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Hallo again to all.

The Church of England continues to wrangle about clergy sex and sexuality, and we continue to believe that the endless wrangling is not international news and thus do not report it in our News Centre. We can talk about it here on our front page, though. This week's most widely-discussed salvo is the second republishing of Dr Jeffrey John's 1993 book about same-sex marriage (the publisher's press release is here).

This week we attended a small church far from home. Our business travels often take us to faraway places, and we try to be on the ground on Sunday so we can attend a local church. Thus it is common for us to attend a church far from home and not uncommon for it to be a small church. This church had (gasp) a woman priest and a woman deacon.

Oral RobertsBoth of the airplanes that teamed up to bring us here had women pilots. The last two churches that we attended had women priests presiding and preaching. The diocese whose air we are breathing as we write these words had a (secretly) gay bishop in 1975 and an (overtly) female bishop in 2005. The airplanes did not crash or even wobble, the churches were not struck by lightning when the women preached or administered the sacrament, and the gay former bishop served for 18 years without his sexuality interfering with his episcopate or his flock.*

When leaving a battleground it seems prudent to check oneself for shrapnel wounds or other non-combatant injury. Despite having received the sacrament from women and from priests ordained by women, and having flown on airplanes piloted by women, we seem to have escaped this latest battleground without damage. But in the process of executing that damage assessment, we stumbled across a notion that seems deeper, or if not deeper then at least worth mentioning.

A few months ago we heard a woman preacher whose delivery we found so extraordinary that we wrote about her. There have been others. As we reflect on the preaching we've heard this year and especially on the preaching by women, we've come to the conclusion that they might even be different. We think that in general the women have somehow put less of their own ego into their delivery, encouraging you to focus on their message and not them. Perhaps it is more difficult to channel the Holy Spirit through a cloud of testosterone? We don't know, but often when we're done listening to a woman preach we have a stronger sense of the message than we do of the person who delivered that message.

Don't get us wrong: we're not saying that men can't deliver a sermon without focusing on themselves. Many do. Nor are we saying that women don't have big egos. The large-egoed women of our acquaintance just haven't in general been drawn to the priesthood. We're saying that in reflecting on a completely unscientific sample, taken more or less by accident, we noticed this trend. If our flight home tomorrow is destroyed by lightning you are permitted to conclude that God disagrees with our observations.

See you next week.

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19 August 2012

*The secrecy seems to have been hard on his wife and daughters, though.

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