Sunday, October 26, 2008

What would you ask Bishop Robinson?

I'm talking to +Gene on Friday for a school paper. I've already drawn up a pretty good set of questions, but if there's anything you're just dying to know, please put it in the comment section and I'll see what I can do.

I readily admit my bias as an interviewer. I am a local Episcopalian, a liberal, and a fan of +Gene, and the paper I'm writing for is a liberal one. There is a time and a place for critical interviews, even-handed objective interviews, and friendly interviews all. My publication and I are the latter. So, while tough questions are fine and I respect critics who remain respectful themselves, any sarcastic or hostile "suggestions" will be promptly deleted and forgotten.

(This grainy photo of the bishop and me was cropped from a larger group photo taken during his and ++Katharine's recent visit to Dartmouth. Please forgive the glare on his glasses.)

10 comments:

Skip said...

For quite some time, Bishop Robinson has held that it is not about him. Yet, he has persisted in quest concerning his sexuality's rights vs those in the greater Anglican church - in large part, his quest is what is shattering the Anglican Communion. The question - what moral or religious imperative does he quote to justify his quest over that of dissolution of the larger Communion?

Jordan said...

What's with the plus signs?

Nathan Empsall said...

I think they're crosses, not plusses, although I call them plusses too. They're short-hand for writing Bishop or Rev.

Priest's Name+
+Bishop
++Primate (Presiding Bishop or Archbishop)

Jordan said...

I didn't know they believed in evolution! (very small joke on the primate thing)

I would ask him, without a serious overview of your post ... why does your sexuality (especially gender preference) matter so much to go public with it as a Bishop knowing full well the mud fight that would ensue? And I would expect an answer that was beyond the obtuse response of "gay rights."

What about heterosexual rights not being forced to confront people who prefer different lifestyles than you; especially within my own gorram church!

Nathan Empsall said...

Jordan, a few things. One, he didn't go public as a bishop. He was already openly gay when he was elected, he'd been out for a long time before his election and consecration. Two, I think "gay rights" is a pretty solid answer. I mean, when someone feel strongly about something, they should think it's worth speaking out about. You may not share his views and passion, but that doesn't mean he's got no right to that passion. Three, your Facebook profile says "Interested in: Women." If you can be public about your sexuality, can't he be public about his? Four, it's not your "own gorram church" - I don't think I've ever seen you at St. Luke's (unless you've become an Anglican since moving to school?). Five, there is no heterosexual right to not see something you don't like. We live in a diverse world, and we can't ask the people who were born differently than us to hide under a bushel so that we can stay comfortable. And, even if we could, how come it's the heterosexuals who would have to ask the GLBT community to go away, and not the other way around?

But, all that aside, you're the third person to ask about the coming out process. My editor-in-chief wants personal content, so I'm probably going to ask him about what it was like to come out, particularly since he was married with children (although he and his wife had talked about it even before the marriage, since he'd always wondered a bit about himself).

Jordan said...

He was already openly gay when he was elected, he'd been out for a long time before his election and consecration.
Okay, I was mistaken then.


Two, I think "gay rights" is a pretty solid answer. I mean, when someone feel strongly about something, they should think it's worth speaking out about. You may not share his views and passion, but that doesn't mean he's got no right to that passion.
No, but he has no right to upset my (in the preverbal just because I don’t attend an Anglican congregation doesn’t mean this doesn’t affect the ENTIRE Christian community, that would be elitism sir) church by saying it’s alright to be openly gay and a high religious leader when that issue has yet to be settled with public consent.

Three, your Facebook profile says "Interested in: Women." If you can be public about your sexuality, can't he be public about his?
Sir, if you would have noticed we are friends on Facebook, and I have that set to only my friends and people who attend my university can see that information. So that is FAR, FAR from general public information (and thanks for letting the whole Blogosphere know my orientation). Also, Facebook is a social networking site where people, in essence, advertise themselves as on MySpace (think dating service). Now whether or not that’s why I put that on there, advertising one’s orientation on Facebook is a far cry from going in public and fighting for your sexual rights as a religious leader.

Four, it's not your "own gorram church" - I don't think I've ever seen you at St. Luke's (unless you've become an Anglican since moving to school?).
I addressed this earlier. Anything that shakes one Christian community shakes ALL Christian communities. To believe otherwise is just elitist arrogance. This Bishop affects the discussion of sexual orientation of every Christian community not just your own.

Isn’t that why you even discuss this on your blog?

