This seems too astonishing to be true--but it is!
I must admit that the minutia the PB goes into in this speech makes it hard for me to take it seriously (i.e., the environmental impact of where our communion hosts come from or the geo-thermal drilling that apparently is planned for the GTS campus). But couple the lecture's general silliness in tone (e.g., consider this pearl of wisdom from her attack on Wall Street: "Sheep may grow fat on lush grazing, but too rich a diet can produce digestive upset and foul the pasture" ) with the blatant left-wing political bias of her argument and the address moves from ridiculous to detrimental.
Take a look, for example, at her exhortation to pastors on the purpose of our sermons. I have always thought that our sermons are intended to proclaim forgiveness of sins through the cross of Christ and the promise of everlasting life in glory given through His empty tomb. But according to the Presiding Bishop I ought instead to be using them to equip my "parishioners to share the political labor, in the ministry of developing just and peaceful communities" (especially as the November vote approaches).
Seriously, read through the speech and try to discern exactly what the PB thinks the "Good News" we should be proclaiming is. I find not a single word here that is not completely in line with the agenda of the secular Left in the Western world. PB Schori's vision of the Reign of God seems virtually indistinguishable from the party platforms of the Green parties of the industrialized West, as far as this address lays it out at any rate.
And, of course, PB Schori cannot resist getting a back-handed dig in at traditionalist Anglicans who just can't get on board with the "new thing" God is doing in our midst. Try these paragraphs on for size (boldface added by RWF):
Tending the soil is a great part of pastoral work. It is important to the whole of the flock and the whole ecosystem. The Western plains ecosystem was dominated by bison (buffalo) until fairly late in the 19th century. Those great grazers actually had a creative role in fostering the diversity and productivity of the plains. The bison were hunted almost to extinction for their hides, for sport, sometimes intentionally to deprive Native peoples of their livelihood, but also to make room for cattle and sheep. Competition between cattle and sheep herders, and lack of care for that great pasture led to great range wars in the Western U.S. in the 19th century. Because sheep will chew the grass down to the roots if you leave them too long on the same ground, the cattle ranchers who shared the open range often shot the sheep, and sometimes their keepers. Now, pastors in the church rarely shoot other species, but verbal violence sometimes accomplishes the same thing. We may tolerate or encourage attempts to remove species of Christians who seem excessively different. The irony of the range wars is that pasture land is most productive when it is intensely managed for the benefit of many species – either by free-ranging herds well-adapted to their ecological context, or by careful human intervention that moves the flock or the herd from one small pasture to another every few days.
Those bison moved fairly freely across the plains, never staying too long in one place. Their mobility contributed to the health of the pasture, and to its diversity. The tall-grass prairie is one of the most diverse and productive ecosystems in North America. The very act of grazing encourages a flush of new growth in the grass, and if the animal doesn’t keep chewing on the same patch for too long, that productivity soon results in a greater harvest for the whole system. I don’t think it’s too great a stretch to think about how chewing (or ruminating) on a theological or spiritual issue at great length affects the health of the flock. The gatherings of Christians whose pastors build permanent high fences to keep the flock from exploring other pastures rarely thrive over the long term. Those communities who have enough freedom to wander over to another patch of grass, who don’t perseverate or obsess over three clumps of grass in one corner, have a greater chance to thrive. No species of grazer can stay healthy if kept on the same ground for long. The grasses suffer, and so do the sheep. And when animals are confined too long in one place, parasites thrive.
RWF resumes: First, the irony of these remarks being uttered by a church leader who has herself tolerated and encouraged fierce attacks on "species of Christians" (i.e., the now gravely endangered species of orthodox Anglicans or "reasserters") who seem "excessively different" from her own revisionist mindset is simply too much to take. But more to the point, what precisely does the PB have in mind when she warns against allowing the sheep to "perseverate or obsess over three clumps of grass in one corner"? Have I been foolishly encouraging my flock to "perseverate" over clumps of grass like Niceno-Constantinopolitan Trinitarian doctrine, Chalcedonian Christology, and Scripturally-sound understandings of the Atonement? Perhaps they would have healthier theological digestive tracts if I encouraged them to graze on the lush pastures of Arianism, Adoptionism, and Scheiermacher for a while? Take a look around and see how well the Episcopal church has flourished on just such a doctrinally diversified diet for the last forty years!Please add this preposterous speech to the list as reason number 97 why I eagerly await the termination of my diocese's relationship to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church and its national officers, such as PB Schori.