Spiritual Misfits Podcast

Josephine McDonnell Inkpin on Trans Resurrection Reflections

March 31, 2024 Meeting Ground
Josephine McDonnell Inkpin on Trans Resurrection Reflections
Spiritual Misfits Podcast
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Spiritual Misfits Podcast
Josephine McDonnell Inkpin on Trans Resurrection Reflections
Mar 31, 2024
Meeting Ground

Dear friends,  

If you are listening on the day this comes out, happy resurrection Sunday! 

And if you are listening at any other time that’s cool because resurrection is not restricted to Easter Sunday. It pops up in all kinds of places, often where it's unexpected. 

This conversation with Josephine McDonnell Inkpin is a wonderful reminder of that, and I am just delighted to share it with you.  

Josephine was Australia’s first transgender priest, and she is the minister at Pitt St Uniting Church. As you will hear throughout this conversation she has a depth of wisdom, compassion, wit, generosity -- and a remarkable perspective on the great religious traditions. As you’ll hear she’s deeply grounded in her Christian tradition while having a wonderful collaborative approach to other traditions — and to me, that’s good news. 

We talk about many things, one of them being the beautiful perspective transgender folks can bring to our understandings of resurrection. Listen deeply, share widely. The biggest thanks to Jo for joining us for this one! 

Sign up to our mailing list:

Join our online Facebook community:

Support the pod:

Send us an email:

View all episodes at: https://spiritualmisfits.buzzsprout.com

Show Notes Transcript

Dear friends,  

If you are listening on the day this comes out, happy resurrection Sunday! 

And if you are listening at any other time that’s cool because resurrection is not restricted to Easter Sunday. It pops up in all kinds of places, often where it's unexpected. 

This conversation with Josephine McDonnell Inkpin is a wonderful reminder of that, and I am just delighted to share it with you.  

Josephine was Australia’s first transgender priest, and she is the minister at Pitt St Uniting Church. As you will hear throughout this conversation she has a depth of wisdom, compassion, wit, generosity -- and a remarkable perspective on the great religious traditions. As you’ll hear she’s deeply grounded in her Christian tradition while having a wonderful collaborative approach to other traditions — and to me, that’s good news. 

We talk about many things, one of them being the beautiful perspective transgender folks can bring to our understandings of resurrection. Listen deeply, share widely. The biggest thanks to Jo for joining us for this one! 

Sign up to our mailing list:

Join our online Facebook community:

Support the pod:

Send us an email:

View all episodes at: https://spiritualmisfits.buzzsprout.com

Will Small: My dear friends, if you are listening on the day this comes out, then happy Resurrection Sunday to you! And if you're listening at any other time, that's cool because Resurrection is not restricted to Easter Sunday. It pops up in all kinds of places. often where it's least expected. This conversation with Josephine McDonnell Inkpin is a wonderful reminder of that, and I am delighted to share it with you.

Josephine was Australia's first transgender priest, and she is the minister at Pitt Street Uniting Church. As you will hear throughout this conversation, she has a depth of wisdom, compassion, wit, generosity, and a remarkable perspective on the great religious traditions. As you'll hear, she's deeply grounded in her Christian tradition, while having a wonderfully collaborative approach to other traditions.

And to me, that's good news. We talk about many [00:01:00] things, one of them being the beautiful perspective transgender folks can bring to our understandings of Easter and Resurrection. So listen deeply, share widely, and the biggest thanks to Jo for joining us for this one.

Well Josephine MacDonald Inkpin, a very warm welcome to the Spiritual Misfits Podcast. 

Josephine Inkpin: Thank you. It's lovely to be with you.

Will Small: I'm really looking forward to our conversation. How about we just start by you sharing a little bit of what life looks like for you today. Who are you? What does a normal week look like in, in your shoes?

Josephine Inkpin: Oh, well, in a normal week, I don't think there is one for lots of people in ordained ministry and especially. We have such a variety of things happening, but I mean, today, actually, I was doing some work. I'm teaching a course while units in queer theology for the university of divinity, which [00:02:00] is largely based in Melbourne and through Pilgrim College, the United Church College, but it's an ecumenical thing.

And so that's quite exciting. I, so I'm preparing that, which is less exciting, but the teaching's great. 

Will Small: Right. Yep. Sure. Sure. And so you are quite a significant person. You are the first transgender priest in Australia, is that correct? 

Josephine Inkpin: Yeah, well that's right, that, that, there are, there is about three of us I think now and there was someone who was, who transitioned actually earlier than me, but they weren't in active ministry.

I discovered after I came out. And then there's another person before us who was in Melbourne, but more on sort of person with intersex condition, who was. worked for quite a lot of time as a man, and then they went through hormonal changes, sort of menopause, and, and then lived as a woman. And, but in those days, they weren't allowed to continue because, because the ordination of [00:03:00] women hadn't gone through, so as much as anything else.

Right. So there's, it's an interesting sort of history, but in, but I am the first, yeah, out licensed priest, and then and the first to be put in, ordained person into a mainstream church in Pitt Street. So I'm, yeah, I guess I've made a little bit of history by, yeah, by that. 

Will Small: Yeah. So why don't you take me back a little bit?

What are the parts of your backstory that are important in understanding who you are today? Okay. And I always sort of weave in, or ask people to weave in, you know, have, when have you felt like a spiritual misfit? Is that phrase one that resonates or not? And yeah, just fill in a little bit of where, where your story started.

Josephine Inkpin: Yes, well, I'm, as you can tell from my accent, I never thought I had an accent until I came here. And I'm but my accent doesn't probably show that I'm from the North. I was born in the North, the true North of England, what's called the land of the Northern Saints. Transcribed which is sort of part of that sort of, well, the English bits of Celtic Christianity, I [00:04:00] suppose.

And, and then I grew up near Lincoln, which is a beautiful city which has, I don't know whether they're a misfit or not, but the great legend in Lincoln is of an imp who got into the cathedral and started pulling, I don't know, people's, ears and all sorts of havoc and then was sort of turned, well it was, it was sort of transformed and I like to think of myself as like that, a bit of a blessed imp really and which is sort of a, well I, one of my spiritual directors call me an inspirator, so I, I think I am regarded by a lot of people as a spiritual misfit and, and I probably work with a lot of people who do Sort of, I don't know I identify, but in that category really.

I tend to feel that it's a bit like a trans person really, you know, in a way I think we're regarded still by some people as misfits, you know, and the idea we don't fit in our bodies and all that sort of thing. But I think it's more the problem there is that we're less sort of misfits and, but the, the rest [00:05:00] of the world and the way in which people approach things doesn't, You know, they've got this idea that things fit.

I don't think anyone really fits, you know, I mean, any, any pattern you lay down. So but in, in one sense, I'm sort of with those people a little bit on the margins, all sorts of things, and that's also the bunch of blessed imps, I like to think. But also, I think, the other side of it would be, I think I have a sense of being, it took me a long while to develop this, but but an artist of, of the divine spirit, if you like.

