Skip to comments.The Schori Gospel: "Shalom In Our Time"
Posted on 11/11/2006 9:13:09 AM PST by sionnsar
"We live in a day where there is a concrete possibility of making that dream [of God's shalom] reality for the most destitute, forgotten, and ignored of our fellow travelers -- for the castaways, for those in peril or just barely afloat on life's restless sea." (Katherine Jefferts-Schori, Investiture Sermon, November 4, 2006)
Neville Chamberlain came away from Munich in September, 1938, proclaiming "peace in our time." He had been waiting to breathe these words, just as the world had been straining to hear them. The act of proclaiming them formed a palpable reality, and it was everyone's hope that this euphoric "reality" was in fact the thing proclaimed.
As we know now, Chamberlain was deceived. Not only by Hitler, but even more by his own eagerness to believe he could do what no one else had done -- change the mind of a madman. By sheer force of his winsome personality -- by his manifest goodness -- he would convert the devil incarnate and save the world from the brink of catastrophe.
Katherine Schori stepped onto the world stage in a less desperate moment (at least on the surface) but displaying a similar hubris. She declared the present generation of Episcopalians to be an eschatological people -- the generation who have it within their power, at long last, to inaugurate God's Shalom on a global scale.
Any effective leader needs to inspire her constituents by reframing their identity in generous hyperbole, perhaps proclaiming in a fresh way what they have always believed so that now it sounds brand new. Here Schori easily outshines her predecessor. Griswold indulged in clumsy obfuscation, achieving at best a strange novelty of expression. Schori's rhetoric, by contrast, is not deceptive or misleading; just hollow. After it achieves a predictable emotional response, it falls flat.
For example, how is Shalom now "a concrete possibility", whereas in previous ages it had eluded our grasp? Because someone in the United Nations has finally done the math and figured out how much (American) cash it will take to end poverty, hunger, AIDS, and all the social ills of our time.
Apart from crunching the numbers, what is different about the present moment? WE are here, the ones who can do what's never been done and are now ready to step up to the plate. Thus in her opening sermon the prophetess presses Episcopalians to steel their nerve to the sticking point and fearlessly...lobby their legislators to enact Millennium Goals.
There's something classically liberal about "prophetically" naming someone else to solve what you see to be a pressing problem, and then crediting yourself for "compassion" just for mentioning it. Herein lies the vocation of today's prophet: validation through good intentions.
When you read the PB's sermons from this past weekend, you behold self-validation as a full-blown method. In a long paragraph expounding the meaning of God's Shalom, Schori unfolds the canon of political correctness, listing all the relevant talking points, pushing all the right buttons, everything neatly packaged in the jargon of the Church.
She knows how to play her audience. This does not indicate a cynical ulterior motive. On the contrary, this constitutes the "priestly" role of today's Presiding Bishop: saying what the world is saying, only in a quaint archaic language, thereby making the message -- and the audience -- "spiritual". To top it off, the message is discharged with a self-conscious air of morality. This completes the formula: righteousness through relevance.
Well, what about those Millennium Goals? Will they work any better than oil for food, or anything else to come out of the U.N. in recent memory? Who gets the money? A starving child or a hungry bureaucrat? Shouldn't we know these things before we announce the eschaton? Or would that divert us from our main task of "experiencing" the eschaton through mere proclamation?
Now we return to the hubris of Munich. We exalt ourselves through our own high minded wishful thinking, and, through the cherishing of this moment, imagine that what we've proclaimed is real. We'd like to think that what distinguishes us from all the past generations is that we are the good people, the Anointed, who can do what has never been done.
Global Shalom has always been theoretically possible. In this the new PB is dead wrong, and the hollowness of her thinking exposed. It was possible for Europe to achieve peace in 1938, but for some reason Europe didn't. For some reason people never do, no matter how you crunch the numbers and whose money you pass along to somebody else. It's worth asking why and not simply concluding that they're not good people like we are.
There is nothing special about the present generation of Episcopalians that makes the present utopian scheme any different from those of the thousand generations preceding. To announce that there is may be good theater, but it doesn't summon the desired results.
Millennium Goals may turn out to be a good program, maybe even the best ever. Still that does not an eschaton make. The program still needs to be evaluated on its merits. The thugs who distribute the largesse of the First World need to be captivated by the same reverie as the congregation at the National Cathedral. Many of them are well connected with decision makers in the hallowed halls of the U.N. If we mean what we say about getting the job done, that should matter.
There's always the nagging possibility that, like in Munich, what we're seeing is lofty proclamation put forth as a means of denying something terrible that hangs over us. We call it, "Shalom in our time," when it's really just a swelled head in the sand. Well-heeled Episcopalians are queuing up to such a this message. It is now a regular feature at the National Cathedral, first coming from the former President of Iran, and now the first Lady Primate of Christendom.
---Gary L'Hommedieu is Canon in charge of Pastoral Care at St. Luke's Cathedral in Orlando, Florida
Liberals have take over our Congress and our Church.
Liberals without power are kooks!
Liberal with power are dangerous!
If we're in the end times, and the Republican will lie down with the Democrat, and a little hair-dresser will lead them, should I sell my grave plot? I'm just trying to be a good steward -- and I promise to tithe any profit I make, ...
... but, hey, psst, don't tell the rest of 'em the end times have come or I won't be able to sell the plot. Who needs real estate if we're a-gonna get raptured up to the hair-design and interior decorating studio in the sky?
I'm just saying ....
Has anyone briefed the new PBess that Islam is out to take over the world...with the sword of Allah? Where is the Shalom-thinking in the Islamofascist world?
"Salaam in our time"?
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