Curious that, after mentioning Ann Holmes Redding last month (who, you'll recall, claims to be both an episcopal priest and a Muslim), she should have hit the headlines again last month - not just once, but twice! First, there was a notice in the Newsletter of St Marks Cathedral, Seattle:
Please join in the celebration of the publication of Out of Darkness Into Light: Spiritual Guidance in the Quran with Reflections from Jewish and Christian Sources, co-authored by The Rev Ann Holmes-Redding, ]amal Rahman and Kate Elias. The evening will also observe the 25th anniversary of Ann's ordination to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church and her movement into the next phase of ministry as both Christian and Muslim. The evening will begin with a book reading at 5:30 p.m., followed at 6:30 p.m. by a book signing and food. Then, at 7:15 p.m., there will be a talk, panel discussion, music, conversation, and more!
No sooner had that story appeared than USA Today reported as follows:
An Episcopal priest in Seattle is fighting attempts by Rhode Island Episcopal Bishop Geralyn Wolf to defrock her for practicing Islam and Christianity at the same time. Ann Holmes Redding, who marks the 25th anniversary of her ordination on March 25, says she believes she can practice both faiths and should not have to recant her Muslim beliefs. Redding, a former Brown University student and parishioner at St Stephen's Church in Providence, was ordained by Wolf's predecessor. Wolf is her canonical superior because Redding never shifted her canonical residence to Seattle. Wolf has told Redding that her conversion to Islam constitutes an abandonment of the Christian faith and she must recant by March 30 or lose her status as a priest.Lose her status as a priest? Good grief! If ever there was an obvious candidate for election as a bishop in The Episcopal Church (Proprietor: Mrs K.J. Schori), surely our Ann is the one! Watch this space.
Grateful thanks to a reader in Oxford for passing on this excellent news from another place. Under the headline Westcott students excel in the MA in Pastoral Theology at Anglia Ruskin University, we read on the Westcott House website that 'Recent graduates Nick Davies and Ed Turner both produced highly creative and thoughtful pieces of work for their Dissertations. Nick travelled to Bethlehem as part of his research for a photo-essay looking at the theme of Epiphany. He comments: 'I wanted to explore whether one can use the camera as a tool for theological enquiry
Ed wrote an opera Missiah as well as performing in it in both Cambridge and London. An imaginative response to the wider subject of feminist theology, the opera asks: what if Jesus Christ had been a woman? Both Nick and Ed have found these explorations of academic topics to be useful methods for presenting such issues in the parish context.' Lucky parishes!
Missing the point
No sooner had that story come in than another 30Days reader pointed us to <www.missiah.co.uk> - an entire website devoted to Ed's magnum opus. The home page sets the scene:
This Gospel-based fantasy is a passionate re-telling of the best known and most misunderstood story ever told.
The website is just full of all sorts of exciting insights about class structures and gender divides and all readers of 30Days are urged to visit it without delay. In the meantime, here's a taste:Jesse (our female Jesus figure) walks down the beach where she finds Simon-Peter and Andrew and tells them to drop their nets and follow her...'fishers of men becomes 'fishers of people'. Or again:
Mary narrates as Jesse heals many with different afflictions. In each case there (sic) ailment is nothing in comparison with the alienation and rejection they feel from society. Jesse brings them one by one back into contact with others.
The most misunderstood story ever told? Quite.
Commiserations to the Bishop of Manchester, his suffragans (well, two of them), his archdeacons and diocesan office on the tragedy which recently afflicted the diocesan email server. According to the Manchester Evening News, a virus crippled the whole show, with the result that a 'significant' number of the 6,000 messages sent by Bishop Nigel (to say nothing, presumably, of messages sent by his colleagues) over the past ten months were either deleted during sending or had not been sent at all by the system.
A spokesman admitted, 'If people have written or emailed the Bishop of Manchester during the past ten months and not received a reply, it is likely that a system failure is to blame.' Speculation that the origin of the worm which infected the system emanated from one of the fractious parties with an interest in Bishop Nigel's recent chairmanship of the Legislative Drafting Group is probably not helpful (although great fun).
Talking of great fun, we much enjoyed Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor's recent stunning faux pas, when speaking after the consecration of the new Catholic Bishop of Hexham & Newcastle. 'When I became Archbishop of Canterbury...' he began, before stopping to correct himself. If the current incumbent of the Archdiocese of Westminster doesn't know what he's Archbishop of, no wonder the Holy See is taking such a long time to announce his successor - which is a shame, really, given that Ruth Gledhill of The Times and Damian Thompson of The Catholic Herald have both been exclusively announcing the lucky chap's name every other day (presumably on the basis that, if they name everyone they've ever met in their entire lives, sooner or later one of them will hit the bull's-eye!). Still, at least we all now know it's actually been Rowan Williams for some time!
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