Government departments and their ministers, reshuffled
We’re in a recession heading for a depression, and George Osborne is Chancellor of the Exchequer. Osborne believes that the right thing to do when the economy is failing is to cut government spending and to make large numbers of people unemployed. Even economists who thought this theoretically might work realise it’s long since proved to be not working (Martin Wolf of the Financial Times was recommending in May that the government announce a change of plan): Nobel Prize winning economists Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz, turn out – strangely enough – to know more about the economy than a man whose main qualification for being Chancellor is that he was in the Bullingdon Club with David Cameron.
Yet Osborne is set to continue cutting till May 2015. And short of revolution, we can’t get rid of him.
This blog is about love, fried chicken, incest, the Benedictine order, Saint Aelred, marriage, and the Bishop of Aberdeen. Not necessarily in that order.
The Bishop of Aberdeen, Hugh Gilbert, entered Pluscarden Abbey at Moray in 1974 and was ordained a priest in 1979: he became Abbot of Pluscarden in 1992 and is celebrated for his support of Latin liturgy:
wonderful to see that … Aberdeen will soon have a pastor known for his understanding of liturgy and the “reform of the reform” currently sweeping through the Universal Church. The Divine Office and the Mass are both sung in Latin (using Gregorian chant) at Pluscarden, and devotees of the Extraordinary Form and traditional Catholicism have always been made to feel welcome there.
Gilbert left the monastery to be ordained Bishop of Aberdeen on Monday 15th August 2011.
“The rule of St Benedict says ‘prefer nothing to the love of Christ,’” he said. “I would like to think I take a firm sense of that with me, a sense of Christ and a certainty of Christ.”
On Friday 2nd September 2011, less than three weeks after Gilbert became Bishop of Aberdeen, the Scottish government launched their consultation on gay marriage. Monica Baldwin wrote a book about her experience of entering the secular world, I Leap Over The Wall: A Return to the World after Twenty-eight Years in a Convent – she entered her convent in 1914, a few months before WWI, and came out in 1941. In 1974, when Hugh Gilbert entered his monastery, the first international conference on gay rights was held in Edinburgh: sex between men was still illegal in Scotland, and had barely been decriminalised in England and Wales.
I was having tapas yesterday with a gay and religious friend – he and his partner said vows together in church many years ago – and he said, perhaps thinking about the Archbishop of York’s comments – that he thought this whole “equal marriage” campaign was a mistake – it was just provocative, and there was no need for it.
John Sentamu said:
“Up to now, the only reason I have been given for a desire to redefine marriage to embrace same-sex relationships is that it meets an emotional need of some same-sex couples (only some, as I have forcefully been led to believe some reject the concept of marriage altogether).
In Scotland the consultation on equal marriage is closed and we can expect the report around April, which is just about when in England and Wales, the consultation on equal marriage is to be launched. In England and Wales, David Cameron has restricted the terms strictly to secular marriage: same-sex couples will still be banned from being legally wed in church.
This has not stopped the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, from speaking his mind on gay marriage (he’s against it).
On 4th December the Guardian published a kind of checklist I wrote on what we can expect from the anti-gay marriage brigade. Let’s see how Sentamu matches up against it.
“Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman,” says Dr Sentamu. “I don’t think it is the role of the state to define what marriage is. It is set in tradition and history and you can’t just [change it] overnight, no matter how powerful you are.”
Allowing same-sex couples to marry redefines marriage. The ba’s on the slates, the penguins are out on parade, the definition of marriage is already changed. Scotland for Marriage means marriage as a privilege from which some groups are barred – just as Focus on the Family means some families aren’t included. It’s as if they think there isn’t enough marriage or family to go around.
In England, in the 18th century and earlier, someone who stole goods valued at more than a shilling could be hanged or transported for life. A person who brought an indentured servant to England was entitled to pay them badly and feed them cheaply, to set strict restrictions on where they could go outside working hours, and indeed to ensure that they worked every hour they reasonably could; and of course, to beat them, providing they used a stick no thicker than their thumb. Actually killing your indentured servant was a crime, but treating your servant with hideous inhumanity was perfectly legal, even if they then died of it.
Times have of course changed. Now a person who steals goods worth less than £2000 can only be sentenced to a maximum of 6 months imprisonment. And a person who brings an indentured servant from Tanzania to work for her, will also be sentenced to 6 months in prison and will have to pay her former servant, abused for six months, a lump sum equivalent to the amount she would have had to pay someone to work for her for three and a half months, assuming a 40-hour week and minimum wage. We are a much more civilised society now than we once were.
Aren’t we? Continue reading