Wednesday, December 05, 2012

going grey

This week's twitter furore around the Bristol Uni CU issue has been interesting to follow... if a little predictable.

I don't want to get into it, but what I'm about to write needs a some background so...

For some reason this week a long-held policy at Bristol CU regarding whether or not women should be allowed to speak has become national news. There has been wide range of comment around this, from the wild angry accusations, to simple statements of position and fact. UCCF released their statement this afternoon.

There will be many blogs and articles which get into the theology and detail of the issues and I'm confident that they'll do the issue in question far better justice than I could. So I'm not going to try. If that's what you're after then  Jenny Baker's blog for the Sophia Network is a good place to start.

My thought is this.

It's 14 years since I went to university. So a while ago, but not so long that I can't remember some of what it was like.

Our CU was small and we got involved fairly quickly. I was VP for a year and President for the year following that. I remember many hours of discussion around issues including the question of what women could do (although the fact that I was president, and female, should give you some clue as to the position of our particular group on that one!)

What I remember, is that during the student years, life is black and white. Things are right or they are wrong, and everything can be filed on one side of the fence or the other, sometimes with some discussion, but always resulting in a decision. It's that easy. Circumstances come up that challenge those decisions, but there's very little grey area to leave things in. Memories of many late nights discussing/arguing the issues confirm this. I'm sure at times this meant that we were hideously ungracious, unforgiving or arrogant. Naively unaware of it all too.

I didn't learn to live in the grey areas until later. My student self would probably say I've become a fluffy liberal. But then there's a few things I'd like to say to my student self too. Since uni I have learnt... and am still learning that many issues remain firmly in the grey. Even those that do have clear black and white distinctives are areas where I'm likely either to be wrong or to find others who see the same situation completely the other way. And these "clear" right/wrong situations are all very well in theory, on paper, as hypotheticals. But the reality of life just isn't that simple. We live in the grey. It's a much easier place in which to love and be loved.

So when it comes to the Bristol CU incident, please let's have some grace and patience for them. For one thing, the whole situation makes me eternally grateful that I'm old enough that twitter and facebook simply didn't exist when I was a student. There'd have been many more "national news whirlwinds" just like this one. Let's pray that the reality of their situation isn't quite what the media are misrepresenting, and that through this (and other) exploration of what seems a black and white situation, individuals will take one step closer to life in the grey.


  1. Not having TV or reading news websites or newspapers, I was unaware of all this, but I think this is really well written and you put it well!

  2. Oh how interesting - like Kezzie, I'm out of the loop here in France (the French, sexist as they are in many ways, would be bemused by this one...) and it was intriguing to hear that this old chestnut is still a big issue. I do so agree with what you write - if my student (and 20s) self could see myself now, I would probably think I had become a terrible wooly liberal. But God has taught me so much that I can't go back to the hardline 'you're either in or you're out' thinking of my younger days...



Sometimes I do go on...