Monday, December 24, 2007

Bishop Hanson: "Testing Faith"

ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson was one of twelve world religious leaders featured on In God's Name, a rather interesting and well-done television special that aired on CBS television earlier tonight. Based on my personal experiences with Bishop Hanson, what I saw on this program, viewers saw sketchy, but accurate, portraits of these leaders -- their passions, their intelligence and theological acumen, a bit about their personal lives. And I was reminded that the Dalai Lama fled Chinese-occupied Tibet on the same day that I was born.

In a section entitled "Testing Faith," the program showed two extended episodes from the Jathedar of the Akal Takht, Joginder Singh Vedanti (the highest authority in the Sikh religion), and Ayatollah Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, a prominent Shi'ite Muslim leader -- whose words throughout the program were quite chilling. Then came this moment from our Presiding Bishop:
Oh, many times my faith is tested.

One of my sons was in chemical dependency treatment twice before he was 13. I had to stand in front of a judge one day, with tears in my eyes and say, "Your honor, we cannot parent this child any longer. He is too broken. Will you please send him to some place where he can get the help that we can't give him?"

The judge sent my son for 19 months to a locked treatment center. The day that they led my son out of court, in handcuffs, I felt that I had been an absolute failure. The only thing I could hold onto in that moment of being tested was the fact that I believe God had bound Godself to my son and that God wouldn't forsake my son even when I had failed and my son had failed.

And in those moments of being tested my faith becomes stronger and my love deeper.
(Sigh!) In the midst of a poignant discourse, he just had to speak of God that using that maddeningly artificial "inclusive" language that ELCA linguists instruct us to use so that we may be relevant in a diverse world. (If you ever hear me say "Godself" in a way that suggests I believe it to be a word worthy of being used...)

Meanwhile, a few moments later near its conclusion, In God's Name entitled a section (led off, interestingly enough, by Bishop Hanson) "A Prayer for Mankind."

Do you think that CBS television may know something about communicating in our diverse world?


LawAndGospel said...

I think otherwise, our Bishops' remarks were a credit to the faith. And prayers for your speedy healing and recovery. Blessings to you as we celebrate the Nativity of our Lord.

Anonymous said...

FYI - At my ELCA seminary, inclusive language ("Godself," avoiding gendered language like King) is mandated, though not extremely strictly enforced. I find it awkward and largely unnecessary - and many of my classmates do as well.

Anonymous said...

"Godself"....barf. That isn't even a recognized English word except in certain circles with which we are all too familiar.

The only thing worse was listening to MHS make an off-the-cuff "emending" of the scripture in the Installation charge to a Synodical Bishop so as to avoid the dreaded masculine pronoun.

Thanks be to God, I was not seated in the section to which he served the Sacrament for I most definitely do not consider myself in commuion with him. My head tells me the Sacrament is valid even a knave administers but by heart tells me otherwise.