The Curious Case of Rev. Robert Lawrence Wise, Ph.D.

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
This memoir is a case study examination of modern American identity search. In pre/extra modern societies personal "identity" is usually communal, has greater time depth and is generational in nature. In contrast, this essay looks at a specific instance of American "identity" formation and how modern adoption practices interface with contemporary trends in globalization, specifically within the American "mainstream" milieu of North America.

Submitted: August 02, 2017

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Submitted: August 02, 2017



robert todd wise

The following is taken from established birth records, adoption documents, live testimony, and genetic testing: Robert Lawrence Wise was given the birth name of "Edloe" on his birth certificate by his birth mother Lula Jane Moses of Roanoke, Alabama. He was born in Kansas City, MO USA on June 16, 1939 and placed into adoption at his birth. These were the conditions of his birth. His birth father was James Edward Hardy of Wadley, Alabama. This was reported by Lula Jane Moses to Robert Lawrence Wise (RLW) and his children when RLW found his birth mother (Lula Jane) around 1980. Lula Jane Moses was in regular contact with RLW and his children from 1980 to her death. Lula Jane's report regarding the birth father was later genetically verified through a "y" chromosome test by Robert Todd Wise, son of RLW. RLW's adopted parents were Lawrence Arthur Wise and Evelyn DeWater Wise of Clinton, OK. He was raised with an adopted sister named Mary in Clinton, OK.

The Curious Case of Rev. Robert Lawrence Wise, Ph.D.
Robert Todd Wise, Ph.D.

There are many ways to discuss the influence of Western-American contemporary life on personal identity in general, but in the case of “identity formation” it is best to pay close attention to specific examples. Here I wish to consider the case of Rev. Robert Lawrence Wise, Ph.D. and his public claim to “be Jewish.” It is hoped that the case of Rev. Dr. Wise might bring us to a clearer understanding of what “being Jewish” may mean for the globalized Western Christian world, in distinction from what it means for people born and raised in the ancient tradition of Judaism. This essay isn’t so much about what constitutes “being a Jew,” but a glance at psychological identity in today’s world. In a time where “globalization” provides ready-made identity scripts through a media driven reality, it is indeed refreshing to be reminded where one actually comes from, what one is factually born into, and to orient oneself to the historical conditions that allowed for existence itself.

Robert Lawrence Wise was raised in Clinton, Oklahoma, born in 1939, and was ordained in the United Methodist Church in the late 1950’s. He graduated from Phillips Theological Seminary in Enid, OK and was a Methodist minister through the 1960’s and early 70’s. In 1974 Rev. Wise left the United Methodist Church and switched to the Reformed Church in America (RCA), working initially as an associate pastor at Lake Hills Community Church in CA in 1974 and then starting Our Lord’s Community Church in Oklahoma City in 1976, both of which are in the Reformed Church in America (RCA). He remained in the RCA up until 1990, when he spent time in three different denominations within the Anglican Communion, finally ending up in the Evangelical Episcopal Church where he is now an Archbishop. Robert Lawrence Wise (RLW) and I share a common history because we both have the same family heritage and genealogy. I am his first born son and as his son I am intimately familiar with the details of RLW’s life because I was exposed to them directly. I know who my grandparents are and I know my family of origin. In addition, I have thoroughly examined all the details of my father’s birth. Robert Lawrence Wise was an adopted child of my adopted grandparent’s Lawrence and Evelyn Wise of Clinton, Oklahoma. There was never any shame in this fact and never any strangeness in growing up with the last name “Wise.” The issue of identity through being in the “Wise family” was never any concern whatsoever in my family. However, something did in fact change when my father reached the age of 40 years old.

Just after the age of 40, my father (RLW) searched and found his biological mother Lula Jane Moses of Roanoke, Al. After he found her, Lula Jane (my grandmother) in fact became a regular visitor in our family home in Oklahoma City from 1980 to her death in 1989. We visited her at her home in Roanoke, AL, and I was able to talk openly and freely about our Moses relatives. I was able to hear the full details of how our father was born, which she shared openly to all my siblings and parents. She told us many details about our heritage and became as much of a grandmother to us as could be thought possible. She sent presents, presented me with homemade blankets, fixed her favorite food dishes, held my baby on her front porch rocking chair. Lula Jane was in fact considered to be the “family historian” by the Moses clan in Alabama, a detail discovered after her death. She knew the deep, wide story of the Moses in Alabama, including the fact that her grandfather had “let go over 50 slaves” during the Civil War. She told us all the significant details of my father’s birth. We were told that my grandfather was James Edward Hardy, a mayor from the town of Wadley, AL. My biological grandfather was married to another woman and had lived in Roanoke during the time my father was conceived. Wadley was a small town near Roanoke, and it was here that my grandfather later became a mayor.

