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Posts by Beth Routledge

LGBT People and the Scottish Episcopal Church

If you do nothing else today, please read what Kelvin has to say about the “Cascade Conversations” which will be taking place next week in the Scottish Episcopal Church. These are part of the same process that I’ve talked about here, and the things he has to say about it are the most important thing you’ll read this week:

Scottish Episcopal Conversations about LGBT Issues.

One More Miracle

Now, there’s one more thing, just one thing, one more miracle, for me.

Don’t. Be. Dead.


That is what we prayed for in those terrible dark hours on Friday, and what we asked for in the strange emptiness of Saturday. In our grief and our heartbreak, we’ve been looking for that miracle. We watched as He died. We saw His broken body. But in the first light of Sunday, we go out to the place where the dead are buried and we hope that He might not be among them.

I asked you to stop being dead.

Stir up in us, O Lord, courage that we might live, compassion that we might love, strength that we might mourn, audacity that we might dare to believe, and joy in the glory of resurrection.

He is risen indeed.


What Do We Live For?

Originally posted on Beauty from Chaos, a reflection for Good Friday.

What Do We Live For?

For peace. For love. For equality. For justice. For freedom. For fairness.

For truths that I hold to be self-evident, but which led to Him being branded a radical and a terrorist. Truths that He refused to betray and for which He was killed.

On This Night

I will walk in the wind
to meet you, Jesus;
to let you wash my feet.
I don’t want to.
I would rather stay here in the warm,
away from your towels and your water
and offers of forgiveness.
For I know what you mean,
what you ask,
what you give.

But I will come,
for I cannot stay here alone,
and I cannot run elsewhere,
for I know that you are waiting,
and I know that only you
can heal me and hold me.

So I will come
with empty hands to your supper,
empty hands and dirty feet.
I will come as your guest
and with water, bread, and wine
you will make me whole
and set me free to serve you.

Ruth Burgess, taken from Eggs and Ashes.

Something’s Coming

Pipes! Drums! The King of Glory! Pipes!

I was as giddy as a schoolgirl during the Palm Sunday procession this morning. The congregation had been promised something special. It was to be not donkey nor unicorn nor panda, not fireworks nor explosions nor the borrowing of the great thurible from Santiago de Compostella (I confess to being somewhat disappointed at the latter), but instead the wonderful wonderful lads from Clanadonia piping and drumming the holy rabble in procession.

This video of the procession was taken by the Provost. I am the one right behind the pipers, going, “AMAZING! AMAZING! THIS IS JUST LIKE MAGIC!”


For the fact of Holy Week is not long-ago legend or glorious myth, but living history and living our story.

As the Lord rode into Jerusalem on his donkey two thousand years ago so did he today enter in glory into all places in all corners of the earth, and in this place, in our city, how else would a holy rabble in Glasgow greet their Messiah but with our music and our joy?

The same rabble that on Thursday…

But no.

We aren’t there yet.

The thing about this week is that one doesn’t ever know quite what will happen. Just like the disciples, we aren’t sure what’s coming. There will be joy, of course, and feasting, oh, yes, for Passover is coming, and then, well, something big, people are uneasy and there are rumblings, but, really, anything might happen. For who is that man and what has he come here to do? A promise is made at St Mary’s Cathedral every year to those who keep the Triduum with us, those who live the experiences of Thursday and Friday and Saturday and Sunday. A promise is made that if you do that, you will never be the same again. I was told that the first year I kept it and truer words have never been spoken.

This is our story. This is our song.

Hosanna to the Son of David.

And now something’s coming.

And whatever that something is, we will never be the same again.

Death Watch

The second of my reflections for Beauty from Chaos, the Lent blog for the Scottish Episcopal Church, has been posted.

Death Watch

It’s a grim time, a difficult time, a time when our vulnerabilities are stripped bare and we have what seems like an uncomfortably long time to meditate and regret and wish that we might have done things differently. Perhaps we feel a bit guilty, as the season stretches on with what seems like no end in sight, for sneaking a look at our watches.

