Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Blessing - Bishop Gene Robinson

"Blessing given by the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire, at the end of services at All Saints Church Pasadena on Sunday, July 15, 2007."

The video is an example of a blessing by Bishop Gene Robinson - a taste perhaps of the type of invocation we may expect from him at the opening event of the Inaugural Week activities, “We are One,” to be held at the Lincoln Memorial, Sunday, January 18, at 2:00 pm.

Of course, the choice of Bishop Robinson by President-Elect Obama and the bishop's announcement that the blessing will be neither "happy Clappy" nor specifically Christian are already being roundly criticized by the Christian right, but no matter. It is good and right that he should do this.


  1. Well, not just the Christian right (unless I count as one of them; I think I'm more centrist). Personally, I think it's downright silly of +Robinson to try to sift out the Jesus-y bits of any prayer he's going to do in the interest of praying on behalf of everyone. First of all, it's a losing game: you cannot possibly satisfy every religious viewpoint in a given religious exercise. Secondly, he was elected and consecrated to be a Christian bishop; ignoring that reality by presenting some sort of one-size-fits-all prayer is disingenuous. If Obama had wanted a gay minister from the UUA, I'm sure he knew where to find one.

  2. Well then, BillyD, you and I must agree to disagree. For Bishop Gene to try to make the prayer as inclusive as possible is the right thing to do, in my humble opinion.

  3. So...religion should be kept out of State functions, unless it's coming from someone you like and from your own church? I see... ;-)

  4. BillyD, how do you get that out of anything that I said? Even with the smilie, your comment doesn't make sense to me.

    I'd prefer that prayers be kept out of the inauguration, but that won't happen. My next preference is for diversity in the pray-ers and the prayers.

  5. The idea is diversity? Fine - bring in an imam, a Zen priest, a Native American shaman. But let them represent the real, living religious traditions from which they come. Having a Christian bishop craft a prayer to fit into the some sort of neutral, American Civic Religion model, though, isn't diversity.

  6. The idea is diversity? Fine - bring in an imam, a Zen priest, a Native American shaman.

    BillyD, exactly. I've already said that elsewhere in a post or a comment.

    Perhaps you could wait until you hear Bishop Gene's prayer before you criticize it. OK? Fair enough?

  7. I'm with you, Mimi.

    It doesn't make you open-minded to simply gainsay both sides constantly.

  8. Someone once told me about a room with hundreds of windows. Round, square, stained glass, clear, with and without panes . . . different windows, and the light of God shines through them all.

    Sounds pretty simple to have a meaningful, inclusive prayer. Necessary too.

  9. Mark, yes. And I believe that Bishop Gene will do right by all Americans.

    PEN, I love your analogy to the room with the windows. And for now, we all see "through a glass darkly".

  10. I've heard of three Christian pastors offering prayers at the main events, and so far no one else. What does that say to people of other faiths, or no faith? That is privileging one faith at a national event for a secular, multireligious country. As I'm not the first to say, this is an event for all Americans, so sectarian prayers have no place.

    I think it's a profound witness that it's the gay guy (and dare I say, not the black guy) who gets that no one should be made to feel marginalized. That's part of the message, not watering it down.

    In the clip, +Gene offers a challenging prayer, which would be just as challenging without the Jesus bits, or even the God bits. Leave them in, and people can say, oh, it's just a Christian thing, and tune out. Leave them out, and all people can pray it, think about it, meditate on it, what have you, as their consciences dictate.

    In tangential news, Rick Warren has offered to shelter leaving Episcopal churches. "We stand in solidarity with them, and with all orthodox, evangelical Anglicans." Apparently not with the rest of us.


  11. Wilfried, the gays guys too often get marginalized.

    When I watched the video, I had the same thought as you. That blessing was in a Christian church, but by leaving off the last words, which are specific to Christianity, the blessing would serves those of many faiths well.

    I read about Warren's offer of shelter to the those who have left the Episcopal Church. I meant to write about it, but I did not get to it. I don't suppose that Warren would make the same offer to progressive Episcopalians, since he could hardly say with any honesty that he stands in solidarity with them.

    Your link does not work, but I have found an article dated today from which I can write.

  12. Sorry. Try this link:


    Precisely, the marginalized gay person chooses not to marginalize others.

  13. Wilfried, thanks. The link to Episcopal Life works. I posted from the information in the Orange County Register.

    I'm interested to know if all 500 families left the Episcopal Church with the rector.

  14. When I was doing CPE, there were two Conservative rabbinical students in my group. I introduced them to the BCP -- which they thought was great, by the way, as it had so many prayers for occasions there Judaism lacks them, I was surprised to learn. I also had the opportunity to introduce them to the Lord's Prayer. They're immediate response was, "Well, I could say that. It's a Jewish prayer." And I said, "Uh... yeah!"

    In interfaith settings it is possible to pray from within one's own tradition without making it so exclusively "of" that tradition that it leaves others out. I think Gene can do that. I"m sensitive to this because I'm part of an interfaith clergy group that includes Rabbis and Imams.

  15. They're immediate response was, "Well, I could say that. It's a Jewish prayer." And I said, "Uh... yeah!"

    How true. Jesus was born a Jew and died a Jew.


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