A significant detail in my father’s “birth story” was that we were also told that both our grandfather (James Edward Hardy) and our grandmother (Lula Jane Moses) very much desired to one day see our father, and his family. They in fact believed that my father would one day seek them out and that they would be able to see his children. My grandfather, James Edward Hardy, had left a portrait of himself with Lula Jane towards the end of his life that he wanted give to his son (RLW) and his children. James Edward Hardy died 8 years prior to my father finding his mother. These were the conditions of my father’s birth. His father was James Edward Hardy, his mother Lula Jane Moses and he was born in Kansas City, MO where he was presented for adoption at his birth in 1939. His adopted parents were Lawrence Arthur and Evelyn DeWater Wise of Clinton, OK.

While the interaction with our grandmother Lula Jane went without interruption until her death, it was after her death that the disruption occurred related to the Wise identity for my father and then eventually for my family. The death of my grandmother Lula Jane coincided with my father leaving the Reformed Church in America and his eventual placement in an Anglican setting. This family crisis was related to a rather public display of our family enacted through my father’s divorce from my mother and a disciplinary action from governing bodies in the Reformed Church in America. What was of particular importance regarding the formation of our “family identity” was how the question of “being Jewish” played out in his life after this catastrophic family event. The present account I am giving here is based on direct personal experiences of my own, but also from viewing birth records, adoption papers, my interviewing of relatives, and genetic testing. For clarity sake, my father (RLW) was born “Edloe” Moses on his birth certificate, which lists Lula Jane Moses as the birth mother. These documents were proudly viewed directly by the whole family when my father first introduced our grandmother to us. The report that Mayor James Edward Hardy was our grandfather was a crucial detail, because we were not able to meet him. Although Lula Jane’s testimony that James Edward Hardy was the father was never questioned, I later confirmed this assertion through genetic testing of the “y” chromosome. The “y” chromosome test indeed confirmed that numerous persons from the Hardy line, directly related to James Edward Hardy of Wadley AL, were in fact our birth relatives. Because of genetic testing and the report of our grandmother, there is consequently no doubt who my biological grandfather and mother were, which is verified precisely by historical and genetic conditions.

The psychology of an adopted child is an important detail to consider. While growing up, my father would occasionally toy with the idea that he was part American Indian. He was raised in Clinton, OK near some Indian people and many people in the Oklahoma area are descendants of Indians. Growing up, such musings were a part of our family identity. My mother was in fact part American Indian. Later, at another point he suggested that he might be “Syrian” do to some similarities in appearance including dark wavy hair. There was in fact a presence of Syrian in Oklahoma heritage. Later, and for a significant period of time he reported that he might be Armenian, possibly because of our exposure to some Armenians in California. The identity “hats” started to take a more “oriental” or exotic turn. Of a more serious nature was a growing assuredness in how my father asserted these claims. Conjecture started to seem like fact, although no one seem to object. When I was in high school, the idea of him being Armenian was sometimes reported as factual to persons that did not know that he was adopted. A certain monk who I befriended reported to me years ago that my father said “he was” Armenian.

There began to be a certain trickiness about the assertions but appearing mostly as a harmless deception in those days. It is fair to say there was a kind of hucksterism at play where an implied identity was used for a particular advantage. A level of compassion was always present surrounding my father’s being adopted. All of this was apparent as we grew up. His being adopted was always treated with curious respect and with welcome interest, but it also coalesced with the American ethos of “finding” one’s identity and to locate a “reason for being.” That aspect of American ethos which values the idea of choosing “identity” was certainly a factor in my father’s “play of identity,” an ethos different than other parts of the world. The Western heritage of “finding one’s self” through dark urges, through being “self-made” in a pragmatic “can do” optimism, to grow up and to “discover” yourself, this was surely the ground for my father’s identity drama. It is a “human right” to be “free and equal” and to come out from the repressions or oppressions, to be "all you are meant to be."  While America has vast histories of persons who have recreated themselves, using phony identities for personal gain and "fake news" for self-promotion, today the “post-modern” media filled American searches for a “complex narrative” of psychological identity. Such a “narrative,” when found, may not square with either one’s own body or with the exact details of birth history. For example, the sexual disposition of one’s body can be replaced with a psychologically ambiguous or opposite sex identity, which has now become a “right” to be discovered. In the words of Stuart Smalley, the well-known caricature of US Senator Al Franken, “and that’s okay.”

