As an openly gay Roman Catholic priest, James Alison lives that question. Yesterday, James was in a televised debate on the British show Versus where he was asked, “Is the Catholic Church redeemable?” He was also asked why, as an openly gay man, he hasn’t left the church. His answer to those questions is found in Christ, whom James calls “the forgiving victim”. In his new course on Christianity, James explains that as a victim of persecution the resurrected Christ returns not to seek vengeance or wail about his misfortune, but in peace and forgiveness in order to transform the world. James is appearing at the Wild Goose Festival this summer to speak about his curriculum, Jesus the Forgiving Victim: Listening for the Unheard Voice and to address how gay and lesbian people can live magnanimously within and for the Church.
Here’s a brief sketch of James’s talks at the Wild Goose Festival:
Undergoing God, undergoing a paradigm shift: introducing Jesus the Forgiving Victim
James Alison will talk about the Introduction to the Christian faith for adults on which he and friends at the Raven Foundation have been working for the last several years, and which is being launched now in text, video and online versions. Following the groundbreaking insights into desire and violence set out by René Girard, the course works cumulatively to allow small groups to be drawn into a richer and deeper knowledge of God and each other. The course offers a fresh take on how we read the Scriptures, how we are reached by Jesus’ self-giving up to death, and how this enables us to reimagine our lives as Church. It makes the space for potential disciples to grow in vulnerability around the Crucified and Risen Christ. As the course advances, participants become sensitized to a richer sense of the impact of the Gospel on their lives and the lives of others around them, allowing the good news of a God in whom there is no violence at all to reveal itself afresh as liveable, prayable and preachable.
You can…if you want to…
Bravery is not shown in making others look cowardly. Bravery changes the world so that the fears of others no longer matter. So, as we move into a phase in the life of the Church where it is clear that, to the horror and confusion of many, gay and lesbian people are beloved children of God as we are, not in spite of, but as gay and lesbian people, how are we to be magnanimous? James Alison will explore how we can do some of the hard work of showing those who are frightened and need re-assurance, that the movement towards the discovery of the full humanity of gay and lesbian people is of the Gospel; is in fact an organic outgrowth of what Christianity is, and always has been, about. If magnanimity is the virtue of winners towards losers, it can be wielded in a superior way. What might be the shape of the magnanimity of those who don’t need to win, but long to help their sisters and brothers be unbound from scandal, given a soft landing, and enabled to enter into a bigger, less frightening world?
We hope you can join the Raven Foundation and James Alison at the Wild Goose Festival in August. See you there!