PB Jefferts Schori's Violent Images for God: She Describes the Son of God as a Hell's Angel "Gang Leader" and "Party Animal"
Her lack of concern for all American Anglicans as well as for the wider Anglican Communion comes from her own deformed image of God. Everyone in the Episcopal Church and indeed the Anglican Communion has suffered because of her confused thinking.
By Sarah Frances Ives Ph. D.
Special to Virtueonline
January 2, 2012
As I have written in recent articles, Katharine Jefferts Schori has exposed her non-Christian theology in her recent book The Heartbeat of God (Skylight Paths Publishing, 2011). Throughout her disorganized writing, she attacks most of Western society while offering bizarre Biblical interpretations. Her endless criticism of others includes attacks on the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, as well as other unnamed bishops and archbishops.
Also in this book, Jefferts Schori criticizes most of American society, including irrational attacks on both the United States military and all sports teams. Shockingly, she says that participation in the military and sports teams is just like prostitution, the selling of the physical act of sexual intercourse. She writes, "Many young people are being raised in a system that says they have value only for the ways in which they can be used-by tricks on the corner or by athletic teams or by the military." (33)
Both our honored military life and athletic teams build on a sense of respect and honor that Jefferts Schori denies in her attacks.
The military's code of honor instills in the United States service men and women a sense of selflessness which many times is realized when they make the ultimate sacrifice.
Athletic teams teach all of its members to strive for excellence and learn to work in close cooperation with others for a common goal, while respecting the other team that might win.
Yet Jefferts Schori believes that the Army private serving his or her country in Afghanistan is like a prostitute standing on a street corner looking for illegal and inappropriate sexual behavior with a stranger.
Acts of prostitution, or the slang word "tricks" as Jefferts Schori uses, are for her similar to a Michael Phelps' relay team at the Olympics.
Men and women involved in the violent and illegal sex trade need Christian deliverance and can find this through the mercy of our Lord. Jefferts Schori, though, never says this and complacently accepts this sad and utterly corrupt way of life.
Throughout The Heartbeat of God, Jefferts Schori makes other sweeping negative pronouncements about American society and Western life. By the sixth paragraph of the introduction, Schori has denied the validity of capitalism as she brushes past economic advisors and judged herself about Wall Street and economics. No need here of rational thought, study and research: she has all the answers up her sleeve.
She superficially judges about who is causing economic problems in Western life, writing that problems are caused by "the wealthiest-money managers, bankers, and investors." (pg. xiv)
If the wealthy continue to make profits, according to Schori, then "violence and bloodshed, and ensuing global insecurity, can be the expected result."
Has Jefferts Schori never taken a basic economics class? Does she not understand that through capitalism many of the problems of poverty are solved? In capitalistic societies, hope exists for struggling human beings to be raised out of subsistence into abundance.
Indeed, Jefferts Schori expresses great contempt for the United States. She writes about "our nation's addiction to oil, uninhibited growth, and consumerism, as well as old-fashioned greed and what the Christian tradition calls hubris and idolatry." (95-96)
The question becomes by the end of the book what part of Western society has Jefferts Schori not attacked. Wall Street, money managers, bankers, the military, athletic teams, Anglo-Catholics, Anglican bishops, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Anglican Communion are only some on the list of her victims.
Now that she has taunted most of American society, who are left to join the empty Episcopal parishes? Her disdainful scorn would make most reluctant to even approach an Episcopal Church.
Her vicious attack on the United States destroys her ability to serve as the primary leader in the Episcopal Church. Her verbal attacks on Western society raises questions about what kind of god she is worshipping.
Jefferts Schori's Biblical Interpretations
In her book The Heartbeat of God, Jefferts Schori also taunts Jesus many times, calling him both a Hell's Angel gang leader (115) as well as a "party animal" (4).
