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Saturday, May 31, 2008


It’s about the Incarnation

As many of you are painfully aware, the Rt. Rev’d Gene Robinson, duly elected and consecrated Bishop of New Hampshire, has not been invited to attend Lambeth Conference, the once a decade gathering of Bishops and Primates around the Anglican Communion which has, for over thirty years, pledged to be part of a ‘Listening Process’ of the stories of LGBT people.

Never mind. Bishop Gene will be there anyway.

The Incarnation has always been something of a scandal. For some, the Incarnation is a threat that must be silenced or destroyed.

Bishop Gene and his beloved Mark have received constant death threats. When Bishop Gene was in England just a few weeks ago, Mark received two death threats on the answering machine of their home – they were "angry and credible" and a serious concern since that number has been carefully guarded.

It goes without saying that Bishop Gene will need greater security and protection while at Lambeth. That actual expense will come to over 70,000 American dollars.

Thank God, quite a bit of it has already been raised, but there is a wee bit of a gap - about 20 thousand American dollars worth.

That's where you come in. I am counting on the readers of this Blog to be generous again. You were wonderful in responding with the Christmas Appeal for the kiddo’s in the City of God with over $10,000 in contributions. I’m hoping you will be just as generous with this Christmas in July Appeal.

Please make out your check to The Episcopal Church of St. Paul, marked “Bishop Gene” and mail it to:

Christmas in July
The Episcopal Church of St. Paul
200 Main Street
Chatham, NJ 07928

It will go into a special bank account and be mailed to Bishop Gene’s discretionary fund on July 7th.

Or, you may prefer to use your credit card and send your donation electronically by PayPal. Just click on the PayPal icon under the video of Bishop Gene’s blessing in the upper right hand corner of the top of this blog. Please do be mindful of the fact that PayPal charges a hefty fee for that convenience.

Bishops Gene will be at Lambeth. Jesus said to love those who hate us.

Let’s keep Bishop Gene safe while he’s there. Jesus said we must be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.

It's all about the Incarnation - the embodiment of love in a culture of hate and violence - and being present, anyway.


Jim of L-Town said...

How many people would $70,000 feed or how many MDG goals could be addressed with that money instead of Bp. Gene attending a party to which he was not invited.
To be clear, I think it's abhorrent that anyone would threaten him or anyone else. That is a terrible witness.
But is it a better witness to spend $70,000 this way rather than use it for, say a family who can't pay their rent, buy a meal or pay for gas.
Sorry, Bp. Gene would serve better by staying home.
Just my opinion. I will pray for his safety and the safety of all those attending the big English party.

Jim of Michigan

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

I understand completely, Jim. I'm just glad that Mary said, "Yes" to the Incarnation before there was an appointed theological committee to formulate the official doctrine, or anyone to do a cost-benefits analysis.

David@Montreal said...

This is about witness
this is about LGBT women and men taking their place & claiming the blessings of our baptismal covenant, quite literally in 'the eye of the storm'.
This is about presence
and a 'party' is the last thing I'd use to describe Lambeth.

This is also about embodiment-
and a brother who has paid the price in ways we will never know.
A brother who has stared death in the face and barely faltered before continuing to to preach and embody the love of Christ Jesus for each and every one of us

A love 'beyond our wildest imagining' to quote the man himself.

Yes, Jim there is a lot that $70,000 could do- but is it the only $70,000 we have to work with?

And do you even want to consider the horrendous state our Church and Communion would be in, if any of those frightened homophobes had a chance to carry through on the threats they continue to hound Mark and +Gene with?

I'll tell you what Jim.
You get that $70,000 together for the MDG goals.
I'm rather busy doing my bit for my brothers' safety in a rather scary world and a rather unwelcoming Church conference.

How's that for communion at work? You in your small corner, and I in mine- to quote the old Sunday School hymn.

hugs brother


Jim said...

The disciples rebuked the woman, and Judas, said, this ointment could have been sold and the money used for the poor. For he held the treasury.

Umm,,,, what?

Oh, nothing.


Bill said...

Jim of L-Town said... “How many people would $70,000 feed. . . .”

I agree that $70,000 would do some good for a few people. This is one of those situations where you have to look at what you would gain and what you would lose. What you would lose are your civil liberties. What value you put on your rights is up to you, but there are lot’s of folks who paid the ultimate price and lost their lives.

You can never accept physical blackmail as a way to conduct your life and that is exactly what we have here. In effect they are saying, “Don’t exercise your right to free speech and assembly and we may let you live.” By the way, don’t get sidetracked with the “Gene Robinson” issue. This is much more than threatening one Gay Bishop. These death threats have been directed against others who happen to support Gene, or support women in the church, or support gay rights in general. On a more immediate level, when someone threatens my pastor, I take it damn personal.

Suzer said...

Jim of L-town -- I agree in principle. But let's take it one step further.

Let's suppose no one goes at all, we cancel Lambeth, and spend the money saved (surely in the hundreds of thousands, at least) on feeding the hungry and clothing the poor? I think that would be money much better spent.