And I've drawn that from a couple of people. And a board across. I think that's one thing I am, I've worked across lots of different borders, not just sort of female, female male gender, but some others as well in terms of racial and interfaith and other things. So I guess that's something I like doing, which is something that a lot of traditional patterns of both politics and religion don't really like people to stay in their boxes.

Will Small: Yes. Yes. Oh, I love that the blessed imps. That's a, that's a great, [00:06:00] and the phrase you just used about being an artist of the divine spirit. Yeah. That's beautiful. 

Josephine Inkpin: Well, it's a lovely phrase, isn't it? And I got this really originally from, from an extraordinary priest called Father George Tyrrell. He's one of, in the Catholic Church, Roman Catholic Church.

who took on Biblical scholarship with others all over a hundred years ago. And it eventually ended up being sort of pushed out, as a lot of those sorts of people are. And but he had this sort of idea of the church at its best, as a community, like an art school, he called, of divine majesty. Well, I think I'd call divine love, but, but what he meant was that tradition has a place in terms of like, you know, if you're part of an art school, I don't know some of the great Traditions.

You learn, you learn some techniques like being, you know, trained in classical ballet or a music or something. But our job is, is is then to evolve, you know, and if, if, if every generation just repeats what went before, that's not traditional, that's, that's not real tradition, it's not handing things on.

So [00:07:00] and artistry is part of that. And, and the artist, one of my favorite writers who sadly died too early, is a priest poet called John O'Donoghue, an Irishman. And And he used to write about this, and he was very, very strong in this. And he said, once you see God as an artist, he said, everything changed.

Because we've got this picture of God as a judge and all that sort of stuff. But, and we, he said, we've so overemphasized the will of God which has its place, but to the expense of the lack of the imagination of God. And I think that's what artistry does. And I think that's where we call spiritually today to be artists, which means we don't.

necessarily have to invent everything, invent the wheel. Can we draw on what's good? But, but you interpreted to fresh for our context. And I think that's what spiritual misfits or blessed imps or whatever else you want to call them probably can do. 

Will Small: Oh, I love that, Jo. I'm, you're preaching to me here. I'm feeling the [00:08:00] inspiration.

I'm a poet. And so that's kind of my, My artistic practice and I love the work of John O'Donoghue. 

Josephine Inkpin: Oh, that's lovely. It'll be lovely to see some. I have a sense, I do feel that. I mean, it's probably my, my particular Anglican tradition, I think, has quite a strong place of poetry. And a lot of great poets.

Not, I mean, there's others in other traditions that have value. And, and I think there is a difference between when you see religion or spirituality as as prose, you're getting a lot of trouble, and a lot of people do, because you see it as sort of very, sort of thick, and people don't necessarily understand poetry.

Yes, apart from simple rhymes and things which have their place, but I think poetry is it is more, it is more artistic and it, it has many sort of dimensions and it, and it helps us to explore important things like beauty and truth, which obviously Keats said of the same thing sort of thing in, in a more sort of what Emily Dickinson said, you know, to tell truth, [00:09:00] talk, speak about truth, but tell it slant.

And that's what I think, You know, poets do, and I think the best of spiritual teachers do that. They don't, you know, like Jesus, he tells these parables, which are really sort of like word, word art, really, I think. And I think, so I'm keen on people developing, yes, a poetic sensibility towards, you know, Yes.

Life rather than, you know, sorts of thinking that you can chop it all into, you know, fit it into a box. That's what I was saying before. 

Will Small: So I'm curious, Jo you articulate a very beautiful vision of what spirituality and faith can look like. Is, is that the kind of faith that you perhaps grew up with or had in early days, or, you know, like many of us have to go through significant paradigm shifts to get there.

What are some of the shifts that you've been through in terms of your conception of God and, and, and Christianity faith over time? 

Josephine Inkpin: Well, I think it's always been evolving, but I [00:10:00] was fortunate, I think, I mean, I was brought up in, in a little town, a little tiny town, it's much more than a village really, in the North Midlands in England, near Lincoln and.

We had quite a gentle, what you call liberal Catholicism. And we didn't really, I mean, we, you know, when they read the Bible, sometimes the word sin would appear, but, but, you know, people never really talk much about sin and that sort of thing. And so that sort of shaming culture wasn't part of, it was more about appreciate, I think, celebrating creation, which is part of the.

the goodness of the best of the Anglican tradition and and, and, you know, loving your neighbor and that sort of thing. But, but we did also have some other aspects of things, but I was fortunate, I was brought up I was born into that sort of the Christian faith, and that was brought up by parents who were quite sort of extraordinary at that time.

When I was very small, I remember stapling the Methodist magazine because my, [00:11:00] my mother used to be the second, you know, she used to type it out, and then my father would produce it on one of these old Gestetner producer things with lots and lots of ink flying everywhere. And, and I did that and, but they met regularly with for quite a while with a little group of people of Catholics and Methodists and Anglicans and other people and, and discuss sort of cutting edge theology, you know people who have became sort of quite people, you know, are quite notorious like Don Cupid and other people in John Robinson and these sorts of people way back, you know, in, in the, in the past.

I'm And books like The Myth of God Incarnate. So, I grew up with sort of the, I think I grew up with a sense that, you know theology and spirituality were things you explored. But there was a, there was, what I was given, I suppose, was, was, you know, a pattern that wasn't too alien. And, and I often say that I, I don't think, I think in the [00:12:00] church, because we place a lot of emphasis on what Anglicans at best call the beauty of holiness, rather than like moral order or something.

So I sort of had, I mean, they talked about this extraordinary person, Jesus, who was both you know, divine and human and all that sort of thing. And however you understand it, metaphorically, probably born of a virgin, all this sort of thing. And it's very queer talk, really. So it was a bit of a shock when I went to school, really, because we really got taught the gender binary there rather than in the church, in my tradition.

And I know a lot of other people have had very different experience, but But so for me, I think it was faith has always been something that it's not unproblematic, but it has been something that gave me strength and identity, I suppose, over against a world that in which, you know, which forced me into a box, a mailbox, especially.

But my, my faith is always changing. I mean, I find it fantastic now. It's very hard going, isn't it, in [00:13:00] Australia at the moment, because we had a bit of a, we went backwards with the referendum last year. Some of my friends, Aboriginal friends, who, who are now you know, producing theology that is actually trying to ground us in, um, in this land properly and indeed to hear the voice of God coming up from below rather than the sky God that we brought from Europe.

And, and a lot of wonderful things that happen. So I'm at the moment, I'm, I'm having to learn to rethink a lot of things,

Will Small: I think. I think that's wonderful. And I think it's, you know, It's one of the main markers of, I feel safe around people who have a faith that is living and evolving and has that artistic approach where there's imagination.

