Do I need to say that Bishop Jefferts-Schori is liberal, feminist, pro-gay?
Addressing delegates at a recent triennial meeting of Episcopalians in Anaheim, California, Katherine Jefferts-Schori won this month’s Rand villain award by arguing passionately that the Christian doctrine of individual salvation was all wrong.
''Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told delegates to the group’s triennial meeting July 8 in Anaheim, Calif., that the overarching connection to problems facing Episcopalians has to do with “the great Western heresy—that we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God.”
“It’s caricatured in some quarters by insisting that salvation depends on reciting a specific verbal formula about Jesus,” Jefferts Schori, the first woman to be elected as a primate in the worldwide Anglican Communion three years ago, said. “That individualist focus is a form of idolatry, for it puts me and my words in the place that only God can occupy, at the center of existence, as the ground of being.”
Schori said countering individualistic faith was one reason the theme chosen for the meeting was “Ubuntu,” an African word that describes humaneness, caring, sharing and being in harmony with all of creation.
“Ubuntu doesn’t have any ‘I’s in it,” she said. “The ‘I’ only emerges as we connect—and that is really what the word means: I am because we are, and I can only become a whole person in relationship with others. There is no ‘I’ without ‘you,’ and in our context, you and I are known only as we reflect the image of the One who created us.”
“Ubuntu implies that selfishness and self-centeredness cannot long survive,” she said. “We are our siblings’ knowers and their keepers, and we cannot be known without them.”
“We have no meaning, no true existence in isolation,” she said. “We shall indeed die as we forget or ignore that reality.”
I suppose I agree with her in a sense; we are born connected with other people, both our ancestors and our living kin, as well as our posterity-to-be.
In a spiritual sense, we are told that Christians are one in Christ Jesus.
Oddly, the liberal version of Christianity asserts that we must not take the Bible literally, as my liberal Presbyterian friend tells me. It's "spiritually true'' but not ''literally true.''
Yet the universalist, 'social justice' Christians insist that we are all, quite literally, 'one' in Christ Jesus. The most frequently used Scripture is Galatians 3:28
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.''
Liberal Christians, of course, interpret this as meaning that racial and gender differences are nonexistent in Christ.
This was not the understanding of generations of believers, however. But it's curious how literally the liberals take this passage when they are quick to scoff at the literalism which they believe characterizes 'fundamentalists'.
Similarly with the commandment ''thou shalt not kill', which in the original, translated to 'thou shalt not murder', but liberals suddenly become very literal-minded with this commandment, and insist that it means war is forbidden, and capital punishment ''makes us the same as the murderer.''
It's telling that the Bishop resorts to African terminology to make her point; it's de rigueur among the fashionable 'diversity-philes' and those who have in a sense made the 'wretched of the earth' to stand in for Christ himself.
But it's true that we need bonds with others, we need connections, we need roots. However I know that the Bishop and I part company on that. Instead of crossing to the other side of the globe to find someone deserving of my brotherly/sisterly love, I find my first duty is to my flesh-and-blood kin, those to whom I owe my existence, or with whom I share parentage or other close ties.
Then, of course, neighbors and friends come next, especially my Christian brethren.
If we all did that, attending to those with natural ties and proximity to us, the world would not be in such a bad way, would it? But that's too simple and too logical for the liberal.
Reversing the natural order of things, as they are wont to do, liberals prefer 'Others' over their own, because they find objects for their reverence and recipients of their good works which they think are worthy, while they seem to find less empathy for those closest to them, unless those close to them happen to be other victim/martyrs, such as immigrants, those of irregular sexual predilections, and so on.
I don't object to charitable help for people in far-flung places, but I object to the upside-down priorities of many of today's Christians.
But I agree with the Bishop that we are ''our siblings knowers and their keepers.'' But we differ on who our siblings are, primarily.
Pierre Joseph Proudhon said something that was true:
"If everyone is my brother, I have no brothers."
Yes. If everyone is equally my brother, then the word 'brother' is rendered meaningless.
Likewise, with the popular liberal sentiment of universal love, or the brotherhood of mankind. Love, by its very definition, means an overwhelming preference for someone, or select ones, over all others. Love excludes some by its very nature. If we love everybody, we ''love'' nobody, since all are equal and there is no preference.
Our natural love is for those closest to us, those with whom we have the most in common, and with whom we share the greater part of our experiences and our history.
Perhaps there is too much emphasis on individualism in today's Christianity as well as in the world at large. The libertarian sees this as a good thing, but we cannot replace natural ties with artificial ones based on a strange, diffuse kind of ''love'' which prefers no one and excludes no one.
And our ideas of 'brotherhood' become very attenuated when we are asked to consider each and every person on the planet our 'brothers.'
This rather distorted idea of human oneness is something that, contrary to popular opinion of today, did not necessarily originate with Christianity. I find the classical writers and philosophers, such as Quintilian, Seneca, and Menander, wrote about the "brotherhood of humanity."
Conversely, some fundamental Christian preachers will tell you that no, all men are not brothers if they are not of the family of God. We are brothers only in Christ. That does not preclude doing kindnesses for others outside the family, but our brethren of the faith and of the flesh are first.
No matter what the liberals, with their abstract ideas of 'love' and 'brotherhood' may say, we live in an age in which people tend to neglect their natural ties, sometimes in the name of hyper-individualism, and sometimes, in the case of Christian liberals, in the name of helping the Stranger, who has been put on a high pedestal. This 'telescopic philanthropy', as Dickens I think put it, has well-meaning people neglecting their own households and kin to search for distant objects for their benevolence.
We really must restore the right priorities; there can be no honest justification for looking across the ocean to do good while we have near neighbors and kin who merit our help.