The controversy and death threats that followed his becoming the nation's first openly gay Episcopal bishop "actually strengthened my faith and strengthened my relationship with the living God," Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire just told NPR's Melissa Block.

The 65-year-old bishop, who announced over the weekend that he plans to retire in 2013, said "there is nothing like a death threat (or, in his case, several) to get your attention ... to make you think about God" and to make you realize that "death is not the worst thing -- not living your life, that's   the worst thing."

In the seven years since he became a bishop, Robinson added, he has had cause to remember that "life is a gift and we are meant to be good stewards of that gift."

Here's a bit of their conversation:

Back in 2003, Robinson told Melissa that he hoped he would some day be known as just a good bishop, not a gay bishop. Today, he said in the seven years since then, he came to "make my peace with being 'the gay bishop' " and to look at the situation as "an astounding opportunity" if he could be "the best steward I possibly can."

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