I normally get a bit infuriated by Giles Fraser, intellectual Vicar of Putney and excellent writer for the Guardian, Church Times etc. But his piece on Gene Robinson, the way he handled protest when he preached last Sunday in Putney, and reactions around and about, is not infuriating. First, let me who disagrees with Gene Robinson's theological outlook, commend his character, and his love for Jesus. Secondly, let us all be ashamed of being part of a church which has spawned the disgusting protests which Giles and Gene (and Rowan) are subject to. There is nothing gracious about excrement in the post. It is ungodly to vituperatively spew verbal insults.
That said, let me pick up on something Giles Fraser reports on, rather than something he pronounces on; namely, the supportive reactions of the people of Putney to Giles and to Gene. Conservative Anglicans need to reckon with the sheer strength of a liberal disposition among ordinary people. If we won the Communion battle would we lose the war of winning hearts and minds of a Western world largely lost to God?
I am NOT talking here about adjusting the gospel to fit with a culture alien to it. I am talking about adjusting our contempt of liberal Anglicans: maybe they are a bridge into liberal Western society we cannot afford to lose?
And, perhaps, the divide in our society between liberals and conservatives is a deeper cultural construct than we are willing to face. Is the conservative gospel constructed more as a reaction to liberal theology than as a force to challenge liberal culture? The former being easier to take on than the latter ...
We may not agree with, indeed we may be angry with the theology of Giles and Gene. But why do they have such a good response from secular society? Are we stupid or just superficial when we put that down to secular hearts infected with sin, rather than digging deeper to understand what makes people tick - what moves them to be tolerant of this and intolerant of that?
Do we desparately need to see a bigger picture - to see beyond the centre to the horizon? If we stand on one edge, do we need to refind the centre, and the horizon beyond it? Could the Communion be lost in the next few weeks because we are small-minded?