Mimanifesto – Jaye’s weblog

Posts Tagged ‘Glasgow

When we think about gender and the bible, it is a reminder that the bible is an excellent starting point for conversations about how we should live today. It is the people who think the bible is the last word on modern human behaviour who are distorting the text and abusing the text in ways which we should properly find offensive

 

So says St Mary’s Cathedral Provost kelvin Holdsworth, in the text of a sermon preached recently. As a treatise on gender, marriage and the church, it’s an excellent starting point, but it’s also a reflection of the genuine and heartfelt message the Cathedral clergy and congregation send to Glasgow and the rest of the world about the Christian faith – our faith….

Open, Inclusive, Welcoming – a good starting point for  any organisation. 

TutuI attended the Friday morning service of Holy Communion at St George’s Cathedral Cape Town today. It was a beautiful peaceful reflective space, with young students visiting from two USA universities filling out the usual smallish crowd of worshipers. Archbishop Desmond Tutu presided as is usual on Friday mornings when he’s in Cape Town, helped by the Dean, Michael Weeder. Included in the prayers this morning were the LGBT community of America as they await the USA supreme court ruling on same sex marriage. Archbishop Tutu has long campaigned for equality and makes his points both on the world stage and quietly as a priest during the Friday dawn mass over which he presides. The Dean is also a supporter of equality, and it was he who offered the prayers today, following his sermon on Sunday which referred to the current issues in the Anglican Church over LGBT equality. I’m shamelessly including this photo of me with him as he’s one of my ultimate heroes. Thank you for the photo and the conversation, father Desmond:-)

Contrast this with the awful treatment two of our friends received at the hands of staff at the Polo Lounge in Glasgow recently. Nathan and Robert are both disabled, and it was this that was the cause of their troubles at the hands of the staff at this establishment, owned and run by Stephan King’s G1 entertainment company. Whilst Nathan was physically carried out of the club by a bouncer, Robert was left crawling about on the floor after having been refused entry due to his being disabled. Two police vans had been summoned by staff.  You can read more about the incident here. A bit of a faux-pas for the meatheads on the Polo door as Nathan and Robert are probably two of the most visible and well connected members of the Scottish LGBT community. Nathan works for the Equality Network in fact. They are now considering action against the G1 group under the Equalities Act for discrimination on the grounds of disability. Good luck to them, and remember their story if you’re thinking of visiting the Polo for some of their usual indifferent service and overpriced drinks… Tweet them and tell them what you think about their discrimination (note to owners, it is more than possible to have a ramp up the steps in front of what used to be Cafe Moda which links through to the Polo…and toilets shouldn’t be a problem either…as I remember)

South Africa legislated for equality in its post Apartheid constitution. Scotland and the rest of the UK are following. Let’s hope G1 and the Polo stop dragging their knuckles across the ground and wake up to this….its called progress and social justice…

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I had a lesson in twentieth century history this morning. I learned a little about Geoffrey Studdert-Kennedy,otherwise known to first world war troops as ‘Woodbine Wullie’. Kennedy was a parish priest who joined the soldiers in the trenches, providing solace and comfort by handing out cigarettes and going ‘over the top’ with them.His words were morale-boosting,and he even won the military cross for dodging the shells in ‘no man’s land’ to bring morphine to injured and dying soldiers. 

Of course, this was in the context of a sermon at St Mary’s, Glasgow, preached this time by Canon Professor John Riches. The jist of the sermon was that, just as Kennedy viewed the political establishment as impotent or unwilling to effect social change in the time between the two wars, so it is today. Bob Holman (referenced by John in his sermon) sums it all up rather nicely arguing as Kennedy did before so many years ago,that its the change in peoples’ values and attitudes that will be the key to effecting real change and lasting social justice. All three (Kennedy,Holman and John Riches) argue that its the churches, not the politicians,who are best placed to drive forward this particular change agenda.

And I can see their point. We now have a government which is giving tax cuts for the very richest in society whilst dismantling the welfare state and driving thousands of the most vulnerable in our society, the disabled, elderly, and children into poverty. The bedroom tax will force many to have to uproot and move home, often many miles away from their support networks. The extra cost to the state in the huge rise in tribunal hearings and appeals  against benefit cut decisions is significant, maybe even cancelling out savings made by the cuts, but the human cost is much more dire, with suicides rising daily. So whilst the Tories cut and slash away at the welfare state, the liberals sit on the fence wringing their hands and trying desperately to pass themselves off as some sort of government conscience, the opposition Labour party shuffle about looking down at their shoes and conspicuously fail to make any promises about reversing these terrible cuts.

