Why Gene Simply Doesn’t Get It

Mr Robinson is complaining again

Never have I felt more in need of your prayers. As I write this, the opening service of the Lambeth Conference is going on at Canterbury Cathedral. I am a few miles away — but it feels like a much further difference. I am not appearing at the opening service, as I promised the Archbishop.

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.

I don’t want to come across as a bore Gene, but what did you expect? You were explicitly not invited to the Lambeth Conference, but still you came. You could just have stayed in New Hampshire and been a Simple Country BishopTM but instead you hopped on a plane to launch the next stage of the global "Look at Me, I’m the Gay Bishop, let’s change all the rules just for me" tour.

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.

Well that’s good to know Gene that you weren’t going to do yet another Anglican service while you’re over here. How noble of you.

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.

I remember at the 2005 Anglican Consultative Council in Nottingham, the absolute outrage of some of the delegates that the US and Canadian delegation were practically ignoring the request for them to withdraw. Despite the fact that they had been asked to not attend, the American contingent were dining with the other delegates and mixing and mingling as though there was no problem with what they had done. It seems obvious to me that the ACO want to avoid that kind of debacle again.

Let’s get this clear Mr Robinson. You are not invited to the Lambeth Conference. The Tuesday meetings are for the bishops attending. QED, you are not part of it, in the same way that I can’t simply waltz up to the Church of England session and demand that they seat me – what utter nonsense. You need to get off your high horse and realise that you weren’t invited because your consecration was the single act that has caused so much damage and pain in the Communion. As the Bishop of Colombo said today,  "We are a wounded Communion. Some of us are not here and that is sign that all is not well". All is not well Mr Robinson because in consecrating you TEC shoved two fingers up not just at the rest of the Anglican Communion but the whole world-wide catholic church.

Gene Robinson and the LGBT lobby at Canterbury are not the victims, though they play the card continuously. We are the victims, since we are suffering and experiencing huge division because they want to rewrite the Scriptures and tear up all normal Christian morality. They are not the victims, though they are carefully stage managing such a view, which is why Sky News, BBC News and 20 different assorted photographers turned up to get live interviews with the Simple Country BishopTM visited St Rumwold’s. Blimey!! How lucky were all those journalists to be there at the same time as Gene Robinson. What a coincidence!!!

So please, pray for me. Pray that God will reveal to me what I am to do and how I am to do it, best reflecting God’s love and spirit of reconciliation. Pray that when given an opportunity to speak to one or to many, God might replace my words with His words, my heart with His heart. In the end, I keep reminding myself, I’m going to heaven.

Let me attempt to speak what God might be saying to you Gene. Listen carefully, for here it comes…..

"Go Home. Just humbly accept that you weren’t invited, go home, and let the rest of the Bishops get on with the task of sorting out the huge mess your consecration caused".

I fear though that the Simple Country BishopTM isn’t finished yet. I’m booking my ticket for the "Simple Country BishopTM visits Canterbury Cathedral from which he was so viciously excluded and weeps" event in a few days time. Who wants to join me?

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39 Comments on “Why Gene Simply Doesn’t Get It

  1. Sound, you haven’t answered in any substance the challenge I made about whether a comparison *can* be made between race and sexual practice as a justice issue. Please read my comment again and respond to the issue about ontology versus function.

  2. Peter
    It is so obvious that it is hardly worth spelling out, but, as you don’t seem to get it, let me try…..
    I asked you if you had heard of Rosa Parks..you made no answer.  She was black lady who was arrseted for sitting in a certain seat on a bus? Ring any bells? It was the function she was arrested for….the sitting down.  She wasn’t arrested for the ontology..being black..but because she was a ‘practising’ black she was not allowed to perform certain functions….
    You and yours do the same with gay people..you tell them it’s ok to BE gay..you just can’t DO gay…so, it’s discriminatory in  the same way that people discriminated against black people…

  3. Hi Sound,

    I see where you are going with the Rosa Parks example, but let me explain why the analogy falls down.

