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?

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

  1. Serious question : is there much actual *dialogue* between the rival factions of the church? I’m a liberal (of sorts!)
    but I’m reading a Gagnon essay “Why the Disagreement over the Biblical Witness on Homosexual Practise” and am more than willing to change my mind if the evidence and arguments compell me too ( I would note that I don’t know any liberal who would argue that the fact that the prostate is the male gspot proves that God is in favour of anal homosex, so I don’t find Gagon’s “the fittedness of the penis and vagina” observation has the force he thinks it does). But I get the impression that a lot of what of going on is a case of pick a side and come out swinging. Can you and have you sat down with liberals and changed their mind, or is it a fruitless process?  I’m genuinely curious.

  2. so…. are you the weed or the wheat? 

    just curious given the evisceration of your apparent opposite.  truly Christian.

    but then again, you not being an Episcopalian and all, and not at Lambeth either, I suppose you have the right.

  3. Here’s the deal Ryan. Every time we try and sit down and have discussion, the goal-posts get changed. For example, I was in a discussion with one of the leading gay rights activists in the Church of England. He was asked “If i could prove to you definitively that the Bible condemned all homosexual activity, would you ‘change sides'”. The answer? “No”.

    That’s the real split Ryan – those who place themselves under the authority of the Bible and those who don’t.

  4. Ahh well that might just give us a clue as to why the conservative position is so flawed; you put yourselves under the authority of a book whereas Christians are called to put themselves under the authority of God and his son Jesus Christ.  That is a signficant distinction….

  5. Good point about victim status. Is anybody at Lambeth reading through I Corinthians ? Paul in ch. 6 tells Christians that they should not be so keen on asserting their rights, and just afterwards says that people who commit various sins including homosexual activity will not inherit the Kingdom. He then says ‘such were some of you; but you were washed,
    sanctified, etc.’
    Asserting rights and going to the courts of unbelievers is precisely what the LBGT lobby have been doing to the
    church; dragging the issue across the secular media, which effectively is used as a court to put the orthodox
    on trial. I think one way to deal with this is for all traditionalists to refuse to have interviews with the media,
    to refuse to play along in any way. The court of media opinion is NOT what decides how Christian moral theology
    ought to be conducted.

  6. Peter, as so often, you miss the point. 
    Jesus’ words are not quite in scripture. What we have in scripture are the words of the early church. They are not verbatim reports of things that happened 40 years plus earlier….they are simply a testament to the WORD of God.
    You’ve based your whole (new) life on a very few out of context proof texts, and that’s really rather sad….

  7. 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”.

    Peter – I was very surprised by your comment. Frankly – if Gene “just going home” were enough to sort out this problem then there would be many ways forward for the communion.  Indeed, if you
    really believe that this is what God is telling Gene (he can go home, go home with his partner, keep ordaining his candidates, keep running his parishes and services) then there must be great hope for the communion.

    Because what I though you’d think God was saying to Gene was:

    Repent for all the damage you have done!
    Leave your partner and live a celibate life
    Remove all gay clergy, liberal clergy, and clergy who support them from your diocese, withdrawing their licenses  for conduct unbecoming
    Remove any gay laypeople, and any gay-supporting laypeople from their positions in your diocese
    Resign from your see, your consecration, and your ordination vows

    (and I’m not sure about the last one – either:

    live in chastity, poverty and obedience, with absolutely no further public appearances


    live in chastity while doing as much publicity as possible for your post-gay lifestyle

    But just Go Home?
    I don’t get it.

  8. Sound.
    If the Bible were a fallible and/or corrupted document, as you assert, then it would be impossible for any of us to have a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior.  The catch, you fail to appreciate, is that if you truly believe that the text is no longer faithful to its original intent, then you will be compelled to search out “learned authorities” that can tell you what it really was supposed to say.  This is the paradigm common in Eastern religions and is what justifies the role of a guru to help a seeker in his/her path to enlightenment. 
    But the end result is that a person’s loyalty then extends to their guru or teacher.  It is then a fellow human being whose words they end up listening to and following, and not Christ’s words, as recorded in the Gospels.  
    So my question for you to ponder is this… if you believe that the Bible is a corrupted document, and that Christ’s voice no longer speaks faithfully through it, in a plain, direct and unadorned manner, then how can any one of us ever hope to come to know his will on our own?

