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Monday, February 25, 2008

The Bishop's Daughter: Telling Secrets with Honor

Honor Moore, the daughter of Bishop Paul Moore, Jr., has written a book in which she struggles to make sense of her life and her father's legacy.

The book is due out in May, but there is an excerpt of the book's Prologue in the March 3rd issue of The New Yorker. You can find a piece of that here.

You can pre-order the book here.

There is also a poignant, powerful, wonderful interview with Honor Moore here on New Yorker Online in which she talks about the 'open secret' of her father's sexuality as she struggles to make sense of her own sexual journey.

There will be rending of garments and much wailing and moaning and gnashing of teeth on both sides of the aisle about this book and her revelation.

Some will cry that many LGBT people could have been helped and the church's journey to greater social justice advanced years sooner "if only he had told the truth."

Others will cry that the church and his legacy is soiled by this truth that should have remained secret - that nothing good can come of any of this.

There will be those who will laugh and scorn the Body of Christ in its incarnation as The Episcopal Church and say this is but one more piece of evidence of its 'internal decay' which provides them with one more reason to leave 'this apostate church.'

Still others will say, "I told you so!" and smirk, "See, Gene Robinson is not the first gay bishop. He's the first honestly gay bishop."

Is it dishonest not to answer a question if it is never openly asked? Is it a lie to keep a secret when no one has asked you to tell the truth, or when someone assumes the truth about you?

To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven. The time wasn't right for Paul Moore. The time is right - and, behold has now come - for Gene Robinson. And, me. And, you.

Then, it wasn't. Now it is. But, only you can determine that for yourself. It is still a very dangerous thing to do - depending on where you live and who you tell and the nature of your personal or vocational aspirations. No one can come out for you. You have to do that work yourself.

Now is the time for the part of Paul Moore that had to remain secret to be told. Now is the time for Gene Robinson to tell the truth of his own story. The time for the healing of the secret shame of Paul Moore has come. The time for the end of the shame of what it means to be created an LGBT person has come.

My grandmother used to always say, "Live your life as if everyone will know every detail because, eventually, everyone will." I found some solace in that statement in the darkest hours of my own journey, when I cried out and none but Jesus heard me, and none but God and my beloved loved me.

Honor Moore has lived up to the name given to her by her parents. There is much honor - and much to honor - here in the story of this bishop's daughter. She brings honor to her father, to the church he loved and served, to the God who wonderfully made and even more wonderfully restored his and the full humanity of all LGBT people and, ultimately to herself.

Of this I am quite certain: there is great rejoicing in heaven. All the choirs of angels and archangels are singing. For, as Jesus himself told us, what is bound on earth is bound in heaven and what is loosed on earth is loosed in heaven.

I'm willing to bet that even Paul himself is smiling. The man who was always 'larger than life' finally is.


Ann said...

Good reflection but I find it all so sad.

Anonymous said...

The first thing that came into my mind when I read about this was a conversation I had several years ago with one of Paul's sons who, at the time, was a neighbor of mine when I lived in Los Angeles. When I first met this son, and it came out that I was an Episcopal priest, he said, "Oh, perhaps you've heard of my father. He's some sort of Episcopal minister." I just gasped and practically fell back on the ground, and shouted: "Of course I know him! Paul Moore is my Hero!!" To which he responded, "It's not always easy having a Hero for a father."

Anyway, he was a truly great man, and it was my distinct honor to have been ordained a Deacon by him at SJTD in 1973.

I can certainly understand his not making it known. In my own case, while I never hid or denied my sexual orientation, I never thought it relevant to declare it to "the world at large" until the day the LA Times ran the story on the murder of my partner, and the reporter asked me how I wanted that relationship to be described in print. That was it. At such a critical moment, you don't hide the light that was your life under a bushel. You let that light shine. And I did.

Anonymous said...

Having heard the interview and knowing the context within which Bishop Moore lived out his life and his ministry, I have nothing to say but the but the whole interview was full of Grace.

If we who are GLBT were in his situation would have done anything different?

In many ways, it IS a sad story as Ann said, but what greater joy that is now possible to openly celebrate because of him! We have a long way to go, but if not for him, we would have farther still.

Anonymous said...

I hope the book is even a fraction as moving as that interview is. What a treasure! That audio clip on The New Yorker site is NOT TO BE MISSED.

Muthah+ said...

Thanks for remembering this great man. I can't wait for the book to come out.

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth+, You have amazing homiletic powers, but not even your facility with words can make this story seem anything more than sad to me.

"A secret bisexual life," involving multiple partners just doesn't seem like material for rejoicing in heaven and on earth.

I don't see this story as any type of indictment of our Church, merely the story of an amazing man and a broken one.

I wouldn't compare the late Bishop Moore to Gene Robinson, however. The wonderful Gene lives in a monogamous relationship and is faithful to his vows. That means something and is truly inspiring.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Stuart - Neither do I condone a 'lifestyle' which is the expression of sexual orientation: hetro, homo, bi or auto, that involves promiscuity and/or infidelity. That being said, I do believe all things work together for the good, and that Honor has done a good thing here to heal her own memory, the legacy of her father, and the heart and soul of the church.

The 'rumors' had been swirling around Paul for as long as I can remember. The rumors have now been revealed to be the truth. What lessons can we learn from this so others don't feel compelled to repeat this awful pattern?

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to thank you for your thoughtful reply to my comment. I read your blog often and your passion and eloquence always give me much to ponder and, I believe, have helped me to grow as both and Episcopalian and a gay man.

Perhaps, one day, they'll divide the Diocese of New York into New York City and the Hudson Valley. Then you can be Diocesan Bishop of New York and Catherine Roskam can be Bishop of the Diocese of the Hudson Valley. That would be a wonderful thing.

Grin. Unless, of course, you'd like the Hudson Valley, then you and +Catherine could switch.


Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Bishop? I hope God loves me more than that! (I believe She does.)

Lisa Fox said...

Elizabeth, very sadly I must join the ranks of Stuart and those on the right. I find nothing to rejoice or celebrate upon learning that a bishop of our church, while married to a woman with whom he had 9 children, had sexual liasons with other people -- whether male or female. What can I call that but adultery?

I am grateful that I now know more about the marvelous things that the bishop did in the public sphere. It just goes to show that God can work even with us broken vessels.

But, as Stuart said, I see no equivalence between Bishop Moore and Bishop Robinson. One lived in adultery in the shadows. The other is living honestly, with integrity, in the light.

I am reminded of D039, which our General Convention passed at Denver in 2003, and which called us all to relationships "characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God; and be it further
. . . . Resolved, That this Church intends to hold all its members accountable to these values, and will provide for them the prayerful support, encouragement, and pastoral care necessary to live faithfully by them . . . .

I suppose this story has brought out my Inner Puritan. I read it with much sadness.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Sorry, my dear. I think Sisk's letter is just damage control. Absolutely expected. Had to be done. Doesn't mean that it's right.

Context is everything. What Moore did can in no way be compared with Robinson. That was then. This is now. In fact, I would be furious if comparisons were made. Can't happen.

As for the boundary violation - yes, well, that happened all the time with heterosexual people, too - which is why we have the Title IV Canons today. No different for hetero, homo or bi people back then. Different now. No comparison.

My suggestion? Curb your 'inner Puritan'. We have enough of that on the Right side of the Blogosphere. What we need more of us compassion and understanding - and, seeing the whole picture before making judgments.

You know. Like we read scripture. Let's read the stories of other people's lives with the same reverence and openness and intelligence.