This week brought a public meeting with m’learned friend Malcolm Duncan from Gold Hill Baptist Church for a public conversation with 280 people listening in. I welcome same-sex marriage in a way he can't, but we both enjoyed talking and agreed it was a helpful thing to do. We hoped that people might value listening in to a conversation that didn't pretend, piddle about or otherwise minimise the sharpness of our differences, but which also, people told us, conveyed our respect for each other as fellow ministers, with the Kingdom high on our hearts.
Then, out of the blue, came the Pilling Report — a discussion document. Recent speculative flurries about what might be in it shows how profoundly wise it was simply to publish it. That way everyone, including the bishops, can have better information to go on when they discuss it.
I have been asked by various people, however, for some resources to inform, enrich and enlarge intelligent conversations on this subject. Such conversations carry their own risks. It can exacerbate the problem when straight twosomes talk, even well-meaningly, about gay people rather than with them. I also realise how weird it seems to the majority of people younger than me who have sorted this subject and moved on that we are still talking about it at all. They feel as though they had strayed into a Saudi discussion of whether women should be allowed to drive.
That said, I am trying to help us do what Pilling bids us do. With my two health warnings, out of several thousand possibilities, I commend a few books that provide intelligent ways into various aspects of the matter — I don't agree 100% with all or any of them, but they have worthwhile information about different dimensions of discussions based...