Anglicans and Gays- latest

The Anglican communion looks like surviving after all the putative break-away conference convened Jerusalem this week, according to the consensus of the British media present. None of the 300 divines attending has actually broken away. In time-honoured Christian fashion, they started to fight among themselves. It seems the African bishops went just a little too far for some in failing to condemn the torture of gays in their own country.. What was really going on was a power play led by the Nigerian Abp Akinola to overthrow the dominant western and “colonialist” tradition and replace it with an African (and indeed a world majority) one.

It seems although he’s taken dog’s abuse, Abp Rowan Williams will survive to host a reduced but still unmistakably Anglican conference at Lambeth Palace next month.

Fierce rows over the profile of gays in society continue to wrack the church at home too. The B of London backed by fellow bishops, has “admonished” (lovely clerical verb, that) one of those priests who just adore controversy and attention, for conducting a service of blessing for a male gay couple. Using the beautiful and sexually explicit words from the old marriage service “with my body I thee worship” – goes too far for the middle -of-the -road establishment and crosses the line that Williams has drawn in the sand.

Abp Williams has emerged ahead on points in this latest round of the continuing struggle for the soul of the Anglican church. He can even wear as a badge of pride the condemnation of Mugabe in one of his last grotesque hustings today, for sneering at him for “supporting gays.”

  • joeCanuck

    From New Scientist 18 June.

    BRAIN scans have provided the most compelling evidence yet that being gay or straight is down to biology rather than choice. Tantalisingly, the scans reveal that in gay people, key structures of the brain governing emotion, mood, anxiety and aggression resemble those in straight people of the opposite sex.

    “This is the most robust measure so far of cerebral differences between homosexual and heterosexual subjects,” says Ivanka Savic, who conducted the study at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

    Previous studies have also shown differences in brain architecture and activity between gay and straight people, but most were based on people’s responses to sexually driven cues that could have been learned, such as rating the attractiveness of male or female faces.

    To get round this, Savic and her colleague, Per Lindström, chose to measure brain features that are probably fixed at birth. “That was the whole point of the study, to show parameters that differ, but which couldn’t be altered by learning or cognitive processes,” says Savic, whose results appear in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0801566105).

  • Rory

    “See these Christians, how they love one another.”

    Is this a literary remembrance of mine or merely a spoiled fanciful dream?

  • Differrent Drummer

    One of your best introductions so far..

    I think the refusal to condem homophobic attacks will have a good outcome why because others will say that something died in those who refused to condem hate and violence directed towards one type of ‘sinner’.

    Even Iris was careful to condem the violence altough she could only offer her snake oil man’s cure as a remedy. Looks like Dr X my soon have an overseas division.

  • Prentice

    BRAIN scans have provided the most compelling evidence yet that being gay or straight is down to biology rather than choice.

    That is what logicians would call a false dichotomy fallacy.

    Is heroin addiction down to biology rather than choice (note that it can also be indicated on a brain scan)? Is running a four minute mile down to biology rather than choice? Is running a marathon down to biology rather choice? Is liking heavy metal down to biology rather than choice? What about brussels sprouts (where an identified gene is known to be involved)? Is being able to speak Chinese down to biology rather than choice?

    The statement “being gay or straight is down to biology rather than choice” is every bit as ludicrous as those in the preceding paragraph.

    The state of play on homosexuality is that the best evidence from identical twins show that it has a low (possibly very low) genetic component (in a modern western environment). Even dubious small twin studies with poor survey techniques (e.g. using ads in gay magazines) have put it only as high as a correlation coefficient of approx 0.5, about the same as that found for schizophrenia, meaning that it still has a very large environmental component even by those studies that are biased toward a genetic result. This is much lower than, for example, for IQ.

    Various environmental correlates have been found for homosexuality, the most significant of which by far is birth order. This means that, despite a genetic explanation being dubious, a pre-birth environmental explanation could well be a runner.

    We know that there are recorded individual cases of gays becoming straight and vice versa, even as measured by such things as the penile plesmographs and polygraphs, including, interestingly, one documented case involving a head injury. Several animal models, from fruit flies to sheep, have also successfully altered homosexual / heterosexual behaviour in various ways, both chemically and behaviourally. That ABSOLUTELY NO gays can be turned straight or vice versa is therefore pretty untenable. It would only require one counterexample to disprove it and we have many, as measured by any method we have to identify orientation.

    A study of the the ethnographic data shows that male homosexual behaviour (and the fewer studies addressing homosexual attraction) varies greatly in prevalence in different cultures and societies, from essentially unknown to universal and even compulsory. The prevalence of homosexual behaviour is therefore almost certainly fairly strongly culturally mediated. This also occurs within subcultures in our own society. It is therefore pretty safe to say that it is possible to reduce or increase the practice of homosexuality, and very likely the relative occurrence of homosexual attraction, through cultural means.

  • joeCanuck

    Take it up with the authors, Prentice.
    And, while you’re at it, would you also claim that the widespread homosexuality in the wider animal community is also culture mediated.
    By reducing homosexuality by cultural means, you wouldn’t mean throwing them in jail, would you?