Deborah Gyapong: Ouch! A review of Bishopess Jefferts-Schori's new book

Ouch! A review of Bishopess Jefferts-Schori's new book


She tells us what to do about any problem in glib and superficial terms that include disparate advice such as to eat our protein, wash our dishes by hand, celebrate layoffs in the Episcopal Church, support the Obama health care bill, call ourselves beloved, criticize the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, make the United States government limit capitalistic profits, declare unity in the Episcopal Church, and plant gardens on the church lawns.
 Jefferts Schori bounces from one subject to another with the rapidity of a writer not disciplined by transitional ideas or even rational thought. On page 23 within four sentences, Jefferts Schori drags in, with her typical pell-mell fashion, Katrina and its aftermath, genocide in Rwanda, global AIDS, torture for terrorists, and health care reform in our country. With all her vast pronouncements, she doesn't even bother with a bibliography to support her ideas and includes only seven notes for quotes (two of which are from the Book of Common Prayer).
The only really clear part of this book is that Jefferts Schori supports the Obama health care bill. 

Jefferts Schori also criticizes those who evangelize by telling others about Jesus Christ. She praises a man who came to her same conclusion, writing, "He said he finally learned that his job wasn't to get somebody to say a verbal formula about accepting Jesus as personal Lord and savior, but to make a space that was safe enough for others to say what they really think and feel."(75) She taunts both those who evangelize for Jesus and those who accept His ministry. She says about the leper who received healing from Jesus, "Actually, he's a bit whiny about it."(22)
Time and time again, Jefferts Schori reveals that she has no depth conception of the struggles involved with working out one's salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12) Faithful people who testify that Jesus is Lord might actually have accepted Him as their Savior, in the midst of severe hardships, and, in doing so, found the great redemption of our Lord.

That apparently means nothing to Jefferts Schori. She declares her easy Islamic theology about the Beloved by commanding everyone to claim the divine baptismal promise given only to Jesus. Beginning with the scripture from Luke 3:22, Jefferts Schori writes, "'You are my beloved, and in you I am well pleased.' If we're willing to risk hearing that and being transformed by it, we have begun to participate in Jesus' reality. It is a hopeful saying for most of us-we don't quite believe that we can be all that pleasing to God, because we think we know more about ourselves than God does. But it was also an aspiration in Jesus' ears-he aspired to live into the fullness of God's intent."(121)

Jesus aspired to live into this? I might aspire to write something like Tolstoy's War and Peace but whether this will happen is surely in question. So Jesus aspired to live into the fullness of God's intent? Does she mean Jesus maybe hoped to do something like God might have wanted? Jesus sounds like a pretty foggy character here, not anything like the powerful revelation of the Godhead the Gospels portray.

Sarah Frances Ives is a regular contributor to Virtueonline. She lives in Washington DC with her husband and two children



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