Sunday, July 20, 2008

Prayers for +Gene

Bishop Gene Robinson writes from the "fringe" of Lambeth. Today he could really use our prayers as the shunning is getting to him. Exile in the midst of those you know is even harder than exile in a strange land.
Yesterday was a painful day. I am feeling frustrated and angry. I dare not write too much, because I don't want to sound like I'm whining, nor do I want to say anthing intemperate. But making my first trip into Canterbury and the campus on which the Conference is occurring was difficult.

The level of fear and anxiety, especially among the Conference powers-that-be, is out the roof. No matter what I say, no matter what assurances I give, I seem to be regarded as a threat, something to be walled off and kept at a distance. Greeting a few American bishops in passing, and then at a dinner for General Seminary alumni last night, has been pleasant and supportive. But even though I thought I was properly prepared for the feeling of being shut out, I am stunned by the depth of that feeling.

I am not participating in any kind of official way at the "inclusive opening service" being held this afternoon on a green off campus. I will sit in the congregation with those American bishops who choose to show up in support of this service of inclusion. I know that a number of them will be present, even though they'll have just finished a long service at the Cathedral. This means so much to me that they would do so, especially at this time.

The most infuriating blow came this morning with news that when the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops meets on Tuesday afternoon (each of the 38 "national" provinces of the Communion will have its own gathering), I will not be allowed to participate, because this would look like I had become a "participant," and the organizers seem intent on enforcing my status as a non-invitee. If nothing can be done to change this decision, it will be a particularly painful blow. At our House of Bishops meeting in March, I pleaded with the House not to let Lambeth separate us. For me to be excluded from my own House of Bishops seems especially cruel and unnecessary.


Surround him with your prayers and thoughts so he can continue to "Sing the Lord's song in this strange land." Ironic and depressing that Rowan began his talk with a hope to listen to all voices - hard to hear when someone is out of the circle.

UPDATE here - Bp Kirk Smith says that Gene has been invited - they are trying to work out the venue issue. See my note in the comments - akhf

37 comments:

IT said...

It would be nice to see some backbone from the Americans, at least a polite protest at telling them to whom they can talk at their own provincial meeting. How craven, attempting to assuage something that cannot be assuaged and thus throwing any principles of inclusion under a big red double decker motorbus.


::crickets::

Leslie Littlefield said...

Prayers ascending. Bishop Gene is such a brave man. May God bless him richly. It is hard to believe that something like this is happening in the year 2008.

James said...

I am so angry. As I posted in link to IT's Prop 8, "Injustice ANYWHERE is injusice everywhere." This really is an unacceptable thing.

Our HOB should grow some brass and tell the ABC and "the powers that be," that we are a bloody independent province and we will include whomver we bloody well please.

If this exclusion is the brainchild of our HOB we need to scream even louder.

It will we interesting to see what the next GC does to prevent this crap from happening again to any bishop.

I'm ablsolutly stemaing.

FranIAm said...

Resident RC and would-be TEC if geography were different here...

I posted about this too, simply asking for prayers, from my only half-prayerful readers. Prayers, good thoughts, wishes, intentions - they must be sent.

Deep sigh.

And Jesus wept.

Leonardo Ricardo said...

Being shunned is a old feeling and reminder of WHAT REALLY IS...it makes me furious and to be dismissed is very frustrating when one has earned and full-fledged and fully honorable place at the table as +Bishop Robinson has...I still say it is Rowan, the spiteful, snobbish, less-than-warm hearted liberal, Archbishop of Canterbury, who let's United States of America loathing float around in a sewer of snide and diminishing words by the Bishop of Durham/Wright (as recently as yesterday...and who doesn't apparently know how to be responsible/adult when acting/sluring anti-American junktalk to the Press AT The Lambeth Conference)...these guys are chicken*h*t bafoons...there, I do intemperate very well...btw, let's see how the TEC Bishops behave when faced with YET another opportunity to have LGBT "fast" and "go to your room without dinner" instead of breathing-in-and-out amongst fellow Anglicans/others at Church.

Cany said...

I am sad, ashamed, angry and at a complete loss. Why would the US HOB eliminate him? They voted to uphold his election for heaven's sake!

It is one thing to eliminate him from the whole extended "family" (which I don't agree with), but quite another from his immediate family, the US HOB.

Add disgusted...

He is in my prayers and thoughts and has been for a very long time.

How is our PB handling this??

Ann said...

It was a Lambeth official decision - the HoB is protesting and working to get Gene included.

IT said...

