The 76th Convention #1

I arrived at the 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church (TEC-USA) yesterday late afternoon. I haven’t made it to the convention hall as of yet, but most certainly this morning. I have booth duties.
I am looking forward to hearing from Archbishop Rowan Williams – I think he is speaking this evening.
I don’t know what I’m feeling about this General Convention. I know that a large block of people who would have pulled the convention to a more middle balance are now gone. I’m concerned that the more fervent forces on the left are flush with expectation that their day has finally come (even though they are fighting/propagandizing as if this is not the case) since all their assumed bigoted and anti-everything opponents have finally left the building. Those pesky conservatives don’t have to be bothered with any longer.
I respect the continued advocacy and fight for full inclusion of all God’s children in all the sacraments of the Church. Of course, some of my support will depend on how certain words are defined. While all people are God’s creation, those God calls His children (at least Scriptural speaking) are those who choose to follow Him. What I do not respect is a winner-takes-all attitude and the hubris that befalls ardent fighters on both sides of the issue. One side is only slightly represented at this convention, and I think we are impoverished all the more by that fact. If we say that we want all voices, all people, at the table, then let’s mean it!
I still believe that for the sake of brothers and sisters in parts of the world that fall under persecution, real violence, and banishment from the Church, we in the U.S. need to refrain at this time, and for only a time, from overturning BO33 (the agreement by TEC-USA during its last convention to abide by a moratorium on consecrating any new openly-gay and partnered bishops and approving official rites for the blessing of same-sex unions).
I say this for a couple reasons:
1.) Regardless of what certain Provinces say or do with regard to TEC-USA, if we are all still part of the same Communion then our voice of advocacy and support will still be a potent force in helping gay-Christians in those countries survive. To rise up and say that WE will go forward and if the rest of the Communion won’t, well then too bad, is a very selfish, inconsiderate, and unjust thing to do. It is an exemplary example of American hubris and arrogance. For the sake of justice for the “haves,” we will sacrifice the “have-nots.” I can’t do that.
2.) For the sake of gay-Christians in countries where their only safe option is silence, or else violence, then I am perfectly willing to wait a while longer. My sense of self and my own sense of dignity are not impinged upon by laying aside what might benefit me for the sake of those who have so much less, so many fewer options, and in many cases just strive to survive. I am not going to succumb to the cult of victimhood. I can wait, for their sake.
3.) While there has been a whole lot of discussion and “study” over the last 30+ years within TEC-USA concerning the gay issue, I still do not find compelling the theological work that must consider all the tangible interconnections of a decision on this one issue to so many other aspects of the Church and society. While justice is very important, justice should not be placed before solid understand of the implications of decisions for justice on the other aspects of life.
Anyway, in my always incomplete and stumbling way, this is what I’m thinking at the moment. We are a Church Catholic, and as such we cannot just do what we want to do any time we want, all the time. While this is a very American thing to do, and while the conservatives that have left TEC-USA and the ardent liberals who while remaining would act in similiar ways if they don’t get their way, we must consider others to be extremely important.