Oddly enough, Bishop Paul Moore ran the Episcopal Church in New York before the church became identified with deep internal divisions over homosexuality.
From 1972 to 1989, when he served as the Episcopal bishop of NY, Moore became widely known for speaking out against poverty and corporate greed. Because of his unrepentant liberalism, he was often a divisive figure.
But New Yorkers knew who Moore was — a leader who transformed the Episcopal Church, in part, from a church for the rich to a church for the poor. He was a player on NY’s religious scene, not a bystander.
In March 2003, two months before he died, he took the pulpit of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine to denounce the war in Iraq.
And, yes, he was the first Episcopal bishop to ordain a lesbian.
This week’s New Yorker has an excerpt from a forthcoming book by Moore’s daughter, Honor Moore. The book is called The Bishop’s Daughter (May 2008, W.W. Norton).
The excerpt powerfully describes how her father changed when he put on his vestments and how he communicated best, even with her, from the pulpit.
Honor Moore also writes about discovering her father’s homosexuality and, after his death, meeting her father’s lover of three decades.
While these revelations are bound to get the most attention, I found myself most pulled in by Honor Moore’s description of the Eucharist and her father’s devotion to it.
Just as I came to understand that his splendid vestments were not ordinary clothes, I learned that during the Eucharist the bread and wine were shot through with something alive, which vibrated and trembled, and when I watched my father, enormously tall, the color of his vestments blurry through all the incense, in all the candlelight, it seemed to me he brought all this about.
You can’t read the article online, but you can hear this New Yorker interview with Honor Moore.
(Photo: W.W. Norton)