Five, there is no heterosexual right to not see something you don't like. We live in a diverse world, and we can't ask the people who were born differently than us to hide under a bushel so that we can stay comfortable. And, even if we could, how come it's the heterosexuals who would have to ask the GLBT community to go away, and not the other way around?
Majority rules with minority rights. I’m not saying a homosexual can’t go home to their partner every night. “The government has no business in the bedrooms of the people.” But this Bishop, and others, are not advertising their sexuality in the bedroom. No, it’s on the internet, television, radio, just the general media. I’m not saying I’m in charge (or should be) of saying what the media can or can’t cover. But these people need to realize that what they do affects general policy decisions, and why should Bishop Robinson’s orientation affect governmental and church policy any more than mine does?

Nathan Empsall said...

I submit that the issue was settled with public consent. He was elected by a majority of NH Episcopal convention delegates, who were in turn elected by a majority of their parish members; he was then confirmed to be consecrated by a large majority of Episcopal bishops. As for the larger Anglican communion, we don't need consent; each province is autonomous. And as for the larger Christian church, again, we don't need consent; if we did, there never would have been a Protestant Reformation in the first place.

Re: FB, you're right. My apologies. Would you like me to delete my comment and yours? Again my apologies. But then again, it's not like you keep it a secret. Or that any married public figure keeps it a secret. If married straight people can be "out," why can't gay people be similarly obvious? I mean, I hate the flaunting some do, but there's a straight equivalent for that as well. (And you flatter me by saying the whole blogosphere knows what goes on in my comment sections. :P)

That's a fair point about the larger body of Christ, but there's a reason we have so many different denominations. We disagree on things, and we don't need to check with everyone else before moving forward. A church and an individual has to do what they feel called by God to do, not what they feel called by popular opinion. Sometimes, you disagree with folks; that doesn’t mean you sit in the corner until they change their mind.

And I don’t think +Gene’s orientation has that massive an affect on policy… just look at the current anti-gay policies in most states and most churches.

Your next post is the last word on this for now, as you know my feelings ‘bout going round ‘n round for too long in comment sections, even with intelligent friends.

Nathan Empsall said...

And seriously, my apologies on the FB thing.

Jordan said...

I'm all for just agreeing to disagree. How do you think the D-Log and I get along?

As for the Facebook thing; it's not a big deal, unfortunately (since it hampers my point), but in the future it's safe to assume that just because you can view it on Facebook doesn't mean it shows up on my public search listing (for example you can see my cell phone number on FB).

Anonymous said...

OK, this is going to be a long-winded one....

I'm looking forward to reading your article. Sorry you've not been getting very helpful questions so far. My sympathies on that first question that was deleted.

My question, though, has to do with the negative side of the opposite point of view from your other respondents.

Background: Throughout this dispute, those who object to Mr. Robinson's ordination have not hesitated to wildly distort the bible, church doctrine and history, the position and cannons of the Episcopal Church, and the position and beliefs of Mr. Robinson himself (which, as far as I can make out, are actually fairly conservative in the traditional sense). This started right at the beginning with the convention when Mr. Robinson's election was confirmed; at that time his good name was systematically slandered by those who knowingly bore false witness to the convention. This sort of behavior, combined with generally hysterical name calling and gross distortions has continued and continues to this day.

I have two questions related to this history.

1. Why are these people who were once considered good christians, resorting to such ruthless and unconscionable tactics, tactics which seem to be deliberately intended to permanently damage the church and it's evangelization of the good news?

2. Even if we could persuade such people to stay in the church, why would we want to be associated with people who would resort to such ruthless and deliberately false tactics.

3. One of the results of the "food fight" started and maintained (to the point of "scorched earth") by these reactionairies has clearly been a negative impact on the evangelization efforts of the larger church. I work on the evangelism committee of my little urban church in Baltimore; often the people we are trying to evangelize respond that they don't really want to be part of a "food fight" in which there is even a question of not allowing full participation by any class of people. These people either assume the "conservative" message represents the majority in TEC and/or they want to know how it is that we allow these people to hijak the church discussion at all. Clearly the "conservative" or "traditionalist" (they are, of course, neither) is having an immediate (and deliberately) negative impact on evangelization. What deliberate steps can we individuals take to salvage our evangelical efforts in the face of such deliberate sabatoge by this very small right wing minority and take back the initiative in getting our message out and representing our church? What does he see as the future of this on-going dispute?

Sorry about the long winded comment....

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