However, since Lambeth is indeed happening (surely no one will take my humble suggestion!), why shouldn't +Gene go? He is a duly elected bishop of TEC, and in my opinion has been unjustly denied an invitation. He needs to go and be a witness and a voice for the rest of the communion that is so against GLBT inclusion and equality. Yes, $70,000 is a large sum, and how awful that it has to be spent in this way because of a handful of anti-gay bigots who would force their own particular flawed Scriptural interpretation upon the world, even to the extremes of physical violence.

Jim of L-Town said...

Actually, I agree with Suzer that no one should go. With all the talk about global warming, etc. the carbon that will be wasted on all these trips, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of dollars for travel, toddies and whatever else you do in England.
I'm tired of people (Al Gore, John McCain, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, et al) who cry about global warming and then climb aboard their private jets and go where they want without any thought of the excess carbon they are producing.
My whole point is that Bp. Gene would be safer staying home, his visit will do little or nothing to change attitudes and the money for his security and everything else would be better spent.
But hey, it's American, and we all make choices. Mine is to give $50 to Myanmar (Burma) aid.
Thanks for the dialogue.

Jim of Michigan

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

And Gene's point, Jim of Michigan, is that the Gospel is not about personal safety. It's about witness. And that is always costly.

Gene is not the only one whose life is being threatened. He is most visible and most vulnerable. But, he is not the only one. He is not the only one to have a file folder of death threats kept by local police and the FBI.

So, okay. Say we don't go. So LGBT people's voice and presence and witness will not be seen or heard. What, then, will be gained by those who have, for 30 years, committed themselves to a "Listening Process" not to have an opportunity to meet LGBT person - in the flesh - and listen to our stories?

What then will be gained for the cause of the justice for which we purport to strive?

People in the Sudan will still be the victims of genocide. Babies will still starve or be left orphaned to AIDS, or die for lack of clean water in the Global South. Adults will die for a lack of a mosquito net or anti-malarial medicine which we North Americans and Europeans take as a matter of course.

Do you not understand that it is all of one piece? That a threat to human life anywhere and in any way is a threat to human life everywhere?

Ah, but I suppose the issue has no immediacy to you. It's much safer to write your check for $50 and feel safe and secure and satisfied that you have done your bit for 'justice'.

Well, good on you. Others of us do not. So, excuse those of us who will write our checks for $50 for the Sudan AND another $50 for those in Newark and another $50 for those in China and another $50 for those who are making a witness in Lambeth.

God bless you, Jim, in Michigan. I sometimes wish I could be more like those of you who will not lose a night's sleep worrying about your personal safety or the lives of those whom you love, and that you will always know the peace that passes comprehension by simply writing a check for $50 for help for the recovery efforts in Myanmar.

Then again, it's the particular vocation to which I seem to have been called. I only hope that I might carry this particular burden with dignity and integrity.

You have been called to your particular ministry. May you carry your particular burden with the same dignity and integrity.

David@Montreal said...

Jim of l-town I hear what you're saying about those jets and the carbon footprint- and I'm just as concerned as you I hope
I'd also agree with Suzer, if it weren't for the fact that in such a diverse and complex world we're living in, and as an almost world-wide organization it's implicitly necessary to meet from time to time; and as a Church it's equally necessary to study and pray together.
An illustrative parallel might be the parish. How long do you think any of parish could exist if it was simply a practice of e-mails, blogs and circular memos?

But tonight my thoughts are of Warren a murdered priest of our Church. Our paths first crossed at early morning Eucharist in Toronto, on my way to my annual retreat at SSJE Canada. Many years later Warren was murdered by the crack addict he engaged professionally as his sexual partner. But he was equally murdered by the self-hatred and agonized sexuality he was taught by our faith tradition as a closeted gay man.
The violence isn't all 'out there' dear brothers and sisters.

Why do our radiant brothers and sisters have to be there at Lambeth?
So our Church can never again hide behind 'talk' of listening.
So that the love for our Church and the faithfulness of LGBT Anglicans no longer be something abstract in the councils of our Church.
And yes, maybe they're also going to be there for some other 'Warren;' but they're also going to be there as an embodied presence for the frightened closeted brothers and sisters who might catch a news headline, might see a television broadcoast, or overhear someone else complain about all those faggots and dykes at Lambeth, asking just who they think they are?
'Baptized sons and daughters of the Anglican faith, bearing witness' the only real answer and the only reason they're going to be there.

and in the meantime, Lambeth's already begun right here- in this blog, with us each listening and learning from each other.


Jim of L-Town said...