It is this larger cultural ethos that perhaps best explains the enabling silence of those around my father as his story veered into unfactual family details. My father has a “right” “to find himself” and to say who he really is. What is of particular cultural interest in this case study of RLW was how persons surrounding him allowed for a phony identity to be accepted without question or without qualification. I have observed 20 years of such behavior, including people from our immediate family. The Oedipus story of “blinding” himself in order to pursue a primal drama has been played to its classical gills within my own family of origin. In order to “relate” as a family, it seemed that one must “live in denial.” But let us return to the question of “being Jewish.”

The transformation of RLW’s belief that he “was Jewish” always centered on the last name of his birth mother, Lula Jane Moses of Randolph County Alabama. During the last 9 years of her life, our grandmother stated consistently that the origin of the Moses name was never known. This is for the basic fact that the name itself came from a John Morgan Moses (d. 1837), seven generations from my own birth. Our forefather, John Morgan Moses of Georgia, USA had a parentage which was simply unknown. His parents were recorded nowhere and no one knew what part of the world he came prior to his being in Georgia at the start of the 19th century. The question of a possible Jewish origin was tied to the name of Moses. No one knew where the name had come from, could it possibly have been from a Jewish line? The last name was established through the father’s line, but nothing whatsoever was known about the source of the name prior to the end of the 18th century. This was always how Lula Jane reported it and it continues to be the way the Moses family discusses it to this very day. John Morgan Moses was said by her to be a “wrestler” or boxer, and to have been murdered after a prize fight by a robber.

The entire issue of a possible Jewish heritage began as a kind of joke, associated with the fact that Lula Jane prided herself in “playing the stocks.” But after the death of my grandmother, these jokes turned into half-truths utilized by RLW. With hindsight, the transition to “being Jewish” was likely taking shape prior to my grandmother’s death, although no one could see it at the time. One example is worth reporting. Towards the end of her life, my father took hold of a joke my grandmother said about her father being a “front porch Jewish banker,” an association of his ability as a business man with the last name of Moses. My father referred to the joke as fact. My grandmother, Lula Jane, however resisted and attempted to laugh off the idea of actually being Jewish, simply because the idea itself was so farcical. When she started to become ill towards the end of her life, on another occasion, my father suggested a comment regarding “our Jewish heritage” while others stood around her bed. My grandmother responded in the presence of her family, “Robert, as far as I know we have always been Baptists.”

My grandmother died in 1989, but it wasn’t until 11 years later that I was able to comprehend what my father had done regarding his own identity. I had been away in graduate school through the late 80’s and 90’s, but in 2000/1 I was teaching at the time at Jordan University at Amman, Jordan during a Fulbright Scholarship. My father had written some tracts on Christian “end times” projections, some of them in the form of a novel. Because of his background in the Christian religion and his writing projects, I had invited him to speak about Christian Zionism to my class in the American Studies program in the graduate faculty of Jordan University, not fully comprehending at the time how much he believed in what he wrote. Before that time he had reported to me that his novel writing “spoke to the imagination” of certain sector of American Christian people, which seemed to be an honorable effort. But after he lectured in my class of Arab students, I was able to perceive that my father had come to identify himself as “being Jewish.” When I later questioned him about his assertions, he told me that I “was Jewish” also but that it was “up to me” to accept or reject “that fact.”

It became a strange reality and a genuine conflict regarding who my father was, because it was in a direct collision with who I was!  Jewish? This “crisis of identity” also coincided at a time when I observed the reactions of my students about his lecture regarding Christian end-times belief and the State of Israel. He was so thoroughly pro-Israeli, so clear about the bond between Christian millennialists and the support for the Israeli government, that some of my students could not relate to me the same thereafter. One student in particular, a young woman with a hijab and traditional dress, could not even speak after his talk. She tried to speak and say something, but her own throat prevented her from making any audible sound. She actually withdrew from the course following his lecture. After his pronouncement of “being Jewish,” I later found that my father regularly read the Jerusalem Post and started to attend a Jewish temple in Oklahoma City.