When, when it's actually, you know, we understand this and we've got the lid on it and it all fits. I get a little uneasy around that as I think we ought to. Did you feel? Well, I think 

Josephine Inkpin: it's whether you regard the fact, I was thinking about this the other day. I read something by Judith Butler who's sort of the high priestess of the church.

[00:14:00] And she was talking about words and how people get so upset, don't they, if you use particular words. Or you just ask for a different word to be used, which is just really good manners, really, if someone wants to be called by something. And it seems to me that people are sort of using these words, words literally, and a lot of conservative Christians do this as well, as if they're God, rather than what I think words are, which is sort of, well, they're metaphors, but they're like, often symbols.

They're points, you know. Yes. And aren't they best? I've got a number of friends who are Orthodox priests, and the Orthodox churches have got some issues, and particularly in the Russian tradition and such, right? But, but one of the things I find in the, in the, about the great Orthodox theologians of the past is they understood that words could never convey the mystery of being.

And so there were only pointers. And so the creeds, for example, which are often quite problematic for a lot of people the Orthodox tend to regard it, but they call it the symbol or, you know, it's sort of like an expression, it [00:15:00] isn't God in itself. And although a lot of them, well, they're not able to, can't put it into new terms.

I think they realize that it needs to be interpreted into that for people. And and that's, I think that's the challenge. It's not necessarily to throw out what's valuable in the past. You know, I mean, for example, the first bit of the creed says, I believe in God who creates the world. And you say, well, you know, you might want to sort of say, does God create one off or is, will we be better off saying God is creating rather than created or something, there's a few other things and father and all that sort of language.

But basically what that helps you do is to see that the world is sacred. I think that's what, you know, similar to Aboriginal people picture it differently. And so if we lose that, we, you know, and that matter matters, and that's at the heart of the Christian faith, that that's a valuable thing for us to hang on to.

So I don't think we need to chuck everything out, you know, but you do have to keep reworking it and that's what people, that's why faiths, I think the [00:16:00] great faiths have survived. power, usually, ultimately, but because there's something in them that's value. Whether it's the, you know, the whether it's, you know, Jesus is teaching or the Buddha or whatever, or the life giving, I think sorts of community ethic that Islam at its best offers.

So, so all of those things, but they're what really matters. And then there's a lot of other stuff that gets tangled up with it. 

Will Small: True. Did you feel you know, people use different language, but did you feel a calling or a drawing in to ministry? At an early age or how did you find yourself wanting to be a kind of, you know, contributor actively in that space of the tradition?

Josephine Inkpin: Yes. Well, I think I've always sort of felt myself a little bit differently and I suppose it was a little bit because I am transgender and so I never really, sort of easily fitted in when I was going through various stages of you know, when, you know, careers even at [00:17:00] university didn't quite know what to want to do.

So I actually went off and worked. In a probation hostel for hard to play sex offenders, as they were called which was a fascinating talk about a bunch of misfits and people, you know, people who've had horrendous experiences, but quite a, quite a challenging, but also very powerful thing. And I was on a train one day, and it was a long train across England, because you can go down.

You can get trains to London relatively easy for most places, but if you try and go across country, it's quite difficult. So I was on this train for about five or six hours and I started up and at the end of it, it wasn't like there was a flashing lights or anything, but there was just sort of this sort of question, a general assurance.

And I realized that different aspects of my life that I'm interested in. sort of came together in this. And so whereas I, you know, someone said to me a few years before, I did religious studies at A level and they said you know whatever it's called, you know, school, anyway, school passing out thing that we have in this country.

And and someone said, are you going to be a [00:18:00] vicar, you know, a priest? I said, Oh no, that sounds terrible. I think it's for me, I met some rabbis actually in a conference and they said, sometimes people who go into ministry are people that. and that was partly their experience, are people who want, who want to explore their identity more deeply.

And I guess that's, and that's why you find quite a lot of, or have done in the past, quite a lot of trans and gay people actually in Christian ministry, even if they're a little bit closeted, because I think it gives us a space separate, you know, a little bit distinct from the rest of the world.

Anyway, that's part of what, what I saw. But I think that's the purpose. I mean, that's how I saw priesthood and things was actually about helping not just me to integrate, but to hold things together. I think that that's, you know, religion, you know, that's the word what it means, isn't it? Binding from religio Latin to bring things together and buying them together, not as sort of to tie them up like.

You know, Chinese foot binding or something, which is what Christians [00:19:00] and other faiths sometimes do to people, but to sort of link things out. And that's one of the challenges I think that's commonly agreed. I think by secular, more secularist commentators as well. We've lost, you know, what some people call the third spaces, you know, community spaces where people can connect and where people don't just live in their own interests.

groups or whatever, just like minded friends all the time, but they're actually connected to one another, and hopefully to something a bit deeper, really. So I don't know how you find that, you know, in terms of the people that, you know, sort of feed into your spiritual misfits community, but that's what I think, that's what I see you offering, and you know, you know, to offer a fresh space, because the church is, you know, it's, it's, it's, it's, it's, it's, it's, it's, it's, Let's face it, a lot of, even, I won't, I won't criticise my own traditions, but some of them are quite toxic, and some of, even when they're not toxic, they're really quite hard going to actually get, sometimes even a [00:20:00] spiritual discovery, so we have to create new spaces, I think, you know, and it's partly by use, building out of the old, so.

That's what I'm doing partly. Sometimes it's about creating new space. I think that you're doing and, you know, connecting like we are now and networking, I think is, it's going to be part of the way forward because the old empires of the church is a, you know, I mean, they're going to collapse. Well, they are collapsing, but they take quite a long, sometimes empires take a long while to die, don't they?

Will Small: That's true. And we're very close to the Easter weekend. And I do want to loop back in a moment to talking about. resurrection and some words you posted this morning around that, but, you know, leading on from what you were just sharing about these kinds of third spaces and what a community is trying to attempt.

Why don't you tell us a little bit about Pitt Street Uniting Church, where you are the minister and what, what does that space look like? And, and what are some of the heartbeat and values of that place? 

Josephine Inkpin: Well, one of the things I like about Pitt Street United Church is, [00:21:00] I mean, it's, you know, it's an old, it's an old colonial building, really, in some ways.

But because of that, it's actually quite different towards a lot of buildings around it, which are like all these skyscrapers and everything else. So there's this sort of super, you know advanced society and, you know, neoliberal capitalism all around us. And then there's this building there that really shouldn't be there.

And at one stage, they wanted to knock it down and build other things. But a little band of people said no. And the trade unions joined, you know, the green bands, we helped to say together, helped save the spill. So we're sort of like in that sense, a little bit of a subversive sign that there are other possibilities.

