Jesus said: ‘Let him who is without sin cast
the first stone.’
My first thought when I read this story about the woman caught
in adultery was: Where is the man? It
is true, as the Reverend Susan Bowman discovered, that if you are one: a man,
and two: not ordained, then you can get away with a great deal. If you are a woman priest, then you are toast.
I come from Sydney, Australia, the home of the ‘S’ word: women’s ‘submission’
to men in the Anglican (aka Episcopal) Church. It’s a hot topic so, when I came to review Lady Father, I was already
aware that there had been a seismic shift from the first decades after the
resurrection when ‘there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in
Christ Jesus’, as St. Paul puts it.
Bowman was the first woman priest in the conservative Episcopal Church of
Southern Virginia. She came from a
diocese where women’s ordination was not widely accepted and she faced fierce
opposition from women as well as men, who saw in her desire to minister as a
priest a threat to their ‘cherished tradition’ of an all-male priesthood.
journey was an emotional roller coaster of joy, anxiety, despair and
perplexity, and ultimately fulfilment in her pastoral work, the expression of
her faith and a natural inclination to work with youth; I appreciated Susan’s
honesty and objectivity. To those
allegedly ‘loving’ Christians who had deeply and unfairly wounded her, she
strove to understand and forgive their harsh speech and actions. In this way, the memoir is more than just a
conversational account of Susan’s journey.
found that I was saddened during the book, as I read how human beings love to
hurt each other, how happy we are to destroy another person in order to justify
ourselves. So the book was a drama about
human relationships, not merely the story of a person who has battled for a
In : Book Reviews