Bishop John Shelby Spong was a keynote speaker at the final event. He and his wife ate lunch at the table with Mark, Eric Elnes aka CrossWalk America's "Fearless Leader" and myself. The bishop was gracious and pleasant at lunch. At the pulpit, he gave a talk so chillingly false that I had to leave a few minutes after it began. I went outside, took many deep breaths and tried to still my pounding heart, then came back in for the rest of his talk. It got worse. I sat on the floor at the back of the church and wept. My sister Marguerite compared the whole closing ceremonies to C.S. Lewis' That Hideous Strength. The comparison was apt. Many of the people there are obviously hungering for Jesus Way, Truth and Life but they have bought into the deadly idea that feeling good is more important than being good, and that "being good" is either an outmoded concept or one that is defined by what groups of oppressed people you champion and what groups of oppressors you excoriate.
For the Catholics out there, this was sort of a Protestant version of the excesses that we saw in the 1970's and 1980's, as folks went wild after Vatican II and discovered a bunch of exhilaration-inducing, feel-good "truths" (of the screwtape type) to replace the bad old Church that seemed to think we were sinners in need of redemption.
It's a crying shame. Hence I cried.
The CWA folks seemed like good folks. Eric Elnes, their leader, in particular struck me as someone who could swim the Tiber with great joy if he ever learned that the waters were life-giving and not poisonous. Why he picked Bishop Spong to speak is a mystery to me. Spong undermined Eric's own intelligent, inspiring vision of a Christianity without internecine wars. Spong, on the other hand, radiated anger and even hatred, you could feel the chill from a mile away. I watched Eric's face as Spong spoke, and couldn't see that he realized what a bad mistake he had made in bringing in this old warhorse with way too much of a hardened mind and heart to be usefully associated with Eric's own essentially decent, nuanced vision for the future.
The second keynote speaker, Bishop Carlton Pearson, was a man of warmth, a fourth-generation African American pentacostal preacher who seemed to have been hit by the realization that literalism and "bible Christianity" is sorely lacking, but came (I suppose) under the orbit of Spong and his group of mean-minded Christian haters and gravitated towards that way of being. Neither Eric nor Bishop Pierson seems to have any idea that the Catholic Church contains exactly the vibrant, inclusive faith community they are trying to jump-start. Which is understandable, because neither pastors nor laity have done a great job of communicating the beauty of the doctrines and teachings while showing direct, compassionate pastoral ministering to those caught in the sex, marriage and gender wars.
My sister Marguerite and brother Jim, along with Jim's girlfriend Myrna, came to D.C. yesterday to join Mark and me for the last day. It is good to have Mark here again; the D'Orazio siblings picked up their ongoing dialogue/argument about Life, The Universe and All That as if we'd never been away from it.
I met quite a few people who followed Mark's CWA journel faithfully. Here is his last entry, from Saturday.
CROSS-WALK AMERICA ----- DAY-140
WELL, IF U REMEMBER HOW TO DO "LONG-DIVISION" ---THEN
U CAN EASY-LY VERIFY:
7 ) 140
SO WE BE "ON-THE-ROAD" (LIKE) 20 WEEKs SINCE START'N
16-APRIL-2006, EASTER-SUNDAY, 20-WEEKS AGO ...
ME??? I FEEL LIKE I'V LEARN'D SOOOO MUCH, I CAN'T
EVEN BEGIN TO TELL YOU ...
AS I SAY'D LESS THAN 1 WEEK AFTER WE STARTED, THIS
CROSS-USA WALK IS ---FOR ME--- A CHANCE TO
"RE-CONNECT" WITH PEOPLE, AFTER BE-ING MOST-LY A
"LONER" FOR MANY YEARs ...
TODAY MY SISTER RAE DRIVED (LIKE) 120 MILEs, FROM
DELAWARE, TO BE HERE WITH ME IN WASHINGTON,DC ...
TOMORROW AN OTHER SISTER + A BROTHER WILL
---LIKE-WISE--- DRIVE "DOWN" FROM DELAWARE ...
IT WILL BE NICE FOR THEM TO MEET SOME OF THE
CORE-WALKERs, PLUS OTHERs WHO HAVE SUPPORTED US ALONG
TOMORROW WHEN WE WALK THE LAST MILE:
MERIDIAN HILL PARK, 16TH STREET + EUCLID STREET NW,
TO FOUNDRY UMC, 16TH STREET + P STREET NW ...
HOPE-FULLY, CROSS-WALK AMERICA WILL BE MERE-LY THE
START OF A GREAT AWAKEN-ING IN AMERICA, WHERE
PROGRESSIVE USA-FOLKs WHO PRESENT-LY ARE NOT AWARE OF
ONE-ANOTHER WILL LEARN TO WORK-TOGETHER TO HELP
PROMOTE + SUPPORT A MORE PROGRESSIVE FUTURE ...
FOR EXAMPLE: MANY OF THE "CHRISTIAN" FOLKs WHOM I MET
DURING THIS JOURNEY NEVER HEAR'D OF "FOOD-NOT-BOMBs"
---A VERY-PROGRESSIVE GROUP IN MANY USA-CITYS + OTHER
CITYs WORLD-WIDE ... AND MANY FOOD-NOT-BOMBs FOLKs
ARE NOT AWARE
THAT THERE ARE SOME PRITTEE PROGRESSIVE CHRISRIANs
THE GOOD-OLD USA ...
FOR MORE INFO: www.CrossWalkAmerica.org
... PEACE+LOVE TO ALL !!
SINCERE-LY, MARK CREEK-WATER
PEACE-WORKER/WALKER, WASHINGTON, DC, AMERICA