Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Bishop Bloopers; Presiding Bishop in Curacao

Presiding bishop preaches in CuraƧao, Diocese of Venezuela

The wisest man recorded in Scripture once spoke of the best of perfumes being spoiled by a single dead fly. It is that impression I get when reading this sermon preached in the Diocese of Venezuela by none other than the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church.

This is part of the text from Acts 16:16-34:

"...With Paul and Silas, we came to Philippi in Macedonia, a Roman colony, and, as we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave girl who had a spirit of divination. While she followed Paul and us, she would cry out, "These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation." She kept doing this for many days. But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, "I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And it came out that very hour. But when her owners saw that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the authorities. When they had brought them before the magistrates, they said, "These men are disturbing our city; they are Jews and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to adopt or observe." After they had given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to keep them securely..."
This is the proposed interpretation...
“But Paul is annoyed, perhaps for being put in his place, and he responds by depriving her of her gift of spiritual awareness.  Paul can’t abide something he won’t see as beautiful or holy, so he tries to destroy it.  It gets him thrown in prison.  That’s pretty much where he’s put himself by his own refusal to recognize that she, too, shares in God’s nature, just as much as he does – maybe more so!,”    
What was that?  I had to read this several times to come to terms with what was being communicated here! Is this one of those foot in mouth moments or something else?

We know very well that pastors, including bishops are certainly not infallible, specially in their homilies. However clergy certainly aught to be a bit more careful with their exegesis. This has got to be one of the most bizarre and objectionable interpretations of a Biblical text I have ever heard...! 

I admit that in reading the whole sermon, there are things which are well written, and  that ideas espoused in its text  speak to my sensibilities! However the treatment of this particular passage of Scripture, a classic story of oppression, deliverance, persecution and faith, is totally appalling!

For all the hoopla about how those who come to our churches not needing to leave our brains at the door...looks like some people actually did!  How can someone reading this passage seriously, call spirit channeling and demon possession, a gift of spiritual awareness, good, holy, and participation in God's nature?

With all the criticism we Episcopalians already get from other Christians for the progressive stances of  some in our family this is certainly unneeded attention! Maybe we need to take Scripture in its plain meaning a bit more seriously and demand our teachers explain themselves when they contort the Bible's meaning simply to make a point!



Thursday, May 2, 2013

Abortion is a Blessing...

It is hard to believe that clergy that claim to profess the Christian faith would hold views such as these! Here are excerpts from the infamous "Abortion is a blessing" speech by the Rev. Dr. Katharine Ragsdale, dean of  Episcopal Divinity school! Parts of it are quite painful to hear!

Christians have as a whole always valued and respected life from the earliest of times. Here is some of the witness from our history:
"...The second commandment of the Teaching: "Do not murder; do not commit adultery"; do not corrupt boys; do not fornicate; "do not steal"; do not practice magic; do not go in for sorcery; do not murder a child by abortion or kill a newborn infant..."  Didakhe , 1st century
 "...In our case, murder being once for all forbidden, we may not destroy even the foetus in the womb. To hinder a birth is merely a speedier man - killing; nor does it matter whether you take away a life that is born, or destroy one that is coming to the birth - Tertullian Apologia 9.6
 "...Sometimes, indeed, this lustful cruelty, or if you please, cruel lust, resorts to such extravagant methods as to use poisonous drugs to destroy the conceived seed by some means previous to birth, preferring that its offspring should rather perish than receive vitality; or if it was advancing to life within the womb, should be slain before it was born..."- St. Augustine, 
What is it about us Episcopalians who in the name of inclusiveness allow  voices like these to go largely unchallenged? We are responsible not only for the evil we commit but that which we excuse or allow, for the things we have done and left undone. Clearly the problem of unplanned or unwanted pregnancy in our  society is complex, but to call a procedure that  results in the end of an innocent life a blessing is unthinkable!  

A pregnancy termination may sometimes be necessary to save a life but , abortion, used as it is increasingly in our society, is most certainly no blessing at all! At a time in history where contraception is inexpensive and widely available, the killing of unborn humans as a method of birth control is an objectionable abomination, a crime against life!