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Here I Stand: My Struggle for a Christianity of Integrity, Love, and Equality Paperback – April 3, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; Reprint edition (April 3, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006067539X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060675394
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #935,052 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Here I Stand is the autobiography of John Shelby Spong, the Episcopal bishop who is a lightning rod for controversy. Spong has for decades been working to popularize an inclusive version of Christianity that avoids racism, sexism, and homophobia; as a result, he has engaged leading conservatives (such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson) in very public conflicts. Here I Stand, predictably, gives a blow-by-blow of Spong's high-profile battles. More surprisingly, Spong also shares some very intimate details about his life that help to explain the sources of his theology. His southern childhood is related in a manner that is every bit as painful and comic as a Flannery O'Connor story. And the story of his first marriage, to a woman whose mental illness persisted for 15 years, is handled with sensitivity and grace. Despite his occasional rhetorical excesses, Spong's book is clearly written in love--with God, with the Church, and with the world. "I walk inside the wonder of this God in every experience of life," he writes at the book's end. We are fortunate that Spong's autobiography so expertly conveys this wonder. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Longtime devotees of Spong, the controversial Episcopal Bishop from Newark, N.J., will be familiar with some of the material in his new memoir, as his earlier books (Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism, Why Christianity Must Change or Die, etc.) are peppered with autobiographical asides, but they will still relish this full-bodied, racy chronicle of Spong's political and theological journey. Liberal crusader Spong reveals that his concern for the oppressed began in his native Charlotte, N.C., while growing up in an "overtly pious home [where] racism was an operative assumption." Early on, he rejected the racism of the Jim Crow South and of the Church. Spong devotes the core of this memoir, however, to the battle that has earned him national prominence--the ordination of noncelibate homosexuals in the Episcopal Church. Spong has nothing but condescension for those who don't share his views, especially the theologically conservative bishops from the Third World. (Many African bishops disagree with Spong's stance on human sexuality, but rather than engage them, Spong suggests that they have blindly embraced the "fundamentalism" pedaled by English missionaries.) Spong's naysayers will want to steer clear of this book, which will strike them as just another restatement of his heresy, but his followers will appreciate the characteristically lively prose. (Feb.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

I found this book very stimulating and thought-provoking.
Sarah Strobel
It was also inspiring to see how a concern for justice was so deeply rooted in his life story.
Steven G. Ogden
I tried very hard to feel as Mr. Marshall does when reading the first few pages of this book.
Jordan W. Peeler

