MADPRIEST’S THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

I truly believe that if the Episcopal Church had not ordained Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire, if there had been no fight with those within TEC who opposed the ordination and if TEC had not been marginalised within the Anglican Communion by Rowan Williams, then the recent outrage in the US in response to the teenage, gay suicides would not have happened. There would also be far fewer gay people among Obama's nominated officers and no states voting to allow same sex marriages or any of the other advancements in justice for gay people that have happened over the last few years.

Of course, TEC has not been the only player in the crusade, but, my goodness, have they kept the media fixated with the issue and the media has woken up the people of America (both those for and against gay equality) simply by the amount of copy on the issue they have published and broadcast. The fact that The Episcopal Church is a church has been a Godsend. The media would never have been so attracted by any other type of organisation standing up for gay rights for the same reason they don't write about a manager of a drinks vending machine company having an affair with his secretary but will splash a priest's infidelity all over the front page.

The actions of The Episcopal Church have meant that there have been less suicides, murders and just plain pain and suffering. Most of all, their actions and vocal support have given hope to all the marginalised.

In England, we are fortunate to have had, ever since William Wilberforce, a Parliament that has seen moral issues to be part of its remit  to a much larger extent than its counterpart in the States and so the emancipation of gay people in my country has gone ahead, albeit gradually, despite the reactionary tendencies of our national church.  But Rowan Williams' wrongheaded and cowardly pragmatism and arrogant pigheadedness is, in England and elsewhere, creating exactly the opposite of what TEC has achieved in the US. His support of homophobes throughout the Anglican Communion has encouraged them to think that they are morally in the right and has enabled suicide, murder, pain and suffering to increase in every country where evil bigots use the Bishop of Canterbury's perceived authority to validate and prosper their continued oppression of gay people, women and other marginalised people. And he has caused all this hatred and evil for an idealised unity that has never really existed and which will not make the world a better place for anybody, other than a few fancy titled bishops, if it was to exist in the future.

Blood on your hands, Church of England.

Respect due, The Episcopal Church.

Comments

MADPRIEST’S THOUGHT FOR THE DAY — 32 Comments

  1. MP, I have to disagree with your initial comments. TEC is such a tiny tiny speck in the grand scheme of things in the U.S. What goes on within the church is non-news. Gene Robinson was a sound bite for most of the country.

  2. Rubbish, Renz. I read the US press more than most Americans. My argument is tight and reasoned. You are just being your usual miserable and pessimistic self.

  3. Ah, for the days when TEC DID have some political clout in the US of A!

    Now, you’ll hear politicians (and not JUST the ReThuglicans) talk about “respecting Christians’ opinions on marriage” and they’re bloody well NOT talking about TEC, and our desire (many if not most of us) TO marry (bless marriages of) faithful same-sex couples.

    No, TEC does not EXIST in the minds of most politicians. And if a politician *does* ID as “Episcopalian” (poor fool), the very next pundit analysis is “Governor John Doe is not religious.”

  4. I don’t believe you, Tracie. All Americans have a very low opinion of themselves, which is why they shout so loud about how great they are. That TEC, and those who have some attachment to it, continually put themselves down and understate their influence is just par for the course. I have been watching the US for five years and have blogged its religious life everyday throughout that period. I have seen your history from the outside and have a far more objective view of it than you will have. I see the good Obama has brought into the world and all you see is failure. Accept it! You have done well and no amount of self-deprecation will alter that fact.

  5. All of those, Tracie, as you will know unless you have not been paying attention. In fact, I distinctly remember you being surprised that I picked up a story from one of your locals once.

  6. Oh, for goodness sake, read the fecking post, will you! I’m not talking about political clout am I? I’m talking about the fact that the media has picked up on the arguments within TEC because church stuff about sex makes good copy.

    You know, I don’t know why I bother to bother so much about the words I use. You lot just read the words you want to and then start arguing about something that’s not there in the first place!!!

  7. Except the wonderful Lisbeth, of course, who has obviously read the whole post before commenting – because if she read the post the rest of you think I have written she would have been the first to jump down my throat.

  8. I agree with MP too. What do you think made me look for and ultimately join the Episco-blogosphere? One Gene Robinson, whose elevation made a huge statement to those Outside about what could be possible for LGBT of faith.

  9. And if anyone suggests that IT, and the ever faithful BP, have not changed the world into a better place, they will be shunned for a fortnight!