When I lived in the UK I learned there is a particular type of British liberal who especially enjoys disparaging the Americans as crass, crude, too rich, too loud, too stupid, and too unsubtle to have a seat at the table with the adults. This type of liberal blames all the ills of the world on the great American hegemony and conveniently ignores any sense of local responsibility (Blair, anyone?). It turns some of our best American traits, including our open-ness, inclusiveness, our sense of fair play, and yes even occasionally our earnestness, into measures of stupidity that define us us childish and immature.

Indeed, I remember one such asking me if one of my academic degrees was "a real degree" with the snobbery that only an Oxonian can muster. I smiled sweetly and told him I cut it off the back of a Post-Toasties box.

I could tell when they liked me because they would ask me what part of Canada I was from.

This does not apply to the vast majority of Brits, who are great people and wonderfully generous. I'm talking about a narrow and elitist swath of liberals, who seem overrepresented in Academe and her sister the Church.


IT

Scott Hankins said...

"Where would Jesus be?"
- Opening salvo of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams at Lambeth 2008

If I had direct access to the TEC bishops in attendance, I would ask them why they don't hold their meeting out on the green where the Integrity/Changing Attitudes Eucharist took place? Where would Jesus be?

Cany said...

Thanks, Ann. Would you please keep us posted on how the US HOB goes on this?

When I saw this morning's photos, I just had to wonder where MY Bish, a fully supportive Bish of Gene, was and WHY he was not in the pic. Given I am in the same diocese as Susan Russell, maybe she knows.

Who WAS there, do you know by name?

I am quite upset.

Either the US HOB walks its talk or they don't. +Gene either gets their support, or he doesn't.

Can't be two ways.

Anonymous said...

Thoughts and prayers of support for Bishop Gene. Marilyn

Leslie Littlefield said...

The more I thought about this today, the more upset it made me. I'll say it again, I cannot believe this is happening in the year 2008. What a crying shame.

Anonymous said...

IT, did that Oxonian hold a liberal arts degree? Some get superior when encountering a sciences or engineering degree holder.

I do hope that the HoB retires to a non-Lambeth-grounds location to meet with +Gene, or at least sends a few people around at the end of the day for a round up and prayer.

Prayers for +Gene

IT said...

Oh, I am well aware of the classic oxonian disdain for scientists--very much so. Of course he was such a one. my degree that he questioned is a liberal arts degree.

Beryl Simkins said...

Where is Father Jake/Terry? I want to know more about what the bishops of the Episcopal Church are doing to support Gene Robinson.

There are times in people's, (bishop's) lives when they have an opportunity to take a decisive stand, and the time is now. It is about making a commitment without counting the cost.

Why, for Heaven's sakes, is it Venables who is being given recognition and the opportunity to make a statment to the news media, a man who exhibits disregard for all the traditions of the Anglican communion and disrespect for the Communion service of our Lord, by refusing to go forward and take communion with the other bishops present?

I wnat the most strength, the most integrity, the highest level of courage, from the bishops of our national church, and from the Archbishop of the Anglican communion.

Scott Hankins said...

Beryl,

Write (e mail) Bishop Lamb and ask him to support the movement to have the caucus off-campus. Spreading fast.

Erp said...

I should perhaps not be commenting as I'm not even a Christian, but, it is painful to read about Gene Robinson's exclusion and his pain at that. Please excuse me if I get any terminology/facts wrong (or for that matter getting the whole situation wrong).

"[2] How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?" (psalm 13)

I suspect the ABC is also having some painful times. His choice of sermon giver and hymn in Sunday's service might have been an attempt to make the bishops, or at least some, who demanded Robinson's exclusion as a price of showing up ashamed or feel compassion. Having Robinson at the gate like the poor man robbed of his ewe in Nathan's parable may help, if that is his aim.

The ABC's concern is not just this meeting but also the Anglican Communion as a whole. A communion in some of whose countries gays and lesbians not only can't become priests much less bishops but who are imprisoned for being gay or lesbian (something no longer true in the US or Britain) sometimes with the encouragement of Anglican bishops. In addition there are other problems such as persecution of Christians in some countries, poverty and its related ills, and violence (think Sudan). Would it be easier/quicker to solve some of these problems if the churches remain within the Communion? How many of Nigeria's and Uganda's bishops would have come to Lambeth if they had a free choice? How many would follow the lead of Desmond Tutu or learn to in regards to gays? The belief that homosexuality is evil runs deep in many hearts and it will take much to overcome.

The archbishop may well fear that the communion will split over gays (much like in the US denominations split over slavery in the 19th century) and the anti-gay part will entrench gay witch hunts as part of their raison d'etre (think how long it is taking the initially pro-slavery denominations to overcome that legacy). He may well hope that staying together will cause the whole Communion to accept gays and women quicker. He could also be completely mistaken.

