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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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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.
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Top customer reviews
This book is a fascinating read, especially for those of us who have “been there, done that” in the Episcopal Church (e.g., vestry, delegate, state conventions, etc.). The last few chapters, especially, are dynamite!
"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. If we do not update our theology, we will be destined to follow England into a secular, non-churched society. I agree with Bishop Spong that "The heart cannot worship what the mind rejects." Get it and read it and understand the message.
It is obvious that Jack Spong is a "committed Christian", who understands how "Christianity" fits into the modern world.
The reader needs to put aside any preconceived doctrines and prejudices and open their mind to some confronting ideas.
Well written. A must read for any thinking person and more so for those who take what they are told as the only thing to believe.