The Bishop of Ludlow, Venerable Alistair Magowan
This week the national press reported on a curate's sermon.
According to the article, he was pressing a conservative interpretation on St Paul's teaching about wives and submission.
Controversial? Yes of course.
A view shared by everyone? No of course not.
The reason for drawing attention to it is not to discuss here the merits or otherwise of his views, but to note the fact that it was deemed reportable in this way.
The article included phrases like 'triggered outrage...' and a fair amount of space was given to congregational defence of the views expressed.
Is this a new departure in which the press now wish to report more widely the wisdom or otherwise dispensed from the pulpits in the land?
If so, all is well and good.
However the question remains open as to why so much interest?
Curates are not unique, down the years, in preaching some quite extraordinary things on a wide variety of topics.
However controversial views, on whatever subject, when expressed in church services rarely make national news.
Instead, responses generally remain local, and include the full range from approval to disdain.
A response more lively than the banal 'nice sermon vicar' from which debate emerges, is usually understood positively.
What I trust people value and cherish is freedom of speech and a respect for diverse opinion.
Democracy rests on the understanding that balanced and well founded views are honed by dialogue, and progressed through an interchange of broad opinion.
Indeed it takes only a moment's reflection to realise that yesterday's extremes can become tomorrow's mainstream opinions and vice versus.
If you ask: How is this so? Then the answer comes back by allowing the other the right to speak.
How should we address controversy?
Is it with the reply 'What right have you to say that?' or with 'That is a view I wish to debate.'