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All canonical bishops of the Anglican Communion, every 10 years, are invited to what is called the Lambeth Conference as it is held at the Lambeth palace; the residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury. From their official website it reads:

It takes place every ten years at the invitation of the Druckkleider halblang Archbishop of Canterbury. It is the one occasion when all bishops can meet for worship, study and conversation. Archbishops, diocesan, assistant and suffragan bishops are invited.

The current Archbishop of Canterbury – Rowan Williams – has called the next Lambeth Conference for July 2008. His wife, Jane, will convene the Spouses’ Conference.

All 800+ bishops have been invited but one, V. Gene Robinson, duly, and canonically elected Bishop of New Hampshire has been refused an invitation. The reason for this refusal stems from the reality that the Rt. Rev. Bishop is an open, honest, out and noncelebate Bishop who lives with his life partner.

Rather than confront realities, this body, at the behest of the Archbishop, and first among equals of the Anglican Communion, wishes to appease more than lead, to shrink from the vows he took as first of deacon of the church (to interpret the needs of the world to the church, and to represent loving grace of the church to the world), the leader of this traditions of Anglicanism would rather bury his miter in the sand, and sip tea rather than bring all parties together to allow God to do the work, to trust Christ to afford the opportunity for reconciliation. The refusal to acknowledge, or confront the realities of what the spirit is saying to the church relegates the Lambeth Conference to the level of what Bonoeffer called “Cheap Grace.” (Grace without the cross)

The existence of homosexual bishops in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and other traditions is a matter of historical record, yet in the past matters of this sort were kept secret, and not spoken about; it was merely a matter of a nodding glance with a private understanding. (Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality, by John Boswell (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980)

With this in mind, I have been gripped with a fantasy, an image taken from the film Dead Poet’s Society. At the end of the movie, Mr. Keeting, the charismatic, outside the box teacher was dismissed in the middle of the term. While leaving the classroom one of his most timid students stands on the top of his desk, turns his back on the headmaster who had taken over the class, and yells to his former teacher a quote from Walt Whitman, “O captain, my captain!” Soon other students stand on their desk affirming this acclimation. Student after student stands on their desk saying, “O captain, my captain.”

We know, with 800+ bishops attending the upcoming Lambeth Conference that a fair amount of people who have remained silent during Bishop Robinson’s ordeal are functioning as closeted gay bishops. They are allowing this one person to take the fall, to accept on going theological bullets of power ridden theological, and political megalomaniacs. What if these silent voices had the guts to stand on their chair, affirm that they too are canonical bishops of the church, and exist in the same manor of the person that body will not invite, how many would have the integrity to stand and exclaim, “O captain, my captain!” ——— “O, Lord, my Lord!”

This would require Costly Grace: The Gospel as it cost the life of God’s Son. How many bishops would be willing to fully live costly grace. I only know one at the moment, and he was not invited.