Giles Fraser wrote a column recently in which he reflected on meeting a bishop whom he had "just taken a pop at" in a previous column. He found that he liked the man. He writes:
Struggling to work out what was different, I half-remembered a wonderful Thought for the Day given by Dr Rowan Williams some years back. He spoke of the sort of violence that is possible from “someone who’s got to the point where they can only see from a distance: the sort of distance from which you can’t see a face, meet the eyes of someone, hear who they are, imagine who and what they love. All violence works with that sort of distance; it depends on not seeing certain things.”
Now what I was doing wasn’t violence, of course. Still, there is a certain sort of journalism that is only possible to write from a distance. And that sort of writing has surely been at the heart of the deeply destructive culture-wars that have engulfed the Church over the past few years. That was what was wrong with my first column. Perhaps that was what was also wrong with Archdeacon Allister’s use of “satanic”.
I am a fan of Giles', and of maintaining some level of civility in the Anglican debates, but I am also a fan of naming bad behavior, so I added this comment over at Thinking Anglicans:
I want to have a go at my friend Giles here. Living in Washington I observe a dynamic that is precisely the opposite of what he describes here. The talking heads who excoriated one another on television go out to dinner together afterwards. How nice for them that they get along. But who is served by this comity? Not the people they represent. Same holds true in church fights. The fact that I got along well with David Virtue at our General Convention came as a pleasant surprise, and made those two weeks pass more easily, but it didn't help any of the folks I am sometimes asked to speak for achieve their goals. No one who is excluded has been included because he and I thought about having a drink together. I say all of this because as Rowan Williams and others attempt to focus attention on the character of the debate on LGBT issues rather than on the injustice that gives rise to the debate, we move toward a point at which calling someone a bigot is considered a greater sin than bigotry.
To which Martin Reynolds added:
Giles’ story reminds me why I became an Anglican, the sheer diversity of opinion was its crowning glory – though I do not remember the “bonds of affection” were ever a visible characteristic, rather a deeply frosty acceptance of the others existence hardly verging on tolerance. No, what characterised the relationship between Fr Dan Sonderier and The Revd Mr Ian M Northend was the certainty the other was barely Christian and leading their flocks into Hells of varying temperatures.
But I have more than a modicum of sympathy for Jim’s position – in fact I would say that I have moved somewhat further than he.
Many of those I called friend – I will not even acknowledge these days. I shun them.
In my heart and mind I can reason why they are where they are, say what they say and do what they do – and my love for them has never changed. But now what they say, do or represent threatens not just me, but my whole family. This deserves an appropriate response – a response that acknowledges that truth and does not overwhelm it with – “well, he’s a decent chap really.” A response that tells THEM how important my family is and how I am unwilling to see them damaged or sacrificed to any deeper purpose they think they may have. Of course Giles is not in my position.
Indeed I think the promulgation of the evil and foully misnamed doctrine of “gracious restraint” means it is time not only to I shun them but it is time to discomfort them – and to discomfort sharply – so I am now game for sitting on a strategic bishop’s roof or throwing a little bag of pink poster paint at a processing mitre or two any suggestions would be welcome.
And Christopher (Evans, perhaps?) said:
The problem Jim speaks of is one of the personal and the public. With the ABC, his personal has been used time and again to set aside his use of words that others take as permission for contempt toward lgbt persons. This disconnect of personal and public, or as the ABC puts it, personal and ecclesial won't do. And to argue for the disconnect means to argue for it fully. I don't give a rats fig how nice the ABC is in the personal if he continues to use words in the public light that allow for dehumanization and contempt shown toward my person, relationship, and partner. I don't care whether or not he likes me personally. I care that I am treated with equity.
Either personal and public cohere or they do not, but this playing the middle of see how nice I am so keep with me while speaking unkind words to the press and church public gatherings must stop: "the gay bishop", "chosen lifestyle" "sacrificial" "conversion". +Robinson rebuked him for this sort of thing in New Orleans, but he has continued with it. Many of the ABC's words allow for abstracting us into something less than three-dimensional persons. I am more than a sacrificial love and so is my life with my partner. Again, he cannot seem to get past reducing us to pith.