Reading the Bible
"William Stringfellow was a gay, chain-smoking, Harvard-trained New York City lawyer, who lived and worked among the poor of East Harlem in the last half of the 20th century.Read the whole thing. It's worth it.
In the late 60s, he was a radical supporter of the anti-war movement, an extreme critic of the Nixon administration, and a hands-on advocate for the poor and hated. He defended Bishop Pike in 1966 against charges of heresy. He supported and defended the first women to be irregularly ordained. He befriended the Barrigans in their anti-war protests.
To many, one might suppose Stringfellow was the classic 'liberal Episcopalian.' Yet, in much the way that Stanley Hauerwas rejects 'theological liberalism,' Stringfellow was not a theological liberal. Indeed, he was a misfit among liberals who shared much of his social justice vision. Walter Wink has said that Stringfellow, "seems to have come, theologically, out of nowhere." But he didn't come from nowhere. He came from the land of the Bible. It is quite evident that William Stringfellow lived, advocated and worked as he did based on his deep commitment to living under the Word of God in the Bible."
It's probably safe to say, that most of us Episcopalians/Anglicans, do not engage the living Word enough. Maybe this is because there are some passages that so-and-so says are the linchpin of the whole thing and you don't agree with those one bit and so, chuck the whole thing. Or maybe it's because you think of it as a static text that can be placed neatly alongside other books and even read or analyzed the same way. Not so.
If too many of us are not comfortable reading, engaging, and discussing the Bible, or have little more than a passing familiarity with it, then this is a shortcoming in the Christian education models of our Church.
The Bible is the written root and source of our faith and tradition. It is the only definitive record of the Gospel of the Lord. To equip Episcopalians to live out the Gospel, Episcopalians should also be equipped in Biblical literacy. Our Church has a rich and venerable heritage of bringing the living Word to people in the spoken and widely used language of the day. We need to reclaim this history.
One step towards this would be putting a Bible in every pew. Not every parish does this and in fact, it may be that the percentage that do, is low.
Getting that percentage up would be a step in the right direction.
NB: The post at The Episcopal Cafe is by The Rev. Samuel Gregory Jones, rector of St. Michael's, Raleigh. Fr. Jones is one of the fine stable of essayists and regular contributors Jim has assembled over at The Episcopal Cafe; Fr. Jones also hosts the blog The Anglican Centrist. Thanks to JB Chilton for pointing this out.