Friday, October 24, 2008

Fr. Geoff on Bishop Gene

Here's a fun piece I found blog-surfing over my day-off-second cup of coffee! It's from Fr. Geoff's blog and is entitled:

"A cellphone call before breakfast"

On Wednesday morning, as I was driving to the Woman's Empowerment Conference in Long Beach, California; my cell phone rang. I didn't recognize the telephone number which was displayed but, that's not all that unusual for me these days. So, I answered the phone and to my surprise, it was Bishop Gene Robinson.

You'll want to read all of this wonderful reflection: click here to read the rest ... and join me in giving thanks for the witness of both Fr. Geoff AND Bishop Gene!


Muthah+ said...

Susan, you and the countless wonders of folk who are combating Prop 8 are to be praised. The rest of the country is looking at CA. I am glad to hear that the Govenator et al are supportive.

RonF said...

From the cited post:

When fighting to survive, innovation is a gamble you cannot afford to lose. The fruit of this colonial legacy is that the indigenous bishops are resistant to any new ideas that come from these former colonial powers, which have a history of subjugating them. It is the Anglican bishops of these nations that have so vociferously protested Bishop Gene's consecration. The "idea" of an openly gay bishop with a partner is unacceptable because it adds another stress to a society that already finds itself at the breaking point. Of course, these same bishops take exception to women being ordained as deacons and priests (let alone consecrated bishops) for the very same reason.

How incredibly patronizing. Fr. Geoff (and it would seem from the context Bp. Robinson) discards all the theological arguments presented by the people they reference - he doesn't say if he thinks they are mysteriously mistaken about their own motives or if they are outright lying - and denies them any agency whatsoever. Instead, he reduces them to stereotypically powerless puppets, ex-colonials floundering about in the grip of forces they must submit to in order to survive. The idea that their theological principles have merit and are the honest basis of their positions is brushed aside as not even worthy of comment.

Of course, he limits this analysis to the African bishops who oppose Bp. Robinson's ordination. I can't decide if this is implicitly racist, or overtly so.

Brother David said...

The racism here took place long ago, RonF, and the Africans are still reeling from it.

The theological arguments from African bishops and primates is nothing different from that of the conservatives in the West. It is based upon biblical literalism and inerrancy. That is certainly one approach to Scripture, but found wanting by many. In fact, it is akin to the same theological and scriptural approach of those supporting Apartheid in South Africa last century.

Two issues are constantly presented by African Anglican primates and bishops against Western innovations of empowering all of the baptized; their constant proximity to their homophobic Islamic neighbors, and that homosexuality does not occur naturally in Africa. The racism lies in the second.

They state that homosexuality is an apostasy exported from the West which is infecting and seducing modern Africans. That is sad because it is apparent that they have bought into a not-so-subtle racism of Christian missionaries of the 18th and 19th centuries.

The common knowledge of that day was that homosexuality was not observed, and so did not exist or occur in nature, in the wild, among lower forms of animals. Another common knowledge was that Africans were a lower form of human life, and closer, in fact, to the lower orders of animal life than white Europeans. By extension, Africans were subsequently taught by the Europeans the assumption that homosexuality did not exist among their peoples.

When in actuality, homosexuality and bisexuality not only exist in lower orders of animals, especially primates, but all human cultures as well, in relatively the same mathematical numbers worldwide. Homosexuality not only existed in Africa, but previous to the colonial adventures of Europeans, various native African animist faiths respected and esteemed homosexuals as significant and held them as special, as did various Native American cultures.

So, it is not homosexuality which has invaded or been imported to sub-Saharan Africa, but European racism, homophobia, and for that matter Christianity itself.

RonF said...

I am not conversant with the extent of the acceptance of homosexuality in African cultures. But the fact that acceptance of homosexual behavior may have been (rightfully) supplanted by adoption of Christianity doesn't automatically mean that this was bad. IIRC there were numerous other African cultural practices supplanted by homosexuality that they are well rid of. Isn't it the a central theme of Christianity that man is sinful and must change by casting off sinful ways and thoughts to accept Jesus? The fact that some of the Western missionaries were racist does not change the correctness of this central concept. Nor does that racism mean that finding that African cultural practices (and just how widespread were they?) accepting homosexuality were correct.

Are you then in agreement with the author that the African Bishops are not acting out of their own agency but are instead pawns of other forces? I still find this dismissive, highly patronizing and racist. I agree that it's highly unlikely that homosexuality is a Western import, but that doesn't mean that their opposition to accepting homosexual acts as in accordance with the will of God is right.