I was judged last week. I had been dreading my 3:00 p.m. appointment at the City of Atlanta Traffic Court ever since the policeman handed me the yellow citation a month and a half earlier. In a sudden slowdown on the downtown expressway, I rear-ended a Toyota van loaded with a full-sized refrigerator.
How do we handle clergy sexual misconduct faithfully and compassionately? The issues and challenges extend far beyond any one crisis, and indict all churches that have failed to recognize the complexity of those issues and faithfully engage them.
Recently, in a class titled “Theology and Trauma Theory,” we read the text that catapulted Karl Barth to theological fame: Epistle to the Romans, written shortly after World War I. In the light of current events, what resonated with some of us was Barth’s critique of religion. Religion is not the solemn music that accompanies all the noblest human experiences, argued Barth.
When he’s at home, Rowan Williams, former archbishop of Canterbury, begins each day with a short meditative walk, or sometimes with some slow prostrations, followed by 30 to 40 minutes of sitting on a low stool to repeat the Jesus prayer (“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner”). Usually he repeats the words silently, saying them while breathing out. “Over the years increasing exposure to and engagement with the Buddhist world in particular has made me aware of practices not unlike the ‘Jesus Prayer’ and introduced me to disciplines that further enforce the stillness and physical focus that the prayer entails,” says Williams (New Statesman, July 8).