    Take a white person and a black person, ontologically differentiated by race. The US courts ruled correctly that given that ontological differentiation was not within the control of either race, to prohibit one from performing, and here’s the rub, the very same action that the other was permitted was discriminatory. The function was identical, the ontology of those performing the activity was different and uncontrollable.

    Now jump to the situation we are discussing and explore the direct parallel. You have two men, one who self-identifies as gay and one who self-identifies as straight. (Let’s pass over the issue as to whether you can even qualify evidentially such a self-identification). Both wish to perform same-sex activity. It is not discriminatory or unjust to say that neither may perform same-sex activity. What would be unjust is if the straight man was permitted but the gay man wasn’t, or vice-versa. Similarly, take the function of marrying somebody of the opposite sex. It would be discriminatory and unjust to say that the straight man could marry somebody of the opposite sex but not the gay man, or vice-versa.

    “Aaaahh”, I hear you saying, but gay people want to have gay sex and straight people don’t. Well yes, but now you are positing an argument not based in equality of function regardless of ontology (being able to do the exact same thing as someone of a different ontology) but rather an argument of freedom of function (being able to do whatever I want, regardless of ontology). The point then becomes, “is it just for me to be permitted to perform a specific function simply because I prefer to perform this specific function”. This is Andrew Sullivan’s argument (as I mentioned above) and he freely recongises that such an argument is not a natural justice issue in terms of discrimination on variants in ontology. It’s a different argument and therefore incomparable to the Rosa Parks situation.

  4. Peter
    Yes please do publish on a new thread if that helps.
    I think you are confusing a number of issues here.  The issue I was addressing is whether it is right to make public and political actions. This stemnmed from your complaint about what Gene Robinson was doing. I made the analogy with Martin Luther King, pointing out that fellow clergy had tried to silence him, and that he had felt it right to point out why a principled action was right. And of course it proved to be right. 
    Your comment above rather falls to pieces because all the things you mention are NOT discriminated agianst at all legally in our country or in the US (or indeed in most countries).  They are counted as equal. (well, give or take..) 
    Gay people are not discriminated against legally for their ontology or their functions. But they are discriminated against by some churches and some sections of some churches for either or both. There is, as we have seen many times, wide variation on this, based on the wide variations of reading some very short pieces of scripture. So for many of us (and indeed I think most people in Britain) the justice question is the key one in so far as it relates to relationships. No one (except perhaps voyeurs) actually wants to know what people get up to in their bedrooms behind closed doors and in private – the functions.  So, the discrimination is, practically speaking, based enitirely upon ontology.   A straight person is allowed to enter a loving relationship (which is to do with ontology I believe),  but a gay person is not. 
    You will protest that gay people can have loving relationships. So I’d need to challenge you..how far can they go in terms of function before you draw a line?   And then we come up against what people who are not married can do physically before they marry.  And once again we find widespread differentiation. May they kiss? May they see each other naked? May they talk about sex? I’ve met conservative christians who will not countenance a heterosexual couple even kissing outside of marriage. I really need to ask – do they think thet live on a flat earth?  Do you take things *that* far Peter?  
              
      

  5. There is an additional problem associated with casting the question of gays in the church as one of civil rights, in that one is invariably drawn to a “civil rights” solution; that is, one of “affirmative action”.  And the problem with affirmative action solutions is that rather than dealing with an individual on an individual basis, which is what the Gospels call us to do, the Church now becomes forced to deal with people, on an all-or-nothing basis, based on their group status. 
     
    Sound, you can make the argument that gay rights are a civil right if you want.  But just remember that by doing so you have now inseparably attached yourself, as a group member, to the whole gay pride parade of perversion that the gay community partakes in.  I live near San Francisco, CA, so believe me; I know what a gay pride parade looks like and that is not something I want marching through my Church.  
     
