What do you get when you combine the misappropriation of someone else’s cultural heritage, a total absence of biblical content, and a writing style designed to obfuscate? You get a Trinity Sunday sermon by Katharine Jefforts-Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church:
We are all connected – in the great circle of life, the sacred hoop, the wonder of God’s creation. Today the church remembers that sacred interconnection of all that is. Maybe part of what is wrong with the church is that we only intentionally focus on that interconnection once a year. It’s a theme throughout our life together, yet we rarely bring it into focus – even the hazy focus that’s the only possible way of talking about God’s inner reality.
If we understand that we are made in the image of God, then an intrinsic part of what we are is interrelated beings in community. That’s what the feast of the Trinity is about – that God’s own nature is a community of beings that is so aware of and open and vulnerable to each other that the sacred and divine community is one.
Whenever Jefforts-Schori gets within shouting distance of trinitarian theology, I want to shout, “Remember when Fats Waller said: ‘If you don’t know what it is, don’t mess with it!'” Hint: the expression “community of beings” is the giveaway.
There is no time and place where God is not, for God precedes creation. Wisdom, as the creative aspect of God, is present and at work as creation begins, drawing all that is made into relationship. In the beginning, Wisdom was there. She may have other names in the tradition – white buffalo calf woman, for one – yet there is a deep awareness within us that God’s gracious creative spirit has been among us from the beginning.
I can think of some other things are are getting deep here. But it gets a lot worse.
The holy one has come among us in human flesh – most essentially in Jesus, yet also in his body, gathered through the ages, following his path. The image of God, the human face of God, is all around us, if we will only look and discover. God in human flesh continues to walk with us, through 500 years of struggle and suffering on this continent, through the destruction of war, and the waste of creation-destroying selfishness. God is here, and what peace we know in this life is a gift and sign of that holy presence.
I had to include this paragraph, since it contains the only reference to Jesus in the sermon.
Sometimes that reality of God as community, God as trinity, is spoken of as dance – the holy three whirling with and through each other’s reality. Native communities have long known the sacrament of dance as healing, able to draw many persons into one community. At times of great struggle and loss, the dance emerges yet again, like the ghost dance Wovoka called forth. Wisdom has planted in us that urge toward healing, reconciliation, oneness – even in the face of human sin and evil.
The “Wovoka” she refers to here is a Northern Paiute Indian also known as Jack Wilson. Of him, Wikipedia (I know, I know) says:
Wovoka claimed to have had a prophetic vision during the solar eclipse on January 1, 1889. Wovoka’s vision entailed the resurrection of the Paiute dead and the removal of whites and their works from North America. Wovoka taught that in order to bring this vision to pass the Native Americans must live righteously and perform a traditional round dance, known as the Ghost dance, in a series of five-day gatherings.
Sounds like healing and reconciliation to me.
Our life on this earth is about the great dance of returning – going home, finding strength in a supportive, loving, and reconciled community, going back to the earth at the end of life, finding our home in God. It’s a journey that may have solitary moments, but it’s a dance that cannot be made alone. This dance will never be fully complete, yet we keep on dancing, the spirit within us yearning for more life, more healing, more oneness, and greater participation in that holy circle.
Wisdom dwells in this body gathered here, speaking forth words of truth, calling us into healing. Native communities know what it is to live deeply rooted in that holy wisdom of oneness with all that is. It is a wisdom that needs speaking, for words need to take on flesh and form in a world that has forgotten much about the truth: that we share one creator, that we are all brothers and sisters, we are siblings to all the rest of creation, that if one part of God’s body of creation suffers, all do.
I guess this demonstrates that Jefforts-Schori has abandoned Christianity and become a Gaiaist. Of course, it may mean something completely different. I tried running it through Babelfish, but it didn’t have a language called “episcopal gobbledygook.”
The greed of some, the belief that one group can dance alone, lies behind much of the suffering that native communities know: lands stolen, herds destroyed, lifeways prevented, spiritualities forbidden, hope too often crumbled and crushed. Yet we are all connected, and that greed will eventually destroy the greedy as well as those who have been robbed. If we’re going to dance, we cannot choose to avoid some partners – we must encounter the ones we’re angry with as well as the ones who bring us joy. The dance can’t be with only one clan or tribe – Wisdom calls us all into this round. Healing comes in the dance, as the dance of anger becomes lament, and lament moves toward compassion, and on through reconciliation toward peace.
I have it on good authority that she had her fingers crossed behind her back when she let loose with those last two sentences. I suspect that evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics that she is systematically running out of the Episcopal Church, as well as the Global South of the Anglican Communion to which she has been giving a rhetorical middle finger, would have a hard time believing that she delivered with with anything other than a Cruella DeVille laugh.
We can only go home through the dance. There is no healing or wholeness or restoration or holiness except through the dance – encountering the sacred and earthly reality of this moment, grieving what needs to be grieved, and letting the spirit draw us in hope toward a healed future.
All the peoples of this land – the first peoples and those who came after, are in danger of forgetting the dance. The other peoples – the bird and deer and fish and whale peoples – are in danger of being shut out of the dance. The divine dance which creation reflects is waiting for all the peoples of this planet to rejoin and renew it. The spirits of all depend on it, to the seventh generation – and the seventieth.
Will you join the dance and draw others in? Will you dance with friend and foe and stranger? Will we let the dance make peace in us? Will we let the dance heal us all?
And at this point Jefforts-Schori has gotten so lost in the various permutations and misdirections of her metaphor that she reminds me of Jack Nicholson at the end of The Shining: