they definitely display the fruit of the Spirit that we hear about in Galatians chapter 5 verses 22 and 23.

They are displaying love, something we see very clearly within what Elizabeth and Mary say.

They display joy and that is something we see lots of in what the two women say and how they say it.

They show peace. Both women were going through extraordinary pregnancies but this reading shows both Elizabeth and Mary had peace about their pregnant state and the circumstances surrounding them.

There is kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control on display. Yes they are being quite loud in their celebrations but those shouts of praise are taking place in Elizabeth’s home which is an appropriate situation.

All the hallmarks of the Spirit are there within the words of both Elizabeth and Mary.

So when we are judging whether something is coming from the Spirit or not I would say that we need to think does it reflect the fruits of the Spirit or not?

Is what we are doing or saying showing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self control or not?

The final thing I want to draw out from this passage is that the hope and excitement within it comes from a knowledge of the scriptures being fulfilled. Elizabeth and Mary knew the scriptures. They could have hope in what was happening because they knew what had been promised.

Do we have that same knowledge of what Gods promises to us are and if we do know them do we believe them?

The bible tells us that Jesus will return and we have to be prepared. Luke 21 verses 25 – 28 tell us “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves.  People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

This passage is one which people get very caught up in trying to interpret but the message of it is the same as it was had been for Mary and Elizabeth in the times before their pregnancies. The Lord is coming and we need to be patient and prepared. Christ will return and we need to be ready and expectant for it.

How do we prepare then? Is it by buying more and more stuff, or by putting together bunkers full of supplies for when disaster strikes as some people do?

No it’s about carrying on as faithful people being ready to listen and come back to God. Worshipping out of conviction rather than routine. It’s about taking seriously the four callings of the calling of the Church to respond to the gospel of God’s love in Christ and to live out its discipleship in worship and mission through worship, learning and caring, service and evangelism. It’s about getting back to the bible and knowing those promises and being ready for the fulfilment of them.

So let us this Christmas time know something of the hope and joy which Mary and Elizabeth had. And let us praise Christ from whatever place we find ourselves in, being ready to express our praise through the Holy Spirit in ways which demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.

*Tom Wright paragraph comes from Luke For Everyone.

Last word on the subject

Bristol CU have issued a statement in which they confirm they will be extending speaking invitations to both men and women. It makes the point the whole issue has emerged out of an ongoing dialogue about how to accommodate people of varying theological perspectives. For an excellent description of what has happened and the significance of it for both Bristol and UCCF see this post from Danny Webster.

What has been seen here is a playing out of wider issues within the church, how to accommodate difference, particularly difference which emerges from different interpretations of the bible and feeds into wider debates on equality. I wish them all the best as they continue to do this difficult task.

New Job New Boundaries

Public Information Post

I start a new part time job today and I’m putting a new set of professional boundaries in place. The impact for this blog and for Facebook is that I am going to need to be less open about some parts of my journey and some of my opinions/feelings. I’m certainly not going to be able to use either to in my own coded, (and occasionally less discreet way), to shout “help, I’m struggling” now.

The reason for this is that some of those I’ll be working with are people I’ve connected to online already and so they already know this blog exists. The nature of the work also means I’d feel less confident posting my own, sometimes muddled, opinions and feelings on some things publicly.

In many ways I think that’s going to be useful….this blog and my use of social media along with other parts of life are going to be entering a new chapter. It’s going to be exciting to see where this one leads. 🙂

ADVENTurous and TEDxMiltonKeynesWomen

Amazing couple of days listening to some amazing speakers and enjoying some brilliant art. Yesterday it was ADVENTurous at the Union Chapel in Islington and today it was the TEDxMiltonKeynesWomen event. (Note here the TEDx event should have spacing missing, not sure why but I suspect it has something to do with Twitter hash tags).

The two events complemented each other well and gave me just the nourishment I needed as I embark on a new job in the community sector this week. They also provided great networking opportunities as well as a chance to catch up with old friends.

Something which came out of the ADVENTurous talks was the way in which people are now focusing on the local/hyper-local together with the hyper global. This was something the TEDx talks reflected as they had local live speakers and a live stream of a session from the main TEDxWomen conference in Washington.

The ADVENTurous event had a focus on ecology, economy and faith and had a structure which saw some reflections on where we were now as a result of the mistakes of the past. It saw Ruth Valerio talk in bleak terms about global warming and the environmental issues we are facing, Ann Pettifor, (who headed up the Jubilee 2000 Campaign), talked about the economic crisis and Mike Frost (author of Exiles) spoke on the spiritual crisis being faced in the countries where secularisation had led to Post-Christendom and the need for embodiment. The picture they painted was fairly bleak and there was what I would describe as low key anger within their fifteen minute talks. and so it was left to the Muslim Abdul Rehman Malik, (whose Greenbelt talk is available on their site), making the response to inject some hope. He spoke powerfully of a miracle where a Buddhist monk had come to the aid of a Muslim aid worker in Indonesia through responding to a dream and sending some of her followers on a quest.