I was going to leave this alone, but you raise several points.
Anyone, you, George Bush, or I, can always argue that whatever we spend on our favorite adventures will not diminish the problems that others see in the world.
I believe Jesus called us to mission and witness. You gave a list of the things you donate to. My comment about Myanmar (while true does not describe my total giving).
I organize a blood drive for my American Legion every two months, I've made five trips to New Orleans at my expense to help for weeks at a time, using my own money and vacation time. I tithe to my church, and on and on. I don't do that for any other reason than Jesus calls me to give sacrificially. When I look into my checkbook I don't want to (although I often do) explain to Jesus that I've squandered His money.
We all put our money and choices of time where we believe it will do the most good for the Kingdom.
My opinion, my humble opinion, is that Bp. Gene, who continually says he just wants to be a humble bishop of New Hampshire and not be a symbol, is proving that he is more interested in being a symbol.
I just believe there are better uses for all the money being spent on Lambeth, especially the money being spent on someone who was not even invited.
Wouldn't there be a greater witness if Bp. Gene said he wasn't going, but was using all the money it would cost to send him to England for AIDS research or Habitat for Humanity?

Jim of Michigan

Elizabeth Kaeton said...


Suzer said...

I hope no one misunderstood. I was just taking an argument a step further, saying if one bishop should be so concerned about money that he should stay home, then they all should. I was not seriously saying that Lambeth should not happen at all, for the very reasons that David elucidated.

Bill said...

Jim, just one final point which I'm sure won't be final. It's like when I was a kid trying to deal with my brother. He absolutely had to have the last word. It didn't even matter if it concerned the original topic or not. (Yes you are – No I ain’t – Yes you are. And so on, and so forth, for ever and ever)

There is a Jewish tradition called the mitzvah. It means simply, that we are required to do good works or deeds. That can be helping someone or donating money or a thousand other things. There is actually a rating system for mitzvahs. The mitzvah gets it's greatest value if it's kept a secret. Even in the New Testament we find Jesus preaching on this topic. A good work has much higher value when nobody else knows about it. The gift of the man who donates silver and tells the world, is nothing as compared to the poor woman who gives a penny and leaves by the back door.

It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. My good deed may not be your good deed. I'd be surprised if it were. I happen to think that the issue here is whether to submit to terror tactics or not. I think that contributing money to counter that threat is a good thing; a mitzvah if you will. I think it's great that you contribute to all the things that you do. I really didn't need the laundry list, and for that you get demerits. I just think it's bad form to try and tell others that their money could be used for better purposes. Let me end with an apology if I hurt your feelings. That was not my intent. My intent was to support a worthy cause that was somehow becoming sidetracked in a discussion of comparative philanthropy.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks so much, Bill. You and Dave have expressed things that I know in my head, but my heart is too full of emotion to articulate.

I know Gene will be happy to read what you have written.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thank you, Suzer, for your contributions to this discussion. I hear you. Lambeth should not be cancelled and Gene should go.

It's an important point to make clear: This Lambeth conference is being touted on being incarnational and NOT legislative.

How sadly ironic tht Gene has been DIS-INVITED. All bishops are invited. Gene has been intentionally DIS-invited.

So much for the incarnation - esp. in forms that make us uncomfortable.

Yes, Gene wants to be a simple country bishop. The church seems unwilling to let him do that. When the ABC DIS-invited Gene it automatically transformed him into a symbol. Gene has to go now. Because, as the ABC says, it's about the incarnation.

David@Montreal said...

Brother Jim of l-town
i honor and am deeply grateful for the example of your generous giving, but I also admit to a certain sensitivity to moments of 'tone' in what you say.

When you refer to Lambeth in your first post as a 'party'.
I don't think any person of faith would envy the work the bishops have before them, when they get beyond the window dressing and walk-abouts.

And again in your most recent post when you question +Gene's motives.

Two things not perhaps not being considered here:

1) wether or not Bishop Robinson made the trip to Lambeth, countless LGBT men and women of faith will be doing so.

To be a radiant cloud of witness- To remove the reality of our lives of faih from the theoretical abstract of earlier discussion and to celebrate their lives of faith within the Anglican Communion.

2) +Gene Robinson is both of priest and bishop of our Church,and from everything I know of the man, it is as a priest and bishop, misitering outside the walls of the palace he will always see him first responsibility at Lambeth.

I don't know if one not blessed to be born gay can ever fully appreciate what a wondrous, incredible gift it is for a gay person to hear someone as gifted and honest as +Gene witnessing to Christ's love- a 'love beyond our wildest imagining' which includes us- gay and created in the image and likeness of the true and living God.
Or to receive the blessed sacrament from the hands of a brother who stands with us as an 'out gay' brother of faith.

Brother Jim it's literally life-altering- enough for me after 20+ years of secular Zen practice and AIDS service, to return to the Church of my birth and hanging out with you in this current discussion.

Jim you write you were 'going to leave this alone'
Please don't, you're as essential to this process of transformation as any prelate in the palace.

Let's continue to graciously abuse Elizabeth+'s hospitality and keep talking with Suzer, Elizabeth+, Bill and whoever turns up- only that way can something 'more' come out of this.



Kirkepiscatoid said...

While y'all were having this philosophical discussion I just dropped a dead founder of America on the paypal site.