26 June 2007


Over the last couple of weeks I have seen quite a number of blog posts that have referred to an Episopalian minister in the USA who has said she is both Christian and Muslim. Most of posts I have seen that have come from Christian bloggers have been very uninformative and moralistic. They have either simply condemned the minister concerned, without saying why, or they have held it up as an example: see, everything you have been told about the Episcopalians is true.

We all tend to moralise at times. In my own blogs I have tended to moralise about warmongers like Bush and Blair and Clinton, and that has its dangers (Grant me to see my own transgressions and not to judge my brother). But their actions have taken place in public view and in democratic societies are exposed to public debate.

In the case of the Episcopalian minister who claims to be both Christian and Muslim, however, there have been a couple of media reports, which have been, in the nature of such things, rather shallow. And in neither the media reports nor most of the blog postings I have read has there been any serious attempt to get to grips with the real issues.

One exception is this post by The Imugi on Religious Syncretism. The Imugi is not a Christian, but a religious syncretist practising a mixture of Taoism and Buddhism (a kind of syncretism that is quite common in East Asia), yet displays a far better grasp of the issues than most Christian blogs I have read on the topic.

A few months ago we had a synchroblog on Syncretism (you can see my contribution, with links to the others, here: Notes from underground: Syncretism in Western Christianity. I nominate the Imugi's post for honorary, though belated inclusion.


Sally said...

thank you for the link to this excellent article- though I find it hard to understand how she can embrace Christianity and Islam in this way, this has certainly helped- and may help those who are serious about living with their questions!

Steve Hayes said...

Yes, I too find it hard to understand how she can claim to embrace both, and in fact she doesn't. It is genuine syncretism -- taking elements of both to create a third religion that is compatible with neither.

That's not quite the same as the syncretism of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism that can be found in East Asia, because those are as much philosophies as religions, and in a way similar to paganism in the Graeco-Roman world, where cult and philosophy were rather disconnected. The coming of Christianity marked an innovation because it united cult with creed.

Chinese gods are not really identified with Confucianism, Taoism or Buddhism. I don't think any of them claims the Purple Planet, for example.

Paul said...

Islam and Christianity are distinct religions whose dogma would not permit this lady to be what she claims to be. In fact in some Muslim nations she could be hurt or killed for espousing such a thing. Today in this world almost anything goes even with regard to religion. Read "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins-even if you disagree with his thesis it will make you think. :)


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