  10. What’s a fortnight?

    I think you are on the mark MP.

    Seems to me that The Episcopal Church didn’t start having a substantial impact on society until it stopped worrying about political influence. And I suspect when we finally decide which side of the fence we’re going to stand on we’re going to need more pews.

    When Bishop Robinson spoke at our Cathedral the place was filled like it was Christmas Eve! The man was a celebrity and my own home town voted 82% in favor of keeping SS Marriage legal.

    The only folks that don’t yet seem to have caught on to the good being done by The Episcopal Church are those involved in the gay rights movement. It seemed to me that the optics of gay folks being focused on matters of faith rather than fornication changed a lot of minds. If we could just convince more people that marriage is about responsibility just as much as it is about rights I think we could find the tipping point.

  11. Geez louise: are the only comments permitted here “I agree w/ MP 100%.” (which BTW, on this post, I do).

    It’s called a “carrying a thought further”: YOU do it all the time (thought I could, too).

    Has the weather got ya down? (Try hibernation then)

  12. It seems to me that Bishop Robinson is the most visible example of gaydom in any of The Great Churches, of which I consider TEC to be one. His success has been, I believe, due to his integrity, which has been unflagging. As a LGBT-aware American, I’ve found him to be inspiring to an extent not easily matched.

    Having said that, I’ll opine that most Americans don’t know or care who he is. It’s a really big country, and despite media portrayals to the contrary, most folks hereabouts are busy with concerns closer to home, not realizing that nothing is closer to home than LGBTQ issues.

    Bishop Robinson is a small but respected player on the American scene. While your opinion to the contrary is based on paying close attention to many media sources, mine is based on living here and being surrounded by people who couldn’t care less about “Bishop Who?”

  13. Yes – we led the way (kicking and screaming in some parts) but the press was all over that GC when we confirmed +Gene.

  14. The elevation of Gene Robinson helped a bit, but, I don’t think it was as big an influence in the US as you think (if anything his influence might have been greater elsewhere given all the frothing by certain primates which probably made the gays and lesbians in their countries aware of the hope Gene Robinson stands for).

    I also fear that parliament has been less than a moral stalwart on many occasions.

  15. You’re still fixated with influence. But I’m not claiming that TEC had influence. I am claiming that TEC was “the catalyst that sparked a revolution” and that all publicity is good publicity. TEC may not have made many powerful friends through their actions but they certainly gained many powerful enemies and the histrionics of these enemies promoted the gay issue right up the media agenda. Even the expensive battles over church property have had a beneficial effect in the long run as they have all been reported if only at the local level, and every time they are reported the battle for gay equality is mentioned again. A dripping tap creates a bigger puddle than a tap that is turned off.

  16. Before the General Synod, few people in the Church of England, let alone the general population, had any interest in the Covenant. But a few players created a sea change at Synod.

    This is a post about how those without power can create huge changes. To shrug your shoulders and say “I can’t change anything” is an abrogation of responsibility and totally ignores the methodology of God in God’s bringing of good news to people.

  17. It’s always amusing to hear at the church door that I preached such and such when I had preached no such thing. In the same way, it’s interesting to track what we each have read Jonathan to have written. I agree with M.P. for the very reason that even though most of my congregation have heard of Bp. Robinson, none of them seem to realize his election and confirmation, with an unprecedented amount of media at GC2003, was the tipping point in the slow movement toward bringing the faithful, loving relationships of lgbt persons to the fore in a movement toward justice for all.

  18. TCR – you have to be kidding – even in the outback of Wyoming people have heard of +Gene — people tell me all the time — he gave them hope in some very dark times of their lives – hope for themselves- hope for a church that welcomed them.

  19. I was about to post a lengthy response, but I think Mtr. Lois covered it just fine. Well said.

    BTW, as an aside, I certainly gave a rueful chuckle to JCF’s comment about how U.S. politicians who identify as Episcopalians are frequently described as “not religious” by conservative pundits 😛

  20. I agree with MP. It isn’t a matter of whether everybody is aware of Bishop Gene or of TEC, it’s what his ordination sparked off, a whole chain of events that have helped to change the climate of opinion. Remember (to cite one of those events in the chain) the shock waves created when Ed Bacon of All Saints Pasadena appeared on ‘Oprah’ and reiterated that “Being gay is a gift from God”.

