The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church spoke to Episcopal communicators yesterday as part of her continuing strategy to turn ECUSA into the vaguely spiritual arm of the United Nations. Her address is not at the ECUSA Web site, but there’s an article about her speech. See if you can tell who’s missing:
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori challenged a gathering of Episcopal Communicators April 25 to engage gifts such as proclamation, witness, storytelling, moviemaking, language, images to help usher in the biblical vision of shalom, of equality and justice for everyone.”There is something gravely and sinfully wrong with a world where the division between the rich and poor continues to expand, where some still live in palaces and recline on ivory couches while others starve outside their gates,” she told about 120 parish, diocesan and national church communicators from around the country.
“In our day, the prophets still speak for a world where the hungry are fed, the ill are healed, where all children are educated and no one is denied the basic necessities of life.”
While the Episcopal Church is increasingly focused on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as a basis for its mission and work, telling the story of how churches are engaging the United Nations guidelines for eradicating poverty is part of the “important framework for what shalom might look like,” Jefferts Schori told the gathering, which is meeting in Virginia Beach through April 28.
So is incorporating chaos theory — that very small changes in initial conditions can lead to radically different results — into mission, she said. “Each and everyone sitting here is capable of changing the world. Somewhere, somehow each one of us has the capacity to tame the chaos around us and turn it toward the peace of shalom. So where are the prophets? Who’s going to speak those words? Who’s going to do that work?
“What you or I do in this moment can bring hope or wholeness somewhere,” she said. “The language or images we use can inspire or move others to be change agents themselves … to move people to a different place. Your ability to tell stories like these can inspire others to change the world.”…
Living shalom will require a focus on relationships, the willingness to try some new and untried things, and to employ the kind of creativity “that has its roots in courage, to honor the gifts and dignity of those whom polite society would rather ignore,” she said.
“Courage comes in a myriad of forms, beginning with the mundane. When was the last time you challenged a litterbug or a parent applying undue force to a misbehaving child?”
Borrowing an image from Hinduism of a fishnet with a jewel at each junction of the web that reflects every other jewel in the net, Jefferts Schori encouraged the gathering to cultivate a sense of fundamental unity, to see connections, find common ground, in an attempt to build greater unity among people and positions that seem remarkably disparate.
“If we could see ourselves as a jewel like that, reflecting and involving every other jewel, we might begin to respond differently. You do reflecting work when you offer a vision of hope, a story about where God is at work or an invitation to enter into suffering of others,” she told the communicators.
While thanking communicators for their ministry within the church, she added that their task is to “challenge the injustices and death-dealing realities around us and to inspire and encourage others to build toward God’s dream of shalom of life abundant, not only for ourselves but for every creature in the cosmos.
“Prophets have two tasks, to critique what’s unjust and to offer strength and comfort to the despairing,” she said.
And not a word about that Guy who is supposedly at the heart of Christian mission.
This is the sort of thing that convinces one that Jefforts-Schori is using her current position as a stepping stone to the UN Secretary-Generalship. The idea that Jesus Christ might be the answer–even part of the answer–for the world’s problems–even some of the world’s problems–is simply foreign to her. She doesn’t seem to think like an ambassador for Christ, but like a government bureaucrat trying to find a way to make life a little better for some people. She talks about “God’s dream of shalom” (which presumably is lib-speak for the Kingdom of God), but thinks that we can bring it about if we can just make our political and economic systems work more for poor people.
Here’s some free advise to the Bishop: give up your day job. What you really want to be is a roving cheerleader for the UN. Do it, and let someone who actually cares about the mission of the Church–proclaiming the gospel of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the eternal life found in His name–take over the reins.