And obviously today, now it's clear. Heritage listed. So it's got some beautiful features, but sometimes heritage can tie you up. So that's that side of the community. It's one of the oldest churches in Sydney and The current building dates to 1850s, and it's was originally the mother church of the congregational [00:22:00] tradition, congregations tradition, which came out of the well, after the English Reformation, I suppose, and after the English Civil War, to some degree you know, and it was a little bit associated with people who went to America, you know, the the first settlers there and so on from Europe.

And so it has got, it has a sort of a strong, and the good side of that, what you might call Puritanism is, is it's got a strong moral commitment, you know, to justice, but also the Congregational tradition has a long tradition of openness to truth. So one of the things we have the motto of the church, and it's written sort of in the ceiling, is, and it's a quotation in the Psalms, it says where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty, and it's, I think it's that association with the movement of the Spirit, so it's less it, it's less keen on your ordinary hierarchies, and it's open to exploration, very, you know, both in terms of truth and study, and also of commitment to social justice.

So we're now part of the Uniting Church when that [00:23:00] was created in 1977. And I think we're on, the Uniting Church is sort of like, at its best, it's sort of like the research and development arm, the experimental form of Australian Christianity. And, you know, it's ahead of the game on lots of things like women's ordination and Pacific Islander leadership and other things.

But it's the Pitt Street is sort of like the edge of the Uniting Church. So and we have a lot of people, what we get a lot of people, I guess you could, I mean, there'd be like probably some of the folks that you spiritual misfit sort of type people, because we're there, I think, for a lot of people who in Sydney, Sydney is a very conservative religious place compared to Brisbane, for example, or I've worked on that.

And So we get a lot of people there who are refugees from other traditions in different ways, you know, and so we're quite ecumenical. We've got people there who are from, you know, on the one hand, we've got some Catholics and Anglo Catholic Anglicans through to, you know, Salvation Army and Baptists [00:24:00] and people.

That's their background, but they're, they're united, I think, by that commitment to seeking freedom within, you know but drawing on sorts of traditions, and obviously working with the YD Uniting Church. That's a bit of a long explanation, but we stand for things. I mean, for example, we, we had on, on Saturday night, we had an Iftar, climate conscious Iftar.

So it was vegetarian, which is organized by a wonderful little group called the Muslim Collective. It's been happening there for three or four years. And, and then the next day I went to the holy celebration which the Hindus for human rights are also our partners organized. And we, we're about to have you know Aboriginal theology series happening.

We've been sort of a bit involved, some of our folks, particularly in now officially the church involved with, you know, campaigning around Gaza. So there's those social justice things and, but we also try and explore theology. So we, we, we hosted groups that were going on the Mardi Gras and some of our people, and we had a [00:25:00] wonderful pancake pride as we call it.

celebration of queer, you know, queer faith led by queer people, not just sort of saying, Oh, you can be, you're welcome here in whatever way, but actually leading it. We, you know, so that's, That's the sorts of dynamics I suppose that we work on. 

Will Small: I love the commitment to an ecumenical interfaith approach, you know, looking for common ground rather than looking for reasons to divide up the world into yet more categories.

I suppose the question that always comes up in some of those spaces is, how, how do you maintain a sense of commitment to your own tradition and to not be ashamed of your tradition? And yet to be able to coexist and be curious about other traditions. And I feel like the conservative, the conservative theory is we can't be, we can't be working with others because we've, we've got the truth and they don't.

The, the progressive kind of [00:26:00] leaning can lead you to go, none of it matters. Let's all just have one wash of sameness. How do you think about being both grounded in a tradition while deeply curious, cooperative, collaborative. with people from other traditions? 

Josephine Inkpin: Yes. Well, I think it's about combining depth and complexity and breadth and energy and that sort of thing, you know, and dynamic expansiveness.

I think I I'm more into an expansive theology than inclusive one, which I think is Can be a whole lot of other things, you know, like some of my aboriginal friends, I mean, for them, you know, spirituality is quite particular. And that's what we're learning from first nations. People is that you have to be grounded one place.

A lot of our, a lot of our religions of all kinds that have come from other places, so to float in one place. on the surface, especially when they're not, you know, a lot of, I mean, you're about to have Easter and everything else. And, but it's actually, we're doing it in autumn when things are dying off, it doesn't sort of [00:27:00] locate in the same way.

So we have to work on that a little bit. So I think what happens is that my experiences, and I know a lot of conservatives are quite frightened about this. Now, I think if you don't have a very mature faith, well, if you, if you don't know much about it, you would be easily sort of lost because you just get confused by all sorts of different things.

But I think if you've got a little bit of depth in your faith, I think what you have my experience is that entering into both ecumenical interfaith dialogue or for that matter with with other people who are what I would call open secular people rather than secularist, you know, sort of a bit ideological, is that you, you learn from them.

And what the encounter is that you. Actually find your own faith deepened because, you know, it, it asks you to consider what's really important about, you know, say following Jesus and you go, well, actually, yes, we, you know, that, that, that, and you come out of it and you say, you know, I've been into things. I mean, I went, I remember I was in [00:28:00]Singapore, but with an interfaith group.

And some of the Jewish people that were visiting with us and that and they said, and the Muslims in this particular mosque said, Oh, this is where the men sit. And that's where the women sit. And we have this divided up. And then we go, Oh, yeah, it's just like, we do that in our synagogue and stuff, you know, and it was lovely, because they could identify a number of things.

And then, and, and, And I said to someone near us, and that's why we're Christians, because we don't, you know, there's things where there's little elements where, you know, that way, where there's things where you go, yeah, I wouldn't quite do it like that, you know, and I prefer the fact that men and women can mix freely and all that.

I mean, I know it's, I know it's much more complex than that in Islam and Judaism as well. But it brings home to what's really important. And I think, you know, I mean, I'd love to go to India and this, because one of my great heroes, B. Griffiths, you might know about, was a great spiritual sort of, and he moved from England, and he lived in India [00:29:00] for a long while, and became, basically, he was a Catholic priest, but he took on Hindu robes, and sort of orange robes, and lived with Hindus and Buddhists.

And he said that what he went to India to find the other half of his soul. And that's what I feel in this engagement is that there's things that we have forgotten. And a few years ago, the Anglican communion as a whole put out a lovely little book. And they said, And it was about interfaith relationships, and they said we're often, Christians are so busy telling people about Jesus or whatever, which isn't a part of our faith, they forget that Jesus was spent a lot of his time being a guest in people's houses and receiving gifts from them, you know, like the woman who poured the oil all over in the, in the Holy Week story.

And and I think that's it, is that I think for Christians, there's, there's, it's not that some things aren't missing from our tradition, but there's each of the great faiths, my experiences, teach us something which actually makes us [00:30:00]better. You know, it's like any relationship, any good relationship with my wife, for example, probably, you know, it sounds a bit corny.