  21. Exactly, Mary Clara. I think the members of TEC should be proud of themselves – even the homophobes because their whining got loads of press on the subject as well 🙂

  22. I can’t speak to the big, national and international picture, but can to the “micro.” I was still on the “outside” when +Gene was elected, and though detractors took offense, that was offense taken and not given.

    From my limited perspective, the “message” was not one of offense, but rather of hope, and that message was, and still is, heard by those for whom it is intended – those who are not yet with us, and many of them without hope. If others choose to take offense, let that be on their heads; we can do nothing about that (Again I’m reminded of the dwarves in the New Narnia.). In contrast, we most certainly can be purveyors of hope.

  23. I agree with you and Rev. E. without reservation — a fairly rare moment actually.

    What I think those who disagree with the post you did not write miss is that changing the consciousness of a fairly small number of people can change a culture. It does not matter that most people in North Dakota do not know who Gene Robinson is, what the Episcopal Church is about (that is Lutheran country) or what happened to mayor Moscone. What matters is that those who publish have a sense of history tipping.

    Paradigm shifts are sneaky that way. They happen to the culture before all of the individuals make the links.

    FWIW
    jimB

  24. Um, MP as an Episcopalian-on-hold out here in rural Texas, I think your initial premise about the link between Gene Robinson’s election 7 years ago and the causal chain leading to the recent outrage over gay teen suicides is . . . a rather weak piece of reasoning.

    As another commenter said, it’s a very big country here, over 300 million pop., and the ECUSA is only 2 percent of the population and shrinking all the time. I guarantee you that 90 percent of my neighbors out here on the prairie neither know nor care who Robinson is; some people in these benighted parts think Catholics worship the Devil. Seriously.

    The news stories and such that you read are written by educated, urbane types who are aware of much that is unknown or irrelevant to the great mass of the population between the two coasts, do keep that in mind. Robinson’s election, outside of religious circles, is just one drop in a much larger bucket here.

    What has had a greater influence on public thought and discourse has been the momentous Lawrence v. Texas ruling in 2003 striking down the last remaining sodomy laws in this country (15 states) – then the ongoing debate over same-sex marriage, first in San Francisco, then in Massachusetts, and now in half a dozen other places. Plus the issue of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and the cynical, manipulative whipping up of homophobic sentiments in our biennial national elections.

    Having said all that – I do concur with the rest of your nicely written post, and I very much appreciate your support for us gays from across the water.

    Pity you folks over there can’t vote Williams out. He does seem to be making quite a muddle of things, and desperately trying to placate all the wrong people – like Chamberlain.

  25. I expect there have been many other catalysts that if they hadn’t happened would have meant that we would not be in the position we are now in. But I stand by my assertion that without the media attention garnered by TEC since the ordination of Gene Robinson there would not have been the same momentum and, therefore, there would not have been the same outcome.

    Perhaps, because it is a part of the American belief system that biggest is best, Americans are unable to understand or perceive the power of the apparently weak and insignificant to change the world. The history of Europe has had so many examples of such things that we can observe your nation and see undercurrents that Americans would naturally disregard as being too unimportant to have any effect in a land where might is right.

  26. When one’s whole being is immersed in a culture, it’s very difficult to see how inconsequential that culture may be to the rest.

    Choosing Gene Robinson was one of many many many things that indicate the progression of GLBT folks’ rites in this country. However, it was no more of a catalyst than the gay storyline on As The World Turns or the presence of gay folk on the reality shows.

    Long before Gene there was the Mattachine Society, there were Daughters of Bilitis, there was this riot called Stonewall, there were fights over removing homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses, there were fights over city equal rights ordinances, there was Harry Hay and Harvey Milk, there was the death of Matthew Shephard, there were movies, etc. etc. etc.

    I sense in your most recent comments the argument that Gene was one of many catalysts and that without it the world would be different (minutely different – but different). Well, that’s a bit silly.

    As an Episcopalian, I believe his ordination was one of the most important and significant events of recent history. Within the culture of Christian churches, his elevation was significant – for the hope for change it represented, for the fear (his need for a bullet proof vest at the service), for the vindication it represented on both sides – see what progressive liberals those Episcopalians really are (from either end of the spectrum).

    In the future, please don’t equate disagreement with dour pessimism, MP. Then again, what was that acronym that Mimi shared? Perhaps you can’t help yourself. :=)