The Origins of the Bible, Part XXVIII: The Chronicler — Final Chapter of the Old Testament

Column by Bishop John Shelby Spong on 23 July 2009 0 Comments
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First, I have purchased all of your books and to use an old cliché have been blessed by them, although the evolution of my theological development was slow. Thank you so very much for your insights.

Recently you wrote an article about your new book out in September on Eternal Life. I can hardly wait to read it. In that article you wrote that the church did not "reflect the impact of such shapers of modern thought as Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Darwin, Freud, and Einstein." I keep a shelf full of books on Einstein and I recently read the National geographic article on Darwin — it was great. Question: The shapers you referred to are all men. What about the women? I am for egalitarianism and I am a feminist, so the absence of any reference to women as shapers in your article caught my attention. The feminists of the 70s had a profound impact on our society.

I believe that our wholeness depends on the equality of men and women and their interaction with each other, in some fashion, such as the recognition and use of the anima and animus as prescribed by Carl and Emma Jung.

I have written a book (not published), titled Dad's a Minister, Mom's a Cop. Being somewhat liberal in the early days of my ministry, it was difficult to serve in evangelical churches, but I stuck to my beliefs and had at my side a wife (California's first patrol woman to drive a squad car alone) who helped me exemplify our egalitarian ways. Some shapers, although not at the level of the men you mentioned, were helpful to me: Joseph Campbell, Simone de Beauvoir and Elizabeth Gould Davis to mention a few. Recently, I have read books by Karen Armstrong and Louann Brizendine that can be considered contributors to the shaping of modern religious thought. Again, thank you for all you do, you are truly a shaper.


Thank you for your letter. I share your passion for egalitarianism. Unfortunately, there are few people who have shaped the way human beings think like Galileo, Newton, Darwin, Freud and Einstein. The women you mention are great people and among those you mention I count Karen Armstrong a close friend, but none of these will be remembered 400 years later as Galileo is or 200 years later as Darwin is.

Of course, the primary reason that the shapers of our changing world-view were all males is that in that patriarchal society women were not granted the privilege of education at universities. The inclusion of women in our higher educational process did not occur until the beginning of the 20th century. It was prejudice, not lack of ability, that was the culprit. One trusts that it will be different in the next thousand years.

I appreciate your raising my consciousness on this issue. Like you, I will welcome the full emancipation of women so that the geniuses among them might rise to the level of shaping the world in the next millennium.

– John Shelby Spong




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