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I 'detest' people 'leaving brain at church door'

BISHOP SIGNS: Dr Joe Aldred

BISHOP AND broadcaster Dr Joe Aldred found himself on the other side of the microphone during a reception to launch his latest book Thinking Outside the Box on Race, Faith and Life.

Interviewer Andrea Beckford put the well-seasoned BBC Radio West Midlands talk show host through his paces as she quizzed him about his early childhood in his beloved Top Mountain, St Catherine, Jamaica.

The ecumenist confessed how as a young boy, he had accidentally killed the family donkey by not checking on him when he should have done, and how he once cooked his brother dumplings with ashes when the flour ran out!

“I’m still a wicked fried dumpling maker,” laughed Aldred, as he explained the dumplings tasted fine cooked with a little ash – and they even won a compliment from his brother.

On a more serious note, Aldred, who is now a father of three daughters and a grandfather, said how one of his greatest passions was a settled family life – a strong family bond, around which it’s possible to build a settled home.

Beckford told him he has often been referred to as “a bridge” between different communities and had been on the frontline responding calmly in the media spotlight during disturbances within the community.

He said: “I want people to be proud of their origins – if you are African – be proud of that. The more I know who I am, the better I am able to relate to others.”

When asked about the title of his book Thinking Outside the Box which is a collection of writings, sermons and homilies on many issues including racism, the black church, the Bible, destiny and parenting, Aldred explained that the “box” is the box of conformity.

“The way out of the box is to think for yourself,” said Aldred, at the reception at The Drum arts centre in Birmingham. “Never let anyone take away your rights and never stop thinking for yourself.”

He said he felt the church was often guilty of trying to make people conform and how some pastors prefer people to be “unthinking” in their obedience.

“I have grown to detest that the most,” added Aldred.

“I do not want to be in a faith where I have to leave my brain at the door when I go into church.”

The reception was indeed a family affair as it was hosted by Novelette, Aldred’s wife of almost 40 years, and his three daughters – Marsha, who sang, Genelle and Alethea.

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