Jefferts Schori believes this: Jesus is one of the prophets who pointed out a few things and is not the only begotten Son. The Quran also states this, saying directly that Jesus is a prophet and that no human being has ever been begotten (part of God without a beginning or end.) In contradistinction to this, Christians believe that Jesus came bringing the very power of God the Father within his soul and because of that, evil and death were conquered. Christ changed the status of humanity forever and Christ will come again.
Indeed, Jefferts Schori uses the inappropriate sexual image of seduction to describe the relationship of God with humanity. She writes that people are "lured into relationship with love." (117)
Also, Jefferts Schori describes the Jewish Naomi as a criminal sexual predator working as a pimp stalking Boaz and Ruth as the prostitute. Jefferts Schori writes that Naomi told Ruth "to hightail it over there and 'uncover his feet'-another euphemism-and to lie down beside him." (30) Jefferts Schori writes a violent description of these highly esteemed Biblical characters, saying that "today's equivalents of Ruth and Naomi . . . [are] your women who are being trafficked or groomed for exploitation." (33) For Jefferts Schori, God pushed Ruth and Naomi into the sexual trade without hope of a different life. That surely sounds like a vicious, cruel god.
Jefferts Schori laughs at the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah during which Lot and his entire family were threatened with violence in order to save the visiting angels. Jefferts Schori writes about the annihilation of Lot's wife as she was "being entombed in salt" "who hesitates as they flee from Sodom, which God aims to destroy for its abysmal lack of hospitality (Genesis 19:20-26)" (60) To use Jefferts Schori's words, "its abysmal lack of hospitality"? Jefferts Schori obliterates the traditional interpretation here of the destruction of Sodom because of its sexual and violent sins.
Eugen Drewermann on Violent Imagery for God
Because of the Episcopal power granted to her, we need to analyze her theology underlying these vicious attacks and bizarre Biblical interpretations.
Jefferts Schori has expressed corrupt images for the divine throughout her time as presiding bishop. Indeed, she began her ministry as presiding bishop with odd statements about a god who attacks human beings. On November 5, 2006 at the Washington National Cathedral during the formal seating of the new presiding bishop, Jefferts Schori began her sermon talking about the rich, young Frenchman Jacques Fesch. In 1954 Fesch killed a policeman during the course of a robbery in Paris. For this cold-blooded murder, Fesch was beheaded in 1957.
While in prison, he wrote about his experience of God saying, "I was in bed, eyes open, really suffering for the first time in my life. . . . It was then a cry burst from my breast, an appeal for help-My God-and instantly, like a violent wind which passes over without anyone knowing where it comes from, the spirit of the Lord seized me by the throat."
Jefferts Schori interpreted his experience of God writing, "And sometimes the encounter is very much like being seized by the throat . . . Some of us have to be seized by the throat or thrown into the tomb before we can begin to find that depth of compassion." (See both her sermon and Jefferts Schori's A Wing and A Prayer: A Message of Faith and Hope, Morehouse Publishing, 2007, pg. 167).
Jefferts Schori's choice of Fesch's experience of God shows possible Islamic influence. In traditional Muslim understanding, when the Angel Gabriel encountered Muhammad, the angel "choked and threatened him into submission" to make him begin the recitation of the Quran. (Anthology of World Scriptures, Robert E. Van Voorst, Fifth Edition, Thomson Wadsworth, 2006, pg. 288) That image of God attacking a person and forcing submission is indeed accepted in Islam but not in the Christian faith.
In her first sermon as presiding bishop Jefferts Schori says people are (in her own words) "seized" and "thrown" by god.
In The Heartbeat of God, Jefferts Schori intensified her vision of an attacking god. Her image in her most recent book is that god jolts us like the electrical stimulation of a heart pacemaker.
She writes, "God offers a pacemaker jolt to tweak our heart's rhythm." (xiv and 91) She repeats this image multiple times.
Jefferts Schori believes that God grabs people by the throat, throws them into a tomb, and jolts them with an electronic stimulator. This sounds like the definition of torture, not the redemptive love of Jesus Christ.
