Fleming Rutledge is a preacher and teacher known throughout the mainline Protestant denominations of the US, Canada and parts of the UK. She is the author of seven books and has received a grant from the Louisville Foundation to complete a book about the meaning of the Crucifixion.
One of the first women to be ordained to the priesthood of the Episcopal Church, she served for fourteen years on the clergy staff at Grace Church on Lower Broadway at Tenth Street, New York City.
Fleming and her husband celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2009 and have two daughters and two grandchildren. She is a native of Franklin, Virginia.
What is generous orthodoxy? A statement of purpose
The word ortho-doxy (Greek for "right doctrine") has both positive and negative connotations. In a culture that prizes what is iconoclastic and transgressive, orthodoxy has come to sound constricted and unimaginative at best, oppressive and tyrannical at worst.
The position taken on this website is that we cannot do without orthodoxy, for everything else must be tested against it, but that orthodox (traditional, classical) Christian faith should by definition always be generous as our God is generous; lavish in his creation, binding himself in an unconditional covenant, revealing himself in the calling of a people, self-sacrificing in the death of his Son, prodigal in the gifts of the Spirit, justifying the ungodly and indeed, offending the "righteous" by the indiscriminate nature of his favor. True Christian orthodoxy therefore cannot be narrow, pinched, or defensive but always spacious, adventurous and unafraid.
Posted: Wednesday, May 1, 2013
To all those faithful friends and readers who prayed and inquired: 16 days on the beautiful, wonderful Outer Cape (Cod) did the trick. By the grace of God my 18-year struggle is almost done. The Crucifixion (which awaits a subtitle) is essentially finished. Months of revision await, and much work on 1500+ footnotes, but the heavy lifting is over. I am so thankful.
Will Campbell lives! (part four)
Sunday, June 9, 2013In this week's New York Review of Books, there is a substantive article about guns in America by David Cole, professor of law at Georgetown. The NYRB is ultra-liberal by almost any standard, yet many of its essayists work hard to be respectful and to analyze issues fairly, in depth, from various perspectives. Cole is reviewing two books, one favorably, one not so favorably. He takes author Tom Diaz (The Last Gun) to task for "liberal hyperbole." The book that he praises, and describes at some length, is Gun Guys: A Road Trip by Dan Baum. Baum, a Jewish Democrat from New Jersey and a former staff writer at The New Yorker, plays against type in his essay; he's always liked guns. He has gone to considerable lengths to understand the gun culture. He travelled around the South and Southwest wearing an NRA cap and carrying a gun (for which he obtained a license), meeting and schmoozing with gun enthusiasts, trying to empathize with them and deconstruct their political views.
The first thing that he wants to say about his subjects is that they have been on the receiving end of a good deal of truly awful stereotyping, dished out gleefully by the liberal media. This would not have been tolerated for a minute if the subjects had been black, gay, Hispanic, Jewish (fill in the blanks). Here are some examples that Cole quotes from Baum's book:
Newspaper editorialists called gun owners “a ridiculous minority of airheads,” “a handful of middle-age fat guys with popguns,” and “hicksville cowboys” with “macho” hang-ups. For Gene Weingarten of The Washington Post, gun guys were “bumpkins and yeehaws who like to think they are protecting their homes against imagined swarthy marauders desperate to steal their flea-bitten sofas from their rotting front porches.” Mark Morford of SF Gate called female shooters “bored, under-educated, bitter, terrified, badly dressed, pasty, hate-spewin’ suburban white women from lost Midwestern towns with names like Frankenmuth.”Will Campbell is not mentioned in this article nor, indeed, envisioned. And yet here he is. "These are my people," he would be saying. He would be reminding us that "we're all racists," "we're all bastards, but God loves us anyway." That was the rock bottom of his gift to the church. The difference between him and us is that he acted on these beliefs in a way that is unimaginable to most of us. In spite of his often annoying, self-parodying persona, he was the real thing (see the Rolling Stone article mentioned in an earlier Rumination, if you can find it).
In the final analysis, the gospel is not only good news for victims. It is also good news for victimizers. And it is transformative for us both. Thus Paul the apostle concludes, "God has consigned all human beings to disobedience in order that he might have mercy upon them all." (Romans 11:32)
The impact of Will D. Campbell (part three)
Friday, June 7, 2013I am going to start compiling some of the testimonies to Will's importance that I'm receiving in response to my efforts to pay tribute to him (read parts one and two, immediately preceding on this blog). Here, for instance, is what Phil Ziegler wrote from the University of Aberdeen:
I remember what a revelation it was to discover a full run of Katallagete in the Emmanuel College library in Toronto when I was a student there in the 1990s. Reading in it helped to break things open for me – that a radical biblical theology of grace and radical politics were related was a thought I couldn’t have formed in the United Church before that encounter. Somebody with access to them should scan a full set of these and offer them as a kind of digital archive.Katallagete should not be mentioned solely in connection with Will, however. It was a joint effort with Jim Holloway (James Y.) and could not have existed without him.
Here is another response, from the Rev. Craig Higgins, a friend and superb preacher:
I just read your blog posts on the passing of Will Campbell. I too only met him once, as an undergrad at Mercer University, where he was considered nothing less than a saint. (His book, The Stem of Jesse, is about Mercer, of course. And I studied under Joe Hendricks Hendricks, Mary Wilder, Bob Otto, and a bunch of the people mentioned in that book. Although, by the time I got there in the Fall of 1979, the worst of those struggles was over.) I am thankful to have a copy of The Glad River, inscribed, “To Craig, part of the neighborhood. Will Campbell.”
Latest Tips From the Times
Sunday, June 2, 2013Setting aside the discussion about same-sex weddings, let's take a look at what's happening on the male-female front. The New York Times for Sunday, June 2, 2013, has notices of 34 such weddings. The overwhelming majority of them were held at "event spaces." The Roman Catholics are holding their own, as usual; three of the weddings were held at a Roman Catholic church with a priest presiding. Several rabbis presided at weddings held in various secular "venues." There was only one wedding held at a church with the church pastor presiding, and that one--wouldn't you know--was held in the South.
Most remarkable, though, is the long list of non-denominational officiants. They include numerous "Universal Life" ministers and "American Marriage Ministries" ministers ("a friend of the couple became a Universal Life minister for the event"), 2 ministers of the Church of Human Spiritualism, and a minister of the World Christianship Ministries (Google that one to get a shock).
Granted, the list of couples chosen for the New York Times is hardly representative of the rest of the country--or even the city itself. But given all the beautiful New York City churches that used to be the scenes for weddings, and all the hard-working clergy of this city, one would think that we could do a better job. Such is the power of the cultural trends. How did these Universal Life "ministers" achieve this status all of a sudden? How can anyone take that seriously? Wouldn't you think that would be a joke?
During the 14 years that I was on the clergy staff at Grace Church in New York (1981-1995), I started counting the number of married couples who had met at the church. I stopped counting at 50. Most of them were married at Grace Church and all of them at a church somewhere. All were married by a member of the clergy (need I say legitimate clergy). Most--though, granted, not all--are still married. Am I bragging? not really, since the circumstances at Grace in those years were truly remarkable and God-given. However, I think a case can be made for the help given to couples by a strong grounding in the church. This business of do-it-yourself weddings speaks volumes about the unmoored, self-created ethos of the institution of marriage today. This is a very serious matter for families and for our society as a whole. May God bless all those who are working hard to strengthen marriages in the context of religious faith and Christian community.