The Oscars film and television award ceremony on the 9th of February followed in the footsteps of the BAFTAs https://www.theguardian.com/film/2020/feb/02/joaquin-phoenixs-attack-on-baftas-for-systemic-racism-meets-industry-wide-praise, one week previously, in showing up the whole industry once again for a lack of diversity of nominees https://oscar.go.com/nominees in terms of gender, race or LGTB rights.
At the Oscars awards it was Oscar and BAFTA ‘Best Actor’ award winner, Joaquin Phoenix https://www.theguardian.com/film/2020/feb/10/joaquin-phoenixs-oscars-speech-in-full, whose admittedly off-the-wall acceptance speech was almost worthy of award itself in the eyes of many. At the BAFTAs, both its host Graham Norton and awards presenter Rebel Wilson also commented at the lack of diversity being celebrated. When the nominations for this year’s BAFTA film awards were announced, there was criticism that all the nominees in the four main acting categories were white. And Best Director nominees were all male for the seventh year in a row. Prince William, as president of BAFTA, gave a speech during the ceremony in which he said: “we find ourselves talking again about the need to do more to ensure diversity in the sector and the awards process. That simply cannot be right in this day and age.” Joaquin Phoenix was upset that some of his worthy fellow actors were not getting the same recognition as him, whilst he was also honest enough to admit to not having done enough himself in the past to make sure the films he worked in were diverse. He said, “I’m grateful that so many of you in this room have given me a second chance. I think that’s when we’re at our best: when we support each other. Not when we cancel each other out for our past mistakes, but when we help each other to grow. When we educate each other; when we guide each other to redemption – that is the best of humanity.”
Paul might well begin by berating his brothers and sisters in Corinth for their divisions, in 1 Corinthians 3.1-9, but it might also be that he is celebrating the diversity which is bringing them to the maturity of recognising their oneness in Christ. Paul refers to the already dramatically changed individuals, who together make up the new community, as immature. Their disunity, rivalry, jealousy and quarrelling lead him to comment that its as if they’re still restricted to baby food. He knows that they’ve come a long way from their old pagan, multi-god beliefs, but he also acknowledges that they still have a lot of growing-up to do. This they must do before they will be ready to appreciate the significance of being part of a mature fellowship of Jesus Christ. Maturity, it seems, is about not getting side-tracked onto the importance of individual teachers (e.g. Paul or Apollos), but instead being able to focus only of Christ. Paul uses both planting and watering as metaphors for the gospel from which the Corinthian church will grow towards redemption.
Diversity is not an excuse to do whatever we want to do. But it can be a recognition that we might be mature enough to learn from one another and to recognise that it is God who enables us to grow to the fullest potential of who we can be.
This is a simple personal prayer of self-acceptance.
Great Creator who birthed me,
help me to grow in knowledge of who you have made me to be.
Great Saviour who walks with me,
take my hand and give me the courage to accept the person I am called to be.
Great Spirit who watches over me,
guide my steps along life’s road,
that I might see the potential of the path laid out for me.
Creator, Saviour, Spirit,
help me to love me for who you know I am.
Rev Tim Lowe, Minister at St Andrew’s Roundhay