Wednesday, June 26, 2013

But Why Wear a Silly Hat? Episcopal Bishop Denounces St. Paul

Katharine Schori in silly hat
Photo credit; Anglican Ink
Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, recently challenged the teachings of St. Paul in a sermon she gave on the resort island of Curacao.  As reported by an Anglican news source, Bishop Schori “denounced the Apostle Paul as mean-spirited and bigoted for having released a slave girl from demonic bondage . . . .” 

Bishop Schori was interpreting a passage from the Book of Acts in which the Apostle Paul called an evil spirit to leave a slave girl who had been working as a fortune teller.  Most Christians interpret Paul’s conduct as an act of healing, but Bishop Schori condemned Paul for depriving the girl of “the gift of spiritual awareness.” According to Schori, “Paul can’t abide something he won’t see as beautiful or holy, so he tries to destroy it.”  

If I understand Bishop Schori correctly, she basically said that the slave girl’s pagan spirit is as valid as Paul’s Christian teachings and that Paul acted wrongly when he exorcised the girl.

If that is what Bishop Schori truly believes, then in my opinion, she is not a Christian; she’s a postmodernist.  She is one of those people who believe there are no eternal truths, only a myriad of personal perspectives, with one perspective being as valid as another.

And that’s OK with me. University English departments are full of people who espouse postmodern views.  These people are experts at interpreting ancient texts and finding evidence of bigotry and hypocrisy where duller souls only found truth and beauty.

But what I can’t figure out is why Katharine Jefferts Schori wants to call herself a bishop. English professors who preach postmodernism can do so without relinquishing their dignity. But a woman who espouses those views while wearing a pseudo-Catholic bishop’s mitre simply looks ridiculous.

Ms. Schori and Episcopalians who think as she does need to face reality; what they espouse is not a religion but what G. K. Chesterton described as “the modern mood.”  As Chesterton so succinctly put it:
These people merely take the modern mood, with much in it that is amiable and much that is anarchical and much that is merely dull and obvious, and then require any creed to be cut down to fit that mood. But the mood would exist without the creed.
 A lot of Episcopalians want a religion to fit the modern mood. But others want something more. That's why people are leaving the Episcopal Church in droves. And some--by the grace of God--are returning to the Catholic Church, which still thinks St. Paul is a pretty nice guy.


Chesterton, G. K. (1928). The Catholic Church and Conversion. San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

George Conger. (2013, May 20). Diversity, not Jesus, saves says Presiding Bishop. Anglican Ink. Accessible at:

Oppenheimer. Mark. (2013, June 22). For Episcopal Church's Leader, a Sermon Leads to More Dissent. New York Times, p.  A15.

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