GlobalView from Bishop Bill Atwood



In the USA, automobile rear-view mirrors have a message etched into the glass. It reads, “Objects in mirror may be closer than they appear.” There is something about the way the optics work that gives a false impression of distance so drivers may not make good decisions. Another place where things may not be as they seem is in using maps and magnetic compasses. Because the magnetic North Pole is not actually at the exact top of the globe, one must account for the fact that it is offset from the axis on which the earth spins.


Currently, the Magnetic North Pole is near Resolute Island. I’ve never landed on the gravel runway there, but I have flown over it many times. It is pretty far from the Geographic North Pole (the point around which the planet spins on its axis). The Magnetic North Pole is not stationary, but is moving at a rate of about 40 kilometers per year.


To make matters worse, the rate of movement is accelerating. Some Mag-pole watchers think that it will reach Siberia within a few decades. Rather than just being an oddity observable in a laboratory, in Oakland, CA, the shift has been significant enough that the runways at the airport have had to be re-numbered. Years ago, the East-West runway was labeled 09-27 for the compass heading that one would fly to land on that runway. Landing to the East would be to Runway 09 (for compass heading 090) and landing or taking off to the West would be Runway 27 (for compass heading 270). Years ago, when Amelia Erhart flew from Hawaii to Oakland, she landed on Runway 27. The runway has not moved, but now it has had to be re-labeled to be Runway 28 because of the shift in the earth’s magnetic field.


crazy chart


As I have resumed flying lately, I’m reviewing things like this. Magnetic deviation can be observed on aviation maps as a red dashed line which shows what the magnetic deviation (difference) currently is, differing from “True North.” The measurements are based on imaginary grid lines that are drawn on the surface of the globe, oriented to the earth’s axis. Here in the Dallas area, the deviation is about 3.5 degrees as this map shows. The dotted line between the arrows shows the lines of flux, while at the bottom of the map you can see that the deviation is 3 degrees, 30 minutes. It is necessary to adjust for that difference when planning or navigating.


In the years since I was actively flying, things have changed enough that failure to account for the changes could cause a plane departing the East coast of the United States to hit Africa instead of Europe. We must adjust for the new information, or run the risk of going astray.


Though not exactly analogous, something has happened that has undermined many of the hard and fast narration points of the liberal world concerning sexuality. Conservatives have often been excoriated for not accepting things like what determines same-sex sexual attraction, or whether or not someone is born with a gender identity. There have been countless articles and speeches that have posited that “everyone knows” that sexual identity is determined at birth. They have also been quick to say that “trans” people are those who are trapped in the wrong body. Now an impeccably conducted, peer reviewed study has been done that indicates that these “established norms” of understanding, may be widespread, but they are by no means as clear as liberal talking points would have us believe.


Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological, Psychological, and Social Sciences was conducted by Lawrence S. Mayer, MB, MS, PhD and Paul R. McHugh, MD under strict controls and guidelines. The editors offered this Note:


We offer this report—written by Dr. Lawrence S. Mayer, an epidemiologist trained in psychiatry, and Dr. Paul R. McHugh, arguably the most important American psychiatrist of the last half-century—in the hope of improving public understanding of these questions. Examining research from the biological, psychological, and social sciences, this report shows that some of the most frequently heard claims about sexuality and gender are not supported by scientific evidence. The report has a special focus on the higher rates of mental health problems among LGBT populations, and it questions the scientific basis of trends in the treatment of children who do not identify with their biological sex. More effort is called for to provide these people with the understanding, care, and support they need to lead healthy, flourishing lives.


Notice the link that TRUTH is necessary in order to care for people whom we should regard as precious (as God does!). Simply indulging people’s desires is not really loving.


Of course this is not to say that conservatives have handled everything about sexuality well! While I don’t think it is anything like as widespread as liberals accuse, there have been examples where conservatives have not been gracious.


We have an obligation to critically evaluate things we see and hear so that we can be as close to “the truth” as possible. Topics of this sort are so weighty that great damage can be done if they are handled frivolously. Make no mistake about it, frivolous affirmations can do terrible damage just as unkindness can. Sadly, many progressives, convinced that Biblical norms are “hateful” have demanded that their new norms be established. This Sexuality and Gender study demonstrates that conclusions must be based in fact. It is not enough for people to demand that we agree with them. Inquiry must be done to determine what is actually true.


It is unlikely, however, that this carefully crafted study will have much impact on progressives. It is not helpful to their position, so it will be ignored. Progressive Western Anglican Provinces like the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Scottish Episcopal Church, and increasingly, the Church of England, will not likely embrace what has been discovered and carefully articulated. Instead, there will continue to be what progressives call “generous conversations” until conservatives are hounded into releasing Biblical norms of sexuality. The horrible problem however, is that the liberal/progressive agenda will never yield what they want it to yield. It cannot bring peace and satisfaction because it is not based in truth. Eventually, it will become so unproductive that liberal talking points will have to have a course correction, but it remains to be seen how far down a crash has to go before people will start to wake up.



The Rt. Rev. Bill Atwood is Bishop of the ACNA International Diocese  and an American Anglican Council Contributing Author.

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