Going to Heaven: 

The Life and Election of Bishop Gene Robinson


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... a must-read for 
every Episcopalian

The Rt. Rev. John Chane, 
Bishop of Washington (D.C.)


 

 

 

An exploration of the man — Gene Robinson, the world’s first openly gay Episcopal bishop — who many believe will be the catalyst for the breaking apart of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.

It may be a uniquely American success story: not long ago, who would have thought that the son of tobacco sharecroppers in Kentucky could become an Episcopal bishop? No one could have predicted that this boy, born poor, ill, and given little chance of survival, would in fact be elected and ordained 56 years later as the first openly gay bishop in Christendom, finding himself at the center of unprecedented positive and negative reaction in the religious world and beyond.

Gene Robinson’s life is a compelling story of challenges overcome by hard work, intelligence, humor, love, and deep faith. It is also a story of one man’s journey into his own “otherness”; of courage found and integrity retained; and the emergence of a ministry that speaks to countless people who believe in a Gospel of love and inclusion, and want the church to reflect that vision.

Through a lively text based on extensive interviews with Bishop Robinson, his closest associates, family, colleagues, and observers, and illustrated with photographs from all phases of his life, this book paints a portrait of Bishop Robinson not as a symbol but a human being who is, as he puts it, “neither the angel nor the devil some would make me out to be.” It illuminates his life; his struggle with—and eventual acceptance of—his sexual orientation; his calling to become a priest and later a bishop.

Bishop Robinson preaching at the Montreal "OutMass", June 2006. Photo c 2007 Jonathan Sa'adah

It tells the story of the critical, central events of his election and consecration amid intense opposition, huge security concerns, and media attention. The book follows him through the next two years as he juggles dual roles—Bishop of New Hampshire, and symbol of gay achievement and the progressive church— while the opposition stirred by his election creates increasing pressure for schism in the Episcopal Church of the United States and the Anglican Communion worldwide. 

The book concludes with a discussion of the theological and historical significance of Gene Robinson’s election, and his vision for a future in which "infinite respect" and "radical hospitality" for all people are lived out as the primary values of our community and institutional relationships.