Upon my return to America, I engaged directly with the Moses family (Lula Jane’s relatives, both her father’s line of Moses and her mother’s line of Burson) and questioned scores of them in order to comprehend how my father claimed to be Jewish. What I found was that there is simply nothing whatsoever to this assertion. The reports were exactly the same, time and again, just as our grandmother had always stated. The sister of Lula Jane, Lillian, summarized the issues clearly to me, that “there is nothing in family memory of being Jewish. We all loved pork and had nothing related to Jewish culture whatsoever.” Although the person of John Morgan Moses was seven generations back, making it impossible for this person to be a claim for being “Jewish,” a “y” chromosome test was done nonetheless. Could this individual of six or seven generations prior have been Jewish? A few other Moses relatives and I found a male relative, a direct descendent of John Morgan Moses, who willingly provided a sample for a “Y” chromosome test. The “y” chromosome test results did provide some assistance. It matched the line of John Morgan Moses (from Georgia, USA) to another Moses family in the United States. Genetic testing allowed us to locate and to question persons from that other line about family history. What we found was that this other Moses line also denied any family memory of being Jewish.

The conclusion that is to be drawn is simple, basic, and clear. There is no way that any of us could say we were Jewish by heritage. The name itself was six to seven generations back, depending on your placement in the family tree. More importantly, even if John Morgan Moses were completely Jewish in all respects, which he was not, there is no way the claim of “being Jewish” could be made by any tradition of the Jewish faith or culture. Being Jewish can be inherited through a biological mother’s line, but this was not the case at all with Lula Jane Moses. Her name was inherited through her father’s line, and of such a far distance that the Jewish origins were unascertainable. Moreover, the genetic tests done on the “y” chromosome reveal no significant Jewish matches. Traditional definitions of being Jewish persist on whether one’s mother is Jewish. Lula Jane Moses was never Jewish. There is also no record of any Jewish heritage at all, even in a far off ancient past.

Despite finding no evidence whatsoever of "being Jewish," my father (RLW) continued to maintain such assertions all through the first decade of this century and up to the present day, but with a further significant development. The story became even more confabulated to the point that false details of his own birth conditions have been proclaimed publicly and by persons who never challenged their truth or falsehood. In 2012 RLW had presented a false genealogy to his children that replaced his biological great grandfather with another person entirely to bolster his claim to “being Jewish.” When confronted with the actual genealogy of his birth mother, his response was “that is what my mother had told me.” Of course this assertion is not true, nor is the genealogy he had recently “adopted.” What is especially telling is that persons around him simply did not care if the facts of his heritage were true or not, including members of his own family. The details were shrugged off as inconsequential. The American ethos itself allows for a glib reaction to identity claim, seemingly oblivious to the serious implications of “making up” false identities.

Let us consider the more recent “narrative” to the RLW identity claims. In the past few years (since 2012 to 2016) stories began to circulate that RLW had claimed to being “rescued” from the Jewish holocaust at birth. In this version, his mother, Lula Jane, was actually in Germany during WWII and gave up her child at birth to rescue him from the concentration camps and certain death. The time of his birth was 1939, so the timing of the event could bring some believability as it coincides with the events of WWII. The trouble of course is that all human beings are born under precise conditions. His mother never even visited Germany, never spoke German, and was a Southern lady from Alabama. She lived in the town of Roanoke, Alabama to which all her relatives can confirm. RLW’s desire to “be Jewish” had arisen to such a level, that RLW had simply “adopted” a “narrative” that was most expedient to the purposes of his particular context and the gullible nature of his audience.

On several occasions I asked my father (RLW), why he wanted to “be Jewish.” My reason was that I found our own family story to be far more interesting. Why make one up? It would certainly add to our family identity if there were a Jewish heritage for sure, but to date there is nothing that verifies any Jewish heritage whatsoever. If there ever is some unknown relative of Jewish origins in my ancient family past, brother or sister I will welcome thee with open arms. The fact is however that the name of Moses, from my grandmother Lula Jane, standing over seven generations ago, was likely an adoption of a Protestant group ("17 century "English Dissenters"), perhaps from Wales according to one Moses researcher. There was a period of Western history when family names had to be adopted for census records. While many took names from their surroundings or occupation, some took biblical names with which they identified.