Local government elections in England and Wales this week do offer people a chance to tell all three main political parties just exactly what they think about the current situation. I hope voters turn out en masse and register their disapproval in a bankrupt system.Whilst voting for the minor or extremist parties like UKIP or the BNP is not desirable, there are usually plenty of independent local candidates standing. Perhaps a large shift away from the main three towards these independents might be a way of registering a meaningful protest against the government and opposition?

And meanwhile, perhaps we do have to look beyond politics for real lasting social change. As has already been suggested, the churches are well placed to help with this. Sermons such as the one John preached this morning, and others, much stronger critiques of government can help to change attitudes. But community can and must play its part as well. Activism such as the Anti Bedroom Tax Federation in the west of Scotland challenge the government and can be effective in mobilising public opinion and forcing change. Whilst some may be critical of this organisation’s newly elected chair,Tommy Sheridan, he is an incredibly effective community organiser, just as Kennedy was in his day. The work of Cormac Russell on Asset Based Community Development in helping communities to build themselves up and grow capacity could also be a key player in any social change initiative. Many argue that in hosting food and clothing banks, community groups and churches are just doing the government’s work and even reinforcing laws which drive people into poverty but these places can also be centres of real community activism and capacity-building as those most affected by unjust changes gather together. 

But it needs to happen.How long can we go on suffering as a society increasingly divided,with the wealth so unevenly distributed? The political system which evolved during the twentieth century has proved itself to be completely infective in addressing the inequalities in our country.

What happens next is up to us.

Glasgow City Council has raised over £3.8M in fines in less than a year from motorists caught in the cities growing network of bus lanes. According to reports, the Labour-led administration has carried on its persecution of motorists by enforcing a rigid policy of fine collection from hapless drivers caught in its sometimes poorly marked and signed bus lanes.

This is yet another cynical ploy to raise funds to bail out the city council’s finances, mismanaged for years by the labour hegemony in the City Chambers. Motorists are an easy target of course. Priced out of the city centre by exorbitant parking costs, and harassed by City parking attendants fixed upon making their daily ticket-issuing targets, they now have the Big-Brother cameras watching their every move as they try to negotiate their way through the tortuous traffic  restrictions in the city.

Of course its not just Glasgow. Edinburgh is the same, and Aberdeen will be switching on its cameras very soon now. And across the rest of the UK, other cities and towns are following suit. The argument goes that more people should use public transport, but there are some people who are able and chose not to, perhaps for convenience. This is their choice and they take the consequences….maybe. But there are others who can’t make this choice. Many disable people need their cars as they can’t access buses or trains that easily. Some folks with Autistic Spectrum Disorders have problems being in close proximity to strangers for example, and so rush-hour public transport is completely out of the question for these people. They need to use their cars, as do many other disabled folks.

Bus lanes treat all motorists the same. They are an inflexible and unfair tax on motorists. I have a friend who was fined for using a bus lane on Christmas day this year on her way to church…a day when there are not even any buses running! There needs to be a much more flexible approach to traffic management in our country. And one which is not seen just as another revenue-raising unfair tax at that…

This morning, as a part of our Eucharist service, we celebrated Nigeria Day with the substantial part of St Mary’s Cathedral congregation who are from or of Nigerian origin. We had drumming and singing in Nigerian languages, and the sermon was all about the gospel reading from St Mark about welcoming people who are different. A wonderful sentiment and very fitting for our very cosmopolitan congregation which contains people from every continent I think. This of course, includes our clergy team, which contains members from as far afield as the USA, Scotland, Nigeria, and even Englandshire.

But perhaps the gospel message of love, welcome and acceptance doesn’t extend that far really. Do we really embrace different peoples and culture? Do we embrace people with disability and a different sexual orientation? Or are we content to stay cocooned in our own safe little worlds, refusing to do little more than accept difference in name only? Just scratching the surface instead of truly living what we proclaim over the dinner table or in the coffee shops?