  9. Hi Wildiris
    I didn’t say what you are saying that I said by any means….I never use the word corrupted…I simply think it is essential to understand what the bible is and what it is not. We have never, as Anglicans, subscribed to a vew of biblical infallibility..
    We come to have a personal relationship and hear the authentic voice of Christ through a variety of means, ONE of which is scripture, one of whch is the Church (which develops and changes) and one of which is human reason, (which develops and changes too).  The holy spirit is our guide in all three….. if we go down the sola scriptura route, then we are not being Anglican. It’s fine to go down that route if you want, but don’t pretend that’s what is Anglican is all I am saying…

  10. James,

    I understand where you’re coming from. The point that many commentators are trying to make is that Gene Robinson has essentially turned up for a gathering to which he is not invited and is trying to muscle his way in. Imagine if I had a family party and you turned up, out of the blue, and demanded entry. Would I be under any obligation to let you in? What if you then staged photo op after photo op and you and your friends time after time stood in front of the cameras saying how you were pained that that evil Peter Ould wasn’t letting you in. What about if you stood outside the party looking forlorn, having called all the journalists to be there as well. Would we think you were being noble and courageous or entirely self-absorbed?

    So the message is very simply this. Go home Gene.

  11. And of course that is exactly what some of Martin Luther King’s fellow clergy said to him…be quiet Martin, don’t make such a fuss about being black and discriminated against…go home Martin….be quiet

  12. Hello Sound,

    I think your understanding of scripute, tradition and reason in Anglicanism is a bit idiosyncratic. This threefold authority is fully consistent with sola scriptura when that principle is properly understood. Tradition is concerned with those issues which are not found in scripture, which is why the CofE decided to keep bishops at the reformation, for example. Reason is actually a subset of the authority of scripture, meaning that we as human beings have the ability to understand the scriptures properly (It is actually a reference to the perspicuity of scripture). The three are not meant to be in competition with each other, although I recognise this is how liberals like to interpret it these days.

  13.  MLK wasn’t a feminist from what I’ve read, and (apropos nothing) wouldn’t think much of many evangelical churches who somehow reconcile regarding Paul as infallible on homosex but wrong on gender.

  14. Peter are you doubting this letter exists? Have you really never heard of it before? Letter from a Birmingham jail… two seconds to find it…..and a sample from it….I know this is exactly as some of our gay clergy feel….remeber that some clergy had written to MLK pleading with him not to make any demonstration…and so he said…

    “Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.
    You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.”

  15. Firstly as a Brit I have never heard of this letter. Please give us a URL so we can read it in context with the letter to him that prompted it.

    Secondly, trying to imply that homosexuality and race are identical justice issues will not get you very far. You would need to demonstrate first that just like race or sex, homosexual behaviour was an uncontrollable natural phenomenon with a clear biological determinant. So far (unlike sex and race) no-one has been able to do so and the scientific jury is still out as to whether they will be able to.

  16. As a Brit I simply assumed you had done some history about the civil rights movement?! I assume you have heard of Rosa Parks?
    As the scientific jury is still out you will have to work hard to convince me that the two are NOT similarly justice issues. And the theological jury, biblical interpretation jury is a bit split I think you’d find……’An acceptable sacrifice? – whose text is it anyway?’ Ed Dormer and Morris is a good read to get a balanced view about the biblical view on homosexuality…

  17. Hi Jonathan,

    That’s a good letter. I wish I’d known of it earlier.


