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In the fall of 1990, Walter C. Righter, acting as an assisting bishop in New Jersey's Episcopal Diocese of Newark, ordained a highly qualified gay man who lived with his partner in a committed relationship. It was not the first such ordination and not even the first highly publicized one, but in 1995, a small group of fellow bishops brought charges against Righter for what he had done.
In A Pilgrim's Way, Bishop Righter tells his own story and the story of the ordination. He uncovers the machinations that set the conditions for such a trial long before the "victim" was selected. He recounts the accusation in 1995 of teaching false doctrine, the long wait for the process to unfold, the harassment, the hearings, the outpouring of support, the media attention, and the church court's eventual finding that no "core doctrine" had been violated. We see Bishop Righter's own rage and fear overcome as he begins to understand what fuels the rage and fear of his accusers. By the time his sixteen-month ordeal has ended he is proud to have been a catalyst for major decisions about gay and lesbian rights in the church.
Righter very forthrightly shares the insights he gained about the connection between misogyny and homophobia. He explains the inner, and often inglorious, workings of the House of Bishops. With great candor he reveals the undercurrents in his own life that may well have caused his opponents to think him vulnerable. It becomes quite clear, however, that those opponents badly misjudged both the man and the church. As Righter shows, the work begun in his defense and in his exoneration continued afterward and goes on still.
The "heretic" outed the church and became a hero. In A Pilgrim's Way we see how it happened.
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Walter C. Righter, former Episcopal Bishop of Iowa and assistant Bishop of the diocese of Newark, New Jersey, has a license plate on his Subaru Legacy that reads: "HRETIC." He is the second man in the American Episcopal Church's 208-year history to be charged with heresy, and he tells the full story of his much-hyped 1996 trial and acquittal in a memoir called A Pilgrim's Way. Righter's trial happened because he ordained an openly gay man as a deacon in 1990. In Righter's view, his trial was a microcosm of American Christians' anxiety about sexuality and contemporary gender roles, and it also addressed the question of whether ancient theological traditions should be changed by modern social trends. His arguments, in this regard, are lively and insightful, but the greatest value of A Pilgrim's Way is its intimate depiction of the internal politics of the Episcopal House of Bishops--where private meetings are sometimes electronically bugged, where personal tensions are expressed in theological debates, and where members seem only intermittently earnest about their sworn vocation to discern God's truth. --Michael Joseph GrossFrom the Back Cover:
Praise for A Pilgrim's Way
"A moving personal story that throws a powerful light on the dynamics that are present in the life of every Christian church today as it struggles to redefine itself and thus to live in a postmodern world. Walter Righter was placed by forces of
a fearful past into the center of a tense ecclesiastical dispute. He displayed in that crisis such dignity, grace, and integrity
that he transformed the evil of religious prejudice. He reveals in a gripping way what happens when good and evil vie for the soul of the Church."
--John Shelby Spong, Bishop of Newark, author of Why Christianity Must Change or Die
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Book Description Knopf, 1998. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX067945442X
Book Description Knopf, 1998. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P11067945442X