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this dream of God is what drives me

By Diogenes (articles ) | Sep 12, 2007

Chris Johnson alerts us to some deep thoughts from ECUSA's Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told the incoming class at Union Theological Seminary September 5 that they need to consider "how theological thinking is going to help to shape the rest of your life."

"The task of theological education really is to help us learn to do theology -- to relate our own stories, and the stories of those around us, to the great stories of our faith, so that we may be able to give an account of the faith that is within us," she said. "Theological education can bless us with the ability to see the need and hurt and injustice of the world, the ways in which God's dream is not yet being realized."

Jefferts Schori based her address, titled "Theological Education and the Dream of God," on Isaiah 61:1-9, saying that the verses sum up God's dream for humanity. "This vision of a restored world, this dream of God, is what drives me," she said.

The cant phrase "God's dreams" -- an expression as fatuous as it is precious -- is enjoying a vogue in the precincts of squish spirituality, including the Roman Catholic variety. It's a particularly annoying affectation. In theological terms, the logic behind the phrase is simple nonsense: an all-knowing, all-powerful God does not have "dreams." God wills. But God's will, in the form in which the Church claims to communicate it reliably, chafes against the desires cherished by many forward-thinking persons. Hence the invocation of God's Dreams serves as a joker in the theological deck, allowing the verbally nimble to deal themselves an escape from unwelcome doctrinal constraints -- and, moreover, to congratulate themselves that their desires would be identical to God's desires, were He only free to speak His mind.

Too harsh? Well, let's spin out a couple highly counterfactual scenarios -- "our own stories, and the stories of those around us," to use the jargon of Jefferts Schori -- in which a Christian might decide "the ways in which God's dream is not yet being realized":

  • God's dream for me is that I abandon my adulterous flirtation with my nurse-receptionist, ask forgiveness of my injured wife, and strive to repair the damage to my difficult and often ungratifying marriage.

  • God's dream for me is that I commit myself to a course of reparative therapy to put my homosexual inclinations behind me, so as to abjure a gay lifestyle and embark on a fruitful Christian marriage.

  • God's dream for me is that I summon the guts to deny myself a longed-for promotion by confronting my supervisor and resisting his pressure to participate in the United Way fundraiser because of its subvention of Planned Parenthood.

Doesn't play, does it? You don't waste a joker on a trick you can take with a face-value card. Where one's future resolve is known to be consonant with traditional Christian doctrine -- and that in a way ordinary Christians would have no trouble understanding and no hesitation expounding in public -- no one ever speaks of "God's dreams." No one would ever need to.

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Show 14 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Sep. 17, 2007 8:56 AM ET USA

    I have a dream too. I dream that I am God. In my dream, God (Me) reinacts the Biblical BOOK OF NUMBERS. I command the First Inquisitor, Moses, to kill all 24,000 (for starters) men women and children who lead My people to sin. NUMBERS XXV, XXXI, etc etc etc. Thousands and thousands I command him to kill because of their heresy. Since the 1st born male children are consecrated to Beelphegor they are killed. Women are killed. Only virgins are saved. I command Moses what to do with the spoils.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 14, 2007 1:03 PM ET USA

    Rev. Tony Campolo once summed it up nicely when he told a colleague that "It is just possible that my God is greater than your theology." Ms. Schori concept of "doing theology" is but a very dim shadow of our spiritual life when we "do God".

  • Posted by: - Sep. 14, 2007 8:24 AM ET USA

    Dear "30 Year Priest," Do, do, do tell it like it is. My dream is that more priests do.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 12, 2007 11:25 PM ET USA

    Perhaps her excellency is referring to the theologian of Mt 4:6 who ably quotes Ps 91:11-12 to Jesus: "He will give his angels charge of you". This eminent theologian is named by Pope Benedict on page 35 of "Jesus of Nazareth". Good theology isn't necessarily fidelity.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 12, 2007 10:15 PM ET USA

    This kind of pop theology sounds like what James W. Fowler calls henotheism. You admit one god, but your god is inappropriate. This god dreams, something the true God does not do, and dreams a little dream of me--or at least my desires. Gosh, I suppose K's dream-god has reveries about all their American dioceses taking communion with that chap up in New Hampshire. . .

  • Posted by: - Sep. 12, 2007 8:44 PM ET USA

    Doesn't the psalm say that the Guardian of Israel "neither slumbers nor sleeps"? If He does not sleep, how can He dream? Enough of Schori's pop theology!

  • Posted by: - Sep. 12, 2007 8:35 PM ET USA

    It is hard to understand how a "bishop" or any religous can refer to "God's dream." This nowhere appears in the Bible. The Ten Commandments are orders to the created from the Creator, not recomendations. He sent His only Son to establish his Kingdom on Earth as it exists in heaven (Where have I heard that......). It is His will (Thy will be done....I seem to have heard that somewhere...), not hsi dream. Is this "bishop" familiar with the prayer which spells out His will not His "dream."

  • Posted by: - Sep. 12, 2007 8:12 PM ET USA

    Eleazar - Where have you been? Don't you know that in the "church-of-what's-happening-now" we "do theology," "do liturgy," and "do church"? Do,do,do................

  • Posted by: - Sep. 12, 2007 8:09 PM ET USA

    What's the matter with you, Bellarminite? Are you a molluskistist? I'm sure there are many very fine students of mollusks and some of them might make fine bishops. Just not this one.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 12, 2007 5:55 PM ET USA

    What does it mean to "do theology?"

  • Posted by: - Sep. 12, 2007 3:24 PM ET USA

    A dream or a vision, sounds like the start of a political speech. There is no potency in God. God is pure act. God creates man with the capacity to choose to act. Let's do all that we can to keep our choices in line with the goodness expected of us. Choose God : reject evil! T%he lady needs to get her ducks in line.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 12, 2007 3:24 PM ET USA

    And on the sixth day, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori made God in her own image, and He was small...so very, very, small...

  • Posted by: - Sep. 12, 2007 2:29 PM ET USA

    Tsk, tsk. So many try to make this earthly life their heaven.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 12, 2007 1:31 PM ET USA

    See what happens when a denomination promotes a former student of mollusk behavior as their presiding bishop? Similar things happen when nuns dream that they are polyester fashion models and priests dream that they are Jay Leno during the sacrfice of the Mass.

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