In a good relationship, you become a better person because of the other one, you know, draws out of you that, and you connect. And I think it's the same thing that, you know, it's things like Buddhism teaches us a depth of, of contemplation and peace in a, in a sense, but also a connection to the whole of creation and other beings, not just humans, that it's a little bit, it's there in the Christian tradition, there's Christian contemplative tradition, but it's a little bit weak.

I think Islam has Many things contribute in terms of community. And it's much better at constructing societies than Christians are because Christian faith really grew up as a sort of minority faith. And so we're not very good when we get into power, I think Christians. But I mean, I think all of that and Judaism, absolutely, obviously, because in fact, what it does is when we're, people are [00:31:00] rambling on about the Bible, Jews point out they, they had the scriptures, well, a lot of the scriptures before us and, and, and if we don't listen to the Jews, then we're going to be completely off track, you know?

I mean, I don't mean the Israeli leadership at the minute, that's another can of worms. 

Will Small: Sure. Sure. I like your contrast between expansive and inclusive. I'm interested in that. An expansive faith. That's language I've used more and more in recent years. But some people find that quite threatening, don't they? And, and this idea that faith expands rather than narrows in, and rather than shrinks our world in is very threatening.

And, and, you know, again, to, to refer to your beautiful community there at Pitt Street, you've faced obviously lots of opposition as you've invited people into a more expansive view and have had sort of all sorts of vandalism and nasty incidents and That can be so I mean, it can be discouraging, it can also be completely debilitating in a sense.

I'm wondering how you've navigated some of that, [00:32:00] both putting out this beautiful, expansive kind of face while dealing with the haters and trying to stay resilient. You know, what does that look like for you? How do you kind of keep grounded in hope rather than the potential for resentment, which would be in some ways very justified.

Josephine Inkpin: Well, I think that's where in theory, not in practice, so, but I think in theory, that is why a spiritual, especially, I mean, I can't speak about of all the other traditions, but from from a Christian point of view, I think it is what, and what, you know, we're in Holy Week, what part of what the story of.

of the cross and the passion, all that sort of thing is about, provided you realize resurrection's there as well. And I had a mentor, he was Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral, and I knew him when I was in London and a few other times, and he used to say, the cross comes when you try and change things.

That's what he said. He didn't, And that's not mean to say that if you've got sufferings that come upon you, for whatever reason entering into them in a, in a a loving way [00:33:00] and, and, and you can transcend them. And that isn't a form of, of, you know, bearing the cross. I think we sometimes over estimate the sorts of the idea that suffering is somehow in the Christian tradition and elsewhere, sometimes it's a punishment.

I think it's a consequence. You know, I think Jesus got, I mean, we could talk at length about that, but I think Jesus got crucified because he tried to change things and he upset people. So, and he warned his people, you know, he warned all his followers and it's there again and again that, you know, you're going to get opposition.

You know, it's not. You know, sort of mealy mouthed, sort of, middle of the road Christianity every, no one will mind, that's fine, but once you start to speak out about things that matter, someone's going to get upset, and that's actually and that's what is demonstrated in that BART. You can get through it.

So I, I, I think it's trying to combine that sense of hope and, but not reacting in an overly aggressive way, [00:34:00] you know, like well, some of the Buddhists I know that say, we, we, it's best on sorts of like talk about them and us, much as we easily get drawn into that. It's more like, like amongst Christian brethren, mainly.

brothers in Sydney that are a bit negative. I think they're more like people, they are us, they're just part of the body that has yet to, the body of society or in some cases the body of the church, that has yet to catch on. I wish they would, because they're hurting other parts of the body. You know, so you, you know, that's, I think that is part of best spiritual, is to, is, is for us to stand for justice and the things, and that's one of the things Islam, I think, is very strong about standing up for justice, quite right.

You know, not turning the other cheek does not mean standing up. It just means finding a more nonviolent way of, of responding. But so we stand for justice and peace, but we do it in a way that where we can let go of [00:35:00]resentments and even the pain that comes and realize that's part of the cost of, transformation, I think, really.

And, and I think, I think, I mean, that's what, you know, all the, all the great leaders do. I mean, Martin Luther King had that, didn't he? I mean, you know, he didn't predict his death, as it were, but he knew that he was causing all that. stir because he had to, he had to address racism bubble, but also increasingly militarism and, and the economic system.

I think that those that once he got onto that, that really upset people as well in powerful places. So we realized that not only was people. doing things like they do to our church a little bit, but, you know, that he was at risk in a violent society like America of getting shot. So, but we've had that long tradition, I think, in Pitt streets of, I mean, the congregation street, I say, goes back to the English civil war and English revolution, where I stood up against injustice in Britain, in England, [00:36:00] and I think you know, and some of my predecessors, have been on the front lines.

Dorothy McRae McMahon is one of our great sort of, um, pioneers really in Pitt Street of the kind of shape of ministry. Now, I mean, she, she had, you know, people walking in with a bunch of Nazis walking in and salutes, threats, painting the, the building, you know, with, slogans and things, we have a bit of that from time to time, when they stood for a whole against, you know, anti apartheid, against, for refugees and all those sorts of things.

So you hope you don't get a lot of it, but yeah, it, I think it's part of the thing, you know, you know, you don't get resurrection without the cross. That's the thing. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, 

Will Small: It's interesting thinking about how some of these phrases are used in different contexts, but this idea of taking up your cross or this idea of they will, they will persecute you.

It's interesting how these can be used by different [00:37:00] people with very different interpretations of what it means to be oppressed or what it means to be facing some sort of opposition. I hear what you say, and I think, wow, maybe, I could be wrong, but maybe in our cultural moment, those of us that would really like to see a lot of social justice change, maybe we have a more naive expectation that it'll just happen without that level of, the cross comes when you seek change.

I think that's a very helpful reminder that actually if you're going to get involved, if you're going to put your hand up, if you're going to show up, you should, you know, You should be ready. As many people who have fought long and hard throughout history for for justice have almost just had that attitude of that's just part, that's part of the process.

Josephine Inkpin: I think that's why you need to build community, isn't it? And, and networks with people. And I mean, that's what, you know, back to the interfaith thing is one of the lovely things with, with some of the groups we have, because the real spiritual and religious divisions [00:38:00] In, in terms of, well, religious divisions anyway, are essentially within all of the great traditions.

They're not within, you know, it's not, there's, Islam's not a solid bloc, Christian, we'll never have either. But even in churches, and that's why the formal ecumenical movement, one of the reasons that formal ecumenical movements run aground a bit, is that there are as many differences, more differences in the Catholic Church, Then there are, you know, differences between a lot of Christian traditions and similarly in all the churches.

And so, leaders are desperately trying to hold things together. But that's going to be difficult. But you're right. I mean, the cross, it is quite, I mean, we're in this Holy Week. The cross has been so hijacked. By sorts of blood sacrifice ideas and all that sort of thing and judgment and, but also by people who've turned it, you know famously, you know, turned it upside down.

