I hope you have heard the Diane Rehm Show on NPR this morning at 10EDT (the first hour of the show). The guest was the presiding Episcopal Bishop-Elect Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first woman to lead the Episcopal Church. She is an amazing woman. You should listen to the show here (Real Audio) or here (Windows Media) (the best parts are starting at about 8th minute). I especially liked the way her training in oceanography influences the way she looks at the world and the way her church should be organized.
For instance, she is aware that greater species diversity makes an ecosystem more robust and more resistant to disruption. Thus, she is afraid of a religiously unifrm society – she used the metaphor of a monoculture, where having a large plot of land covered in just one crop requires a huge investment in fertilizers, insecticides and work – all unneccessary in a diverse environment.
Another interesting example she used was one about the humpbacks whales. Apparently, individual whales from all around the world leave their groups and travel to a spot close to Hawaii a couple of times a year. There, they sing their songs and, as they listen to each other they modify their songs. They learn songs from each other. In the end, they all together make a single song which is a combination of the individual original songs they brought to the meeting. Then, each whale swims home and teaches neighbors the new song. There, in each locality, the song changes over time as diffeernt individuals make changes to it. Then, the whales go to a Hawaian meeting again with their new songs and make a new song again. She sees this as a model for how the church should operate – bringing the voices of the people to a bishops’ meeting, where they write policy, which affects people who respond to it, and so on and one, constantly being modified through this interchange between the clergy and their flocks.