Friday, June 23, 2006

Entering the desert; entering the "holy space"

As I mentioned in comments earlier, a perhaps penultimate post on the ECUSA General Convention. This insight is, I think, the best, if only because they seem to have a firm grasp of the mechanics involved:

If there is anything to be learned from this procedural quagmire, it is that the General Convention was not up to (and should never have been given the task of) dealing with this difficult set of issues. This, despite some Communion representatives’ own (misguided) understanding that only General Convention was legally capable of responding to the Communion’s needs. Much appropriate authority is vested in our bishops meeting in council that might well have addressed the pertinent matters had that authority been exercised thoughtfully together. Instead, we have been left to witness a conjunction of long-term corporate paralysis giving way to short-term conciliar seizures.
From the outside looking in, and from my experience with institutions, I'd say that's about right. But it's also what institutions are for: to deflect responsibility so that when something is finally done, no one is to blame for it. Where does the issue stand now, besides with the Arcbhishop and the Primates? Here, I think:

It was very clear early on in the Convention’s debates – both in committees, in hearings, and on the floor – that there was neither a substantive majority ready to uphold Windsor ’s actual recommendations, nor a coherent desire to find some alternative. Commitments were irreconcilably split, in theological terms, and the existence of some “middle way” was never practically demonstrated.
And sometimes, I think that's just what happens. The history of Protestantism, in a nutshell. But that isn't necessarily bad; as they go on to conclude:

That is, we have entered a “space” where the Communion councils may now respond to the true condition of our church; where members of our church – bishops, dioceses, congregations, and clergy – may state clearly their commitments without engendering disbelief in response; and where the conjunction of the two – communion council and local commitment – may now permit a slow and orderly process of reconfiguration, perhaps even disengagement of the warring factions of this battered body, where Primates can work together and not at odds with one another, where bishops and clergy can amicably part ways if necessary, where others can wait with a confident patience and not a destructive demand for God to direct our sifting. Certainly we have reached a moment of clarity; now we may pray for the maturity and self-control to walk through it without anger or recrimination.
I especially like that last bit: "not a destructive demand for God to direct our sifting." Responsibility placed squarely where it should be. A reminder, too, that "Israel" means "struggles with God."

So might it be. Or, should I say: "Amen."

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