Gwnewch y pethau bychain

Quote of the Decade

“I have been part of this debate for years, but things do get settled and this issue is now settled for me. I do not debate any longer with members of the “Flat Earth Society” either. I do not debate with people who think we should treat epilepsy by casting demons out of the epileptic person; I do not waste time engaging those medical opinions that suggest that bleeding the patient might release the infection. I do not converse with people who think that Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans as punishment for the sin of being the birthplace of Ellen DeGeneres or that the terrorists hit the United Sates on 9/11 because we tolerated homosexual people, abortions, feminism or the American Civil Liberties Union. I am tired of being embarrassed by so much of my church’s participation in causes that are quite unworthy of the Christ I serve or the God whose mystery and wonder I appreciate more each day.

Indeed I feel the Christian Church should not only apologize, but do public penance for the way we have treated people of color, women, adherents of other religions and those we designated heretics, as well as gay and lesbian people. Life moves on.

As the poet James Russell Lowell once put it more than a century ago: “New occasions teach new duties, Time makes ancient good uncouth.” I am ready now to claim the victory. I will from now on assume it and live into it.

I am unwilling to argue about it or to discuss it as if there are two equally valid, competing positions any longer. The day for that mentality has simply gone forever. This is my manifesto and my creed. I proclaim it today. I invite others to join me in this public declaration. I believe that such a public outpouring will help cleanse both the church and this nation of its own distorting past. It will restore integrity and honor to both church and state. It will signal that a new day has dawned and we are ready not just to embrace it, but also to rejoice in it and to celebrate it,”

Bishop John Shelby Spong

(much thanks to Andrew Sullivan for the pointer)

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14 Comments

  1. A true American hero.

  2. If LJ had a “like” feature, I’d use it for this post.

  3. I almost tweeted about this yesterday, but realized I have mixed feelings about it that are too long for Twitter. I LOVE what he had to say, and am truly grateful to see a representative of the church taking such a strong stance. It’s gratifying to see him consider it such a closed, decided issue.

    However, while there might be a few on the wrong side who would take this manifesto to heart and reconsider their own position based on a man of the cloth stating it so strongly, I do not believe this is going to be an effective way to change the minds of the rest of the rank & file ‘true believers’ who are staunchly on the other side of the fence. I have seen patient, rational, gentle discussion change the mind of devoutly anti-SSM people. I do not think this would accomplish that, and changing minds is what we need.

    I understand and agree with him from a principles standpoint: why bother spending the time arguing against such an invalid point? Why give it equal standing in the realm of rhetoric? In fact, I have made that very decision wrt otherwise intelligent climate change deniers in my social circle. I just think that with this issue, as much as I WISH the argument were as settled in the court of public opinion as he wants it to be, it still is not, and we still need to be able to have the persuasive discussions to change minds.

    • This is what I’ve been thinking and not entirely daring to say since the first of my friends started raving about this manifesto. So he’s going to give up arguing in favour of gay rights. Good for him, I guess. But what if everyone does the same? The only requirement for evil to triumph, and so on.

      Claim victory in your heart, sure, but as long as one actual gay person is still being actually beaten up for being gay by people who hide behind their church, there are battles still to fight, and the good fighters are needed.

      • I don’t think he’s saying anyone should give up the fight, and I think it’s absurd to take that reading.

        What he’s saying is “I’m not going to pretend that the people on the other side of this argument have standing. I’m not going to tolerate their opinion, I’m not going to give them time in the interest of fairness. They’re wrong. They’re wrong morally, period.”

        Here’s a newsflash for everyone to ponder. Not every opinion has merit. Sometimes, people are just flat wrong, and letting them continue to promote their wrongness in the interest of “fairness” is a great injustice to the advancement of morality.

        What we desperately need is more people IN POSITIONS OF RESPECT AND AUTHORITY willing to put their foot down and say “No more. This stops, and if you wish to cling to your prejudices and hatreds, you will be left behind.”

        And that’s what I’m celebrating, and why I appreciate the good Bishop’s stand.

  4. Well, I have one small and annoying objection. I object to anyone proclaiming their opinions as universal absolute truth, no matter how right they may seem, or how much they agree with me. By giving in on the issue of whether there is absolute, unchanging truth, we give those who are wrong or otherwise disagree with us a foothold to proclaim that yes, there is a universal truth, but it’s what’s in the Bible, or the Koran, or The Power of Prayer on Plants (yes, there is such a book!) or whatever reference they choose. There are NO absolutes, and that is the ONLY absolute I will tolerate. T

  5. Amen! And thank you for sharing, both him and you. 🙂

  6. All those things you list in the begining I’ve heard about. but I’ve always assumed that the flat earth society was some sort of joke. The other other things are stupid beyond belief, they are idiotic and wrong and immoral. But the flat earth thing is just a joke right?

    • Nope. See http://theflatearthsociety.org if you really want to blow your mind, their ‘wiki’ has some interesting ‘debunkings’ of round-earth science (hint: NASA is a fraudulent organisation and is not to be trusted).

      The thing is that for all practical purposes for most people the earth might as well be flat, with the sun going over it. What difference does it actually make to my life if it is flat or round? Sure, there are some people who say they come from places where people are upside down, but how to they know? They say that where they come from it’s believed that we walk around upside down as well. If I get in a plane and go to Australia, what evidence do I actually have that it’s not just going in a flat path?

      (I think that the flat-earthers believe that all space travel is fake. I’m not sure, but if they do how are you going to prove them wrong? Take them up there? Any amount of books and pictures mean nothing, they can just produce an equal amount of SF books and movies. My mother has never believed that a man actually went to the moon — she’s seen Star Trek, and even the original series was a lot better pictures than the Apollo programme produced…)

      • Oh, how pathetic and sad. I was thinking it might be cool to meet one some day share a laugh. But Now I hope I never meet one. I’m not sure I could keep a straight face. Thank you for setting me straight. I think.

        • OK, playing devil’s advocate, how would you prove to me that the world is round? Remember, I have scientific evidence on my side, from experiments anyone can do (not just scientists with large research grants), that indicate that it’s flat, and that I’m not going to accept any “arguments from authority” (i.e. just because a famous person says or writes it doesn’t make it true). And how will it make any difference to me in my daily life (or after I die, for that matter)?

          The same with people going to the moon. How will you convince me that it wasn’t just Hollywood special effects in a film, with actors paid to back them up? Remember, I’ve seen Close Encounters, and the X-Files, and other SF movies, and you’ll also have to convince me that they were still fake (or I might end up believing everything I see on TV or the movies, and you wouldn’t want that).

          (To reassure you, I do actually believe that the world is round and that people went to the moon, and that Star Trek is fiction (although I’m less convinced about Middle-Earth being fiction). But that’s my personal belief, and as arbitrary as my belief that there is life after death.)

  7. Ok, I’m a Christian, and when I hear other christians spouting the nonsense in the first paragraph I just want to explode.

    What can I do? When I hear people I know at church spouting that crap I talk to them. Sometimes they listen, often they don’t. Sometimes it feels like all I can do is be me and live the best I can and show that i don’t agree with my church leaders on certain issues. It’s possible to do that and not be blasted to smitherines. It’s not as bad here in Canada, but it’s getting worse. I don’t know what else one person can do.

    BTW I don’t really care what other people believe as long as what they believe doesn’t hurt others. I enjoy disscusions about religion. As long as every is respectful.

    And my question above still stands, it’s not real right?

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