Given that some of the bishops refused the eucharist (and not, I think, because they felt unworthy), the break in the Communion may have already happened. The only question might be who lines up on what side. And what to do with those caught on the side opposite their views. It would be painful and possibly deadly for some.

"But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you"

Scott Hankins said...

The Episcopal Church didn't actually split over slavery (the only mailine denomination not to do so at the time). The HOB and GC kept the seats open until the south came home.

Of course, this may be the civil war continuing and writ large. We'll see.

Prayers for everyone.

IT said...

erp, I'm an atheist, and I'm one of the bloggers here. So Welcome, and keep your comments coming.

You don't have to be a Christian to recognize and be offended by injustice.

IT

PseudoPiskie said...

Sigh. I still wish the ABC would simply offer the eucharist to all. Those who partake are the AC. The ones who won't aren't by their own choice. No schism. Simply a bunch of men acknowledging that they are no longer Anglican. Then they can vacate the premises and go wherever they are comfortable, start their own churches or do whatever will massage those overgrown egos.

JCF said...

I want to hug {{{Gene}}}

...and then I want to pick up him (if he's under 160, my squats say I'm good for it *g*) and bloody CARRY him into Lambeth, when Rowan, the noxious Tom Wright, or even our HofB likes it or not!!! >:-0

Lord, I'm praying. I'm trying, through my anger, to pray...

[Spare a prayer for me, too?]

James David Walley said...

Is it beyond the pale of list standards here to refer to the HoB's decision as "chickenshit"...?

David said...

So our HoB is "working on it" ? Sounds like a load of horseshit to me. "especially cruel and unnecessary" indeed.

TEC HoB should search diligently for their cojones and just invite the man. To do anything less is bureaucratic cowardice of the first water (of course, what should I expect of the group that rammed B033 thru the last General Convention ?)

Buncha fainthearted gits :P

Ann said...

From here today:

I have decided not to pursue it. It really puts all of us in a lose-lose position: if I abide by their ruling, I am excluded; if I fight it or simply show up, then I'm the troublemaker and rebel. If the House of Bishops takes some action on this, necessitating a vote, then it divides our House -- a further and unnecessary division that I refuse to encourage. So no matter how you slice it, someone loses. I have decided, on my own, to let it go, sad as it is. This is not a ditch I feel called to die in. I will just mourn the sadness of it, and move on. (There's something about shaking the dust off your sandals and moving on that I've read somewhere!)

What I want all of you to know is that there are some amazing people in our House of Bishops who are working constantly behind the scenes to support me. Their support means the world to me. They are as dismayed, discouraged and frustrated as the rest of us. They need to play THEIR roles INSIDE the Big Top (the large tent where they are meeting -- the circus reference has been duly noted by everyone!), and I need to play MINE, OUTSIDE, as our beloved ++Katharine told me back in March. So that's what we'll do.

Doorman-Priest said...

This is simply deplorable!

Beryl Simkins said...

Well, I am for following Bishop Gene Robinson's direction in this. We are getting an inside description of the inner conflicts and issues being experienced in this setting, and I am grateful for his witness. I pray that he knows the support of so many of us, and is strengthened somewhat. I pray for God's blessing for Gene in these difficult times.

Erp said...

I'm aware the Episcopal church didn't split over slavery; however, many other denominations did with mixed results. I would have to look up the history to find out if it was close to splitting (somehow I have the feeling it wasn't too active [some members of the Church of England were certainly louder]).

As for what the US HoB's should do. They have to weight that the many hardliners who are boycotting or are refusing to partake in the eucharist are almost certainly giving a bad impression to those including borderliners who are present and partaking (and also to the press and general public). Is this the point where the HoB's puts their foot down and says here we stand and possibly give a bad impression to the borderliners and others? Or do they allow the hardliners more chances to give bad impressions first so when they do put their foot down more borderliners may join them or at least listen. It looks like they've decided on the latter.

Hard on Bishop Robinson but if it works it might make it easier for many more soon.

seithman said...

I read Bishop Robinson's post today. I totally understand his reasons for not pressing this issue. I respect him for choosing a path that he considers the most compassionate and best for the Communion. In my opinion, he's chosen to follow Jesus' mandate to turn the other cheek. I think that's great.

But you know what? It's his cheek. He has every right to make that choice. But it's not the HOB's cheek that got struck. Jesus never said, "if someone strikes your brother's cheek, turn your brother's head and offer them the chance to strike the other one." And to my mind, that's what the HoB is doing.

Yes, I understand what Gene is saying. It's a no win situation. No matter what the HoB does, someone loses. Well, if that's the case, and someone is going to lose no matter what, doesn't that give them all the more reason to do the right thing? If it really is a lose-lose situation, then what better time for making a decision based solely on one's principles!

