Read Here I Stand: My Struggle for a Christianity of Integrity, Love, and Equality by John Shelby Spong Free Online
Book Title: Here I Stand: My Struggle for a Christianity of Integrity, Love, and Equality|
The author of the book: John Shelby Spong
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 13.35 MB
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Reader ratings: 4.9
Date of issue: April 3rd 2001
ISBN 13: 9780060675394
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Disclaimer: I'm a Spong fan and perhaps even a Spongian in my personal theology, so I am predisposed to like (almost) anything that the Bishop writes ... and this biography is no exception. It's an honest look at his life - far more candid than many I have read for such a public figure - and I found it to be a page-turner, especially those chapters that relate his experience as a bishop of the Episcopal Church. I have read many of his books and heard him speak many times, but I will admit to being surprised by the story of (and, in fairness, by) 'the man behind the bishop.'
It's vintage Spong: at turns heretical (but almost always with positive intent) and endearing. His theology (and the unapologetic and often purposefully provocative way in which it's shared) is often heretical to more conservative believers both within the Episcopal Church and outside of it, whereas his description of the pain of his hardscrabble upbringing is as palpably endearing as it is revelatory.
John Shelby Spong is a singular human being in every sense of the word. A son of the Segregated South, he has evolved into one of the most progressive voices in modern Christianity such that someone who was raised in and benefited from race- and gender-based exclusion ended up being a tireless champion of inclusion. His description of his distress at the health challenges of his first wife and his inability to figure out how to address them (and her) effectively before her death is surprisingly forthright. He acknowledges his personal faults and mistakes in a most candid and attractive way (but seems noticably less self-critical with respect to the professional sphere of his life, which is a bit of a disappointment - he's a more humble and less righteous person than religious leader, which is an interesting [and more common] juxtaposition).
For example, he calls out the leaders whom he has known over the years, especially those who have disappointed him (and a few times too often in a less than charitable way). Yet his relating of his experience as a(n if not the) leading advocate for the full inclusion of women and gays and lesbians in the life of the church is both gripping and inspiring due to the evident and abundant Christian love and passion that undergird it. It's hard not to admire a man who has been so willing to advocate for those dispossessed and oppressed by an institution ostensibly dedicated to the example of its patron that is instead often depressingly repressive, regressive and dehumanizing.
I could go on, but won't. Suffice it to say that if you want to learn more about this fascinating spiritual leader, this biography will give you much insight. It will also inspire you, as the Bishop's fervent, inclusive advocacy is infectious: he continues to be at the forefront of evolving and expanding our understanding of and appreciative for the Divine. To get such a revealing look at the man behind the legacy is an authentically inspiring gift. Bishop Spong's willingness to engage the true mystery of faith has been a revelation to me and this biography has helped me to extend and ehance my appreciation for him as a person, too. Read it and be inspired.....
[Note: This biography was written to coincide with Bishop Spong's retirement from the Episcopal Church in 2000, so while it offers a wealth of insight and information, it does not cover his equally impressive contributions in retirement. In fact, some would say that his leadership (in his public speaking/educational efforts, in his writing and in his theology) after leaving the church is even more impactful. Let's hope that he chooses to update his biography and share the inside story of this rich period, too, at some point in the future.]
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