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 82 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth Donaldson Pite on February 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Last year I read John Shelby Spong's book, "Why Christianity Must Change or Die: A Bishop Speaks to Believers in Exile" and was moved. I had thought that about the most I could expect from the Anglican tradition was a good cup of coffee after the service and yet here was an Episcopal bishop whose book fed me intellectually and, rarest of all, spiritually. In December I learned that his autobiography was to be published and bought it as soon as possible. I thoroughly enjoyed "Here I Stand: My Struggle for a Christianity of Integrity, Love and Equality".
The book moves along at a fast pace, blending the facts of his life with the stories that give them meaning. And the stories are fascinating. We read of the experiences that shaped him as a child, as a youth, as a young man. The racial conflicts he sought to ease in his early years as a priest. His stimulating approaches to preaching and education. His acceptance of gay and lesbian people and his support of them even at personal cost. And throughout the book, insightful looks into the workings of the Episcopal Church in America and the worldwide Anglican Communion.
I like the way he looks at himself, indeed it is his frank portrayal of his own weaknesses and mistakes that makes his descriptions of the weaknesses and mistakes of others believable.
Spong closes his book by saying, in part, "But above all else, I was throughout my life and am still today deeply convinced of the reality of God. Indeed, I am more deeply convinced of this reality at this moment than I have ever been before. I walk inside the wonder of this God in every experience of life. I have become more of a mystic than I ever thought possible for a rationalist like me. I still meet this God in the life of the one I call Lord and Christ, who is supremely important to my spiritual journey".
A wonderful man, a great book.
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Dallon Weathers on February 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
In HERE I STAND, Jack Spong shares with his readers the development in his theology as he lives into his Christian faith as one who thinks and is open to the experiences of the world in which he lives. I have read all of Jack Spong's books and it was enlightening to experience the what,how and why as each book and its reason for being unfolded.
From his rearing in the conservative South to a leader of a broader more liberal Christian understanding, the reader becomes a fellow traveler with Jack Spong as he finds himself on the cutting edge of theology as it is lived out in the post modern world. Jack Spong was and is unafraid to question his faith and its very foundational concepts and in doing so has opened the gospel (good news) to thousands, if not millions, of those in exile who seek a spiritual relationship with the God of all. HERE I STAND gives the reader the opportunity to share this journey toward truth and freedom.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Hussein Rawlings on May 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover
An interesting and pacey narrative, flowing easily over its 460 pages. This book is an account of challenges and events that shaped Spong during his life as Minister and Bishop. It is thus a good Account of Spong�s own contribution to changes in US Episcopalian attitudes and practice. (i.e.where he comes from). The book is not a cogent outline of his theological position (where he stands), and only in a two page Appendix is there a summary of �Twelve Theses� or theological points he supports. For more detailed understanding of his theological contribution and positions readers must refer to his other works.
The changes that Spong led arose from the existential problems he faced, whether in desegregation, Parish participation and inclusion, or forging understanding of Scripture and Doctrine. The narrative follows these predicaments as they arise and his own moves to meet and accommodate them, often at personal cost. This detailed tracking of Episcopalian change and politics, whether at Parish or Diocese level, is recorded from one conversation to another, and no name goes unnamed. The book reads as a deliberately detailed archive of the development of issues, and the roles and tactics of the major protagonists. Ill-informed, prejudiced, and doctrinaire church leaders parade through its pages, contesting issues and scripture with more moderate and humane ministers. There is dishonest and manipulative conduct aplenty, and backroom dealings unfettered by any commitment to truth, fairness, or justice. The book derives much of its interest and readability from this drama of conflict and intrigue at the heart of a church structure still allied to an outdated staus quo.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Dave Kinnear on August 9, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bishop Spong spins and engaging story around his experiences along a very active spiritual path. Personally, I do not know how one writes an autobiography in a humble way, while still standing for your point of view in how events unfolded. In many ways, this book falls into all the traps of the typical autobiography, but the theology was so interesting and the politics of the Episcopal church so intriguing that I found I could not put the book down.
"The heart cannot worship what the mind rejects," declares this Bishop as he goes about trying to move his church into the 21st century - without much success most times. The story of his wife's illness, and subsequent death, made me want to know more about how the stress of being "the Bishop's wife" might have added to her suffering. Not to place blame, but rather to understand and apply lessons to my own life and marriage. And I could not help but identify strongly with the frustration of trying to move a large organization forward. Much of my professional life deals with trying to manage change in organizations, and it seems an overwhelming, thankless, and impossible task at times. In a way, it was helpful to find that it is not only the for profit world that struggles with power, change, and integrity.
Since I have had the pleasure of hearing Bishop Spong speak, and the distinct honor to meet him for a brief one on one discussion, I found that I could "hear his voice" as I read this book. I could "see" the sparkle in his eye as he took on some of the antagonists in his story. His theology is considered liberal by almost any standard. I find that not only refreshing, but the only hope we have of saving religious institutes as we go forward.
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More About the Author

John Shelby Spong was the Episcopal Bishop of Newark, New Jersey for twenty-four years before his retirement in 2000. He is one of the leading spokespersons for liberal Christianity and has been featured on 60 Minutes, Good Morning America, FOX News Live, and Extra. This book is based on the William Belden Noble lectures Spong delivered at Harvard.

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Here I Stand: My Struggle for a Christianity of Integrity, Love, and Equality
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