So, yes, I understand Bishop's Robinson's views, and I respect his choice. When he makes that choice, it's a case of a good man making a willing sacrifice for what he believes to be greater good. But for the HoB, that choice represents allowing one of their own to go on being persecuted for the sake of their cowardice.

David said...

Seithman said, "Jesus never said, "if someone strikes your brother's cheek, turn your brother's head and offer them the chance to strike the other one." And to my mind, that's what the HoB is doing."

Exactly. They did it with B033 and they're doing it here. Always willing to place the cross on someone else's shoulders - never their own.

It's not that I'm some sort of irrepressible hothead that can't comprehend the importance of "the impression" we give to the rest of the AC. But people draw lines in the sand for a reason. Hopefully as a way to say, "This is what's right, and I refuse give that up just to make you feel better."

But I also understand that being a Bishop is the pinnacle of these people's careers, and a pretty cushy gig, too. So I'm pragmatic, and cynical, enough not to be holding my breath waiting for them to do the right thing...

seithman said...

As I thought more about my diatribe and my feelings about the situation more, a thought occurred to me.

I'm guessing most -- in not all -- know the Bible story where the mother of John an Jame's asks Jesus to let her sons sit beside him in heaven. I'm also guessing most of us now Jesus's response to her. I thought of that and began to imagine how Jesus might treat Biship Robinson, Archbishop Williams and even the American House of Bishops as they arrived at the great feast in heaven.

I think of them all, Bishop Robinson can expect the warmest welcome. I imagine Jesus walking up to him with a big smile. "Gene! My good friend! Welcome! You know, I was always impressed with your grace and warm-heartedness on earth. You did your best to continue helping others and share your love-filled heart. Even when some of your fellow brothers didn't treat you the best -- and believe me, I'm making the understatement of the Millenium when I say that -- you accepted your lot and moved on. So come, I saved you this special spot here near the head of the table. I hope you'll be willing to share some of your wit with the rest of us during the meal."

Once Bishop Robinson was seated, I could also see Jesus turning to the others with a loving, but stern look. As he approached them, I imagine he'd say something like, "I'm glad you all are here. I've wanted to talk to you about how you've treated some of my children. You've lacked grace and compassion on many cases. Even some of you who supported my children like Gene privately chose to remain quiet in any official capacity I granted you. I can't say as I'm entirely pleased with your tendency to choose expediency and safety over principles. But alas, you're part of my family and I won't turn you away. So I've looked over the seating chart and found that I can make room for you. You'll find your seats at the kiddie table."

I have to admit that the thought of all of these Bishops being welcomed to the feast but exiled to the kiddie table rather delicious. Of course, the delight I take in the idea has probably earned me a place at the kiddie table. But I'm okay with that. To be honest, I suspect I belong at the kiddie table.

Well, that's not entirely true. I suspect that an appropriate "reward" for me would be to come to the feast not as one who is eating, but as one who is serving everyone else seated. But let's be honest. I don't think it'd be wise of God to trust me to handle other people's food. ;)

-- Jarred.

Ann said...

Update from Bp Kirk Smith of AZ
We had a meeting of the American Bishops in the Big Tent this afternoon and one of the topics was the status of Gene Robinson, who you know has not been invited. There is some misinformation I want to clear up: Gene was NOT excluded from the HOB meeting! He was invited to join us and accepted. The problem was that we are in conference facilities and since he has not been invited to the Conference, he was not given security clearance. Know that the American HOB is concerned about this and it is working on a way that Gene can be included. Stay tuned.

David said...

"You're invited to the meeting, but since you're not cleared to be on the grounds where the meeting venue is located, you'll just have to skip it. Terribly sorry, old chap."

Bless his heart, I understand what Bp. Smith is saying, but this just reeks of horseshit to this Texas boy (what the Lambeth organizers are doing - not a slam against Bp. Smith).

Geez! It's simple: Hold the meeting off-site. How hard is that ?! Find a decent pub with enough tables & chairs and you're good to go ('cause remember, not all of the HoB would attend - the "conservatives" would go right ahead at the official venue anyway).

IT said...

Thank you David, I am glad that I am not the only one to whom this solution appears obvious.

Erp said...

Another option is to set up a video
chat with a good microphone and camera and have him participate remotely (not ideal and maybe not possible but at least the conservatives would be there).

Scott Hankins said...

ann (above re Bshp. Kirk's post),

good news. we have a few hours left. i'm praying the HOB will convene, adjourn, and then move to a site off-campus.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile we can continue to support +Gene with our prayers whatever the outcome. I know how much a group "hug" via prayers can uphold a person when the going gets tough.

JCF, you remain on my prayer list and in my prayers. Remember you are loved by many, even if we've never met.

Elizabeth

JCF said...

Thank you, Elizabeth. :-)