05 March 2008

The Bishop's Daughter

There has been much to-do about the release of the biography of The Rt Rev Paul Moore by his daughter, Honor. And in fact, its revelations do present a conundrum of issues.

Having come out over forty years ago (in the pre-Stonewall, Mattachine era as Jim Guthrie reminded me), I can emphatize with the bishop's reticence to 'come out'. And let's face it -- had he come out, the world would have destroyed him. . . no question about it.

And we all know that even today there are several 'closeted' bishops. We all know who they are but respect their need to stay hidden.

Would the church be better off if they would come out of the closet? Would there be less pressure on Gene Robinson if they would publicly stand with him, rather than giving him a 'wink-wink-nod-nod'? Would those who nail Gene on the cross feel differently if it was their bishop, or dean, or priest?

Does all the great work that Paul did make up for the damage he did to those who were the closest to him by living in an 'open secret'? I have my own opinion on that, but I did not walk in his shoes.

With the persmission of The Rev Elizabeth Kaeton, I am including her column Telling Secrets. She more elequantly says what many of us in the LGBTQ community feel. Blessings to her for letting me share this.

The Bishop's Daughter: Telling Secrets with Honor

Honor Moore, the daughter of Bishop Paul Moore, Jr., has written a book in which she struggles to make sense of her life and her father's legacy. The book is due out in May, but there is an excerpt of the book's Prologue in the March 3rd issue of The New Yorker. You can find it here.

You can pre-order the book here.

There is also a poignant, powerful, wonderful interview with Honor Moore here on New Yorker Online in which she talks about the 'open secret' of her father's sexuality as she struggles to make sense of her own sexual journey.

There will be rending of garments and much wailing and moaning and gnashing of teeth on both sides of the aisle about this book and her revelation.

Some will cry that many LGBT people could have been helped and the church's journey to greater social justice advanced years sooner "if only he had told the truth."

Others will cry that the church and his legacy is soiled by this truth that should have remained secret - that nothing good can come of any of this.

There will be those who will laugh and scorn the Body of Christ in its incarnation as The Episcopal Church and say this is but one more piece of evidence of its 'internal decay' which provides them with one more reason to leave 'this apostate church.'Still others will say, "I told you so!" and smirk, "See, Gene Robinson is not the first gay bishop. He's the first honestly gay bishop."

Is it dishonest not to answer a question if it is never openly asked? Is it a lie to keep a secret when no one has asked you to tell the truth, or when someone assumes the truth about you?

To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven. The time wasn't right for Paul Moore. The time is right - and, behold has now come - for Gene Robinson. And, me. And, you.

Then, it wasn't. Now it is. But, only you can determine that for yourself. It is still a very dangerous thing to do - depending on where you live and who you tell and the nature of your personal or vocational aspirations. No one can come out for you. You have to do that work yourself.

Now is the time for the part of Paul Moore that had to remain secret to be told. Now is the time for Gene Robinson to tell the truth of his own story. The time for the healing of the secret shame of Paul Moore has come. The time for the end of the shame of what it means to be created an LGBT person has come.

My grandmother used to always say, "Live your life as if everyone will know every detail because, eventually, everyone will." I found some solace in that statement in the darkest hours of my own journey, when I cried out and none but Jesus heard me, and none but God and my beloved loved me.

Honor Moore has lived up to the name given to her by her parents. There is much honor - and much to honor - here in the story of this bishop's daughter. She brings honor to her father, to the church he loved and served, to the God who wonderfully made and even more wonderfully restored his and the full humanity of all LGBT people and, ultimately to herself.

Of this I am quite certain: there is great rejoicing in heaven. All the choirs of angels and archangels are singing. For, as Jesus himself told us, what is bound on earth is bound in heaven and what is loosed on earth is loosed in heaven.

I'm willing to bet that even Paul himself is smiling. The man who was always 'larger than life' finally is.