Travelling through Central London – Some Clarifications

Apparently there is some concern about my previous post, particularly whether any of the routes I highlighted are actually any good. I think we need some clarifications.

i) I used to drive into Central London, especially Westminster, at least once a week for over 5 years. That was however 5 years ago. If my memory of particualr roads is hazy, I apologise.

ii) Oxford Street – To the best of my knowledge east bound traffic is diverted northwards around Bond Street, but west bound traffic is able to get through. If anybody can substantiate that, or disprove the statement, please comment below.

iii) Piccadilly – There is an underpass that is designed exactly for bypasssing Hyde Park Corner. To the best of my knowledge it is perfectly possible to drive west on Piccadilly and get onto the Hyde Park Corner roundabout.

Now, let’s turn again to the real point on contention – whether Gene could have coincidentally driven past the Bishops off-loading into Buckingham Palace or whether he would have had to have made a particular diversion to see them.

In the picture below, route 1 is the most obvious route to take coming from the South East and passing through Central London. You come stright through on the A2, switching to the A202 and coming over Vauxhall Bridge Road, then passing by the back of Buckingham Palace before reaching Hyde Park Corner. The key point here is that though you are passing along the back wall of Buckingham Palace (which many people taking this route don’t realise), the closest you come to the front entrance of Buckingham Palace (where the Bishops I am reliably informed entered from) is 500 metres. Furthermore, this isn’t a 500 metres of clear line of sight. Taking route 1 you simply would not be able to see the Bishops entering in to Buckingham Palace. Period.

However, if you came along The Mall, you would come directly face to face with the entrance (as route two, passing up the Mall and then Constitution Hill shows). However, such a route comes through Admirality Arch from Trafalgar Square, and the most obvious route to get to Trafalgar Square from the East or South East is to have come along the Strand (2a) which is an absolute nightmare and it also implies that you came across one of the more easterly bridges, in which case you would just head north and go along the A40 or the Euston Road. You could have come up Whitehall (2b), but that implies that you crossed the Thames at Westminster Bridge which is not even vaguely the obvious choice trying to get through Central London as you would have had to have taken a massive unnecessary detour around Waterloo Station (marked with a big blue rectangle at 2c) to get to the Bridge.

Unless of course you were coming from Lambeth Palace (2d) as well…

You *could* have come in along the A202 (as in route 1) but made a quick detour to see the front entrance of Buckingham Palace. But as this route (3 on the map) shows, it is a detour specifically just to see the front entrance.

So the whole point is this – unless you’re already starting in the Westminster area, there is simply no reason to drive past the front entrance of Buckingham Palace *unless* you wanted to go take a look. I used to drive in and out of Westminster at least once a week and never once drove past the front entrance of Buck Palace *unless* I was with a friend from out-of-town who wanted to specifically see it. We are left then with the conclusion that Gene Robinson being driven past the front entrance of Buckingham Palace wasn’t co-incidental as Robinson’s blog post implies, but a deliberate act.

Now, let me address two further points. Firstly, I have been criticised for spending time on this, that I should be doing other things. Let me respond by stating very clearly that ad hominem like this doesn’t in any way tackle the issue as to whether Gene Robinson is being misleading when he implies that driving past Buckingham Palace at the same time as the Bishops unloaded was a complete coincidence. Furthermore, I am responsible for my workload here, and there are plenty of times when I don’t blog for days because I am too busy doing parish work.

Then there is the issue as to why we are highlighting Gene Robinson in the first place. Frankly, the issue is simply this. Gene Robinson has stated very simply that:

"I would love just to be a simple country bishop, but that just doesn’t seem to be in the cards."

Let’s be brutally honest. No-one is forcing Gene Robinson to climb onto a plane and come over to the UK. No-one is forcing him to preach at St Mary’s Putney. No-one is forcing him to visit Canterbury Cathedral with a camera crew. No-one is forcing him to appear on Sunday morning TV in the UK with Ian McKellen. No-one is forcing him to let a large bunch of newspaper journalists and TV outside broadcasts know exactly where he will be at what time.

