@ Powell’s Book Store 4.17.5
Five of us went to Powell’s last night to hear the former Episopal Bishop John Spong plug his new book, “The Sins of Scripture” which focuses on “terrible Biblical texts" that have been used over the years to justify such things as overbreeding, the degradation of our environment, racism, sexism, child abuse and anti-Semitism.
We arrived 20 minutes early and found ourselves in the front row. At 7:30, I turned my head and was surprised to see Spong standing right next to me on his way to the podium. He chuckled and said, “So, did you have to pay any money to sit in the front row?” (The lecture was free) followed by his extended hand and introduction to me, “Hi there, I’m John Spong. I’m glad to see you here.”
Spong was a fantastic speaker over the next hour. He described the American fundamentalist-right as, “merely motivated by politics and power-gain”, and hammered those “ignorant and gullible people who attach themselves politically to fundamentalist hot-button topics and then in turn, vote against their own economic interests that would help them make better lives for their own families.”
Among other things in his new book, Spong asserts that Paul was a closeted gay man whose anti-homosexual statements in Biblical text were motivated by little more than his own self-loathing and guilt; that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married; that none of the supernatural events described in the Bible took place--including the resurrection--and that theism itself is a conceptual misunderstanding of God.
”These horrible biblical texts are not the incontrovertible Word of God, but flawed human responses to fear and perceived threats.”
A few of my favorite moments:
- Funny anecdotes about being on Bill O’Reilly’s FOX news program, telling O’Reilly on the air, “I like you Bill, you’re sort of like Rush Limbaugh with perfume.”
- Why the Ten-Commandments shouldn’t be allowed in US courtrooms especially since the last commandment is about men treating their wives (women) as property along with their oxen and asses. “That’ll work well in our modern courts of law,” he sarcastically offered.
- On the repudiation of female preists in certain denominations, (based on a belief of the male image of God) : "If you take away all of the physical similarites between a man and woman - take away the eyes, the nose, take away the liver, the heart, take away the feet, the arms, and on and on...what are you left with? And that's the church's image of God?" (hilarious)
- Crazy “Biblical sins” of the past such as coveting your wife’s mother: “You must first be capable of imagining the sin, and I can’t imagine sleeping with my mother-in-law!”
- “None of us deserve Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, George Bush or Tom DeLay telling us who or what God is. It is unconscionable.”