Essays, poems, open letters and a literary analysis by 26 contributors are collected in this tribute, the first such festschrift for a presiding bishop.
It lets the reader encounter outgoing Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold as others have encountered him: as an intellectual inquirer, an adult doing the white-mouse dance in an airport, a bishop kneeling to tie the shoes of a marginalized brother, a defender of the psalmic asterisk (the “Griswold pause”) and as one who has embodied reconciliation, notably in the past five turbulent years.
From three continents and the Pacific, from within and outside the Anglican Communion, the authors represent the broad reach of Griswold’s ministry. They offer an expansive range of topics on the theme of reconciliation, chosen as most representative of his ministry.
The book addresses “the God project of reconciling all things to God,” reminding us that before we can be fully reconciled to God, we must be reconciled to ourselves, to one another (especially as “Other”) and to all living things. Justice and the celebration of diversity are prerequisites to reconciliation. As Margaret Miles puts it, reconciliation “cannot be the eradication of difference, but rather the extension of God’s love to and within the world’s full complexity and particularity.”).
Reconciliation in the Bible, the Holy Trinity, the Eucharist, the Incarnation and the Resurrection are common themes. Other essays refer to the psalms, the letters of Paul and the concept of paradox as integral in Griswold’s ministry.
The writers express admiration for the presiding bishop’s responses to potentially divisive events, in particular Sept. 11, 2001, the Windsor Report and the request that ECUSA withdraw its delegates from the Anglican Consultative Council.
Examples of reconciliation across geographical, racial and age boundaries abound. Many of the authors cite justice issues awaiting our attention and energy: race, hunger, health care, poverty, disability, education, gender, and environment.
Editor Barbara Braver notes in her preface that everyone involved in the book hoped it would be a “gift to the church” as well as a “proper and loving gift to one who has served as the overseer of the Episcopal Church as our teacher and as our friend.” They have succeeded.
Essays range from the personal to the scholarly. This is not a book to rush through, but one in which to savor each contribution. Although it also would be effective in private study, the book’s focus on reconciliation makes it ideal for communal study.