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One secular newspaper's "provocative" is an orthodox Christian's "preposterous"

Episcopal Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori at a U.S. Senate hearing in 2007 (CNS photo)
But it is hard, as even the Grey Lady confesses: "But for Katharine Jefferts Schori, since 2006 the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, memories of Curaçao will always be associated with the controversy that greeted her upon her return — another controversy in what has already been a rocky tenure as the head of a troubled, shrinking church."

That's a reference to Schori's sermon of a month ago, in which she ignored the text, context, and everything in between the two in providing a confusing, feminist-inspired interpretation of Acts 16:16-34. Her basic point was that the Apostle Paul was a narrow minded, ungrateful, and selfish jerk (that's a lengthy description of what many feminists otherwise call "men"). As I concluded at the time, after examining Schori's laughable exegesis, "Alas, Schori's attachment to the ideology of the present age and the fads of political correctness blind her to what should be obvious to someone professing to be a Christian."

Yet Schori is sticking to her guns, a description that would undoubtedly offend her. Regardless, she is holding fast to her faith, which apparently rests on being pro-abortion, supporting "gay marriage", and upholding other trendy causes that have ancient roots in the 1960s. This despite the quickening death of the Episcopal brand, as the Times hints at:

Disdain for Bishop Jefferts Schori is common among church conservatives. She is supportive of marriage and ordination for gay men and lesbians, and she has taken a very hard line against dissenting dioceses, many of whose members hold more traditional views. Under her leadership, the Episcopal Church has spent millions of dollars in legal fights to keep the church buildings of congregations whose members have voted to leave the Episcopal Church, often to affiliate with more traditionalist organizations.

How interesting that "taking a hard line against dissenting dioceses" and spending millions in "legal fights" is not criticized by the Times. Apparently it is only Catholic bishops who are taken to task and criticized when addressing dissent and so forth. And, indeed, the newspaper manages to make a few drops of lemonade out of these withering lemons:

No presiding bishop could be truly popular right now. Bishop Jefferts Schori assumed her post at a time when, on issues of sexuality and theology, it would be impossible not to make enemies in the church. That said, her rereading of Paul’s actions toward the slave girl are indeed provocative.

Ah, "provocative"—the very essence of a word meant to sound positive when nothing positive can be said. Yet it surely sounds better than "ridiculous", "laughable", "embarrasing", and "ludicrous", and "preposterous", all of which fit much better, at least for those interested in accurate reporting. And many Episcopalians know it:

“Bishop Jefferts Schori simply ignores what the text says, in order to give a reading that portrays Paul as a patriarchal oppressor who fails to recognize the voice of God in a low-status young girl,” said Jordan Hylden, who writes for Christian publications and will soon be ordained an Episcopal priest. The bishop’s interpretation is “so obviously wrong,” Mr. Hylden continued, in an e-mail, “that the deeper question is: Why does she feel at liberty to give a reading of Scripture that doesn’t even try to understand and explain what the text is saying?”

The answer, it turns out, is that Schori's simply doesn't like St. Paul, as she thinks he was a rather shifty fellow:

But Bishop Jefferts Schori pointed out, in an interview on Friday, that elsewhere in the Bible, Paul appears to condone slavery. Her sermon was thus part of a necessary, continuing tradition of interpretation.

“If the church had never reinterpreted Scripture,” the bishop said, “we would still have slavery — legal slavery.” Scripture must be read “in our own time and our own context,” because prior generations had “a limited view,” she said.

“They had to have a limited view, because none of us is God.”

Yet this only confuses matters more, because Paul freed the slave girl in Acts 16 from oppression by an evil spirit and the oppression of her human masters. Come to think of it, Paul was simply carrying on the work of Jesus Christ, who had commissioned his apostles to proclaim the Kingdom and the Gospel, which involved liberation from sin, evil, suffering, and death. Besides, a close reading of Philemon, which was written to the owner of the slave Onesimus, indicates that Paul was all for the freeing of slaves (see vs. 15-17, in particular). The bottom line is that a "reinterpretation" requires at least some attempt to engage with the text in question. Schori not only fails to do the bare minimum, she throws Paul under the feminist bus, and then commits the common but lamentable sin of chronological snobbery (prior generations had a "limited view"). And so, Schori's "rocky tenure" as "head of a troubled, shrinking church" continues, one exegetical wreck at a time.

 
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Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight.
 
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