The next session saw David Nussbaum chief executive of the World Wide Fund for Wildlife and a member of the Anabaptist Network give a presentation on the ecological position and where we were heading. This was followed by community theologian Ann Morisy who was amazing and for me the best speaker of the day, (and alot better in person than in her books). She spoke about the way we are living with precariaity that is we are living in a time where increasing numbers of people are in a precarious position with regards to employment, income and so forth. She reminded us that history shows us when those in the middle, who are unaccustomed to living this way, find themselves in that situation  it is when there is most danger to society and of extremism growing in the face of fear. She stressed how important it was we, as the middle class, learnt not to pretend we were sorted the whole time and that confidence would only be gained through honesty and not having all the answers.

This was followed by Mike Frost who gave a moving story of a communion service he’d attended where a garbage heap was used and participants needed to wade in to meet Jesus in the shit. He posed the question are we ready to really meet with Jesus in that place. These two talks back to back provided, for me, the most moving part of the day.

The final session which involved looking practically at what people were doing was the most inspiring part of the day and showed, in some ways, generational differences which exist as well as the differences in between the faith communities and the spiritual communities. One contributor to this session was Dan Thompson who has been described as David Cameron’s favorite anarchist. He is founder of Revolutionary Arts and has been a key figure in the pop up shops network as well as the person who started the cleanup movement during last years riots. His key message was just do it you don’t need permission. I found this made an interesting contrast to last weeks fresh expressions event and the general message of the church where there is an awful lot of permission giving going on.

Davey Spens of Boat Magazine which comes from different locations, and is produced through the producers going and listening to the communities for a short while was fascinating. He made the point that you can learn some amazing things which go against or beyond the stereotypes if you lay your assumptions aside and listen. It’s essentially a magazine produced by taking an ethnographic approach.

The final speaker in this session was guerilla gardener Richard Reynolds. He explained how projects like guerilla gardening  need commitment in the long run and rely in part on the great British ideal of the authorities turning a blind eye on occassion.

Amongst the speakers there was also some great art. En Gedi Arts bought some of their work down including an amazing picture of Martin Luther King, a really interesting chess set and some neon art as well as some animations which were poignant. Poet Harry Baker was great and gave us some really thought provoking rants. Musically Grace Petrie  was playing in the evening and speaking in the final session too. I’m a huge Petrie fan and as expected she blew us away with her mix of down to earth love songs and left-wing political stuff.  Iain Archer and Hope and Social were also playing in the evening but we had to get back to MK.

The theme yesterday was ADVENT and adventures and today the theme was ‘space between’. In many ways that letter title could have been used for both days. The first speaker at the TEDx event was Professor Elizabeth Silva of the OU. She was talking about the way space works and the way that “working class” and “middle class” poverty and responses to it differ. She emphasized the way in which one group suffer a lack of cultural capital whilst the other uses cultural capital to get discounts/ exchange skills, etc. She presented two contrasting case studies which came from her reserach. Within this I reflected on my own experience of this. I am middle class skint at the moment, (and have often been). I have attended a couple of things recently by working my ticket or using my cultural capital to find a way around not having the resources to pay to go to things I’d like to. I have the resources to live quite a good life despite the fact I am not well off. I know my experience of being a single parent, particularly, could have been very different without that cultural capital.

The second speaker was Naomi Eisenstaedt who had been a civil servant highly involved with setting up and running the Sure Start initiative. This talk was most interesting for the insight it gave into the way politics works and into the Number 10/ Number 11 situation during the New Labour years.

Third on was Delia Johnstone who is a male to female transexual and one of the most inspiring people it has been my pleasure to get to know recently. She was talking about the real life experience which trans people have to go through. For obvious reasons I know alot about this but I still learnt something from her talk. It was useful to be able to take a step back and listen to the talk in this context which removed the personal or professional element and rather enabled me to listen from a different place. When her talk is available I will post the link and comment further because I think it is really important that people hear and understand what she had to say.

The final live speaker was Caroline McHugh talking on the art of being yourself. This was inspiring and again reflected many similar themes to the previous day. It could have been subtitled “what’s your calling and why aren’t you getting on with it?” as could various other talks at ADVENTurous.

There was then a switch to a feed from a session at the main TEDxWomen event in Washington which included Eve Enssler talking about One Billion Rising which is an event taking place next February. It was a totally secular event but she spoke about what rising involves and in her descriptions of the ways in which we speak of rising mentioned Jesus resurrection.

The next speaker from this event was Isatou Touray who is a Gambian working against female circumcision. Her story was inspiring and it was excellent to hear a voice from the global south included within the conversation.

iO Tillet Wright is a photographer and artist who is not transgender but lived for 8 years as a child as a boy before deciding to go back to her female gender when puberty hit. She is engaged in a photography project called ‘Self Evident Truths’ which has photographed a range of people who identify as either LGBorT. Primarily she has shown the fluidity of sexual identity for many people and the way that in seeking to discriminate it can be hard to draw lines.

Kate Clinton was a feminist lesbian humourist of the old school who was talking about the power of laughter. She was followed by Megan Watterson who is an expert in the spiritual feminine. She talked of the way in which female embodiment has been missing from masculine scriptures, making reference to the way in which the Hagar and Sarah story can be seen as a story of one woman justifying rape of another. I found her talk interesting and challenging and whilst I agreed with large parts I could not agree totally with her reading of the bible. I believe that if we look at stories such as Hagar’s we can and do find material to wrestle with regarding abuse but we also find readings which patriarchy has hidden from us.

It was a great weekend of listening and learning, will be interesting to see if and how it influences my thinking and practice for the future.