Flavius Josephus, Judas Iscariot and Anti-Semitism

Column by Bishop John Shelby Spong on 25 July 2007 0 Comments
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Your credentials are outstanding and I thoroughly
enjoyed your recent recap of events on your lecture tour of
Norway and Sweden. The poem by Tor Littmark that you included
in one column was deep and moving. I wish I could share it with
ALL my friends and relatives. You must, however, have
encountered more than a little backlash from the complaining
conservative evangelical elements in both countries or did they
just roll over and play dead?


The fact is that while I was in both countries I
experienced nothing but the warmth of a gracious welcome. I
suspect that if there was additional backlash to my visit from
conservative, evangelical groups in Norway and Sweden, it
occurred after I left. That is frequently the pattern. They
can use the "letters to the editor" columns to get their point
across without fear of being challenged.

Please do not misunderstand, however, that while
I do not enjoy it, I welcome negative responses and have
received many of them. That is finally the only way I can cause
people, who have long since left the kind of religion these
negative people are espousing, to wake up and entertain the
possibility that there may be something more to the Christianity
than that by which they are repelled.

I grew up in an evangelical fundamentalist world
and it gave me a tremendous sense of security as I struggled
with the realities of losing my father at the age of 12. I
reveled in my heavenly father who would not disappoint me as my
earthly father had done. Without that firm anchor, I do not
know what would have happened to the fragile lad that I was. It
is one thing, however, to need a literal anchor in a particular
storm of life but quite another to cling to yesterday's anchor
because you can not grow up. Life changes, boundaries expound
and spirits soar. That is when one discovers that security is
not the end goal of life and that sometimes one has to risk, to
let go, to venture and to journey and when you do, you discover
that God is more than just a security anchor. God is a future
hope, a dream, and a reality beckoning you to live, to love and
to be. That is when the religion of evangelical fundamentalism
can and will be laid down and abandoned. It comes at different
times in people's lives but it always comes. If one rejects or
represses that moment of freedom, one becomes an angry
fundamentalist whose life is dedicated to protecting one's
religious security system. The name of those who act this way
today is legion, but that response will not last. It never does.

So I welcome what you call the backlash. I
rejoice in what religious fundamentalism did in my life and I
celebrate the fact I have no need to cling to that part of my
past. Indeed my life requires that I let the quest for security
go and I rejoice in that.

John Shelby Spong




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