The coup de grace for the inquiry of RLW’s claims to a Jewish heritage comes with an ingenious mixture of circumstances, both clever and opportunistic. In a newspaper taken from his daughter’s hometown of Stockton, CA dated June 4, 2016, RLW publicized his claim of “being Jewish” and posted a picture taken of him with Pope Francis and his daughter Traci (Wise) Miller. (cf. below). My father, through the support of his daughter, had used a meeting with the Pope Francis to somehow finally confirm his Jewish identity at a Jewish food festival in California! Strange as it is to explain, and difficult for anyone to verify, the drive to “be Jewish” not only implicated a hapless news reporter, but reveals a patronizing of Pope Francis himself. Our family, a Stockton news reporter, Pope Francis, Jewish people…all made into chumps with RLW doing a tap dance on their heads. Simply observe the details of what was reported publically, beyond the claim that Pope Francis and he are longtime friends. The Pope is a friend to all Christians firstly, so let us keep that claim firmly in place!

In this story titled “Fitzgerald: Most interesting man at Jewish Food Festival,” Rev. Dr. Wise offers some details about “his story.”  In the words of the news reporter, “one day when he was 18 or 19 his parents asked him to fetch documents from the family lockbox. They forgot that the truth about him was hidden away in there. In a staggering discovery, he stumbled upon papers showing he was not born American; his parents were not his biological parents; he was adopted; Jewish.” (cf. below) The facts of these assertions are simply impossible. RLW had never discovered his mother until after he was 40 years old and there was never any “documents” in a mysterious “family lockbox.”  He states further that after seeking his mother he found he came from “Dutch Jews” (This association may have come from his work with the Reformed Church in America which indeed has a Dutch heritage). He clarifies to the reporter that “he learned his parents had given him up when he was 3 years old to save him from the growing threat from of Nazi Germany.” All of these assertions are completely impossible. Family testimony, census, birth, and adoption records report he was given to his adopted parents at birth in 1939 in Kansas City, MO and to Lula Jane Moses of Alabama. Not only birth records, but Lula Jane herself told us all in precise details of these conditions. Public 1940 census records also document that he was with his adopted parents (Lawrence and Evelyn Wise) in Clinton, OK at 5 months of age.

To be fair, the elaborate deception of “being Jewish” is not owed to the efforts of one individual alone, since we are speaking not only of his immediate personal context, but of many others, including his family, a news reporter, and even Pope Francis himself. The acceptance of identity trickery has become a part of the American and Western ethos where counterfeit identities are allowed to flourish in full bloom. The ease with which a false identity story can be believed speaks volumes for the kind of society we live within, the isolation, the stress on individualism, the disconnect from a traditional past, and global media. The “big” identity stories of news media easily become “more interesting” than our own personal heritage. A catchy “narrative” can be tried on just as easy as changing one’s hair color, gaining a new tattoo, or new plastic surgery enhancement. Personal story can be supported by a cartoon-like “super” legend.

When I stayed at the Jerusalem Diocese for the Anglican Church in 2001, I was able to visit with scholars about matters pertaining to Christian Zionism, Islam, and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Bishop Riah was one such person, a man whose genealogy is reported to extend to James the brother of Jesus. I appreciated these discussions, particularly in the context of Jerusalem itself. The connection to a traditional past and the sense of ancient family identity stood in stark contrast to the American setting from which I came. One discussion in particular struck me regarding the issue of Christian Zionism after a professor, who had lived in Jerusalem for decades, reported to me a curious fact. He said that “Jewish Zionists think Christian Zionists are lunatics.” That statement stayed with me, sometimes framed by me in a question of “who is chump-ing who?” In a single sentence summary line of this professor’s perceptions, he was saying that “Israel accepts the money and publicity,” but they don’t “believe anything” that Christian Zionists report regarding the future of Jerusalem. The evangelical Christian romanticism of “being Jewish” is a tragedy of sorts in how it is interwoven with a counterfeit reality so pervasive in American and Western life. Such occurrences are surely the product of our media driven “world,” growing in ever greater concentration with each passing decade. Our virtual and psychological constructs create for us ideas, images, and sign systems that we can “buy into” and to a certain extent “become.” Ironically, this achievement of identity has nothing to do with the “dare to know” of modern consciousness since the result ends within a false consciousness of competing “narratives.” The gift of modern consciousness was in how it could enhance and build upon what human beings were already given, not in how it could permanently displace them. In the “first modern novel” Don Alfonso Quixote returned home from his fanciful adventures in order to be himself. He returned home as Alonso Quixano the Good, to fit comfortably back in his “old self” even though he was enriched by an astounding journey. Desiring to “dream the impossible dream” was never meant to deny who and where one comes from. The goal of life was never to endlessly “tilt windmills.”