Ah, Patients

Clinic Feedback #1

“Great. So, just remember to make that appointment for six months time before you leave, okay?”

“Yes, thank you so much.” [stops at door, turns back] “Oh, my God, you’re so nice.”


Clinic Feedback #2

“Hello, my name is…”

“Well, you’re not Mr. [Male First Name] [Chinese Surname].”

Adios, Surgery

The cruelest paradox of being a junior doctor is that if you should ever be fortunate enough to get all the way through the day with an air of competence and pleasantness and not-entirely-losing-your-mind-ness, it will be for one of two reasons:

1) It is a sign of the end of the world,


2) It is changeover next Wednesday.

It was recently brought to my attention that this business of chopping and changing jobs like a toddler with ADHD is not the way of the normal world. I made a remark about the night I’d just had in surgical receiving and I was asked what happened to oncology. And there I stood, befuddled and sleep-deprived, explaining that nothing happened, it’s not that I’ve been getting fired or quitting, thank you very much, but this is, and, oh, yes, I know it sounds crazy, the way that medical training is supposed to happen.

It gives you just enough time to get good at your job, and then the rug is snatched from under you and it’s back to, “I can’t find the venflons/gas syringes/arrest trolley/toilets,” and, “Excuse me, Doctor, can you prescribe analgesia?”/”I can; also, not Doctor, just Beth” and, “What do you mean I’m on call for cardiology?”

Honestly: I thought I’d be thrilled to see the back of this job. I am not a surgeon by temperament or by skillset or even by being terribly interested. It was around this time last year that FY2 jobs were chosen, and when I saw that I’d landed myself with another four months of general surgery I made my Not Impressed Face. A whole career of digging through a lot of mush in different shades of pinkish and yellowish with a patient who for the most important part of our interaction is out cold? (For a given and highly controlled value of ‘out cold’ that doesn’t have me reaching for the emergency buzzer.) It’s not my thing.

And that’s all still true.

But surgical receiving?

That, I’ve loved.

I haven’t even minded that my receiving shifts last upwards of 13 hours. It’s gone fast. Mostly. Except at 10am in the middle of the post-take ward round when consultants who haven’t been awake all night start rhapsodizing about the history of the Glasgow Coma Score. (True story.)

The diagnostic challenge, especially when things are a bit weird. The getting results back and being right, or the getting results back and being laughably wrong and then learning something from that. The coming up with my own management plans and having them actually make a difference, even if the only thing on it that actually made a difference was the morphine. The turning into a slow but reasonably proficient sewer. The having of FY1s, which has not quite stopped being strange but has been an education and has made me realize that I am maybe wearing my grown-up pants more than I think. The slightly bug-eyed (on one of them I was heard to declare that there could be no more patients because between the six of us who were in the doctors’ office in A&E we had treated every single person in Glasgow) but genuine camaraderie of receiving nights. The satisfaction of going off to handover secure and only a little bit smug in the knowledge that the decks have been cleared for the incoming team.

7.56am. The nineteenth patient of nineteen seen and sorted out. Boom.

I may or may not have done a little jig in the lift on my way to the ward round, that morning.

I’ve got five more days of being the surgical SHO, but this weekend was my last time in surgical receiving. I felt competent, I felt on top of things, and at no point did I feel that I might be losing my mind (and it was absolutely not that I had an easy weekend by any definition). I took an FY1 and a bloods folder and did a whole evening post-take ward round on my own. I not only knew where to find the toilets, I directed relatives to them! Contrast this to my first day of receiving in December when the registrar appeared to do the evening ward round and found me swearing at my pager, turning in circles on the spot, and thinking that if the apocalypse came at least it might mean that I wouldn’t have to figure out the inner workings of the admissions board.

At some stage over the last four months, I’ve learned how to do my job.

So, of course, next Wednesday, I have to go and learn how to do a new one.

Because as it was in the beginning, is now and shall be forever, world without end.


