HEAR ye, hear ye! Let it be known far and wide. There shall be no same-sex marriage in the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas. So it was declared at their recently Connexional Conference held in Montego Bay. The Church has spoken. The decision is non-negotiable. No minister of their faith will perform any same-gender rituals.
Same-sex marriages are the topic of the day in the USA from which we take our directions — not that anyone asks us to. It is just that we like controversy, which has become our way of life. It should be noted that even in the land of civil liberty, no one can force a church to do what is against its beliefs. The Methodists have spoken in full confidence in the strength of their decisions. Will other denominations follow? It remains to be seen.
There will be other questions to answer. What about tourism? The response: What about it? Ask again: Suppose any of them want to come here to get married? The answer: It would be a brave marriage officer who would take that on…It would have to be outside the church which has no jurisdiction over them. Marriage officers are not necessarily church personnel. They are licensed by the State, as are ministers of the Church. Questions and more questions lie ahead.
Right now, homosexuality and the attendant lifestyle have become a fixation with some people. What do you think is at the base of all the hullabaloo about free speech and taped mouths? Some have asked why is the Church, of varying denominations, so concerned with the topic when there are other life and death challenges in the community? Isn’t it time we got back to “feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless?” As to the big one, “love thy neighbour”. Is that forgotten because we don’t approve of his lifestyle?
The Methodists expect scrutiny but they are undaunted. A leader to whom I spoke yesterday sees homosexuality as a moral issue which the Church cannot and will not turn away from, whatever some people may think. Some criticism is expected, but whatever it is, the Church says it will not give up.
A politician speaks
Moving right along to other matters. One argument which we will never give up is criticising politicians and letting them know what we think of them. However, not often do we hear them telling us, in return, what they think of themselves. In the recent Budget Debate in Parliament, one member did so but, for whatever reasons, her presentation was ignored by the media. Maybe it was not peppery and controversial enough. It wasn’t promoting dissension. I came across the presentation by Lisa Hanna, minister of youth and culture. ‘Never leave to chance’ is the title of her reflection on politicians and the people. The following is excerpted from the full text. Said she: “I am deeply saddened by the negative perception of politicians, in general, held by so many in this society, and those who decide to give public service. Recently, I cringed as I viewed the music video of Fighter by two of our most popular and admired reggae/dancehall artistes whose music I also personally love and enjoy.
“I saw where a young man was told to go to the office of the ‘dutty politician’ for assistance. I thought how deeply troubling, that these two young artistes, so creative, talented and highly influential, should mirror, validate, and deliver such a negative perception of politicians so creatively and so artistically.
“The accusations of being evil and corrupt are deeply hurtful to the innocent, but I believe that those of us who chose this path should, at all times, be mindful of the tremendous responsibility we bear.
“That each and every one of us seated as members here today should at all times seek to honour the oaths we took when we entered this Honourable House. We are only human, and sometimes we will stumble, and we will fall, but we need to hold the bar of scrutiny very high and, if we agree, when we sounded that trumpet or rang that bell that we did so because we all have the best interest of this nation at heart, then we will not fail or disappoint those we swore to serve. Failure for us is not an option.
“What will this generation, my generation, do to unite and build a Jamaica of which we can all be proud? Perhaps we could be guided in our actions and our conduct by pondering on the poignant lyrics of Fighter (Damian Marley and Cham) as it lays out in gritty detail the lot of Garvey’s ‘suffering people’, whose experience suggests that ‘the system does not favour the common man’.
“However, we will not be able to lead or represent those who are cynical and suspicious of us. I am of the firm view that the best way to change these perceptions and honour our heroes and our oath is to demonstrate by our own deeds and conduct that we, in fact, like the Þghter in Damian Marley’s portrayal, [become] ‘a beacon on the mountain, shining through like the rising sun… the ones who ‘never stop till the work is done’ and not the other juxtaposition.”
In reference to the life of the politician, the minister said:
“We must, each and every one of us, make a commitment, as of today, to be a force of motivation and inspiration to the young people of Jamaica, to ‘never stop till the work done’, and with every fibre of our being — to do everything in our power to remove the degrading, dismissive and disparaging labels ascribed to us as politicians.”
(The foregoing was extensively edited to meet the challenge of space. The full text is to be found on the JIS website).
Duppy or driva?
In case we think we’ve become too sophisticated for duppy story, think again. When the mayor of Port Antonio’s expensive Prado was seen back-backing (reversing, if you insist on linguistic propriety) out of its parking place recently and into the street with no one at the wheel, did bystanders think of hand brake not holding or some other mechanical flaw? The answer came back: “Gweh wid dat, is duppy…A man in white was at the wheel.” Nobody doubted. But what would a duppy (ghost to those out of touch with home-grown folk culture) want with a big-time vehicle? As people would say: “Don’t him done dead a-ready?” Which is why, if reports are to be believed, a madda (a religious leader) came forward to bless the vehicle with holy oil and water. After all, if we have rolling calf, we can have rolling car, don’t?
A: How you run duppy?
B: Don’t ask me. I only live here.
C: No problem. Smile. You’re in Jamaica.