Monday, November 08, 2010

John Shelby Spong-ed

Whilst wandering around in the religious blogosphere on break between emptying flower pots and making enough vegetable-beef soup to last into the new week Sunday afternoon, I ended up here. And took Beliefnet's little "What kind of Christian are you?" quiz.

I had been thinking, while working, of one of my great-grandfathers, Joseph Brown, to whom work on the Christian Sabbath was an abomination --- a term that when approached from a biblical perspective implies violation of a holy law of a specific religious culture rather than a general breach of moral law, a distinction lost on many. Great-granddad, for example, forbade his wives (there were three of these, in succession imposed by untimely death) to cook on Sunday. Food prepared on Saturday could be reheated on the Sabbath, but not prepared.

"Not that kind of Christian," I was thinking.

The gratifying Beliefnet classification I ended up in was "John Shelby Spong Christian." Bishop Spong (retired, Episcopal Diocese of Newark) is a heritic and I'm fond of heretics. When John Shelby first went public, steam and smoke arose from clerical ears across Anglicanland and elsewhere as he was denounced from pulpits. In the years since, as Anglicanism has moved toward schism between left and right, schism fueled on the left by inclusiveness and on the right by continued determination to marginalize women and dispatch us queerfolk, he's picked up more friends. He's especially popular among (heaven help us) humanists.

It's not necessary to share every belief expressed by the bishop, but it is constructive to read or listen to Spong and be challenged by his assertions. The idea that organized religion tends to be more about power than faith, for example; or the suggestion that the directive to have child-like faith tends to be used as a tool by those in power to discourage independent thought and grown-up faith.

So I was satisfied, at roughly 3 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon in November between flower pot and soup kettle, to be a John Shelby Spong Christian. At other times, I may feel a little differently.

You know you want to take the quiz. Go ahead. Here's the link again. Just remember --- I've got a big mouth, but you don't have to tell anyone the result (unless you want to).


Indian summer? Sure it is. Highs near 70 and sunshine are predicted through midweek. It can't, and won't, last --- but we can enjoy it while it's here.

I've got a program to present at the nursing home this morning --- on Mallory's Castle (aka the Ilion), not a new subject but the two DVDs I'm taking along are new and I'm not quite sure how they are going to work out; a board meeting Tuesday; more planters to empty and other yardwork that needs doing; and a heck of a lot of long-deferred houseowrk --- among other stuff. But outdoors takes priority.

The return to Central Standard Time continues to be a problem. The spirit is willing (I'd like to sleep until 4:30 a.m.) but the body isn't (it's ready to rise at 3:30 a.m.).

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