THE most interesting
piece on a serious topic this week was by Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP,
in The Guardian, against gay marriage.
literally, to engage with other people who are different. It
implies an attention to the particularity of the other person, a
savouring of how he or she is unlike me, in their faith, their
ethnicity, their sexual orientation.
"A society that flees
difference and pretends we are all just the same may have outlawed
intolerance in one form, and yet instituted it in other ways. It
says, 'We shall tolerate you as long as you pretend to be just like
us.'. . .
"Religious conviction, if
it impinges on the public sphere, is viewed with a mixture of fear
and derision. And so it is both true that modern Britain is a model
of multiculturalism, and also that we drift around in a fog of
This is interesting
because it is something that only Radcliffe among prominent
religious leaders can say in the expectation - however faint - that
he will be listened to. So many of the opponents of gay marriage
transparently don't believe in what he calls the equal dignity of
The Kampala Daily
Monitor, for example, reports that the Most Revd Stanley
Ntagli, the new Primate of the Church of Uganda, at his
enthronement on Sunday, "pledged to work towards reviving
believers' commitment to God as a way of helping the country fight
the rampant evils such as defilement, homosexuality, child
sacrifice, and domestic violence".
God knows what is meant
by "defilement" in this quote, but the bundling of homosexuality
with child sacrifice and even domestic violence would finish the
career of anyone in public life here. That is why I am not a
cultural relativist. There is a genuine clash here of views over
purity which cannot, so far as I can see, be the subject of a
And the Church of England
is compromised in the public mind by the huge institutional efforts
that it makes to stay in communion with Churches such as that in
Uganda. Let's not forget that the Rt Revd Sandy Millar was ordained
as a bishop there when he retired from Holy Trinity, Brompton. So
the C of E cannot make a case against gay marriage without sounding
THE Muslim Council
of Britain, meanwhile, has grabbed the opportunity for
self-importance, and demanded that it, too, should have legal
protection for its stance against gay marriage. This ought to be an
opportunity for the Church of England to look a great deal more
enlightened, but I can almost guarantee that it will be muffed.
ON A late (and unheated)
commuter train out of Liverpool Street, I picked up a discarded
copy of Star magazine. There was an interview with
Chantelle Houghton, who became a sleb (i.e. someone who appears
regularly on cable television) after she won an episode of
Celebrity Big Brother, even though her only expertise was
being a lookalike for another sleb.
She later married, or at
least had a child with, one of the original's discards, with whom
she has since split because of his sexual habits: "A lot of people
think cross-dressing is just wearing a skirt and dancing around
singing 'I'm every woman.' But what Alex actually does is a lot
The interviewer gets to
the point: "We're loving the new extensions. Is your new look
helping you move on?"
"Definitely. New hair,
new me! [laughs] I feel a bit more like myself. I've had extensions
for years but [this brand]are the best by far. All the celebrities
are having them. Katie [Price] has got them. I'm back to me
I'm not sure that a society where you're supposed to
improve your character by changing your brand of false hair is
really to be trusted with any moral decisions at all.
BUT the oddest piece of
post-Christianity came from the Daily Mail, which recorded
how the crowd at a darts tournament turned against a hippyish
"A darts fan was kicked
out of a live televised final after the 4500-strong crowd
interrupted play by taunting him - because he looks like Jesus.
Bearded Nathan Grindal was enjoying the clash between Phil Taylor
and Kim Huybrechts when some of the audience spotted his likeness
to the son of God.
"Chants of 'Jesus'
quickly spread through the rowdy crowd packed into Butlins at
Minehead, Somerset. The labourer, of Abingdon, Oxfordshire, was
close to tears as six bouncers removed him from the Cash Converters
Players' Championship which was being shown on ITV4.
"As he left a chant of
'Stand up if you love Jesus' broke out with many of the boozed-up
crowd getting to their feet."
He should have worn a different wig.