Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Notes from a talk by Gene Robinson in Seattle

Gene Robinson, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, gave a talk in Seattle on January 12, 2009. Here are some of my notes from his talk.

Robinson is the first openly gay bishop to serve in this function. He's also an amazingly loving human being.

Why did I go to his talk, and why am I posting about it here?

I went to his talk because I believe in the work he's doing, even if he's a member of a patriarchal religion with which I have some essential issues and disagreements. I went because I have Episcopal and Anglican friends to whom this is important.

Mostly, I went because I respect his courage and wanted to affirm it and support it.

I expected, based on the little of his book I've yet read, and on hearing retired Episopal Bishop John Shelby Spong speak at FGC Gathering, for Robinson's talk to be very legalistic in terms of faith and canon law. It was anything but.

I found Robinson's talk to be inspiring, warm, and loving. It provided me with some interesting insight.

I also found that Robinson has some things to say to Friends, whether he or we realize it or not. I very much hope he can be our plenary speaker at an upcoming FGC Gathering.

- sm

For my friend d: as a bishop, Robinson gets to wear a fuchsia shirt every day.

I am so lucky to have come out into a faith community. [Note: when I came out, I almost immediately found Dignity/Baltimore; I lost neither my relationship with the Divine, nor spiritual community, for coming out. For far too many LGBTQ folks, coming out means losing our faith communities.]

Some "...called on me to resign, naively believing that if I go away, this issue will go away"

"Most of the discrimination GLBT people have faced is at the hands of people of faith," especially the three Abrahamic religions

"Spilling of seed" related to ancient vs. modern understanding of biology and reproduction; also why prohibition against male homosexual behavior

"Jesus, not the Bible, is the perfect revelation of God" --> Jesus as Word
--> placing the Bible above Jesus as revealed Word of God "is a form of idolatry"
--> Holy Spirit as avenue of revealed truth
--> biblical basis of [Friends concept of] continuing revelation
--> Jesus' words from the Last Supper: "Holy Spirit will lead you into all truth"

sin of heterosexism in secular society rather than of homophobia
--> must dismantle that system of privileges

"I believe that what we are up against in this struggle is the beginning of the end of patriarchy" --> rooted in sexism and misogyny
- "Patriarchy is at the beginning of the end in the Church"

in no other area are our laws so rooted in religion

political decisions -- ie, how I vote -- should be based on what my faith tells me, not what God says or what religion says

distinction between civil rights and religious rites
- separate where each happens and who does each
- great educational tool

- "We have to be the Church God is calling us to be" with respect to LGBTQ inclusion; "We know [this vision/this version of it] doesn't make sense to you"
- Seeing Gene Robinson and George Bush both as America pushing itself on everyone else (particularly in Africa) - "drunken cowboy" ("That's probably the worst thing anybody's ever said about me")


melted-snowball said...

This is interesting. It strikes me just how not-really-satisfying so many of us found Spong's FGC talk. (You can find my post about it here:

I'm curious if you got to see Marcus Borg at FGC in Wisconsin. That, now that I found very, very special. (

And yes, I am jealous of him for his choices. Ironically, it's some anti-bullying day today and I'm supposed to wear pink, and I don't have a pink long-sleeved shirt. Perhaps I'll fix that soon.

sta┼Ťa said...

Now I'll have to go look up my notes from both...