544: Readers (Like/Dislike) the Bishop … and Chime in on 3 Cosmic H’s …

Once again, thanks to readers like you,
we’ve got your feedback to share …

Some Say, “He’s right!”
Some Say, “He’s wrong!”

As Editor of ReadTheSpirit, I wasn’t kidding when I said that nearly all my reporting over the years on Bishop “Jack” Spong includes controversy. Readers love him—or loathe him.
    Reader David messaged from the “He’s wrong!” column:
    “Jack Spong represents just about everything that’s wrong with the Episcopal Church. It’s little wonder that the Vatican has established a formal mechanism for welcoming ‘uncomfortable’ Anglicans, as increasing numbers of them head for the exits. Spong was certainly instrumental in my leaving the Episcopal Church and becoming Orthodox. His interview with David Crumm confirms the wisdom of that decision.
    Thanks to David for your honesty. No question, Jack Spong intends to rattle the pillars of religious tradition and, as I said in our in-depth interview this week, he sometimes flat-out offends people.
    You weren’t alone. While out and about this week, another reader named Jim caught my elbow and said: “I can’t believe you’re giving that clown the time of day. … All he wants to do is belittle people of faith.”

BUT, we also heard from readers in the “He’s right!” column …
    Reader Dee kept it short and sweet: “Amen to what Bishop Spong writes!”
    And to quote two readers from each side, I’ll share another “He’s right!” note from Reader Debra, who is Jewish and noted how impressed she is to find a Christian theologian describing Heaven in a way that’s consistent with some Jewish theologians.
    Debra wrote: “It’s interesting that
for all the separations Judaism makes—kosher and not, light and
dark, holy and profane, six days of the week and the Sabbath—there
is not that same strong thread of separating the concepts Heaven and
Hell. I was taught that we make our own state of heaven and hell here
on earth—by our actions, by our relationships, our choices.
    “Death? Again life has been given so much more of a focus—the ‘l’chaim!’ mindset. Not
that Judasim shrinks from discussions of death. It’s there. It’s a
part of life and there is that teaching that we are to live as if we
would die tomorrow. In other words live as Bishop Spong said—loving
wastefully. I don’t know that I love the ‘wastefully’ term but I can
certainly understand loving and acting lovingly with abandon.
it death that scares us or dying? Becoming old and infirm and in pain
and incapcitated, a wasting burden and of no use? Leaving behind loved
ones? My immortality is in the Parents Blessing that we recite to the
kids even now, every Friday night. I feel this very keenly. We have
blessed them every Shabbat they can remember and even those they
    “When they bless their children one day (please G’d
this happens!) if I’m not alive any longer, I will nevertheless return
to them each week, my voice in the prayers they say over their own
children, my hands on their heads, my eyes looking into theirs. The
memory of me will be visceral at that moment. I will be there for
them. If I’ve done anything as a parent, I’m most glad that we chose
those moments of blessing. Ever more keenly, when I am able to bless
them in person, it is truly a moment of Heaven on Earth.
    “Kudos again for such wonderful work.”

Heaven. Healthcare. Halloween.

      HEAVEN: All week long, readers have been buzzing about our stories on Heaven.
    Readers thanked us for offering an excerpt from Jack Spong’s new book on Monday.
    On Tuesday, readers contacted us hoping that we will tell them when (and if) the new movie we recommended is released on DVD. We also heard from readers hoping friends and family in Chicago will check out the Chicago Children’s International Film Festival. (The festival link is in our main movie story.)
    AND, if you’ve got a Christian youth group meeting this weekend, check out our special Heaven-themed edition of the new “free” Bible Here and Now Web site.

     HALLOWEEN: While it’s true that Jack Spong sparked some fireworks this week, generally ReadTheSpirit is an amazing public forum for discovering spiritual links between cultures.
    That’s what happened with our Halloween story!
    A personal note of apology to one family of readers, this week, who Emailed links to this story to relatives—precisely when one version of this story went “down” for a short bit. Sorry. It was just a momentary glitch. If you missed it, jump back and read our Halloween tips for non-Christian families.

    FINALLY, HEALTHCARE: Don’t miss the last story in Dr. Wayne Baker’s provocative examination of Healthcare Reform this week at www.OurValues.org—a very important section within our ReadTheSpirit magazine.
    All week, Dr. Baker has been reporting on some enlightening ideas raised at a University of Michigan Ford School roundtable of experts.
    But today, Dr. Baker reports on an important new campaign based on the moral imperative of “health” in a democracy. Check out today’s story and share your thoughts on this important new campaign.


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    Not only do we welcome your notes—but our readers enjoy them as well. You can do this
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    (Originally published at https://readthespirit.com/)

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