The irony of the imagined story of RLW is that it is by nature a “family story” that only he can celebrate. Family history, genealogy, and heritage belong to the particular families they reference. The details may be personal, but they are also shared by a group of others. RLW’s desire to recreate his family history and parentage actually undercuts family at its roots because it provides a “no-where” story and one based on a well-worn saga of American and Western consciousness, the Jewish holocaust (Shoa). The replacement reality for contemporary society, where the human mind can be “bought and sold” through “global” mindsets, where zombie families mimic the latest media trends, where people can “split off” their “psychological identities” from their “biological” identities, may leave us speechless. But perhaps the best response is to simply “Come Home!” The “eternal return” to ourselves, our inherited families, our traditions, our religions is what actually helps us to see who and what we are as individuals. The historical fruit of each individual life extends from the tree that brought them here and it is the “back-story” of this “tree” that provides the figure ground orientation to who we “really” are.

Source: In all likelihood this story may be withdrawn at a future point. Here is the posted story as of July 27, 2016.

robert todd wise

Archbishop Robert Wise, left, looks on as his daughter, Traci Miller, presents Pope Francis with a "passion band" from Health Careers Academy in this 2014 photo. Wise, a longtime friend of the Pope, is visiting Stockton. COURTESY

Fitzgerald: Most interesting man at Jewish Food Festival, By Michael Fitzgerald Record columnist Posted Jun. 4, 2016 at 3:15 PM Updated Jun 4, 2016 at 7:30 PM '

He grew up in a small Oklahoma town with good, Christian parents but with the vaguely troubling feeling that he was someone else from someplace else.
Then one day when he was 18 or 19 his parents asked him to fetch documents from the family lockbox. They forgot that the truth about him was hidden away in there. In a staggering discovery, he stumbled upon papers showing he was not born American; his parents were not his biological parents; he was adopted; Jewish. “It’s like waking up from having amnesia and discovering you’re not who you thought you were,” Archbishop Robert Wise said. “That’s somewhat jarring.” Wise, 75, has come from his Colorado home to volunteer at Sunday’s Jewish Food Festival. The presence of a Christian archbishop at that event is novel enough (and refreshingly ecumenical) but Wise’s story gets better. “Frankly, it frightened me,” Wise said of his find. “I told no one. I just gradually tried to come to grips with what it meant.” He never talked to his parents about it. He sensed they would not want to. But in coming years he set out to learn the truth. Searching was hard. Adoptions were secretive. Finally, a banker friend suggested using bank stationery to request financial information. The ploy worked. He learned his parents were Dutch Jews. His father had passed. His mother still lived. Obtaining a possible address for her, he penned her a letter. A Hail Mary, no pun intended. She wrote back. Her first line read, “I have prayed for you every day of your life.” Wise called her. “We must have talked for four hours.” He learned his parents had given him up when he was 3 years old to save him from the growing threat from of Nazi Germany. “It completed my sense of who I am as a person,” Wise said. “And it had brought me into a very full relationship with the Jewish Community.” By the time Wise found his biological mother, he had gone into the priesthood in the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches. Rising through the ranks, he traveled the world doing ecumenical work. In that capacity he made friends with Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires. Who became Pope Francis. “Much to our surprise that Benedict XVI would resign,” Wise said. “Then, when the doors opened, and who walks out in his white robe was this guy we’d known. It just floored us.” Subsequently, Wise was in Tel Aviv working on a book when his wife called him and said, “You have to come home. The Pope called.’ ” Wise thought she was kidding. But the Pope wanted him to come to Rome. There, Francis appointed Wise Apostolic Representative for Christian Unity. “I go all over creation meeting with Archbishops, clergy, Protestants, telling them that the Pope, he wants ‘unity without uniformity.’ We’re trying to create new relationships between Protestants, Catholics and Jews.” What brings Wise to Stockton is that his daughter, Traci Miller, is the founding principal of Health Careers Academy. So why not volunteer at the Jewish Food Festival while he’s here? “I am a Jew,” Wise said. “I have a foot in two different worlds. I am very much today a part of the Jewish world. I’m an Archbishop, but I also belong to a synagogue in Oklahoma City. I take part in Jewish life and celebration.”

You can too, Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Temple Israel, 5105 N. El Dorado Street. Admission is free.
— Contact columnist Michael Fitzgerald at (209) 546-8270 or Follow him at and on Twitter@Stocktonopolis.

And now you know the rest of the story…

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