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Spong, Oprah and Jesus

Bishop John Shelby Spong, Episcopal Diocese of...

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I have an old and dear friend who is a devout Christian. We talked on the phone today and had a very long and passionate discussion. She had watched that same episode of Oprah about Mike Sisco and said that for the first time ever, she’d thought of writing Oprah and thanking her. The part of the show that had impacted her so was when Oprah asked  those townspeople of Williamson, West Virginia “where was their compassion?” Oprah told them she saw hatred, intolerance, cruelty, but no compassion at all. They claimed to be Christian, living in a Christian community, yet had essentially crucified this young man. My friend said she cried through the entire show.

Former Episcopalian Bishop John Shelby Spong is in town this weekend. Lee and I heard him speak over an extended period of time at a retreat a couple of years ago. Spong is the author of such books as Jesus for the Non-Religious, and Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism and has been a fierce advocate for the LGBT community within the Christian church. He was asked at the retreat why he remained in the church when he disagreed with so many of their beliefs and actions. He said he dearly loved the Episcopal Church and believed he could affect far more change from within.

My friend and I also talked of how we had both gone through extreme changes in our lives and have had to leave much of our previous lives behind. We’d both had to leave both things and people behind, including some people we loved and cared for deeply. It occurred to me that while we try so hard to not throw out the baby with the bath water, sometimes we have to. I had to. I am grateful for those, like Spong, who have had the strength to work in hostile environments against great odds and resistance. I am grateful my friend can continue to embrace her Christian beliefs and even work within a Christian school while her own beliefs expand and embrace other ideas and people. Mike Sisco’s sisters say he was glad he went on Oprah that day in 1987.

Personally, I threw out the baby and the bath water. It was the only way I could get fresh water.

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September 18, 2010 - Posted by | The Gay Me | , , , , ,

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