So instead of Christians being as they were in the early church, like Jesus and others martyred and it's such like, then ended up martyring other [00:39:00] people. And it is part of the human dynamic, isn't it? I mean, I see some of that Sadly, in aspects of behavior of, say, Israel, what, you know, where there's that horrendous pain, horrendous, horrendous historic pain.

But sometimes there are some Israelis who just can't see that what they're doing is actually much the same as was done to them, you know, and it's, it's that perpetuation of violence. So how do you break the cycle of violence? And for me, that's part of what, you know, people have put it, there's various theories of great philosophers and other people who have expressed this, but it's sort of a nonviolent atonement.

What happens on the cross with Jesus is that Jesus and God, in that sense, takes on the violence of the world, but instead of reacting you know, absorbs it and transcends it. And then so we, we can, we can find other ways to solve our real genuine issues of peace and justice. And we're never going to, you know, everyone's, there's always going to be arguments.

And churches like to pretend there aren't arguments, you know, that [00:40:00] everyone can be nice together. But it ain't usually just serves the status quo. 

Will Small: Yeah. Well, you know, that's it. I mean, we're very good at, at crucifying people. Like, that's, that's an art that was, was sort of perfected by the Romans, but has continued.

And I think, you know, in some ways the church plays that role in the story, often more the crucifier than the crucified for some of the, You know, just causes that we, we could put our bodies and, and, you know, our communities in the, in the line for we're sort of dancing around this, this Easter weekend and these themes of death and resurrection.

And, and they do. To me, they make sense of everything, right? That, that the crucifixion continues, but resurrection continues. That human pattern is there, but it means that there is always this hope of, of new life and new possibility. You posted this morning, and I didn't know this, but the, the trans day of visibility this year.

Falls on the day of, of Easter. And you sort of [00:41:00] shared some brief thoughts and a prayer around how actually you know, there is a beautiful connection between trans folk and new understandings or more expansive understandings of resurrection. I wonder if you'd talk a little bit about how these things can interweave together.

Josephine Inkpin: Yes, for sure. I mean, the trans day, I mean, we do have another day, the trans day remembrance, that's a bit sad, but trans day visibility, you know, it's such a gorgeous day of of people being able to be out, and it's the visibility, I mean, when I was young, we just didn't have the language, you never saw anybody in this place, so it's wonderful today we have that thing, although we've still, now we've got the visibility, then people have a go at us, you know, they tried to ignore us before, but, so that's lovely, and we've got this great day, the great Christian day, the Easter day, and I think there's a lot of connections, you know, without, I mean, obviously, the, the resurrection, which is a huge sort of concept and everything else, and experience, is much, much bigger than trans, but, but what's I, what's, what's sad to me in a lot of churches is, is not, [00:42:00] and it comes back to inclusion, is that it is not that we should be including LGBTI people or whatever because they're nice people or they're, they're not, you know, they're okay people or something.

That, well that's okay, but we should be including everyone because every single person has a particular gift to offer. And, and for me, trans people and gay people have their own gifts and stuff. Trans people have their, our own gifts to it because our experience now helps to show a wider and more expansive image of God.

And one of the things is that we are in our lives when we move from one, from one form of life to another, our body changes as well. So it we are images of transformation, you know, and so we, I think we ought to give and that's probably why we're banned a bit by some people, because we're encouraging people to change.

And to see God see [00:43:00] God as involved in change and wanting to people to be enlarged, be transformed. So, I mean, our bodies change in that sense. And some of the trans men particularly, because trans women don't tend to want to show the bits and pieces that have been had surgery, but some trans men are quite proud of, you know, where they've had top surgery and the scars.

And there's one old Catholic priest in as the tradition, I mean, not, he's not old, in queer theologian in America. And he's written a beautiful thing about the passion of Christ and the resurrection and how you know, the scars, you know, when Jesus was raised from the dead in the stories he carries still the marks of his life.

So that, which guaranteed that the resurrected Christ is in continuity with the, with the one who lived and everything. And, and it's a bit like for a trans person, it's sort of like their marks. Are sort of signs of the sort of struggle they went through and all that but in my prayer, what I wanted to [00:44:00] say was, you know, the images of, and I used a wonderful poem, and you're quoting that, from Gerard Manley Hopkins, who's one of the great Irish, Anglo Irish poets who was probably a gay man, actually.

And he writes, you know, about, um, about the grandeur of God and about how our job as human beings, in a way, is to selve, as he puts it, you know, to become our true selves, which is what gay and trans people are often prevented by churches and others to do. doing to self, but in doing so, we also encourage other people to self, to become more fully all that they can possibly be.

So he talks about, you know butterflies taking flight, dragonflies kingfishers shining with the glory and the flames of God. So I've incorporated that in that prayer to say, that's what we're praying for. That's what we're praying for trans people, but also for other people [00:45:00] or many gendered people to You know, not just for our pain, because lots of people think about when, when they are trying to be nice to us, they think about all these poor people and we've got some issues that we need help with, but, but actually, we'd also like to be, we'd also like to shine and to encourage other people to shine, but, but I think that's difficult for lots of people.

Some people prefer to be miserable and, and churches often prefer to be miserable, you know, because it's too, it's too dangerous. I mean, that's the thing about the, yeah. the resurrection, everything is, I mean, if you empty a tomb, I mean, things fly out, don't they? stench of things as well, sometimes in the Lazarus story.

So it's, it's, you know, you set, you set people free. I think that's what I think faith is supposed to be. And if it's not, if it's not setting people free, I think you have to go somewhere else. That's probably make some, I hope that makes some sense, but it is that transing. And, you know, I like the idea of you [00:46:00] know, a transing God.

God is always transing. I mean, not in, in, in the ultimate sense of the ultimate being, whatever that we can't see, but our idea of God is always changing, always has, always will do. And and, and so I experienced, and as life changes, and as, different types of people come forward, our idea of, our idea of God and our idea of being will, will change.

And so our identities, I think, are not about, you know, we find salvation in becoming a trans person or something. It's that, as we become more truly ourselves, say as a trans person, then we're more able to love. And I think that's, and, and to love means to yeah, to be open to transformation and to share in it, I think.

Will Small: I love it. That's, that's enough Easter sermon for me, really, that I'm like, that It's probably nothing but what I'm giving. Anything else I get this weekend is a bonus. Do you know, that was, that was a wonderful reflection and I've thought a lot about and I, I, I just [00:47:00] so strongly agree with this, you know, I think for some people, you know, the bar is, is a tolerance, you know, that, that sort of inclusion of, yes, we, we are so kind that we will allow you to be here.

