Hello! I’m Ray Vincent
I have set up this website to share my passions.
First, I am passionate about the Christian faith. My faith is not of the traditional kind. Definitions are often misleading, but somehow it’s difficult to live without them. I tend to get round it by not sticking to one definition. I sometimes define myself as a ‘liberal’.
I used to say ‘radical’, in the sense of wanting to cut away all the surplus growth and get back to the roots, but unfortunately ‘radical’ has changed its meaning now and tends to mean an extreme fundamentalist with a tendency to violence, and I’m certainly not that. I sometimes call myself a ‘progressive’ Christian, a ‘free thinking’ Christian, or a ‘post-modern’ Christian.
I question all kinds of doctrines. I sometimes even doubt whether there is a God. But I believe that even if Christianity is just a story, it’s the best story in the world and I find that if you try to live as if it’s true, it works. I hesitate to call myself a follower of Jesus – if I am, I follow him at a distance. I see myself more as a Jesus fan. Perhaps ‘disciple’ is a better word, because ‘disciple means ‘learner’, and I’ve still got a lot to learn.
Within my Christian faith, I’m passionate about social justice. I believe Christianity is not primarily about going to heaven when we die – it’s about changing the world now. As we say in the Lord’s Prayer: ‘thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven’. I don’t see myself as a great activist, but I have done my bit from time to time and have supported justice and peace causes through most of my life. Jesus wasn’t crucified for saying nice things about spirituality and heaven – he was crucified because his preaching threatened the status quo.
Along with this, I’m passionate about the Bible. It really is my favourite book. I’ve written three books about it to encourage people to read and enjoy it. The thing is that you don’t have to believe it out of a sense of duty. Biblical fundamentalism is the Bible’s worst enemy. It’s intellectually ridiculous, theologically wrong, ethically dangerous and spiritually disastrous. Once we give up the false reverence we tend to bring to the Bible, and start just seeing it as the marvellous, varied collection of writings it is, it comes to life and speaks to our own times in a remarkable way.
The other passion that has shaped my life is that I am gay. Unlike my Christian faith, my passion for justice and my love of the Bible, this was something I kept to myself for a long time. I am of the generation who grew up when homosexuality was regarded as a perversion, a mental illness, an unmentionable subject, and sexual intimacy between men was a criminal offence. My journey to openness has been a long one, and I want to share it with those who still suffer. In some parts of the world Lesbians, gay men, bisexual and transgender people have their freedom and their life threatened. Here in Britain too, there is still prejudice. There are young people today who are rejected by their families because of their sexuality.
Negative attitudes are particularly prevalent in the churches. Complete acceptance of different sexualities is only found in a few minority denominations like the Quakers, or in some small areas of the mainstream churches such as the Episcopalian Church in the United States. As a Christian minister, I want to see the churches recognising that love is of God and that variety is inherent in God’s beautiful creation. I am privileged to belong to a local church that is inclusive of all, whatever their race, age, gender, sexual orientation, ability or any other difference. As I see it now, this inclusiveness is an essential sign of a church that is true to Jesus. I could not belong to a church that draws boundaries and excludes people.
These are my passions, and I have other interests too. I am proudly Welsh, and have learned the language as an adult. I am fascinated by family and local history, have travelled in many parts of the world, and love learning languages. I will no doubt mention these things, and others, from time to time.
So, whatever your interests or passions, I hope you will find something on this website to enjoy, and something to argue about – politely, please!