Report from Anglican Ink [full story and comment here if you can face it]
“We live with the continuing tension between holier impulses that encourage us to see the image of God in all human beings and the reality that some of us choose not to see that glimpse of the divine, and instead use other people as means to an end. We’re seeing something similar right now in the changing attitudes and laws about same-sex relationships, as many people come to recognize that different is not the same thing as wrong. For many people, it can be difficult to see God at work in the world around us, particularly if God is doing something unexpected.
There are some remarkable examples of that kind of blindness in the readings we heard this morning, and slavery is wrapped up in a lot of it. Paul is annoyed at the slave girl who keeps pursuing him, telling the world that he and his companions are slaves of God. She is quite right. She’s telling the same truth Paul and others claim for themselves. But Paul is annoyed, perhaps for being put in his place, and he responds by depriving her of her gift of spiritual awareness. Paul can’t abide something he won’t see as beautiful or holy, so he tries to destroy it. It gets him thrown in prison. That’s pretty much where he’s put himself by his own refusal to recognize that she, too, shares in God’s nature, just as much as he does – maybe more so! The amazing thing is that during that long night in jail he remembers that he might find God there – so he and his cellmates spend the night praying and singing hymns.
An earthquake opens the doors and sets them free, and now Paul and his friends most definitely discern the presence of God. The jailer doesn’t – he thinks his end is at hand. This time, Paul remembers who he is and that all his neighbors are reflections of God, and he reaches out to his frightened captor. This time Paul acts with compassion rather than annoyance, and as a result the company of Jesus’ friends expands to include a whole new household. It makes me wonder what would have happened to that slave girl if Paul had seen the spirit of God in her..."
Full text [here]So, a big slap on the wrist for St Paul, then, clearly not signed up sufficiently to the equality and diversity programme as applied to those suffering from demonic possession, not to mention his gross interference with the property rights of those who traffic in slaves and employ forced labour - see, we can all be up-to-date if we try.... even if we don't all make a fetish out of the UN Millennium Development Goals.
As we have come to expect from this particular quarter (this latest address of KJS might even elicit a yawn were it not so execrably theologically illiterate) it's not exactly what one might call an orthodox exegesis ..... setting one's self up as judge over the example and witness of the apostles seldom achieves that end.
The first rule of homiletics is that if you have to twist a text in order to make it fit your preconceived argument, then choose another text...
Hilariously, the TEC 'Presiding Bishop's' address was given in Curaçao; had she been drinking some beforehand, I wonder? That would be a charitable explanation...
All this, of course, will help the ecumenical process no end; I would love to be a fly on the wall when they come across reports of her sermon in the Moscow Patriarchate....
But back to Chapter 16 of the Acts of the Apostles: I much prefer this interpretation:; it's a good retelling of the story, and it doesn't do violence to the Scriptural text, or to the Faith itself.