Gene Robinson is not a victim in the slightest. He has it well within his power to be the Simple Country BishopTM he claims he wants to be by simply turning down all media requests and getting on with the job of running the Diocese of New Hampshire. The fact that he doesn’t, despite stating that he wants to, and that he then procedes to glory in every single opportunity to appear and speak on the gay issue is a clear sign that he doesn’t want to be a simple country bishop.

It is, and here I know I’m going to offend a lot of people, sheer narcissism, nothing more, nothing less, to claim to really, really, really want to do one thing but then to just *have to* do the exact opposite.

I say that, not to have a go. I know that I have to deal at various times with my own narcissism and that it is a painful process because it involves dying to my fallen desires for validation. But it genuinely pains me that day after day Gene Robinson seems not to get the simple fact that by setting up his "victim" picture of himself as a validator for his globe-trotting media engagements, he is doing exactly what classic narcissists do. It is ultimately all about him, him and him – were it not then he would do exactly what he says he wants to do, stay at home being a simple country bishop, instead of appearing in front of the camera again and again and again.

As a personal contrast, in the past two weeks I have turned down a number of requests to do TV and radio, simply because I want to stay here in the Parish to do the work that is needed. We went over to Canterbury last weekend because that’s where Gayle’s parents are, and because it gave me the opportunity to catch up with some friends who would be there at the same time.

And I guess that’s the reason why so many of us are highlighting his media appearances, because we want others to realise that Gene Robinson is not in any sense a victim, but rather is the orchestrator of his (and ours) current malaise. His very journey over to Canterbury at this time is a clear example of that, and all the individual moments within that journey just add to the picture.

Jesus said "If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36). Gene Robinson claims that he wants the freedom just to be the Bishop of New Hampshire. Given that that wish is totally within his power, one wonders why instead he is in Canterbury instead of Concord, NH?

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10 Comments on “Travelling through Central London – Some Clarifications

  1. Peter, do you think that you have had the decency, over the last few years, to let Bishop Gene simply be the Bishop of New Hampshire? Or have you and some of your friends simply made it impossible for him to be that? Have you made him the scapegoat for all that you find abhorrent in your own selves and the lives of others in the Anglican Communion? It’s worth reflecting on that question.  Perhaps if you all agree to let him be the Bishop of New Hampshire, he will be inclined to simply get on and be it?   Will you?

  2. Peter, saying that +Gene has NPD is an ugly ad hominem and should be beneath you. And, yes, I would react the same way if (for example) a liberal compared a conservative to a person with schizophrenia. Do you really think that *anyone* with this personality disorder could meet the requirements for ordained ministry?

    I got (albeit humorously) named and shamed from the pulpit for planning on attending +Gene on Sunday!

  3. ‘And I guess that’s the reason why so many of us are highlighting his media appearances, because we want others to realise that Gene Robinson is not in any sense a victim, but rather is the orchestrator of his (and ours) current malaise. His very journey over to Canterbury at this time is a clear example of that, and all the individual moments within that journey just add to the picture.’

    I have to concur with ‘Sound’ – this is classic scapegoat mechanism stuff.  To see Gene Robinson as ‘the orchestrator of his (and ours) current malaise’ is nonsense – one bit player in a whole range of diverse personal, historical, theological and sociological factors.

    I wonder if Peter, this focusing on Gene Robinson is a result of the failure of the conservative understanding of homosexuality to convince many of us.  I have read with interest recently that there is a sense that there are many bishops in the UK, including evangelicals, who are beginning to rethink the whole homosexual issue and would support people like Gene Robinson – their main issue with the Episcopalians is that they pushed ahead on this issue without the rest of the Church.

    Interestingly, in the Tablet this week, a survey revealed that even Roman Catholics in the UK are increasingly liberal on this issue with only 36 percent disagreeing with the statement ‘Same sex couples should be accepted as part of the Christian community.’

