Here I Stand: My Struggle for a Christianity of Integrity, Love, and Equality

John Shelby Spong, Author HarperOne $25 (464p) ISBN 978-0-06-067538-7
Longtime devotees of Spong, the controversial Episcopal Bishop from Newark, N.J., will be familiar with some of the material in his new memoir, as his earlier books (Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism, Why Christianity Must Change or Die, etc.) are peppered with autobiographical asides, but they will still relish this full-bodied, racy chronicle of Spong's political and theological journey. Liberal crusader Spong reveals that his concern for the oppressed began in his native Charlotte, N.C., while growing up in an ""overtly pious home [where] racism was an operative assumption."" Early on, he rejected the racism of the Jim Crow South and of the Church. Spong devotes the core of this memoir, however, to the battle that has earned him national prominence--the ordination of noncelibate homosexuals in the Episcopal Church. Spong has nothing but condescension for those who don't share his views, especially the theologically conservative bishops from the Third World. (Many African bishops disagree with Spong's stance on human sexuality, but rather than engage them, Spong suggests that they have blindly embraced the ""fundamentalism"" pedaled by English missionaries.) Spong's naysayers will want to steer clear of this book, which will strike them as just another restatement of his heresy, but his followers will appreciate the characteristically lively prose. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
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