Friday, June 09, 2006

Thoughts from the Bishop of New Hampshire

Kim Lawton, managing editor of Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, recently interviewed Bishop Gene Robinson. Here's few of the bishop's comments that I found worth noting...

Regarding attempts to appease the critics of the Episcopal Church:

Q: What do you think the strongest critics are looking for?

A: Only the critics can tell us what will satisfy them. And, you know, I think what's being decided here -- this is what I think is the most crucial thing for us right now -- is not whether or not we come to some kind of common agreement on homosexuality. We're going to be trying to understand that and work our way through that issue for many years to come. I won't live to see the end of it. I mean, after all, we dealt with race relations in the '60s; we still have plenty of racism around. We dealt with antiwomen sentiment at the ordination of women; there's still a lot of sexism around. So I don't expect to see the end of this. The question before the Episcopal Church and before the Anglican Communion is, can we stay at the table, the Lord's table, while we fight about this? You know, one of the great gifts that the Anglican Church has to offer the world is that it has been our tradition for 400 years to be able to gather around the Lord's table, to take the body and blood of Christ as humbly and thoughtfully and prayerfully as we could, and then we go back to the pews and fight about all kinds of things. And what I fear is being asked of us right now is that grounds are being laid for saying, well, if you don't agree with us about this, then we can't share that table. And I think that breaks God's heart, and I think it's against 400 years of the Anglican Church's tradition...
Regarding his struggle with alcoholism:

Q: Earlier this year, you did go into rehab for alcohol addiction. How are you doing now?

A: I'm doing great now. I just celebrated four months of sobriety this week. It's been a total blessing. I can't tell you how wonderful it feels and what I've learned and how my own faith in God has deepened. And, you know, there's something I didn't expect that has come out of this. Going to 12-step meetings has been a great experience. I always knew I would do it because it's -- I was told that it was really important. But I never expected to be so inspired by it. And you know, there are very few places in this culture where you can walk into a room where there are street people and CEOs and teachers and physicians and construction workers and shopkeepers all in the same room, all talking about real things, talking about their real lives and what's going on. You know, the 12-step programs are really about living your life. Only the first step refers to alcohol. All of the rest are about living a life. And what I've discovered is that there is a whole lot more church going on in those 12-step meetings in church basements sometimes than going on upstairs in the sanctuary...
I'm glad to hear that the bishop is getting the help he needs. For those who have shared his experience, you know the truth of his last sentence. Beyond that, all I'm willing to say is, "Hi, Gene!"

Regarding Bp. Robinson's hopes for General Convention:

Q: So what are you looking for, hoping and praying for overall, coming out of this General Convention?

A: Well, the thing I most look forward to at General Convention is probably the thing that everyone looks forward to, which is it is a big family reunion. I and every one else will be seeing people that they have known in other churches, in other dioceses, back in seminary. It's a real celebration of the bond that we have in Christ in this little Episcopal Church of ours. And it will be a chance to share stories about how we are trying to make the gospel come alive. We have a hurting world out there [that] is hungry for meaning, and hungry for meaning-making, and that's what God longs to do for us, is to make meaning out of all of this. So it's a real gathering and mutual support of all those people who have that as a goal. And that's what we'll actually be doing through our legislation, through our various gatherings, and through our worship service -- to celebrate that common goal that we have to be God's loving arms in the world.
..."to be God's loving arms in the world." That's a good summation of our vocation as Christians, it seems to me. Too bad we humans, with our big brains, and no sabertooth tigers left to outwit, have made it so complicated.


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