So, my best wishes to all my Nigerian friends at St Mary’s on their National day. It’s just a pity being Gay or Lesbian is still a crime in your country as well as some sixty plus others across the world, the majority of them supposedly Christian. But then again, perhaps opinion in these countries varies and is by no means universally homophobic. It was lovely to see the Ugandan Bishop Christopher Senjonyo receive an award from former president Bill Clinton recently for his work with LGBT groups in his home country, one of the 76 group of nations.

Lets hope and pray that this number reduces year by year until, God willing, it becomes just a memory.

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To anyone in this city who would like to worship with us this week rather than worship in their own church for one Sunday then the message is clear. Everyone is welcome at St Mary’s. We don’t preach hatred. We don’t preach or teach bigotry. We stand up for the simple love of God.

So says the Very Revd. Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral Glasgow, extending an invitation to all faiths and non to share our true Christian worship this Sunday, a day which the cruel cardinals and bigot bishops of the Scottish Roman Catholic Church have declared to be ‘National Marriage Sunday’.

So if you need a refuge from your usual church for a week, not wanting to hear the letter of intolerance and inequality read out by your priest from your pulpit, then why not join with us this week. Who knows…you might like us so much you stay:-)

Yesterday was Pride. A wonderful gathering in Kelvingrove park, a march through the West End,  City Centre, and finishing with a festival on George square. Positive reactions all the way, nothing negative at all except perhaps the Rainbow Flag wasn’t flying from the City Chambers this year). I chaired Pride Scotland back in 2001/2002 and so i know what a huge chunk of your life it takes to organise such an event. This year of course, one of the main focuses was on Equal marriage and as Ruth and I had done our bit earlier in the week we were able to take a bit of a back seat and just march, chat, wander about and generally enjoy the event. I bumped into several ex-pupils from my old school, Cathkin High and it was great to hear their stories, and even greater to hear how me being an out, openly gay teacher had made their own lives just that little bit easier. Maybe my time as a teacher at Cathkin wasn’t all wasted then! Anyway, it made me think back to when I was coming to terms with my own sexuality in the mid to late 70′s. Things were very different then if you were LGBT. You’d never have admitted it at school, thats for sure. It really was a different world back then and looking around George Square yesterday at all the young people, teenagers, even those in their twenties, I reflected on just how they were taking it all for granted; the freedom to be just who they are without fear of violence from peers, colleagues and especially, the police (who had their Strathclyde lesbian and Gay association officers out proudly marching in the parade in big numbers this year). I know we still have a long way to go on homophobic bullying in schools, as Stonewall Scotland pointed out earlier this week, but we’ve come a long way since I was a kid. As was brought home to me when I watched this video from back then…

I went to a special press screening of the new Harry Potter film yesterday. It’s not out on general release until tomorrow, so I guess i was quite lucky to get a sneak preview. The experience was enhanced by seeing parts of the film in 3-D, courtesy of the Glasgow IMAX cinema at Glasgow’s Science centre. They really pushed the boat out for this screening with special interactive displays, exhibits, and wonderful potions and food on offer whilst we waited for the film to start…..

Harry Potter 002

I think it’s the best film adaptation of these books so far. The human aspects and relationships really come to the fore as the magic moves into a supporting role and the characters really start to develop their complexities. It could almost be subtitled “Wizards on Hormones” I think. Anyway, if you’re thinking of going have a read of this review. It sets the tone without giving too much of the game away.

http://mediaeyefilm.tripod.com/id117.html

51tszm8qvzl__sl500_aa240_They are filming an episode of Taggart in my street at the moment. Loads of bright lights turning the dusky Glasgow night into day, loads of noise and disruption, and only a day’s notice asking folk not to park their cars by their houses so that the precious actors and film crew are not inconvenienced by having to walk through the plebs to get to where they are filming. Considering the prime purpose of this exercise is to make money for the television company I’m astounded at the absolute disregard for the potential disruption to the area and residents. Not everybody is interested or curious about the making of a third rate and dated (in my opinion anyway) television programme with actors so wooden they make crossroads look like a Royal Shakespeare Company production. This programme is one which trades on its Glasgow conections. If it’s to muster a shred of credibility I think the producers need to consider a little more carefully the feelings of the punters who pay the money to buy the advertisers products which provide the money for STV to allow these folk to make their trash TV.

Will I be watching the filming from my window ? well, I’ve got to wash my hair…and I’ve S5 reports to write, and getting my head around GLOW learn, SERA etc etc yada yada….


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