Thursday, November 01, 2007

Unlikely bedfellows ....

My husband and Bishop John Shelby Spong.

Not in the literal sense, of course! But my agnostic husband seems to have found common ground with the former Bishop of Newark, and I haven't stopped smiling yet.

It began when I first subscribed to the weekly email essay the Bishop sends out, and started passing them on to my husband (J.). He read them enthusiastically, and asked for more. Lately, I read Spong's Resurrection: Myth or Reality? which I found very thought-provoking. I passed this on, too, and J. read it practically in one sitting. Now it has disappeared from my bookshelf, and he's sharing it at work. "I like the Bishop's intellectual approach," J. told me. "He's struggling!!" Hmm. The implication is that any intellectual would struggle with the Gospel narratives.

I'm not so sure about the struggle. After all, Resurrection does affirm Jesus's close connection to God, and his appearance in some form to Peter and/or other disciples, though in Galilee, not in Jerusalem, and not necessarily within three days of the crucifixion. Bishop Spong's analysis of the midrashic method of the Gospels' composition (framing Jesus's life-events in the light of Old Testament events) does seem to me to be a reasonable approach. In the end, however, he leaves us with an assurance that "something happened" on Easter, whenever it took place, that transformed the lives of the disciples forever. This seems to me to be the most we will ever know in this life.

It's the Easter part I want J. to weigh in on. Come on, honey, I'm waiting!


Jan said...

Thanks for telling us about this. Maybe Spong's books would be good for my atheist/agnostic daughter. How do I sign up for the mailings?

sharecropper said...

Likewise: How do I sign up for the mailings? I've been a Spong fan since his first book "Christpower".