Don't speak too loudly and don't, you know, don't yeah, rock the boat too much, but yes, we are going to kindly include you. To the most basic level yeah, and I think you know we've got to go further than that with so many groups that we have Pushed to the edges and the margins. We've got to go you have something central to offer our picture of I think about You know the theology of the image of God the imago Dei Yeah, and and if our image of God looks just like me then I have a very malnourished view of God Exactly. If I, if I, yes. 

Josephine Inkpin: And that's it. And that's what a lot of disability theologians say as well, don't they? They say that as well, is that if you start with, and that's a problem of lots of my sort of very, very conservative, partly Anglican, but Anglican brethren in Sydney, is that they start with a model of what, what [00:48:00] a human being should be.

And then they talk about the fall, but there's certain people who've fallen further, you know, people with disabilities and people who don't quite fit. Whereas the teaching of. The better teach, orthodox teaching in the church, like Luther and other people, is to concentrate on the crucified Christ. So if you look at the crucified, risen one as well, the resurrected one and that's where you see it.

And so what is that? That's a person who's often wounded. We don't know what Jesus looked like, but it definitely didn't look like a blonde Messiah or, or, an Anglican or a white Australian, I think. So, and it, so it's in the, in those who were sort of, who were the Cruz, the solidarity of God in the cross with all those who were misfits, who were marginalized and worse and oppressed.

And so, so if we want to see where God is, you look, you look there, don't you? That, that, that ought to be, you'd start with the cross and rather than with an ideal [00:49:00] image. Which tends to reflect the people in power, you know, so it tends to be a European image of, of God, or, you know, Greek philosophical one because they've been dominant traditions, really.

Mm-hmm. And so some of us, like me, I mean, I'm a little bit, obviously I'm trans, so I'm a , I'm part of the marginalized one. But, but I'm also, you know, I, I, you know, I, I went to Oxford and all that sort of thing, so I'm also part of the European. mind think. So I'm having to do a lot of you know, decolonizing my own thoughts.

And and I think, and that's what's you know, that's what I think. And it's hard, I think, if you're in the churches to do that very much, because, so I think, you know, like the group, the initiatives you've got with Spiritual Mists can help us do that. You know, if we do it in collaboration with those who are particularly struggling, you know, especially First Nations, but other people as well who.

Who know what it is to be on the underside of history. 

Will Small: Yes. Yeah. No, I think [00:50:00] one of my favorite things you said in this conversation as well, that kind of touches in on some of this is that idea of when, when we are wounded by someone to see them as part of the same body, I mean, that's a huge challenge, but that's the other thing that we've got the image of God and then we've got the body of Christ.

And if we think about the body of Christ is, if it reflects, if we are reflected in it, And the body of Christ ought to look like the full spectrum of what human bodies look like. Yes. 

Josephine Inkpin: Including all the bits, which is what Paul said, you know, so Paul said an honor, especially the less worthy ones where we can name some of the people.

And I think that's where, I mean, sometimes they don't even accept the parts of the body, but you know, a lot of us, and in the past it was, you know, black, black people, brown people, and still in some places as sorts of regarded as not really parts of the body or sorts of like a little bit of that thing you cover up.

It's that transformation. And it's a shift. One of the great theologians, sadly she died too early, but there's a Brazilian woman brilliant theologian, she works in Scotland a lot, Marcella [00:51:00] Althaus Reed, and she wrote some wonderful stuff, including An amazing book and concept, which is the indecent, indecent God and talked about the indecency is that a lot of our well, religious traditions as a whole, because it certainly applies to a lot of Islam is and Christianity is about decency and respectability.

But what we actually see in the Jesus story is a very unrespectful person, and actually, a lot of his foremothers, especially, were sort of sexually or racially dubious. And, and what she's saying is that it's the indecent ones, the indecent parts of the body that are easily shunned, but they, they, it's not that the others don't have something to teach us of God, but, but until we deal with indecency, and that comes into, I think, for queer people, into, you know, until you deal with the things that you're told are indecent, you know, your desires and for other people, you know things which they've been told a shame for and then they've been abused for not being, you know, [00:52:00] women have that for years, that you're really not respectable.

So you can't be in society, you can't be up front and all the rest of it. So I think it's, it is that shift away from respect, which is a little bit of a challenge actually for, For the traditions of the Uniting Church, because they're quite into respectability. Right, yes. You know, so it's the good middle class sort of thing.

And there's lots of, I always grew up in that, in quite a middle class background. So we were brought up to be nice. people. Do you know what I mean? And that a lot of that sort of English religion, particularly, I mean, it is other cultures as well, is about respectability, you know, and so historically you know, it's people like General Booth and Salvation Army who had to come in because the poor were sort of, or the poor men anyway, well, it's sort of left out, unless you were Catholic, because they had the sort of the rough and the ready and the Irish who were By definition, indecent for the English.

So it's, it's about, I think it's about reworking what we think are valuable, you [00:53:00] know, what is. And whether decency and all that, all those sorts of things, a niceness, you know, a value, but you know, that sort of Edna Everidge song about niceness, you know, which is sending up that sort of middle class polite ethic.

I mean, I'm very middle class nice and polite, so I, so I have, I've inherited that, but I do see it, you know, we're easily swayed by that, you know? Yeah. 

Will Small: Well, we've all got, we've all got our work to do and our invitation into the evolving tradition. And I think that's part of what I've appreciated about this conversation is this sense that tradition is constantly constantly remade and renewed and resurrected.

And that doesn't mean that it's a complete cutting off or ditching the past. In fact, we honor that but we are gradually and continuously participating in the new thing. And yeah, I was thinking about, you know, to go back to where we started the conversation, acknowledging this sort of historic moment of you becoming the [00:54:00] first transgender priest in Australia.

That is significant. Not so much because of what you did, but because of the time in which you did it, and we can think forward to a future where that might just be commonplace and not, not newsworthy. Not at all to minimize from that moment, but, but we want, we want that to not be a big deal in a way.

Right. We want that to be normative. That's part of the evolution of tradition. And I wonder again, to, to tie together some of the threads in this conversation, if we want that future, It is costly to advocate for that when it does mean upsetting the, the polite way of things, the, the status quo. What would you say to those of us who do long for that liberative, expansive future in which a transgender priest is not a newsworthy thing?

What would you say to those of us who want to participate [00:55:00] in The bringing about of that future in whatever ways and places we find ourselves in this historical moment. 

Josephine Inkpin: Yeah. Well, I think there's a few things. I mean, I think one of them is I've done a bit to work on, you know, trying to work with Aboriginal people.

And I always say there's two rules. One is, well, two things I've learned, well, more than one, but one is relationships, relationships, relationships, relationships, the big thing. And actually that relates what you're saying is that. If you try and do it without talking to people and engaging and relationships are clumsy and all the rest, you know, because you can upset people, say the wrong thing and that.

