Splashing around in theology.

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Location: Ottawa, Canada

I read lots. I have a cat. I drink coffee. Therefore, I am.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Can't Please Everyone!

This picture to the left is of John Shelby Spong.
I consider Spong to be my own personal STM [Spiritual Transformation Mentor] and I have chosen this particular photo because here he is holding two of my favorite things in his hands.
A book, and a coffee!
A while ago, a friend sent me Spong’s autobiography, entitled Here I Stand: My Struggle For A Christianity of Integrity, Love, & Equality.
I have not read the thing yet, [it is a serious brick] but have every intention of doing so. But I have flipped through it, and something in the very first pages so captured my attention that I want to share them here, as an example of how incredibly impossible it is to please every person, when we are speaking of spiritual matters.

Nothing… not politics, not love of country or family, or sometimes even the love of life itself, can come close to the resolution with which some people hold their deeply felt religious beliefs. People will martyr themselves over it, as we all know. [Or make martyrs of others!]
Bishop Spong had written more than a dozen books prior to this autobiography. Among the thousands of letters he had received in response to his writings, he placed excerpts from a few of them here at the start of Here I Stand. They alternate between feelings of profound indignation/vehemence and profound thankfulness/gratitude. The disparity, the WORLDS of irreconciliation expressed in these letters…. well, I will just shut up and let them speak for themselves.

“Your words are not just heresy, they are apostasy. Burning you at the stake would be too kind!”
-- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

“Your book was like manna from heaven – God-sent! I cannot adequately express my gratitude.”
-- Richmond, Virginia

“You rail against the church’s doctrines and core beliefs while you accept wages from her. Even whores appreciate their clients. You, sir, have less integrity than a whore!”
-- Selma, Alabama

“You have made it possible for me to remain in the Church and have taught me how to believe honestly its creeds even in the twentieth century.”
-- Boston, Massachusetts

“Bishop Spong, you are full of shit. We are going to clean you up.”
-- An orthodox Christian

“Reading your book is like eating a delicious Black Forest cherry birthday cake. It has made me vulnerable while increasing my desire to worship.”
-- British Columbia, Canada

“Remember as you prance about disguised as a minister of the gospel, that you will pay for your sins eternally in the lake of fire.”
-- Charleston, South Carolina

“Your book is a transcendent work of brilliance and, I am sure, permanence.”
-- Pasadena, California

“I hope the next plane on which you fly crashes. You are not worthy of life. If all else fails, I will try to rid the world of your evil presence personally.”
-- Orlando, Florida

“I believe you are a prophet and I will strive with you to answer God’s call to live fully, love wastefully, and be all that I can be. Thank you, thank you, and may your life continue to be blessed.”
-- Grosse Point, Michigan

Isn’t that just a wild assortment of coagulated opinion?
At any rate, the sentiment that comes closest to my own is the last one, from Grosse Point.
I so believe that Spong’s voice is one that is VITAL to any sort of maintenance of “Christian” spirituality in our day. As silly and/or insignificant-ish as it may sound, I consider even this blog here, godpuddle, to be my one of the ways that I myself can be “all that I can be.”

All the best to you.


Blogger Cipriano said...

Thank you, Anonymous.... perhaps I should make a return to writing postings on this blog..... I usually write now, only on Bookpuddle.
-- Cip

8/22/2011 2:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just dropping by to say hey

2/25/2013 7:47 PM  

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