photo c 2006 by Jonathan Sa'adah
photo c 2006 by Jonathan Sa'adah
Elizabeth Adams has
chronicled for the Church now, and for generations to come, the amazing journey
of Bishop Gene Robinson…[her book] is a must read for every Episcopalian and is
an important addition to the discussions that continue within the Global
Anglican Communion about the rightful place and full inclusion of gay and
lesbian persons in its life, mission and ministry.
“a hefty, thrilling and remarkable book”
As a window on Episcopal polity it's without equal...Adams writes from a perspective sympathetic to Robinson, but she does
well to describe opponents in a fair light. This is no black and white,
good guys-bad guys tale. ..it's nice to see it reported
...it's less a biography... than it is a fine piece of journalism
describing the death-grip of heterosexist patriarchy. Solid, insightful and original reporting on the hidden drama of church politics.
This is a detailed book of 300 pages; and it is interesting to see Bishop Robinson portrayed as less arrogant and more cautious than some media profiles have suggested.
The book is also a fascinating portrait of small-town American
Anglicans’ coming to terms with being a branch of a much larger Church
that they knew little about.
This new biography is a great step toward clarifying
precisely who Gene Robinson is and what he stands for.…[it's] not a salacious account of some flash-in-the-pan
controversy; instead, it's the spiritual biography of a thought-provoking,
deeply prayerful bishop.
The struggle among the Anglicans is a reflection of the larger struggle in modern life between the fundamentalist's rigidity and the progressive's openness. Between believing, on the one hand, that God stopped speaking to us when the last jot and tittle of the Bible had been recorded and, on the other hand, that God is still speaking to us today, in myriad ways.
Would that all those who need to hear this message were
able to! Fortunately, I think, Gene Robinson's ministry and Going to Heaven together will help carry the word to those who need to know that God loves
them. That is the final story here, that the word is going out: "God loves
you, and loves you as you are.”
Even for those of us with no vested interest in the
issues at hand (straight, unchurched), it's still a pageturner.
Going to Heaven has been one hell of a roller coaster ride…I was hooked from the first chapter - and I rode the ride all the way through to the last page.
I am saying, after reading this riveting book, that I
could identify 100% with so much of it that it scared me. Bishop Robinson is
kin, we are connected by a fine line of life, faith, belief and struggle. And for
that I am grateful for having had the opportunity to read this amazing story of
Gene speaks to us when he says that we are all God's
children, he loves each and very one of us, no matter what. We are worthy of
God's love - because he created us to be exactly who we are today. And that
message resonated within every fibre of my being.
Going to Heaven captures a watershed moment in the life of the church.
Elizabeth Adams informs and inspires as she reveals to us the inner
workings of the Episcopal Church and one of its most controversial
Rev. Canon Joyce Sanchez, Christ Church Cathedral, Montreal
“unobtrusively beautiful writing”
To me, the central story of this book is not Robinson's personal story. It's the story of a community of faith taking its ideals and its communion seriously. Churches need not be -- though they too often are -- clubs of like-minded people congratulating each other on their spiritual correctness. They can be communities that challenge their members to transcend their prejudices and interests, to leave the comforts of their certainties, to bring each other to face the fact that what they profess and and what they do don't match up.
The inspirational story here, to me, is the story of
people determined to do the right thing, the vestries and volunteers who worked
to make "a church with no outcasts," and the clergy who understood, however
uncomfortably, that a church of Jesus has to be a church of radical inclusion.
I too have watched the news. I too have heard the name “Gene Robinson” many, many times. I did not, however, know the Gene Robinson story. I never considered the man behind the name and the socio-religious causes to which it was attached. I still do not know the man personally, but I do have a much deeper understanding and appreciation of the human being existing well beyond popular press media’s and the Church’s singular use of his name. This new and deeper understanding is accessible to all in the pages of Elizabeth Adams’s Going to Heaven: The Life and Election of Bishop Gene Robinson (Soft Skull). My consideration of the man would have been weaker - perhaps even skewed - had I not read this wonderfully well-written and enlightening book.
Everyone interested in the current conversation regarding
religion and sexuality should read this book before they speak the name of Gene
If you have an interest in the Right Rev. V. Gene
Robinson (his life, his theology, his election as bishop) or in the Episcopal
church (its history, its roots, its changes) or simply in the powerful story of
a faithful man living his calling in our times, this is a must-read.
Adams’ book is also written for the many people honestly
struggling with the issue of gay rights:
their confusion, their desire to know more, to go more deeply, to do and
think the "right" thing. She helps them see the bigger picture; she
holds their hands as they get to know a not-so-perfect creation of God, the
world he occupies and the church he serves. In the end, her biography talks
about the power of love, not such a bad message in a time of strife.
Adams is a master at laying out
the nonfiction story.
The book is an excellent read, and certainly goes a long
way towards providing a more rounded view of both Gene Robinson, and the events
surrounding his election as Bishop, putting to rest a lot of the misinformation
that came out through some of the UK tabloid press at the time. Fundamentally
it provides a way to move from thinking of the man as a label, or a single
issue, into understanding why the people of New Hampshire wanted him as their
Beth Adams’s book is interesting and important because of its meticulous account of the sequence of events, and, even more, its sympathetic, detailed portrayal of its subject and his spiritual perspective.
The narrative voice – the coolly passionate, unifying
force in the entire book—is that of a girl deeply moved by the laying on of
hands, yet struck by her exclusion from meaningful participation in her church
because of her gender; and pondering for the next forty years the consequences
of such separation…