Monday, January 12, 2009

Good for Bishop Robinson; good for PE Obama

Imagine my delight this morning when I saw the news (above) on the front page of Talking Points Memo. The Obama juggernaut is including the good bishop of New Hampshire in the inaugural festivities.

It is hard to find a more controversial gay clergyperson. While there are lots of gay clergy (yes, that's true as anti-gay persons are always astonished to learn when these folks come out of the closet), there aren't many who manage to exemplify the consistent equanimity and sensitivity toward those who would exclude him that Bishop Robinson shows.

Not surprisingly, his home town paper has the most interesting story on the bishop's invitation:

"It's important for any minority to see themselves represented in some way," Robinson said. "Whether it be a racial minority, an ethnic minority or, in our case, a sexual minority. Just seeing someone like you up front matters."

... Robinson doesn't yet know what he'll say, but he knows he won't use a Bible. "While that is a holy and sacred text to me, it is not for many Americans," Robinson said. "I will be careful not to be especially Christian in my prayer. This is a prayer for the whole nation."

Concord [NH] Monitor

That's inclusion. I've been wondering what our new President was doing to include the non-Christian portion of the nation, not to mention the many atheists. Guess Robinson has been thinking about them too.

But the sheer fact of Bishop Robinson's inclusion wasn't the only reason for my delight. See that picture TPM used to illustrate the news? That's one I took during Bishop Gene's visit to my home parish, St. John the Evangelist in San Francisco. It sits on Flickr waiting to be used -- it's nice to see it again. I suspect the Bishop probably prefers some of the many happier images of him, but he does look very dignified here.

UPDATE, 1/19/09: Because the prayer was not included in the HBO telecast (and the sound was iffy in parts of the crowd) some people did not get to hear Bishop Robinson's invocation. Here's a YouTube [4:14]:


Kay Dennison said...

I'll be interested to see/hear what he says. I'm sure he'll ne sensitive and intelligent.

Darlene said...

I hadn't herd about this and thank you for binging it to our attention.

I think it's wonderful that Obama is being so inclusive and that the gay minister he chose is also reaching out to all faiths, or non-faiths.

We are not a Christian nation, as the Fundamentalists proclaim so loudly. We are a nation of many religions and I am happy to see that Obama is cognizant of that.

Darlene said...

Oops - guess I should preview before publishing. The word is not a bunch of cows (herd) but HEARD. And you are BRINGING and not binging it to our attention. Sorry.

Nell said...

I was so delighted to learn of Bishop Robinson's planned participation in today's inaugural celebration at the Lincoln Memorial.

But I'm deeply disappointed that HBO and NPR began their feeds after the opening prayer, so only those attending in person got the chance to hear him.

Also, the Obamas and Bidens didn't take their seats to the side of the stage until after the feed began. I'm left wondering if Bishop Robinson really was there.

Nell said...

Oh good; he was there.

“God, we give you thanks for your child Barack,” the Rev. V. Gene Robinson, the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, said during the event invocation. “Give him wisdom beyond his years. Give him strength to find family time and privacy ... Please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we know we are asking far too much of him."

I'm guessing his inclusion messed with HBO's carefully packaged time slice.

Nell said...


"Oh God of our many understandings," began Mr. Robinson. He prayed for mindfulness of social justice, patience with the inevitable setbacks of the next president and "freedom from mere tolerance, replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences."

janinsanfran said...

The full text of Bishop Robinson's prayer is available at his diocese of New Hampshire site.

He began with this:
O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…

Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic “answers” we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future. ...

He also prayed earnestly: "And please, God, keep [the President-elect] safe."

Unfortunately, somehow Bishop Robinson's participation is not part of HBO's broadcast, not was it audible to the crowd. There is a claim of speaker malfunction.

He may well have served as a sound check, by someone's intention or not, I do not know.

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