This year, I’m once again writing for Beauty from Chaos, the Lent blog for the Scottish Episcopal Church. We are ten days into Lent and there is lot of very worthwhile reading there already with a lot more still to come.

The first of my three posts went up today:


You will know too that at least I come by it honestly.

Of my love for the sparkle, for the shine, for the holy razzmatazz of the way I choose to worship and all the ephemera that comes with it.

Design Group for the Discussion of Same Sex Relationships

Today was the Diocesan Synod of the Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway.

I chose not to seek a point of clarification at Synod today because I’d realised that I was so angry that had I got my hands on a microphone at that particular moment I would have done something that I have never done, ever, not in any church, not at an AGM or a Vestry or at General Synod. At that moment, I did not trust myself to speak without losing my temper. The Bishop, the Chair, the whole of Synod, all the invited guests, and the members of the Design Group for the Discussion of Same-Sex Relationships. They would all have got shouted at and I don’t think I could have brought myself to entirely regret it later.

The point that I wanted to clarify was in any case clarified by someone else, but I’ll come to that.

Yes, I am banging on about same-sex relationships again. Oh, believe me, I am as bored of talking about it as I know you are of hearing me talk about it, but, given that I participated in a small group conversation today in which LGBT people were referred to as those people, I trust you’ll see why I don’t consider my job done.

Today, we have been given an update from the Design Group for the Discussion of Same-Sex Relationships. I mentioned this process last June when it was imposed on a dissenting General Synod, and the Provost wrote before Synod last year about the information we were given on the process – information, I might add, that has never been made publicly available, to the point that there were people at Diocesan Synod for whom today was the first time they knew that such a process had been taking place. I was invited in my capacity as one of the convenors of Changing Attitude Scotland to meet with the Design Group late last year, and I declined to do so on the grounds that we do not believe it wise to collude with or endorse a process that we don’t believe is fit for purpose. In declining that invitation, I outlined at some length what our issues with the process were and I informed both the Design Group and the Standing Committee of General Synod of the alternative mechanism that I propose for seeking resolution to the issue of same-sex marriage within the Church. The proposition, which I do not feel is a terribly radical one, is that a resolution is sought through the usual channels of Synod, which would lead to a three year discussion with an end in sight and a framework for getting there. I keep being accused of trying to rush the process. I presume you will forgive me for believing that three years has never by any definition constituted a rush.

In all of the correspondence I’ve had on this subject over the last eight or nine months, one of the things I’ve kept saying is that it isn’t my intention to undermine the work of the Design Group. I’d been told very little about the work that they had done, but I thought that if it were good then it could be used to bring about just such a motion as to lead to what I propose and I didn’t think it out of the realm of possibility that their work might start us off in facilitating just such a three year discussion process as I’ve described.

My view on that has changed somewhat today.

It is my opinion that not only the process which led to its formulation but the Design Group as a group is not fit for any purpose at all. It is my opinion that the existence of the design process and its imposition on General Synod last year is and has always been a stalling tactic. It is my opinion that the Design Group considers LGBT people to be Other. It is my opinion that this has not been and will not be a transparent process. It is my opinion that the Design Group is not a safe space for people who happen to be gay, and that furthermore both the Design Group itself and any space or conversation that it tries to facilitate will potentially be a dangerous space for people who happen to be gay.

I am tired of being talked about as if I am not there. I am tired of LGBT people being talked about as though we are not Christians, as though there are no LGBT people in our churches or in our rectories or on our Synods. I am angry that when these conversations take place, they are of a tone and with a presumption that a conversation about same-sex marriage is about Other People, that it is not about the marriages of people who are in the room, and that a conversation about gay bishops is about Other People, that it is not about the careers of people who are in the room. I am so tired of standing up just to remind them that I am not an abstract concept.

I believe that this is a process with no credibility and that if the Province continues to pursue something so deeply flawed and so very unsafe that that will raise questions about the credibility of the Church.

For consider this:

You cannot claim to be working to provide a safe space for conversation if you demonstrably have no understanding of what a safe space means to LGBT people.