Monday, July 09, 2007

Holy Halal Cow, Batman....

I suppose this is all over the media, but I have been following the story of Ann Holmes Redding lately.

She is an Episcopal priest from Washington who has recently converted to Islam. She hopes to continue as a priest, stating that she feels there is no conflict between Islam and Christianity.

Here's the story as reported in the Seattle Times.

It turns out, she doesn't fall under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Washington, but somehow, she falls under the Diocese of Rhode Island. So our Bishop has apparently had a discussion with her and has put her on a one year leave in order to discern whether she is, indeed, a Christian. In addition, the Bishop has set up some kind of spiritual direction for Redding.

This is an interesting story for a former UU. In my old church, the idea of being both a Muslim and a Christian would probably barely raise an eyebrow. In fact, being a Christian would have been more suspect!

But I have to wonder at the christology of someone who can claim both Islam and Christianity. One fundamental difference between the two is how you view Jesus. If Redding's christology is such that Jesus was a prophet, or even without sin but still fully human, it makes me wonder what she is doing with that bread and wine every week.

Episcopalians like to think that the wide highway is the better choice. That we can all somehow exist comfortably, even with profoundly divergent theologies. And as parishioners, that may very well be true. But it seems to me that a priest that is basically crossing her fingers behind her back when reciting the creed should not be leading a flock. Truly, if you take Jesus out of the picture, what does that leave us with? It stuns me that she was the head of faith formation for her local diocese.

Jhn 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

I applaud Bishop Wolf for taking action on this issue.


Judith said...

Hi Rachel,

As a (really really liberal) Episcopalian, I like to think that God is so big that He can give us many ways to reach Him, and that He gives us ways that we can relate to in our various cultures. But I do agree with you, too, that although the goal may be the same, the ways are not necessarily compatible within one person.

Thanks for this post -- I don't know where I've been, but I had not heard of this!


swandive said...


I love your take on this, and being at a new church - I seem to be confronted with this almost every day. I struggle, because of my own understandings and background. I want to be so open - so very open. But find myself wondering where the line is.
Thanks dear one.

Mary Beth said...

I agree that she needs some time to think, and that if she can't in good conscience say the creed after that, then she needs to renounce her ordination vows.


I'm pretty darn liberal too, but I'm still trying to figure out how John Shelby Spong got to continue being a bishop after saying the things he did (that he didn't believe in the Virgin Birth or the bodily resurrection of Christ)...

seems to me that if you find you just can't swallow it any more, then as a priest you need to go do something else. Work at McDonald's, teach, repair roads. Whatever.

Singing Owl said...

What you said in that last paragraph...right!

She lost me here,

"She does not believe Jesus and God are the same, but rather that God is more than Jesus. She believes Jesus is the son of God insofar as all humans are the children of God, and that Jesus is divine, just as all humans are divine — because God dwells in all humans.

I am not divine. Jesus is.
As for me, I am a sinner saved by grace!

Rachel's Big Dunk said...

Yeah, what she says in that paragraph is basically Unitarian theology. I don't buy it.

I spent a lot of time trying to make the 'we are all divine' thing work and just kept bumping up against my own sin, my own tendency towards misery. What a relief to finally realize that God is saving my sorry ass by his Grace and Love.