Monday, February 05, 2007

Hearing Bishop Gene Robinson

I just came back from hearing a talk by Bp. Gene Robinson at Columbia University's St. Paul's Chapel. Before he spoke he asked a few questions to gauge the churchly sophistication of his audience (it was pretty churchy.)

This was my first exposure to +Gene. I was very impressed by what he had to say and the way he said it. I sat in the front row with two friends who I ran into there – Betty Riordan, who has retired from directing the Peace Education program at Teacher’s College, and Dot Savage, retired from communications at the National Council of Churches. Both live in Morningside Gardens and Betty is a member of St. Mary’s. Most of the audience were students. Gene Robinson got his M.Div at General Theological Seminary in 1973, the same year that I, as clerk at St. Mary’s, was writing importuning letters to Bp. Paul Moore, urging him to ordain deacons Carter Heyward and Emily Hewitt to the priesthood. See this post. (He declined, saying his hands were tied, but that’s another story.) One of the points +Gene made forcefully is that “there is an unbelievable connection between homophobia and misogyny.” In fact, as he said and I agree, all the isms are linked – but these two are especially closely related.

+Gene quoted Bishop Stephen Bayne, the first executive officer of the Anglican Communion and the dean of GTS when Gene graduated, “Mission consists of figuring out where God is in the world and joing God there.”(I paraphrase.) He firmly believes that God is doing a new thing. In fact, he thinks we are seeing the beginning of the end of patriarchy.

During the debate in the House of Bishops on consent to his election, one bishop said this was the first time since the civil rights movement in the 1960's that he had seen the church take a stand it was willing to die for. (I didn’t get down which bishop said that.) +Gene returned to the civil rights struggle when he mentioned that during the 1960's, the church stopped concentrating on being pastoral to those opposed to equal rights for blacks and turned to doing the right thing. The problem of being pastoral to the dissenters remained, but the emphasis was different. A similar thing happened with the ordination of women. (But as he did not mention, it took a quarter century.) The process with regard to LGBT people is not there yet.

And afterwards? Well, says +Gene, it won't end until there is no more us and them – until humankind is all us.

I have to stop now because I am going to drive three hours to see my mother tomorrow. More later.

1 comment:

Grandmère Mimi said...

In fact, he thinks we are seeing the beginning of the end of patriarchy.

Yay! to that. I, too, believe God is doing a new thing. Please give us the rest, Allen.

God go with you on your trip to see your mother.