    The burden of proof is still upon you. The Bible clearly states that homosexual activity is immoral, so unless you can demonstrate that such the control of such activity is beyond the scope of human ability (i.e. in the same way that a negro cannot control his skin colour or a woman cannot control their sex) then you have failed to make the claim for the equivalence in terms of justice. You might take the line that Andrew Sullivan does that he should be permitted to do what he wishes to do regardless of the causation of the desire to commit that particular action, but in doing so you will be admitting that we are now discussing discrimination on the grounds of activity, not ontology which is what discrimination on the grounds of race or sex is (a discrimination on the grounds of ontology).

    I have “An Acceptable Sacrifice” on my shelf. If you want me to address the essay by Dormer and Morris in another blog post then I can do so, but it is a very poor piece in my opinion.

  18. Well it’s good to know that we can differ about our opinions Peter….and we have to disagree too about the clarity of the bible.. Paul is clear that in certain circumstances homosexual behaviour is immoral.. and I agree with him.

  19. Sound,

    Firstly, your statement “in certain circumstances” is disputable and in my opinion not supported by the text. Secondly, is your failure to continue the discussion on the equivalence of accepting homosexual practice to racial equality as a justice issue an admittal that the points I have made are valid, or are you just dropping out of that debate?

  20. Peter
    I realise you dispute that reading of Paul, and that in your opinion it is not supported by the text. Strangely enough, your opinion is not the only one, and hence the debate in the Anglican communion. 
    On the question of racial equality and justice, I didn’t think we were having much of a debate. I think you are just saying that you are right and I am wrong. That isn’t debating in any understanding I have. But since you ask, you might like to read this article. Please read it all…. 

    This November, the people of California will be asked to vote on a question of equality, fairness – and love. For the first time, California’s gay and lesbian couples are able to celebrate their lives together on equal terms under state law by entering into the civil institution of marriage.
    An initiative on the November ballot seeks to change the California Constitution and take from them that opportunity. Californians should say “no” to the proposed amendment and ensure that our Constitution continues to stand for our best hopes and our highest aspirations.
    A constitution is the founding document of a community. It is the statement of principle that protects the ability of all people in that community to live their lives and pursue their dreams. The same constitution that protects the right of churches and religions to decide when to recognize marriage as a sacrament – and the right of every citizen to express their opinions about the issue – also protects the right of gay and lesbian people to be treated equally under state law. That is what the California Supreme Court said last month, and the court was right.
    This epic battle has personal relevance for me. In 1970, I fell in love with Gary Paterson, who is white, at the height of the Black Power movement.
    Our love antagonized both black and white people.
    The Supreme Court had struck down laws prohibiting interracial marriage just three years before in the landmark case, Loving vs. Virginia.
    When we decided to marry, Gary’s parents were so appalled that first we eloped to Hawaii and then settled in Oakland.
    Gary did not speak to his parents for almost seven years. We had epithets yelled at us in public.
    What gay men and lesbians are experiencing now as they seek to marry feels very familiar to me. The state has no right to tell anyone who they can or cannot love or marry. That is why this ballot initiative is misguided and cruel.
    There are good people who continue to hold different beliefs about marriage for gay and lesbian couples. But amending our state Constitution is different. Writing a statement of inequality into the founding document of our state affects everyone’s status in our community. It would say to some Californians that they are second-class citizens. We have gone down that road before, and we know where it leads.
    That is why Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and U.S. Sen. Barack Obama have both clearly stated their opposition to the proposed California constitutional amendment, even though they do not personally support marriage for gay and lesbian couples. they are opposed because a constitution is different. If a European-American Republican governor and an African-American Democratic presidential candidate can agree on that principle, then I believe the people of California can rally around it as well.
    Committed, loving gay and lesbian couples will begin legally marrying next week. Do not take their marriages away from them in November.
    We are stronger as a community when we come together to strengthen all of our relationships. Divided, we are weaker.
    Our state Constitution has a long history of reflecting the best of California, and bringing out the best in its people, guided by principles of fairness and equality. By rejecting this amendment in November, we protect what is best about our Constitution by ensuring that marriage – and the rights and responsibilities it entails – remains available to all couples.

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