Day 3 of NaBloPoMo and it would not do to fall at such an early hurdle. As I said yesterday, part of the thinking behind doing the month was to get used to posting and work out what I should be doing with my blog. So, with that in mind, I thought perhaps I should start by explaining my perspective. It is true that we are all products of our upbringings and backgrounds, and I thought it might help if I explained mine to give some sense of my perspective. I do think this is especially important as a context for my sermons. Of course, what this is not is an excuse or a mitigation for any of my views. I make no apology for who I am.
Firstly, my life in brief. I was born in 1986 in Hammersmith, and lived in Ealing with my parents until 1990 (and my sister, after 1987). We moved then to Penn, a village between Beaconsfield and High Wycombe in South Bucks and I went to the local primary school. After that, since Bucks retains its grammar schools, I took the 11+ and went to a girls' high school for seven years. School was a bit tough, admittedly, I was bullied in primary school and that impacted on my experience of secondary school, but I have always loved learning and keeping busy so I filled my life with extra-curricular activities (extra Latin lessons, Greek club, orchestras, choirs, tutoring younger girls and running debating society) and mostly kept on top of things. I feel with hindsight that my schools were much more conservative than my family tend to be, and that this could have been one of the reasons I tended to struggle socially.
University was brilliant. I arrived in 2004 and immediately became involved in the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans) Society, which I ran for two years. I loved that, and have met some of my dearest friends through the LGBT socials. From there, I got involved in the students' union council, then the executive and after my degree I was the sabbatical officer for welfare. Student politics was invigorating and frustrating, but I loved being able to offer support from people, being involved in decisions that could make students' lives easier, and working with such a great group of people.
Academically, my degree was in Archaeology, Classics and Classical Art. I loved it and although I haven't worked as a professional archaeologist I still spend a lot of time keeping up-to-date with the discipline - particularly the archaeology of London and the Roman Empire. I wrote my dissertation on writing in Roman Britain because I'm particularly interested in social theory and the archaeology of everyday life.
The focus of my life these days is God. I became a Christian at the age of 15, still at high school, although I had been to various churches with friends when I was smaller and I went with my family when we lived in Ealing. I struggled for years to reconcile my sexuality with my spiritual life. I never felt called to celibacy, and I struggled with the fact that whilst my church seemed happy to accept that some teachings were irrelevant out of context (such as the teachings of St. Paul on hair and head coverings), others were not. I felt as though the teachings were targeting gay people almost as a scapegoat. To a certain extent, I still do. I do not (and I can't emphasise this enough) believe it was a conscious decision but I think it's a deep fear of the other that is still prevalent in many churches.
It was such a joy to me to find the Metropolitan Community Church of North London (part of the United Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches). To realise that LGBT people can be celebrated - not just tolerated - and that this does not mean disregarding the Bible, ignoring the problem of sin or refusing to talk about sex. In fact, the church is full of brilliant people whose paths to acceptance of their sexuality has been one of deep soul-searching and a lot of praying. We are a diverse people, and I love that. I've never felt so at home anywhere. I am just beginning the long process of ordination training in MCC, because I believe I'm called to be a part of that blessing, and that is a joy to me.
As for now, I'm working for a chain of bookstores. I love selling books and meeting people, I'm thoroughly enjoying my work and learning new things every day.
So that's my perspective. I'm a southern British, degree-educated Christian. My background in student politics and LGBT rights means I have a strong sense of social justice, and this is also a key part of my faith. How's that for a whistle-stop tour of my mind?