So these two things are one is. You're going to get it wrong at some point. And that's what scares a lot of us off being involved in a lot of things, because we don't really like to get it wrong. You know, I mean, you know, you're going to say the wrong thing, and I've dealt a lot with that with people, and I still do.

But, the second thing is do it anyway. If you're doing it with the right spirit, you know, to learn, it's better that people are [00:56:00] in there, you know, so there's sometimes I think, I mean, I love the thing of allies being accomplices. I love that shift, you know, because not just sort of sitting on the sound.

on the sidelines and shouting or something, you know, occasionally shouting and cheering on, but actually being in the midst of things. So that's part of the relationship. And and then you get caught up in things where you yourself will get into trouble as well, you know, for hosting the wrong person or something.

And some of those things are just, it's about giving people agency as well. I think it's like, it's one thing for You know, to, I mean, I, I'm, I'm a bit wary of, you know, sort of the overly virtue signaling of, you know, trying to change your liturgy, for example, into something that's more First Nations, that if it's not being done by an Aboriginal person or something, but there are some things you can do, you know, like acknowledgements of country.

And in, in the case of, of LGBTQ people, you know, putting a pride. I mean, people, lots of churches still [00:57:00] do. Oh, you know, we welcome you here. And I've said to them, why don't you put up you know, a pride, a little pride, a little sticker, a little pride sticker. Then people know, particularly in the old days, they just put rainbows on.

And I said, that doesn't necessarily mean. trans people know that they're friendly, you know and that would go with, you know, we have, we usually have a candle, the aboriginal candle or something burning. And sometimes aboriginal people come in and they say, Oh, we came in, we came in because we could see there was a symbol, you know, so that we, we recognized and valued in those places.

Some of those things are really quite small, I think, but they, they take us forward. And then the other thing I think, which is critical is, You know what, and it's again, become a bit of a buzzword, but intersectionality, you know, that we work that justice is not, it doesn't belong to one group and that we work, and that's why we work Muslim collective Hindus, and anyone really, we, it's around up to, you know, up to, in the points we can do is you know, to share their struggles, you know, so I, I think it's [00:58:00] seeing how these things.

interlink rather than, you know, just sitting on it because it is very hard, isn't it, to change things. And we, at the moment, you know, when you look at the state of the world and the danger of Trump getting in, and we've got a sort of a mild government at the moment, federal government, but, you know, I mean, we could swing back into some negativity and things.

And so to change those things or even to maintain them, I think those people who are of goodwill, you don't have to agree about everything. We do have to cooperate together, you know, so when there's another struggle we do what we can, and so we invite people in to, you know, to join us and learn from us, really, I think yeah, so that that's a few thoughts, but as I said, I'm a bit jealous about inclusion, and it's a difference between the way I look at inclusion is, and it's a word that's common, so I know I'm not going to get rid of it, I'd much rather like it sponsored as well.

Is that a lot of inclusion, as you say, starts with a sort of gritted teeth welcome [00:59:00] to tolerance through to something that is permission to belong. That's what I find a little bit in the Uniting Church, for example, that some of us are allowed to belong and do some jobs, but if we wanted to have another job somewhere else, we'd be told, no, you can't go there.

Or we couldn't get married in some churches. So that's a bit of an issue the Uniting Church needs to work through. But there's a difference between being allowed at the table to take Jesus's image of the feast. where you're, everyone's at the table, that's nice. If you're still serving the same old food, you know, if you serve English food to people, I mean, really people would die pretty quickly.

It's pretty awful, which is what we've often had in this country. But if you, if you have all, if you allow everyone to bring their own food to the thing and then, and sing their own songs and tell their stories, that is a very different thing. You know, we And especially if you, if you give them agency to, to lead things, I think.

So that's a shift I hope that we will, you know, move towards and see that [01:00:00] real inclusion is I think, you know, that thing where they have the fence, do you know that one where, and then there's people standing and the fact, and they're looking over a fence to a football match or something. And the tall guy, he can see, and then someone else, and someone's got a box and then someone else is in a pit.

And that's actually, in one sense, that's equality. And everyone's allowed to stand and watch, but some people can't. And, and, you know, that's sort of what the Americans used to call positive discrimination or something, you know, positive affirmation. We do actually have to look, we have to move beyond equality to equity.

I think that's that's what they say, isn't it, really? Yes, 

Will Small: I think another word we could use instead of inclusion is embrace. Yes! A word that has, yes there is a positive energy there towards all of this is beautiful and a gift. Yes. And 

Josephine Inkpin: that's the one thing, you're absolutely right. It's reclaiming, again, it's sort of going back into our spiritual traditions and saying, see inclusion and words like that, they're not really, they're not [01:01:00] really in our spiritual traditions very much because actually they've got these limitations, whereas embrace, and we know that.

can be problematic, we'll be all very conscious in churches now about safe church and things, but embraces a much more powerful expression and, and, and grounded in bodies and relationships. And you know, I, I love the work that Miroslav Vold, for example, theologian, Balkan theologian, out of the terrors that they had, a number of years ago.

And he's, he's not keen on that inclusion, but he speaks about that, you know, that embrace rather than exclusion. And yeah, so I think it's working on those, you know, those sorts of, those, I mean, you know, that wonderful image of, of the Jesus tells the parent who runs that father runs out father, I think, because that's the thing, because someone who doesn't stand on ceremony anymore, and dignity runs out and embraces his prodigal child.

And you know, it, it's that sort of character where the warmth as well of the [01:02:00] embrace, whereas inclusion, which is sort of like, well, we'll give you, we'll call you by, you know, we use pronouns, that's nice, but, but we, we don't really want you to speak. And we certainly don't want your prayers or we'll stick with our eyes, you know, that's not really it.

Will Small: Yes, no, we've got a long way to go. Jo, I am so grateful for this conversation. Thank you for your time and for sharing some of your story and yeah, many, many things that have been both an invitation and a challenge to me and I'm sure will be to those who listen. I'd love to give you the last word as you think about those who are listening and particularly around this Holy Week, Easter kind of time.

This will come out on Resurrection Sunday. What would be your words of, of blessing or your words of encouragement or, or whatever it is that you'd want to say to those who are listening? 

Josephine Inkpin: I think it, from a trans point of view, you know, it's actually, you know, spirit, it's about going deeper. And that's what happened when [01:03:00] I, I went deeper into myself and trusted myself, my deep, deep self.

I knew that it was going to potentially cause all sorts of problems, but to trust that. And that, that depth, which is where you touch into ultimate being and love, that is what will secure you, whatever else happens, even if your family rejects you, even if your religious tradition, even if your job falls to bits, that will eventually, that, it's finding that integrity and that truth, that's what Jesus stood for, and that truth and integrity, that truth of love.

Ultimately prevails, even if it might be a bit of a journey for some of us over the way. So that's what I would say. Beautiful. Thank you, Jo. Thank you. 

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