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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Newark Debut: "A Pebble In My Shoe"

I'm delighted to tell you that the first performance in the Diocese of Newark of A PEBBLE IN MY SHOE: The Life and Times of John Shelby Spong, will be held Sunday afternoon, November 11th, at the Morris Museum.

The performance is from 3 - 5 PM with a reception from 5 - 7 PM to honor Jack and Christine.

Mark your calendars now and plan to join us for this marvelous event! ( )

Here are just a few of the books written by Jack Spong which speak so eloquently and passionately to serious post-modern seekers and followers of Christ in the third millennium who are even more in exile in many parts of the Anglican Communion.



I've seen the play ... you're in for a treat!

MarkBrunson said...

I knowed it! I knowed it!

You'ns all about that there apos . . . apas . . . apostle?. . . heretic Spong!


Unknown said...

You'll have to remind me: in which of these books does Spong deny each of the articles of the Apostle's Creed? I did read the book but I forgot the title.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Deny? No.

Challenge us to rethink? Yes.

Bill said...

Liz, Have a heart. I'm reading four different books right now. Could you point me to one or two of his books to start with. Then I can catch up on some of the others during my summer reading when I really get serious.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Okay, this is to ALL y'all:

It's Elizabeth - never "Liz."

Where to start? Everything he writes is provactive and challenging.

My personal favorite is BORN OF A WOMAN (I think he likes that one best, too), but as it's near Easter, you might want to start with the one on Resurrection.

Bill said...

Ouch, my knuckles hurt. Ok Elizabeth, that would be Resurrection, Myth or Reality and Born of a Woman. Gotcha.

Bill said...

The two books Elizabeth recommends are both in stock at Amazon for about 12 dollars new. They are also available used from 3 or 4 dollars on up.

Bill said...

Folks, if you want info on the play, delete the “on” at the end of the “URL”.
There is nothing listed at either the Morris Museum or the Diocesan Web sites. You have to go to the “willandcompany” website. See Below:

General info for Will and Company
Specific info for this play
Booking information

Hiram said...

Jayanthony asks, "You'll have to remind me: in which of these books does Spong deny each of the articles of the Apostle's Creed? I did read the book but I forgot the title."

That book would be "Why Christianity Must Change or Die." If denying that God exists as a personal being (He says, "Theism is dead."), is merely challenging us to rethink, then words have no meaning and discussion is impossible.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...


Not only is your statement absolutely illogical, but the thousands of people from around the globe who attend one of Spong's lectures, and the thousands of people who write to him online, prove you wrong.

Spong is task master of statements like, "Theism is dead." It's intentionally provacative - pro vocare = for a voice.

If you don't agree with that statement, take him on. That's exactly what Spong wants.

Discussion is only not possible for those who do not want/are unable to fully engage the topic, or consider "discussion" one where one person "wins" and the other "loses," and fear that they will lose.

Grace said...

Hi, Mother Elizabeth,

I've tried to post before, but I don't think it went through. If this turns out to be a repeat, please just delete my comments.

Why do you feel Bishop Spong wants to challenge people to rethink all these things?

I've read some of his books, and I can honestly share that if I believed in the way that he does, I wouldn't waste two more minutes of my time in the Christian church. What would be the whole point?

I think the very center of our faith is that God loved us enough to intervene, to fully enter into human life, and suffering, to become man.

By the work of the cross, God absorbed into Himself the consequence of human brokeness and alienation so that we could share in His life, and be radically changed.

I think that Jesus, by His death and resurrection, defeated all the powers of evil, and won a real victory over the grave. There could be no Easter faith apart from the reality of the empty tomb.

And, apart from all this there would be no Christian church, or gospel to proclaim at all.

Also, I think the church has always taught that God is both transcendent, as well as immanent in the creation. It's in Him that we live, and move, and have our being!! And, it's by the work of the cross, that we can have an intimate, personal relationship with a God who loves us, Mother Kaeton.

It's sad beyond words that a bishop of the church is unable to truly affirm any of this.

Prayers for (((Bishop Spong.)))

Elizabeth Kaeton said...


You asked: "Why do you feel Bishop Spong wants to challenge people to rethink all these things?"

I have known Bishop Spong for 16 years (I can still tell you the exact day and time and place wherein I first heard him speak and asked him a question).

In all that time, I must say that I believe about 20% of what comes out of Jack's mouth.

In the process, however, my faith and system of belief have increased 100%.

I continue to struggle mightily with the idea of the Atonement, but I have found Jack's theology and the theology from many wonderful feminist theologians to deeply challenge my understanding of what had formerly been strongly held assumptions.

Why does Jack do it?

You're going to have a hard time believing this, but I believe it to be true:

Jack Spong loves Jesus. Loves him so much to have dedicated his entire life to studing the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. Loves him so much that he challenges myth and fantasy which settles for so much theology in the church. Loves him so much that he wants his children and grandchildren to know about Jesus and have a lively faith which engages the intellect as well as the soul.

Jack Spong, in my experience of him, is a modern mystic - calling us in that ancient mystical tradition of Meister Eckhardt, Theresa of Avila, Julian of Norwich, etc. - deeper into the mystery of God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

You may disagree, and I accept that. But, if you ever get the chance to spend even just a few minutes with Jack, you'll see exactly what I mean.

Hope this is helpful to you, Grace. I love the fact that, even if we disagree, I can always post your notes because you are always respectful and kind. I hope I have returned that favor.

Grace said...

Thank you, Mother Kaeton. God bless!!

Hiram said...

“Spong is task master of statements like, "Theism is dead." It's intentionally provacative - pro vocare = for a voice.

If you don't agree with that statement, take him on. That's exactly what Spong wants.”

It is hard to know what to say in response to that. I do know that the people I respect the most and from whom I learn the most say what they mean, and mean what they say. “Provocative” statements, as a means to engendering discussion, may at times be useful, but as the primary means of theological discussion they simply produce endless tail-chasing.

I would not care to engage in discussion with Bp Spong. I have never met the man or heard him, although I have read a couple of his books. But I do know some people who have talked with him, or who had dealings with him as a bishop. While you have had positive experiences with him, they most certainly did not. One reason I would not want to engage him in discussion is that he is, it seems, very verbally adroit and can make even those who are quick on their feet feel like idiots – and I am slower on the uptake than many. He would talk rings around me. It would not necessarily be the case that he would be right in his assertions and I would be wrong in mine – it would simply be that I was outmaneuvered verbally.

C. S. Lewis became a Christian while at Oxford in the 1930’s. Oxford and Cambridge were hostile to Christanity and his conversion made life more difficult for him. Lewis did two things to commend the Christian faith: 1) he did good scholarly work in his field of medieval literature, and 2) he wrote about classic, creedal Christianity in a clear, straightforward way, aiming to give solid reasons to believe in the Lord Jesus as the Son of God and the divinely appointed Savior.

Spong may be a provacative writer, but he is not much of a scholar, and his style seems aimed more to offend than to defend classical Christian faith.

If what Bp Spong does is aimed at furthering the Christian faith and bringing those who do not know the Lord into a relationship with him, he should review his methods, if the Diocese of Newark is any indication. I know that there are problems with urbanization and changing neighborhoods, but the SAS of Newark parishes is declining rapidly, and many are on life support and some are closing. There are some parishes that are holding their own, especially in the suburbs. I do know, that St Anthony of Padua, in Hackensack (an urban parish) is doing very well in terms of growth, attendance, and ministry to is community – and it is one of two parishes in the Diocese of Newark that clearly and unabashedly uphold classic, credal Christianity.

If Spong is upholding classic, credal Christianity, he is certainly doing it in a well-disguised way.