  4. I find it ironic that after such dogged pursuit of Gene Robinson and such attacks on his character and integrity, you take umbrage that others make ad hominems against *you*.

    Is there a conflict between Gene desiring to be a “simple country bishop” and feeling *compelled* to take a stand on the gay issue? So you might not agree with him on the issue, but is it really unheard of that someone might take a course of action because they feel a moral obligation, even if they’d prefer to be left alone?

    What makes you think you can see +Gene’s motives so clearly? The other day you referred to his tour as the “Look at Me, I’m the Gay Bishop, let’s change all the rules just for me” tour. Do you honestly think his message is “Change the rules for ME”? Is there no possibility, even if he’s dead wrong, that he does what he does because he believes in a cause far beyond himself and his situation, and believes he’s defending millions of others? Even if he’s totally misguided in his cause, it’s hardly a stretch of the imagination to credit him with doing it for more than just his own selfish gain.

    Sadly, Peter, you seem far too eager to assume the very worst of +Gene.

  5. Dave,

    An ad hominem is an attack against the person in response to a debate on something different. As wikipedia defines it:

    An ad hominem argument, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin: “argument to the man”, “argument against the man”) consists of replying to an argument or factual claim by attacking or appealing to a characteristic or belief of the person making the argument or claim, rather than by addressing the substance of the argument or producing evidence against the claim. The process of proving or disproving the claim is thereby subverted, and the argumentum ad hominem works to change the subject.

    Given that I am writing on the specific issue of whether Gene is actually doing everything he can to be a “Simple Country Bishop” as he himself has expressed, and am NOT raising this issue to avoid answering a question put to me, it is not in any reasonable sense of the word ad hominem.

    There is no conflict between Gene Robinson wanting to be a Simple Country Bishop and getting drawn in beyond his control into the debate. However, when he writes that he wants to avoid it if he can, and then gets his team to setup specific media engagements to the contrary, one wonders where this disingenuity arises from.

    I do not assume the worse of Gene Robinson. We’re simply examining whether his expressed wish as to what he wants to actually do, and what he then does of his own volition, in any sense match.

  6. Doing something *voluntarily* out of a sense of conscience or moral obligation, while desiring something else for personal reasons, is not inconsistent or disingenuous.

    The opposite of a) doing what we want to do is not b) being forced beyond our control to do something. There’s an in-between where we *choose* to do something when our preference in an ideal world would be to do something else. Don’t we all do that constantly? Put other considerations before our own personal desires? Or do we only ever do things we don’t want to do when we are literally forced to do it?

    Why then is that not an option in +Gene’s case? Is it not possible that he wants to do one thing for one reason, but does another for another reason? A charitable view of his motives would at least grant the possibility.

  7. Dave,

    I understand totally where you’re coming from, but the two paths for Gene (Stay at Home OR Go to Lambeth) are so diametrically opposite that when he says he really, really, really wants to just stay at home, but then a huge amount of media is orchestrated for him to come over, one thinks that this is less to do with competing preferences and more to do with wanting the limelight.

  8. Peter,

    Sometimes, the Lord calls us to go in a diametrically different way than the one we want – surely, Scripture teaches us that.

    Pax.

  9. Or, it might be about wanting to draw attention to the fact that the gay issue is not going away in the church; it never has done and it never will do. And what Gene is doing is at least being honest about it.  And those of us who see dishonesty about it want to support the integrity that God has called him to….

  10. I am sick and tired of the emphasis upon VGR’s sexual inclination per se. The real issue around this man is surely that he had a wife, fathered children with her, left her, divorced her, formed an openly admitted, practising, sexual relationship with another person, to whom he is not, (and cannot be) married. He now openly takes pride in this latter relationship, and sees no fault to himself.
    This record of behaviour would prevent any other person from being ordained as a deacon or priest, far less being consecrated as a bishop. I really do not care whether his bedroom jollies are with a man or a woman, but the whole gammut of his  behaviour should bar him from ministry within a church of the  Anglican Communion.

    Chris

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