Monday, January 11, 2016
Bowie Before Bishops
There has been much scuttlebutt on various blogs and Facebook postings over the weekend about the impending, and expected, walk out of African Anglican bishops at a meeting that started today with the Archbishop of Canterbury. As always, the huffing and puffing is over the presence of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in Canada at this meeting because those two churches have allowed the likes of me to be full participants and have even embraced us by allowing some of our kind into the Episcopate Clubhouse.
Yes, from my tone, you can see that I am weary of this debate, and this continued demand that our church be punished. They tried to exercise their muscle through Archbishop Rowan Williams and the ill-fated Anglican Covenant (search this blog for commentary on that). It didn't work. Now the titular leaders of churches in Nigeria, Uganda, Sudan and South Sudan, Congo...just to name a few...are threatening that they will leave this gathering of all the Anglican Communion leaders prematurely, and shake the dust off their feet as they leave. Because it's more important to raise a stink about human sexuality in North America than to face the growing problems of civil war, intra-and-interreligious fighting and poverty that afflict their own people.
And just as everyone was ready to get their eyes affixed on this Anglican affair, the news that shook so many more people to the core shot 'round the globe this morning: David Bowie, a legend of English rock 'n roll and an original gender bender, died of cancer at age 69. Most people, and I include myself here, had no idea that Bowie was sick, and given that we were told he lost a courageous "18-month battle" with cancer, he and his publicist did an excellent job of keeping his illness under wraps.
In the greater scheme of all things in life, if I had to choose the more important story emerging out of England today, I would pick David Bowie's passing. For so many of us, who were young or younger in the 1970s and 1980s, Bowie's music was the soundtrack of our lives, particularly for those of us who were...as they say..."different." I was one of those kids who, when I listened to music on the radio, was tuning into the stations that didn't play all the usual pop songs, and definitely didn't bother with the heavy metal bands who all seemed like a whole lot of flash and noise to me but not artists and rockers the way Bowie was, or Brian Eno or Talking Heads. Bowie was sexually ambiguous and changed his look to be whatever he wanted...whether it was in loud outfits and make up or an ascot. He was beautiful and handsome and talented.
Probably the best tribute I've read today comes from the Mad Priest of Saint Laika's and "Of Course I Could Be Wrong." He captured the wonderful irony of Bowie's death bouncing the bishops off the front page:
Those who know the true God will not be surprised at the irony of Bowie's death occurring on the same day a bunch of so-called Christian bishops got together to argue about which people can love which people. Bowie, who was theatrically bisexual but basically straight, had worked out that being puritanical about gender was not only illogical but also very boring even before being gay was decriminalised in Britain. Not only that, he made it virtually impossible for a whole generation of music fans to ever understand why anyone would regard minority expressions of gender identity as being out of the ordinary let alone a bad thing, myself included. Glam is often dismissed as an embarrassing aberration in the history of rock and roll and it has to be admitted that a bunch of skinheads like Slade having to doll themselves up as the world's least convincing transvestites because that was the in thing to do at the time, was a wee bit pathetic. However, glam, coming just a couple of years after gay sex was legalised, was as much a reflection of the cultural zeitgeist as punk was to be four years later and I do not think you can underestimate the effect that it had on British attitudes towards the LGBT community. The Brits have always loved their drag queens and glam made sexual ambiguity even more mainstream. Glam was revolutionary and David Bowie was the most glamorous of them all. He is a major reason why the bigoted, self-hating hierarchy of the Church of England has not been able to convince the English public to embrace the homophobia that remains the church's official policy. Heck, they haven't even managed to convince the majority of their own church members. So, yes, David Bowie is more relevant and more important, bigger to the man in the British street than the fake Jesus of a sham church that proclaims "God is love" whilst preaching hatred.
Well-said! God is love and gave a whole lot of love to the odd people who were able to dance, dress up, and rock out because of the gift of music made by an amazing performer named David Bowie. Ascend to be with the saints, Major Tom. Ground control has called you home.