    As an aside, this is the same problem with women’s ordination.  By casting it as a civil rights issue, they forced an affirmative action solution onto the Church.  Women had to be promoted to clergy status, based only on the fact that they were women.  Whether or not they were, as individuals, actually qualified to perform the duties of priest/pastor, becoming a completely irrelevant and unaskable question.  Thus explaining the gaggle of feminist, goddess-worshiping priestesses that the Church has ended up with.  
     
    (Truth in advertising here requires me to indicate that I am a Lutheran.  I live in the cultural shadow of the San Francisco Bay area and my church is part of the same synod wherein resides the infamous HerChurch.)
     

    I often wonder what could have happened if the gay/lesbian communities could turn back the hand of time to before 1970, and rather than opting for the legal sledge-hammer solution of civil rights to force their “inclusion” into the Church, they had instead used their time and energy to frame a hermeneutic that could have shown a biblical way forward to recognition and inclusion.  (Note, the process of literary deconstruction does not qualify as a hermeneutic!)

     

     

  6. Sound,

    The issue is whether this is a justice issue similar to the mistreatment of blacks under segregation. I’m countering the specific points you are making and making counter points to argue against them. However, you’re not engaging with the points that I’m making but instead keep throwing up new ones (“how far can they go”). For example, you have completely failed to engage with my last comment on the difference between functionality and ontology. I can’t do a discussion like that – either we do the specific points I’ve raised, or we stop.

  7. Well drop out of it if you want to Peter. That’s up to you.  I can’t do a discussion unless i know how consistent you are.  The questions I have raised with are entirely material to the discussion, and unless I know how you answer them, I can’t respond to the subtantive point. That is how discussion works in the real world…  
    You might also recall that on another thread I invited you to e-mail me…I said that shouting at one another on here was uncivilised and i don’t really want to be dragged down to the world of hate that is so wonderfully identified by Bishop Nick Baines on his blog for Fulcrum.  Your initial post (on this thread) about Gene is simply ‘hateful’ and I’d love you to read Nick Baines…. so..here is a sample and the URL….

    The really weird thing about this morning (apart from the service lasting over 2 hours) was the protesters who lined the streets again. They are a German group who were expelled from the campus a couple of days ago. They seem obsessed with Sodom and the lusts of the flesh and warning bishops that they will roast in hell unless they stop being bishops. These people speak but will not answer questions; they hold their banners and accuse us of ‘being proud’ when we smile, but only seem capable of smiling some real nastinesses. I really wonder what drives such people to give up time to express their obsessions with bodily functions and urge us on our way to hell. There is something wrong with the psyche of people who are able to hate so smilingly while being unwilling to address their own neuroses when questioned.
    http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/forum/blog.cfm?thread=7456

      

  8. Peter
    You may not be holding placards but you sure are posting up banner headlines all over the internet; it;ls the same thing really. The opening post here is rather hateful, and I’m inviting you, as a brother in Christ, to take it down. Cut the hate. And if you don’t want to be compared with the people Nick Baines is writing about, don’t act the same way as they do…cut out the ‘leading people to hell’ language that you use… I’m also saying that you avoid questions because they face you with difficult nuances about your own views. It happens time and time again on your threads.
    I’ve tried various debates on here, but it doesn’t really work because you don’t want to hear that there is another Christian who isn’t on your wavelength about this issue. I’ve tried, if you read it, to address your point about ontology and functionality, and it doesn’t satisfy you, because nothing ever would. The point is that gay people want to express their love – ontology and functionality work together and are inseperable in exactly the same way as they did and were for black people in the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King urged people to take positive action. Gene Robinson is doing the same. Clergy told MLK to just sit quiet. You are doing the same to Gene Robinson. That’s the parallel…and it works. Ontology and functionality are not black and white in either of these cases; the boundary betwewen the two is very blurred.

  9. Really Sound, the post that these comments come under is not hateful. Hateful would be “God hates Fags” or “Queers burn in Hell”. I don’t think either that I use “leading people to hell” language, though others do (and I take them up on it).

    Here’s my problem with your comments. You write:

    “The point is that gay people want to express their love – ontology and functionality work together and are inseperable in exactly the same way as they did and were for black people in the civil rights movement.

