Tuesday, 21 May 2013
Schori, Glory, Hallelujah?
I had to check the calendar to make sure that I wasn't being conned and even when I was certain it was May (not April the first) I had to check many sources* to see if I was being had, but (sadly) apparently not!
It appears that the doyen of all that is liberal, revisionist (and Episcopalian - which appears to mean one and the same for many these days), Katharine Jefferts Schori, had launched a bit of a diatribe against the Apostle Paul (who many seem to think might just have penned most of the New Testament).
The focus of her attack is Paul's dealings with a demonically influenced slave girl (Acts 16. 16-34) who follows Paul and the others around, for days, shouting, ‘These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.’
Now eventually Paul gets a bit cheesed of and so he casts out the demons. Of course the people who manage her, for she is a slave who is hired out to predict stuff, get a bit naffed off and drag Paul and Silas before the authorities for a bit of revenge. Nothing like losing a good income stream to tick people off now, is there?
I have to admit that I would have thought that a bit of free publicity was always helpful, but obviously there are limits and so Paul draws the line - even though of course a house divided and all that - and sends the dark bits packing - after all, they're not on the same side as us (or are they? Some might take from her words the idea that Schori thinks they might be and that would explain so very much more than just the sermon now, wouldn't it?).
Still, that's my 'off the wall' take on it I guess.
But what of the Schori-teller herself, what does she make of this episode? Well, apparently it demonstrates that Paul is, 'mean-spirited and bigoted.'
Not only that but (apparently) she condemns those who disagree with her and labels them as 'enemies of the Holy Spirit'.
Schori explains that Paul didn't set the girl free, he merely 'deprived her of her gift of spiritual awareness'. His frustration at her proclamations led him to rid her of something he considers as wrong and because he sees it as such he denies that it can be beautiful or holy. I guess Schori would, using the same logic, believe the fact that people who deny homosexuality are acting in the same manner and assign the same dynamics to their actions also.
She speaks of progress and how 'different is not the same as wrong' and how it can be difficult to see God at work in the world, especially if God is doing something unexpected - and homosexuality and the demoniac slave girl appear to be one and same in that respect.
Of course, to make it work there has to be the good old ad hominem - Paul the mysoginist is now Paul the arrogant, the oppresser, the slighted who lashes out and takes away something beautiful - the gift of demon oppression - And this is what others do now with homosexuality when they oppose it too I guess. Bigots and homophobes each and every one!
There's so much 'other information' that Schori draws on - the earthquake and the fact that Paul 'repents of casting out the spirit of divination' and acts with compassion towards the frightened, and about to take his own life, jailer. Schori continues, 'It makes me wonder what would have happened to that slave girl if Paul had seen the spirit of God in her.'
Well I have to think he'd have praised God for His gift in her had it been God's gift, but it wasn't God's gift - it was the work of the enemy - and so what could he do but oppose it?
If we bless what the devil does; if we bless those acts which deny that which Scripture, tradition and reason has known, taught and lived in for so many years; if we support, and especially encourage, divination then surely we fall foul of the Biblical commandments and deny God. But, according to Schori (if the reports are true) we are not justified by our faith but by our respect for diversity. Odd that, I thought justification came by God's grace - something she most definitely doesn't have a scooby about it seems.
Move over Paul, it's time for a rewrite and some rehabilitation!
Mind you - I do have to agree with Schori when she says:
'Jesus says he’s looking for everybody, anyone who’s looking for good news, anybody who is thirsty. There are no obstacles or barriers – just come. God is at work everywhere, even if we can’t or won’t see it immediately.'
Hallelujah lady - you've got one right at last. Of course, once we've come to Jesus the adventure continues by Him (Jesus) calling us to be obedient and live according to God's commandments and lifestyle guides, so you've fallen just short of the mark (but that won't be a new experience now, will it?)!
Now that bit won't be as popular with her or her followers methinks ;-)
*To read the transcript of the sermon click here