Friday, November 14, 2003

GOOGLE MOGUL HEEBIE-JEEBIES: Well, that first post is a little self-important, now that I read it again. But I'll let it ride.

I'm surprised and just a little creeped out by the search-bot-generated ad that Blogger has placed at the top of my page -- guess I'll get used to it. Today it links to Google searches for "David+Brooks" and "Christianity." Yessah, yessah, get yer Christian and David Brooks related expert opinions right here...

It's interesting to see myself linked to, the site of well-known (notorious, to some) Christian progressive John Shelby Spong. When I was a teenager, my family were members of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, and Spong was our bishop. I don't have strong firsthand memories of him, though I must have met him and heard him preach two or three times. My mother was a big admirer of Spong's, one big reason being he was a strong proponent of ordaining women to the Episcopal clergy, at the time when that was a controversial topic.

I could be exaggerating his importance, but I think Spong had a significant influence on the Episcopal Church, for good and ill. I think he's been on the side of the angels in regard to the rights of women and gays, but the denomination is in something of a crisis now, facing a possible liberal/conservative schism. The ECUSA is perceived as "Christianity Lite," endlessly accommodating to modernity and a bit soft on Biblical authority. It seems like I've heard that in his recent writings Spong fudges on matters such as the Virgin Birth and the divinity of Jesus. This would certainly fit the conservatives' image of him as at least flirting with heresy.

Some years after leaving NJ I had a friend whose father was an Episcopal priest and worked under Spong, and I gathered from this friend that Spong's management style and personal piety left something to be desired. Bishop yes; saint no.

But I should look over his site. So should you, if the concept of progressive Christianity is novel and intriguing to you.

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