At the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Columbus, Ohio in (don't ask me what year, as you should know by now, I'm lost in linear time!) Bishop Jim Curry saw me across a room and came hurrying to me, a look of delight and mischief on his face.
Since Jim was easily jerked around and I am unable to resist jerking around the easily jerked around ('jerked around', in this case, means 'embarrassed' or 'confused' or 'confounded') I could never resist.
I once licked his Episcopal ring rather than kiss it (and Episcopalians don't, most often, kiss bishops' rings, much less lick them!) I loved to annoy him and, far beyond that, I loved and still love him. He is a good and decent man, a tad more naive than any bishop I ever knew, and a better bishop for that.
So, we had a light and joking relationship for years. And I loved him.
Earlier that week, when Gene Robinson was approved as the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, I walked from the Convention center to the hotel with Jim. At some point, he stopped dead in his tracks. I turned back to see a look of utter transformation on his face. "What is it, bishop?" I asked.
He smiled and laughed. "We've created a totally new church," he said, "I only hope we can nurture it."
What a wonderful and wondrous thing for a bishop to say.
Anyway, back to this story: when he got to me he said, "I found something that's perfect for you in the Exhibit Hall. General Conventions are ever 3 years and one of the biggest draws about them is a huge Exhibit Hall where you can learn about all the church does and buy anything your little heart could desire.
He held out a button in his hand and I took it.
It is bright pink with what may be a halo and what may be a crown of thorns in black and in the middle, in a nice font, it says "Heretic".
He was so delighted I couldn't help but be delighted too.
And I knew he meant it as a compliment, not a criticism. He is a devout man. And every devout man needs a heretic in his life, just to keep his bearings.
I was proud to be his.
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