What Would the Apostle John Think?

In the summer of 2016, I enjoyed seeing the truly magnificent architecture of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (Episcopal) in NYC. I’m assuming this cathedral was named after John the apostle; I’m afraid he’d cringe at being referred to as “divine.” As for what goes on inside there . . .

The mission statement says the cathedral is “a unifying center of intellectual light.” I read about their Feast of St. Francis, during which they bless various animals, “even camels and bumblebees.” These beings are praised, it says, because they “complete . . . our own humanity.” Now I like bumblebees as much as the next person, but I’m at a loss to understand how they complete my humanity. The cathedral claims to be “anchored” in Episcopal tradition (which I’d think means Christian teaching); yet it also shares the pulpit with Buddhist monks, Islamic imams, etc., to be “nourished” by teachings of “other faiths.” During the week I visited, the facility was hosting the “Tarantata: Spider Dance,” variously described as a “sensual and mystical show” and a “wild erotic trance dance.” The creator of this work is called a “shaman/healer” . . .

Maybe my intellectual lightbulb is a bit dim, but as I consider that the apostle John called Jesus “the true light that gives light” (John 1:9), and said that “whoever lives by the truth comes into the light” (3:21), I can’t help wondering what John would think about all this.


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