Well, Gene Robinson, the Bishop of New Hampshire and the fulcrum of the Troubles, is present in Kent, England. On his blog he is detailing his experience around Lambeth. He is forbidden to attend any of the official events.
His most recent post details an incident that frankly shocked me. I’m really not easily shocked any longer, but I just don’t know what to say.
In his words, here is part of what wrote:
Since arriving in Canterbury, I had not yet visited the Cathedral. I went nowhere near the place on Sunday’s opening service. The ever-anxious leadership had provided the Cathedral security guards with a large photo of me, posted at the security checkpoints, presumably to keep me from “crashing the gates” of the opening service. No one believed that I would be true to my promise to the Archbishop not to attend.
On Thursday, knowing that the conference attendees would leave early in the morning for London — for the MDG walk, lunch at Lambeth Palace, and tea with the Queen — it seemed like a good, low-profile time to make my own pilgrimage to our Mother Church. I told no one of my intentions to attend — except I had my security person follow the properly courteous protocol of alerting the Cathedral to my visit. I had him also seek permission for a videographer to accompany me on my visit for a documentary to be released sometime in 2010. We were informed that the videographer could NOT accompany me or film me inside the Cathedral. Fair enough. We were told that he could accompany me to the gate onto the Cathedral grounds, and, standing in the public street, could at least film me walking into the Cathedral through the gate’s archway.
We contacted Cathedral security to let them know of our imminent arrival, as had been requestd. When we got there, we were met by a gentleman, representing the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral, I think. He intercepted me and told me that I could not be filmed walking into the Cathedral (even from the public street outside) after all. The reason he gave took me by surprise, rendering me speechless (an uncommon experience for me!). “We can’t have any photographs or film of you entering the Cathedral,” he said, “because we want this to be a church for ALL people.” Presumably he meant that my being seen walking into the Cathedral would cause others not to want to come.
This was one of those breathtaking moments when you just can’t come up with the right thing to say. The rest of the day I thought of all the things I SHOULD have said. Like, “so you mean that I am not included in ‘ALL people?!'” Or, “isn’t this MY cathedral too?!” Or, “so what am I, chopped liver?!” The moment was so surprising, after having been so forthright in our notification of our visit and going through all the channels to ensure courteousness, I just couldn’t come up with anything to say except, “okay,” and accede to his wishes.
We were taken to the Cathedral’s visitors office, where we were introduced to Theresa, a competent and warm guide who provided me with a wonderful, informative and hospitable tour of the Cathedral. But I simply couldn’t shake the feelings engendered by the previous “welcome” a few minutes before.
I just don’t know how to respond to this happening at Canterbury Cathedral, in Canterbury, in England where same-sex relationships are fully legal. If this man enters the cathedral while being filmed, it will cause the cathedral not to be a place for “ALL” people. ALL people. Really, they want it to be for “ALL” people? This is the way?
Anyone who knows me knows that I am certainly a moderate if not a conservative on many things. This just astounds and angers me. I’m reading the 5th Harry Potter book right now, and I feel like Harry in the midst of so many who were lead to believe that he is a lier and crazy and only out for attention. The incident detailed by Bishop Robinson didn’t happen to me, but in the face of such a statement I feel by proximity.
He wrote earlier of his encounter with a number of bishops from around the world in a meet-up organized as an attempt at fulfilling the “Listening Process” called for by previous Lambeths.
One telling comment, from one of those who had chosen to accept a brother bishop’s invitation despite his misgivings, was moved to lament how easy it is to believe what one reads and hears about a fellow Christian, and to find in meeting him that that impression was distorted. He comes from a country torn by internal strife and with more than enough problems of its own, yet found time in his schedule to participate in this effort at reconciliation. Profoundly moving.
WELL THEN, I just got home and picked up my new copy of Newsweek, and the cover copy is this:
Murder in the 8th Grade: At 10, Lawrence King declared he was gay. At 15, a classmate shot him dead.
And who wants to claim we are a “Christian country?”