Instead of the Christian faith, Jefferts Schori believes that god works like an impersonal machine jolting and stunning people. This "stun gun" god would destroy all human freedom and leave terror in its wake.
Jefferts Schori's images of a violent god jerking, shaking and jolting people are images that need to be rejected as non-Christian.
The work of the academic German author, Eugen Drewermann, helps us understand what she is doing. He states that some clergy actually talk about a forgiving Jesus and yet in their hearts believe in a violent god who wants human destruction. Drewermann's example is that Christian priests may actually believe in a god more like a vampire, a "castrative" mother-goddess Cybele, or the God Tonatiuh of the Aztecs "who could maintain the world only if humans were sacrificed to him." (For more about these ideas, see A Violent God-image: an introduction to the work of Eugen Drewermann by Matthias Beier, published in 2004 by Continuum International Publishing group, pages 290-293.) Beier writes that Drewermann found "a violent God-image which turned the God of Jesus effectively into the blood-thirsty image of God." (329)
Drewermann states that some clergy have a violent image for God because of inner conflicts. The priests might not even be aware that they don't believe in a forgiving Savior. Others, though, around them can hear these confused priests' violent images of God and see their twisted faith lived out in their lives. If a priest believes that a violent god needs human suffering, then the more human destruction caused, the better. If god is violent, then the priestly representatives of god must also be violent also (maybe physically but also spiritually violent.)
Jefferts Schori's violent images for god seems a perfect example of Drewermann's theory of a conflicted priest who has decided that god will be pleased with human pain.
Jefferts Schori's own words speak of a god who seizes, throws and jolts people. Sadly we see her living out these images in her interactions with the Episcopal Church.
She has helped seize many church buildings away from worshipping Anglican communities with whom she disagrees.
She has helped throw many decent and eloquent priests out of the ordained ministry.
She has jolted many with her heretical interpretations of the Bible, including her Islamic theology that we are all beloved with the same ontological status of Jesus. Her image of Jesus as a violent gang member and party animal has done damage to the entire Anglican Communion through her new humiliating spin on the Savior of the human race.
Her appalling description of Jesus as the gang leader turns the all of the disciples into violent gang members.
Her vicious attacks on the American society have destroyed the path into the Episcopal Church and her cavalier understanding that those that disagree with her can leave has created a crowded highway of displaced refugees seeking a Christian Church.
Her vision now for new interfaith communities muddies together violent and bizarre images of god that rightfully create fear into the Anglican Communion.
Jefferts Schori has a heart-felt belief in a violent god that has no respect for human freedom; she has lived this out in her ministry and describes a god who throws and jolts human beings against their will. Indeed, she wants all freedom in capitalistic Western society limited so "a more just societal structure would slow the economic advantaging of the wealthiest." (xiv)
A machine-like divinity has nothing to do with the personal Son of God who approaches us without violence with total respect of our freedom. Nowhere in the gospel does Jesus grab, throw and jolt people.
If we apply Drewermann's theory to Jefferts Schori's theology, we understand also why she makes such bizarre Biblical interpretations. Indeed, she declares Jesus is a violent gang member when she writes, "This is Hell's Angel Jesus on a Harley . . . This is gang leader Jesus pushing his homeys." (115) Being a gang member makes Jesus by definition involved with violent crimes against people and property. This image for the second person of the Trinity fulfills precisely what Drewermann writes: Jefferts Schori writes that the Son of God comes to harm humanity. Because her image of god is violent, the thinking will also conform to trying to appease the interior violent god.
More examples of a violent god abound in The Heartbeat of God. Jefferts Schori describes the seventy disciples as roadies, those who work for the musicians from rock n' roll bands. In folklore, the musicians would be involved with promiscuous and inappropriate sexual behavior. So these disciples would be serving abusive gods who harm their sexual partners by their lack of faithfulness.
