Northern Michigan’s Only Nominee for Bishop “Walks Path of Christianity And Zen Buddhism Together”
When stories like this come along, it’s tempting to remind everyone of similar people and events that have turned the Episcopal Church into a laughingstock for reasons completely unrelated to homosexuality, if only so we can have them in one convenient place the next time something happens.
There’s the pagan seminar in the Diocese of Eastern Michigan, Bill Melnyk the Druid priest, Maury Johnston the gay Wiccan lay activist, whirling with the sufis in Seattle, the ridiculous labyrinth trend, the Hindu mass in Los Angeles… but there are so many more that listing them all every time something like this happens threatens to become a full-time job.
A year and half ago, The Rev. Ann Holmes Redding was inhibited by Rhode Island Bishop Geralyn Wolf for claiming to be both Muslim and Christian. Now the Diocese of Northern Michigan has announced that its only nominee for bishop - The Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester - is also a Zen Buddhist. Not the kind who lived down the hall from you in your college dorm - no, Forrester has actually received Buddhist lay ordination.
Forrester will succeed the late Bishop James Kelsey, who in his diocesan convention address from 2004 mentioned Forrester’s Buddhist ordination in a laundry list of diocesan happenings that could have easily come from a “Lake Wobegon” news break:
Manuel Padilla received his Doctorate of Ministry from Seabury-Western Seminary. Anita Wingert got married! (to Hal Martin) Jane Cisluycis (our new Diocesan Operations Coordinator) graduated last spring from Northern Michigan University with a degree in Communications. Kevin Thew Forrester received Buddhist “lay ordination” - so now he’s walking the path of Christianity and Zen Buddhism together
This is, of course, the natural progression of “progressivism” and something we continually warn against here: It starts with labyrinths, continues with Buddhist monks constructing mandalas in a cathedral, and over the background noise of pagan priests and books about love spells, proceeds to Muslim preistesses and now a Buddhist bishop.
Few on the U.P. seem too concerned about this, certainly not this blogger who writes:
The Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan makes the upper peninsula of Michigan. A beautiful place without very many people. They have been a leader in finding new ways to do church. Once again they have selected their candidate for Bishop and have done it in a new way. the continue to think out of the box and most of the things they have tried have worked very well.
Really? “Worked very well”?
Let’s go to the chart. Oh look - the diocese that’s about to consecrate a Zen Buddhist as Bishop shows a steady decline of over one-third in baptized members and average Sunday attendance over the past decade. Imagine that.
A page at the diocesan web site lists Forrester as being on the diocese’s “Core Team”, he’s head of “LifeCycles Formation Development,” he’s on the Relationships & Partnerships committee, and the Ecclesial Court. Forrester is obviously an active proponent of non-Christian spiritual formation, such as:
THE HEALING ARTS CENTER & THE INTERFAITH FORUM OF MARQUETTE are sponsoring an “interfaith conversation” and a workshop on Meditation & the Enneagram, to be led by the Buddhist teacher, Santikaro. On Friday, October 5th, Santikaro will lead an interfaith conversation open to the public. The exact time and place of the venue are still in process. On Saturday, from 10-4 at the Healing Arts Center, located in the Morgan Chapel of St. Paul’s, Santikaro will lead a practical workshop exploring the relationship between meditation and the Enneagram. The Enneagram is a system with ancient roots, which integrates spirituality and psychology. Both events are open to the public. There is no fee, but donations are gladly accepted. For further information on either event, contact Kevin G. Thew Forrester at (906)-226-2912 or email at Kevin.Thew-
That’s from the diocesan newsletter of September, 2007 [485kb PDF - I had trouble opening it, so beware]
Northern Michigan’s response to the primates’ meeting in Dar es Salaam in February 2007 is legendary around these parts (check the three “affirmations,” especially the last one, in the main post). Forrester is the author of “I Have Called You Friends: An Invitation to Ministry,” which was described by one reviewer this way:
He borrows heavily from feminist theology, and picks up Walt Winks’ concept of “domination”. He also hints at choas and organisation theory, implying that order emerges from chaos through a process of self-organisation. Hence church leaders should resist the temptation to impose order, since a liberated community will generate more creativity…
Jesus said, “I have called you friends…” Kevin Thew Forrester, would like to show us how to turn clerical domination structures into the kin-dom of heaven. Amen to that!
Over at MCJ, Christopher mentions that there are rumblings afoot by “one senior diocesan bishop” to the effect that “objections may be raised” to Forrester’s being seated in the House of Bishops, because the body is “still sufficiently faithful to recognize the total self-contradiction this would involve and deny consent.”
If you believe that the fey bedwetters in the HoB will do anything more than squeak briefly and weakly about “concerns” over Forrester’s full-on embrace of Zen Buddhism, I have some beachfront property in northwestern New Mexico I want to sell you.
Taking the broad view, though, one has to ask: Should this really be more of a concern than the theology espoused by the presiding bishop herself? I would say “yes,” but only by a nose, because it is one thing for the House of Bishops to be populated by many men and women who claim to be Christian only, but whose theology is, at best, suspect; and it being populated by people who publicly affirm their allegiance to a faith other than Christianity. Nothing like a little strange doctrine to show how inclusive we are, right?
Sarah Hey contributed much of the research for this article
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