“What are you, anyways?” asked one reader of this blog. “Are you liberal or conservative or what?”
If she meant by what confused, then what! In many ways and on most social issues, inside and outside of the Church, I am liberal. This is certainly so when it comes to the issues that were at the heart of the tensions at Lambeth 2008. But I am conservative, too. I am, for instance, significantly but not completely, against abortion.
On theological issues, particularly on the matter of the resurrection, I have decidedly, stepwise, altered by thinking from John Shelby Spong through Marcus Borg to N.T. Wright. That doesn’t mean I am now a conservative in all ways, theologically.
I have Evangelical inclinations, just as I have Orthodox inclinations. I’ve thought of the term Centrist but find it too narrow. I don’t run from one end of the teeter board to the other. Nor do I stand in the middle. I dance at both ends simultaneously and that makes me strange, even to myself.
I’m a cradle to now-sixty-five years old Episcopalian. I once worked for IBM, which stands for I’ve Been Moved, and so I have lived many places in the U.S. In those places, I have served on vestries, building committees and coffee-hour committees. I serve in many other ways from chalice to lector to running Bible classes at retirement homes and to cooking pancakes and sausage. All these things my wife does, too. I’m also in my third year of EFM, which is wonderfully thought provoking.
I grew partly in Washington D.C. where I fell in love with the Washington Cathedral. I also spent many years in a small mission church in Missouri and came to love the struggles of a wannabe parish. The one church I was at the longest was Trinity Wall Street where I came to appreciate smells and bells, great sermons, magnificent church music and theological exploration in new and exciting ways.
I have a strange passion for a strange icon that I try to keep in historical, scientific and theological perspective: the Shroud of Turin. I don’t know if it is a fake or the real thing, but I’m inclined to think that it is real. (Yes, I know all about the carbon 14 dating). Mostly I love to study it. I find, somewhat to my surprise, that many Episcopalians and Anglicans agree with my take on it. I frequently give talks about it at Episcopal and Roman Catholic churches and I maintain a website, The Shroud of Turin Story. I don’t think we will ever prove it is real and I don’t think we should use it in any way to bolster our faith. But the study of it is a wonderful metaphor for the many ways some of us, sometimes, struggle with faith. It is the most studied archeological object in history. I love to ponder mysteries and that does not make me stupid or uninformed, as a CNN commentator once suggest during an interview with me.
I am a fan of C. S. Lewis but not the overly conservative mantle some scholar give him. I am simultaneously a fan of John A. T. Robinson but not the overly liberal mantle other scholars give him. (BTW: Robinson came to believe that the Shroud was probably real).