Man, I cannot find those earrings for the life of me!
I have been doing some more thinking about the Episcopal Church's Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori's bizarre sermon bashing St. Paul.
She's resurfaced in what one suffering Espisopalian called "the worst sermon ever," in which she debuts an astonishingly original interpretation of St. Paul's encounter with the slave girl possessed by a demon. She says,
Paul is annoyed at the slave girl who keeps pursuing him, telling the world that he and his companions are slaves of God. She is quite right. She’s telling the same truth Paul and others claim for themselves. 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! The amazing thing is that during that long night in jail he remembers that he might find God there – so he and his cellmates spend the night praying and singing hymns.
Well, to be fair to Paul, it is annoying when someone who is possessed by a demon keeps following you around (see above, 18-month-old child). But generally, when one is a Christian bishop, one recognizes that the demon is -- 'ow do you say -- the bad guy, here, and not Paul.
Okay, but let's play along and assume that Paul was somehow being a jerk by exorcising the demon from her. In Bishop Schori's account, it was his closed-minded disregard for the girl's gifts that is somehow what gets him thrown in jail because . . . her captors were actually feminists, who saw through him? Or something? Then the Bishop says this:
An earthquake opens the doors and sets them free, and now Paul and his friends most definitely discern the presence of God. The jailer doesn’t – he thinks his end is at hand. This time, Paul remembers who he is and that all his neighbors are reflections of God, and he reaches out to his frightened captor. This time Paul acts with compassion rather than annoyance, and as a result the company of Jesus’ friends expands to include a whole new household. It makes me wonder what would have happened to that slave girl if Paul had seen the spirit of God in her.
So God is mad at him for messing with the slave girl who "shares in God's Nature" (boy, the Holy Trinity is just branching out all over the place these days), but still busts him out of jail in a really spectacular fashion because God . . . wasn't focusing? He forgot if He was mad at Paul or not? In fairness, this interpretation of the Bible is rather intricate. Lotta ins, lotta outs.
Oh, I'm almost out of room, and I haven't even gotten to the part where she talks about how accepting diversity is "the only road to the kingdom of God." Not accepting Jesus Christ, mind you. Accepting diversity. And I didn't get to the part where the main point of Revelations 22 is PARRRRRR-TAY! Everybody's welcome! Be they dogs, or be they fornicators, or be they whatever, John wants to them to come on down!
But seriously. The best we can possibly hope for here is that the bishop got caught up in something all to familiar to many of us: somebody gave her a bottle of first rate tequila, she forgot to read the material, and then in the morning, she just had to wing it. And this is how it turned out. Bet you five bucks she hustled out of there after the service and went to throw up in the nearest bush.
If that's not what happened, then there's something much, much worse going on: the Episcopal Church is being headed by someone who refers to demonic possession as "spiritual awareness." Which is apparently, according to her, much the same as being gay, or something, because diversity.
Episcopalians: get out now. Your church is bonkers.
I found Simcha's post to be pretty darn funny, and I wasn't offended, although a number of commenters were. One or two are Episcopalian/Anglican and felt they were being mocked. Others were Catholics and felt she was being uncharitable. And then a few, I think, are just trolls and are anti-Catholic and/or anti-Simcha Fischer.
Anyway, I thought, maybe some of you readers (all seven of you wonderful folks) are wondering why I'd be part of a denomination, that is, um... well, let's go with "bonkers." While I've confessed my love for liturgy, it's not like the Piskies have a patent on it. The Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Lutherans, and a number of Methodists like to get their high church on, too.
There's no doubt, also, that the flock is not so faithful anymore. Despite being one of the oldest churches in this country, it's quickly shedding members. Heck, it's actually shedding entire parishes, with a number joinging splinter Anglican denominations. Other parishes have done what Simcha invites, swimming the Tiber, becoming Roman Catholic, congregants, pastor and all.
Outside my church, The Church of the Good Shepherd, Rahway, NJ.
Then there's me. Still here, pulling out a copy of the Book of Common Prayer and not ready to shed or swim. When I quietly slip into a pew most Sunday mornings at Good Shepherd, I can see that other members have chosen to leave. In the nearly three years that I've attended, a number of people have vanished. Some have passed on, others have moved, still others have left for other churches. A few have joined the huge Evangelical megachurch that's about two minutes away. Yet, there I am, still slightly behind the life-long members on the standing/sitting/kneeling/crossing calisthenics. Despite Bishop Wacky, I know my pastor is orthodox in his teachings. So for the time being, I'm good.
Just out of curiousity (okay, and nosiness), are any of you (seven) readers members of a shrinking denomination? Or maybe a struggling church? Or did you choose to leave a denomination that you felt went too heterodox? Share in the comment box. Or don't. It's all good.