Katherine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, will be delivering the C. S. Lewis Legacy Lecture at Westminster College in Fulton, MO. Slated to occur on February 27, the event is supposed to deal with science and religion. According to the press release, Cliff Cain, the Harrod-C.S. Lewis Professor of Religious Studies Chair at the college, announced, “We are quite honored that the Presiding Bishop accepted our invitation to lecture…Her divinity degree combined with her bachelor’s degree in biology and two graduate degrees in oceanography make her uniquely qualified to offer remarks on this subject.”
TEC’s favorite oceanographer probably could share some interesting insights between science and some kind of religious belief.
On the other hand, traditional Anglican everywhere may have suffered multiple aneurysms at the tremendous irony of this particular situation. Bishop Jefferts Schori prominently delivering her thoughts at a special lecture named after Jack Lewis? Really?
Even though both individuals are connected to the Anglican Communion, similarities quickly dissipate as tremendous contradictions come to the foreground. Whereas C. S. Lewis was a champion of traditional Christian orthodoxy, Jefferts Schori has proven a tireless footsoldier for doctrinal revisionism. While the former re-casted deep theological truths into popular stories like the Chronicles of Narnia and The Space Trilogy, the latter reinterpreted biblical texts to condemn St. Paul himself. Lewis has not only united classical Anglicans but Christians in general with his impressive corpus of writing; Jefferts Schori has managed to help catalyze a global rupture in the world third largest Christian communion.
I suppose there are important commonalities that I neglected to mentions. Both are associated with wars of a sort. Lewis fought in WWI and gave his famous Mere Christianity BBC radio talks in WWII. The Presiding Bishop has been so kind as to lead a legal assault against congregations leaving the Episcopal Church. As a field marshal, she’s shown quite a bit of derring-do, most famously exemplified in the removal of Bishop Mark Lawrence and over 700 clergy.
However, one cannot help wondering if Westminster College realized how far Jefferts Schori is from Lewis on the opposite side of the spectrum. Those with even a cursory understanding of the two figures are boggled by cognitive dissonance. There are almost too many contradictions to shuffle through. Perhaps one could start with the inconvenient fact that Lewis was stridently opposed to women’s ordination. We can work on from there. I suppose the old boy would be spinning in his grave if he didn’t have better things to do at the moment.
Nevertheless, because of her high ecclesiastical position, the Presiding Bishop is deemed an expert on the Christian faith’s teachings. Maybe her long list of juridical endeavors can also grant her a spot to deliver a noted lecture to the legal community.