    I responded to that kind of argument made further up the page with a reply showing how the mix of ontology and function was entirely different in the case of same-sex activity, and you simply haven’t answered any of the points made in that. Instead you take the conversation off in another direction.

    So here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to post again in this comment the argument I’m making why your comparison of the two rights is incorrect. If you comment again, it is going to be to demonstrate how my reasoning is incorrect. If you can’t do that then simply admit that the two are not identical rights issues. But please don’t fail to engage with the argument I’m making, because I’m going to take a low view of your refusal to engage with my response to a debate you started.

    Here’s my reasoning.

    Take a white person and a black person, ontologically differentiated by race. The US courts ruled correctly that given that ontological differentiation was not within the control of either race, to prohibit one from performing, and here’s the rub, the very same action that the other was permitted was discriminatory. The function was identical, the ontology of those performing the activity was different and uncontrollable.

    Now jump to the situation we are discussing and explore the direct parallel. You have two men, one who self-identifies as gay and one who self-identifies as straight. (Let’s pass over the issue as to whether you can even qualify evidentially such a self-identification). Both wish to perform same-sex activity. It is not discriminatory or unjust to say that neither may perform same-sex activity. What would be unjust is if the straight man was permitted but the gay man wasn’t, or vice-versa. Similarly, take the function of marrying somebody of the opposite sex. It would be discriminatory and unjust to say that the straight man could marry somebody of the opposite sex but not the gay man, or vice-versa.

    “Aaaahh”, I hear you saying, but gay people want to have gay sex and straight people don’t. Well yes, but now you are positing an argument not based in equality of function regardless of ontology (being able to do the exact same thing as someone of a different ontology) but rather an argument of freedom of function (being able to do whatever I want, regardless of ontology). The point then becomes, “is it just for me to be permitted to perform a specific function simply because I prefer to perform this specific function”. This is Andrew Sullivan’s argument (as I mentioned above) and he freely recongises that such an argument is not a natural justice issue in terms of discrimination on variants in ontology. It’s a different argument and therefore incomparable to the Rosa Parks situation.

  10. Let’s clear this up.

    When I said “I don’t think either that I use “leading people to hell” language, though others do (and I take them up on it)“, I was specifically referring to the kind of Fred Phelps language that we were both critiquing, where those his ilk are constantly using such pejorative, so much so that those words actually lose their meaning. I, in contrast, have used such language once and once only (to the best of my knowledge) in the past year. You can hardly treat the two instances as identical.

    So now that’s sorted, let’s have your proper reasoned response to the ontology / function argument I make (handling the logic of my appeal, not the emotion) or agree to stop commenting on the issue until you can respond.

  11. By no means is it ‘sorted’.  Pull the other one it has bells on! You specifically, in the link I have copied you, refer to the fact that Gene Robinson is leading people  down a wide path to hell! And now you try to say ‘ah well, Fred Phelps is worse than me, and we can’t be compared’. I couldn’t make this up if I hadn’t read it Peter. Come on; either Gene is leading people down a wide path to hell or he isn’t….which is it to be? You obviously can’t deny you said it, but you can at the very least apologise and say you didn’t mean it. Or maybe you do…but it can’t be both… 
    As to the issue of this thread: I’ve answered several times but you don’t seem to get it. 
    I (not you) raised the question of the parallel with the civil rights movement by referring very specifically to a letter from MLK, answering critical clergy colleagues, and he made the case for action rather than words. You had been criticising Gene’s actions. Not even having heard of the letter from the B’ham jail, you then moved the argument to the question of ontology versus function. I have made it plain that such a split is quite false. What people are is linked with what they do. You can take a different line on that if you want, but will be in great danger of splitting yourself.  So your appeal has no logic I’m afraid. Added to that, it is quite clear that the nature/nurture argument with gay people is a very open question, so even if you wanted to take your flawed route, you come unstuck because gay people *might* have that particular ontology by nature, just as a black person is black by nature.   

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