Jefferts Schori's reference to a suffering leper as "whiny" also comes from her interior violent understanding of a god who scorns a man under the domination of this dread disease. (22)
Jefferts Schori clearly has an interior, violent image for God that she uses in her Biblical interpretations and sadly, also for her decisions made as the Episcopal Church presiding bishop. Her lack of concern for all American Anglicans as well as for the wider Anglican Communion comes from her own deformed image of God. Everyone in the Episcopal Church and indeed the Anglican Communion has suffered because of her confused thinking.
There have always been and always will be people who decide to approach God directly without the loving mediation of God the Son. Without the help of our loving Savior, people fall into idolatrous polytheism, elaborate rituals or unhealthy legal systems, or even worse, into believing that a god wants human destruction or sacrifice.
Jefferts Schori now presides over the destruction of many suffering Anglican churches. She destroys these parishes because she sees them as a competitor and she accomplishes this destruction without any public acknowledgement of the intense pain for which she is responsible. Only a violent god would want what she offers: intense troubles for fellow Christians. Grab the churches away from these Anglicans and they will feel like she has applied electrical prods against their tender souls, their praise-filled love for Jesus.
Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori image of a grabbing, throwing and jolting God has nothing to do with the divine, gracious gift of the Incarnation.
Jefferts Schori harbors heretical and false images of god. Because of this, she should be removed from this position of trust as Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.
Under her leadership, Christian truths are disappearing. The Episcopal Church is being rapidly destroyed.
Her whole psyche seems focused on supporting those involved with aberrant sexual behavior while leveling bizarre criticism at most of American society.
Everyone interested in protecting children from sexual abuse should rise up in outrage and call for Jefferts Schori's resignation because she knowingly ordained Rev. Bede Parry, a man who was known to have sexually abused a minor. (For more about this see David Virtue's articles at www.virtueonline.org)
Every prostitute should rise up and call for Jefferts Schori's removal because she has told them that they have no choice in this profession and taken away any hope for sexual redemption. (See virtueonline's Mario Bergner "Is Sexual Redemption Optional?")
Jefferts Schori's acceptance of a destructive god can awaken a primal fear in people because that would be the ultimate horror: a god who takes pleasure in the sexual abuse of a minor would be the complete human disaster leaving humanity without hope for redemption and salvation.
With her stunning and outrageous attacks on most of American life, how could the Episcopal Church ever recover from its precipitous decline? Episcopal military leaders, all military service men and women, bankers, Wall Street executives, all athletic teams, all the Anglican leaders she taunted: the list goes on and on. All of these should be petitioning the House of Bishops to get Jefferts Schori out of this position.
Jefferts Schori has little interest in anyone but people involved in "inappropriate sexual behavior" and then she declares that God works through this.
For Jefferts Schori, God does not work through military personnel living on limited salaries and moving their families every two years for the service of the United States. For Jefferts Schori, God does not work through the college student funding an education through a basketball scholarship.
Jefferts Schori writes, "God works through 'inappropriate sexual behavior.'" (31)
Her fascination with inappropriate sexual behavior runs through The Heartbeat of God. That coupled with her violent image for god explains her ordination of a man she knew had had at least one illegal sexual experience with a minor.
Under Jefferts Schori's direction, Bede Parry who illegally groped a minor later placed his hands on the body and bread of Christ in an Episcopal Church. What could be crueler to his many victims than to know that this man who horrifically abused them walked into a church and became ordained by Jefferts Schori? Yet she apparently delighted in the violent Bede Parry's ministry for she writes, "God calls each and everyone of us beloved." (205) In her writing and in her actions, Jefferts Schori's images of a violent god are being forced on everyone in the Anglican Communion.
Under Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Episcopal Church is turning into a small, niche church specializing in violent images of god. Her unorthodox reign of terror with its violent imagery for god has attacked and harmed many.
Sarah Frances Ives is a regular contributor to Virtueonline. She lives in Washington DC with her husband and two children
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