“Priest and theologian James Alison believes that there are bright glimmers of hope to be found in the Catholic Church's wrestling with issues around homosexuality. He reflects on his own experience as a gay Catholic, on the givenness of sexual orientation, and on what he calls "the shape of God's affection".
It’s a good programme – a mixture of lecture (excerpt) and interview. On balance, I always think Alison comes across more energetically and evocatively in writing and in interview, so for me it’s the interview component of this recording that really gets at Alison’s ability and insight as a theologian, not least as a theologian who happens to be gay. That said the closing section of lecture is very good. Clearly too the issues that Alison explores are bigger than simply the homosexual debate. Alison's theological methodology and his approach to theological reflection are fascinating and as someone on the inside of the outside in relation to church, I find it tremendously helpful and encouraging. For me, a lot of the issues Alison addresses, and the sexuality debate, more generally, actually circle around missional questions in the spirit of, for example: Luke 10: 1-11 and the Emmaus Road story.
I understand why Rowan Williams has written (in his foreword to Alison's most brilliant book (in my view) Knowing Jesus): "...James Alison's work is a model of clarity in exposition - relaxed, concersational, but holding us firmly to the demands of its subject matter. It is a model of how to deploy some very traditional Christian resources with a thoroughly contemporary intellectual toughness, so as to liberate us from the cliches of so much modern theological squabbling..."
This Australian radio programme first aired on the 10th October 2010 and you can find the audio here (downloadable as an Mp3 if you wish) If you missed it, I also drew attention, here, to an earlier interview with Alison while he was in Australia.