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A Progressive Nightmare


Adi Gibb
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This morning I had the honour to shake the hand of Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding Bishop of the USA Episcopal Church. Unfortunately this happened after a startling service. After about five minutes a young boy, perhaps 12, walked in followed by a HUGE man, muscular, wide and tall, ...obviously his father. I saw a fellow parishioner in the next pew looking behind him at the man and finally walking over to one of the church wardens and whisper something. Then the man and his son got up and began pacing around the back of the Church. I wasn't sure what was going on until Bishop Katharine stood and began her sermon. The man proceded to take out his keys and rattling then, sounding like a small bell. I turned and looked at him and he stopped, then started again. Finally he got his bravado up and began ringing his keys in an ongoing manner, by now in an obvious attempt to disrupt ... See Morethe Bishop's sermon. The two wardens stood and approached the man, and I heard them ask him if he wished to discuss things outside, which he did. The sermon went on to the background sounds of this man's raised voice outside. I was struggling at this point. What should I do? I can't just sit there. Or should I? Should I just ignore this? So I prayed. I prayed for guidance, and I prayed that this man would find some grace, somewhere, and leave. At this point we had got to the sign of peace. And, just like that, I knew what to do. While others shook hands and embraced within the church, I marched out to the small throng of three, the man towering above the two wardens and calling Bishop Katharine a whore. "Gentleman!" I said, causing all of them to stop in shock. "We are sharing the sign of peace in there and I wanted to share it with all of you." So I shook the two wardens hands and then I reached out my hand to the huge disguntled man. "Peace be with you" I said. Looking a little shocked, he reached out and shook it, saying "Yeah mate, good on you". I left to the other wardens issuing what, to Aussie males, is great praise, "Good on ya mate!". Part of me wishes I had done more, but I am happy with at least that. The man turned out to be a brisbane-based member of the Sydney Diocese, evangelical and very anti-female ministers. The fellow parishioner had been turning around because the man had been muttering expletives in the pews and he had got his son to take photographs of Bishop Katharine doing the service. He had left by the time I shook the Bishop's hands and we were exiting the Church. As far as we have come, the mountain top is still so far!

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I think your handling of the situation was spot on. In following with the story of turning the other cheek ... there are those who think the lesson has less to do with passivity and more to do with forcing the aggressor to strike with his "clean " hand.

 

steve

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  • 2 months later...

I think your handling of the situation was spot on. In following with the story of turning the other cheek ... there are those who think the lesson has less to do with passivity and more to do with forcing the aggressor to strike with his "clean " hand.

 

steve

 

Matthew 5:39 --- “But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” --- In an honour/shame, domination/submission culture such as existed in the first century in the middle East, this saying has a far different meaning than a straightforward reading of it might indicate. If a man were to strike a social equal, he would strike him with the palm of his right hand on the left cheek. The left hand was reserved for bodily hygiene functions and would never be used. However, in striking a social inferior, the man would strike him with the right hand in a backhand on the right cheek. For the socially inferior victim of such a strike to his right cheek to then deliberately turn his left cheek to be struck also would be a subtle but unmistakable mockery. It would force his assailant to treat him as a social equal by striking with the palm of his right hand. Since slapping is no longer a widespred cultural practice, it can be helpful if you could actually act this out with another person. Jesus’ audience likely would have had a good laugh at his comment. Jesus is not counseling humility here, he is counseling a covert defiance.

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