Friday, April 25, 2008


A liberal pastor has posted a talk about Bishop Spong, a few of whose middling books I have read.

A long time ago in another world, round about 1998, I wrote a light hearted response to Spong not because I didn't believe everything he seemed to be saying, but because I didn't believe the accuracy of his apparent pigeon-holing of all the flock.
Bishop: come out! where I can debate you, you old fox.
Old Fox: Ah sir, I knew you would chase me eventually. What safety can I find with you now a-sceptered and me a lay vixen?
Bishop: just hold my opinion for a moment and you will be safe.
Old Fox: Opine? I was opining that safety lay elsewhere sir.
Bishop: where else could safety lie but in my hermeneutic circle?
Old Fox: Good sir, in the historical opinion of the catholick and apostolick Church, those very bindings which you wear on your own person.
Bishop: You dare to call upon a creed and an office whose origins you are ignorant of? Give me none of your knowledge, you will find the truth soon enough in the teeth of my hounds. Sic Midrash! Run, Panthera! On Darwin, Go Coper! At him, Nicus!

The Old Fox scampered through the forest now forging ahead of the pack, now circling behind them. The first hurdle was Coper and Nicus. They were the curious ones. The Old Fox led them into a dark night. The hounds looked up and were transfixed with the beauty of the 15 billion year old cosmic womb from whose explosive dust they were made. The Old Fox left them with this thought:

As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is the merciful one towards them that stand in awe.
"Awesome", sighed CoperNicus. And the Old Fox breathed out a thanks to the sweet psalmist of Israel.

Next she separated Darwin from the group and led him to a fertile valley, a place apart. She knew that Darwin took to taxonomy more than the chase.

Here the heavens let down joy like the dew;
the clouds rained their pleasure:
salvation sprung up from the earth;
the trees budded with deliverance.
And Darwin watched, tended, counted, classified, named, studied, and loved the creatures. And it was good. The Old Fox murmured a thanks to Isaiah.

But Panthera took up the chase anew. The Old Fox dashed away. She couldn't count her chickens yet. At that moment, the sound of a virginal playing an old Roman martial tune was heard in the distance and Panthera's genes remembered the tunes from his first stables in the year that the divine Augustus was conceived at the Temple of Apollo. (That was about 63 BCE - Panthera was from an old breed.) He went into a trance, meditating on what was closer to divine justice: an emperor clothed in fine linen or a landless peasant. And the Old Fox whispered a thanks to the memory of the Baptist.

Next she found Midrash, somewhat confused by the disappearance of the pack. But he stood there before the vixen, literally growling: if you don't believe in Midrash, you don't believe in anything! She stared him down. He backed away wondering if Isaac or Ishmael were the chosen one after all and decided to study history, his lust for the chase transformed. And the Old Fox yelped her thanks to the Apostle.

Only the indomitable Bishop remained in the dust and heat of the chase. "What have you done with my dogs?" he barked. She laughed her reply - it is enough - and ran into the forest. "Wait," he said, "I didn't quite catch what you said."

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