Little Black Olive) and am looking forward to a pleasant evening of pizza and DVD with friends. Yet despite all this I've suddenly been hit by a "stop the world I want to get off" feeling...!
No one reason - just that browsing through some blogs at lunchtime, I began to feel that I was surrounded by madness (please don't anyone point out that mad people always think it's everyone else that's mad...). Firstly I found out that John Bercow's peculiar kaleidoscope remark to the Queen had a specific meaning which, in my naivety, I was unaware of; I realised that he was referring to the "inclusivity" of the modern world including towards LGBT people, but hadn't known that he was being cheeky enough to use a very inappropriate context to plug a specific organisation. Fr Tim Finnigan enlightened me on his blog. I was not at all cheered to read in the same post that our Prime Minister has endorsed the organisation in question (The Kaleidoscope Trust, official charity partner of World Pride 2012) with the words, "Our country has made real progress on LGBT equality and, without forgetting how far we've still got to go domestically, it is right that we should now increasingly turn our attention towards bringing about change abroad."
Perhaps at this point I should pause and say that of course discrimination against and any form of cruelty towards gay people is quite wrong, as it is towards anybody. Being gay is not a sin. It is the active promotion of gay sexual relationships and "marriage" that I am talking about here.
Fr Ray Blake's blog; he mentions two or three issues in connection with what he calls "That Issue, again", but what most interested me was a link he provided to a story in the Telegraph which details various changes that are going to be made to official forms such as those for immigration and benefits, replacing "husband and wife" with "spouses and partners". The Telegraph claims, "It emerged yesterday that the overhaul could cost up to 4.5 million, including 2 million to adapt IT systems at the Home Office, which oversees the General Register Office.The Department of Work and Pensions is also expected to spend 1 million changing IT systems to accommodate same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, existing stocks of divorce petitions will have to be pulped and reprinted to allow for the change." No, not a waste of staff time, money or resources at all - what better things do we have to spend them on?
Finally, Joanna Bogle writes about "Hate Mail on the Internet", remarking that "a campaigning group for the homosexual lobby" has posted "vicious anti-Catholic comments" which included an announcement that "the Catholic Emancipation Act should not have been allowed". She says that "one of the more mild comments describes the Church as 'an international criminal organisation committed to the grossest of immoralities, bigotries and nastiness. It should be closed down and prosecuted.' "
Is this madness really what the majority of people think, feel and want? Or is there a vocal minority who have managed to make so much noise that they have got their own way? In either case - whether this is the view of the majority or a very motivated minority - why is vitriol and abuse necessary to make their case? Why do we have to respect the rights of LGBT people to redefine marriage and at the same time allow the Catholic Church to be unfairly defamed? I say, and I believe, "unfairly" - because corruption exists wherever there is a human institution (that is NOT to defend the actions of some clergy and religious in the past, which were indeed appalling) and the good the Church has done over centuries is rarely alluded to. Only those facts about the Church which can be used against its credibility are cherry-picked to be broadcast.
I didn't quite intend to go on so long about all these negatives!... because, of course, my instinct to stop the world and get off is quite wrong. Christ did exactly the opposite; he got on to the world and loved it, loved it to the bitter end. As Christians, this is our calling too. If God could cope with being bitterly rejected and injured by His own children, we can cope with hanging on in there and continuing to make our voices heard, in the hope that perhaps some people will stop and think again about these issues. Stopping and thinking can be a challenging thing to do, when all the loudest voices around you - including that of the institutional government - are urging you to accept a certain view of equality and justice that has little or nothing to do with the truth about human nature and happiness. If we do not offer an alternative view, what hope is there?
"How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?" (Romans 10:14)