DELRAY BEACH, FLORIDA – I’d like to say that I am getting a solid taste of southern Florida. But when I am free, it is raining. When I am making presentations inside the handsome Duncan Conference Center, I am not touring this city of 64,000, once known for its lush pineapple orchards, then known for its many addiction recovery centers.

But I can say that I am meeting some remarkable clergy. Open minds, open hearts, enthusiasm for new ideas, good questions, lively disagreements – these men and women give me great hope for the future of the Episcopal Church.


Q: Do you believe Christianity as it exists today is a cultural tradition or a unique faith?

A: I doubt there is a single monolithic entity called “Christianity.” Believers, partisans and friends all have different views of what they hold dear. Yes, to some a cultural tradition. To some a unique faith. To some a set of good ideas. To some a source of political power. To some an avenue to wealth. To some a faded relic of Europe’s former glory. To some a kaleidoscope of possibilities. To some a sad repository of what might have been.

Instead of projecting our view onto others and just assuming they mean the same things we do by “Christianity,” we should listen first. Rather than immediately defend our beliefs, we should allow the possibility that the other has grasped something we haven’t seen yet.

Instead of seeking the purity of right-opinion, we should rejoice in the subtle process by which a cultural tradition can become a community of faith, or good ideas can become transformative beliefs, or lesser aims like power or wealth come up empty and what is left, humble submission to God, can make us whole.

Any view we have of God is just a starting point.