Saturday, 22 May 2010

Peter Gomes, Out Theologian

b. May 22, 1942
There can be no light without the darkness out of which it shines.

Peter Gomes offers a look at religion from a distinctive perspective. Gomes, a Reverend and Professor at Harvard University, argues that the Bible is neither anti-Semitic, anti-feminist nor anti-gay.
In 1991, Peninsula, a conservative Harvard magazine, published a 56-page issue largely critical of homosexuality. Gomes denounced the magazine and came out publicly at Harvard's Memorial Church. A small group called Concerned Christians at Harvard immediately called for his resignation, but Gomes received support from the Harvard administration.
Renowned for both his teaching and his preaching, Reverend Gomes is the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals at Harvard and the Pusey Minister at Harvard's Memorial Church. A graduate of Bates College in 1965 and Harvard Divinity School in 1968, he also studied at the University of Cambridge, where he is an Honorary Fellow and where the Gomes Lectureship was established in his honor. Gomes holds thirty-three honorary degrees. Religion and American Life named him Clergy of the Year in 1998, and he won the Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Award from Harvard in 2001. Gomes offered prayers at the inaugurations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
Gomes is a widely published author. Of the ten volumes of sermons and numerous articles and papers he has written, two of his works - "The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart" (1996) and Sermons: "Biblical Wisdom for Daily Living" (1998) - were New York Times and national bestsellers.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Alcuin of Tours

"Raban Maur (left), supported by Alcuin (middle), dedicates his work to Archbishop Otgar of Mainz (Right); Carolingian Manuscript"

Alcuin was an Englishman who, after a period as monk and teacher at the great cathedral of York, served at the court of Charlemagne, whom he had met while returning from a visit to Rome. The Emperor recruited him to his court specifically because he recognised in him the potential to achieve a renaissance of learning and church reform. Note that the widely reproduced picture of him above, as well as another extant painting, shows him presenting books of learning.

We usually think of the "renaissance", as a rediscovery of classical thought, as dating from several centuries later, but in many respects he was an early precursor.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Gay Bishops: How Many?

Bishop Mary Glasspool
Bishop Mary Glasspool has now been consecrated as a bishop in the diocese of Los Angeles, making her the second openly gay bishop in the Episcopal church. (There could soon be another Episcopal gay bishop. Rev Michael Barlowe is one of four candidates for a vacancy in Utah). Some sources are describing her as the second gay bishop  in history" - but that would be pushing it, and is breathtaking in its cultural myopia.  So, for context and a refresher once again of how deeply homoerotic relationships have been embedded in the Christian church, I offer some reminders.

Lesbian Bishop Eva Brunne GETTY

Mary Glasspool is the first openly lesbian bishop in the Episcopal church, but not the first globally: that would be Bishop  Eva Brunne, consecrated by the Swedish Lutherans last year.

Bishop Gene Robinson was the first modern bishop in the Anglican communion to be consecrated while openly gay, but there have been others before him who came out openly after being named bishop - for example, Otis Charles, also of Utah, Derek Rawcliffe of Glasgow and Galloway in the Scottish Episcopalian church, and Mervyn Castle of False Bay (part of the Archdiocese of Cape Town in the Anglican, "Church of the Province of South Africa").