OK, I've gone almost two days without writing--mostly because I don't have time.
So you'll know, let me tell you about my last two days.
After I wrote stuff friday morning I was in the HofD from 9:30 to 11:45. Eucharist for about 1 1/4 hours, quick lunch, back to house from 2-6. no dinner, went to reception and eucharist of Integrity...1500 people or so in a huge ballroom in the Hilton. Barbara Curry did the set up and the sound and lights for what can only be described as a kick ass eucharist! talked to people for an hour and back to my room to eat a half-of-Ruben sandwich left over from lunch.
today: up at 7 to go to fitness center (I've done it every day and am getting prideful about finding the time) 9-12:30 House of D, 12:45 Eucharist, 1 CT caucus in the convention center, 2-3:45-Public Narrative conversation, 4-6 House of D, ran to room to change clothes for Virginia Seminary Dinner in the California Hotel in Disneyland and got back to the hotel at 10. The only time I left the con center was to come put on a jacket for the VTS dinner!
tomorrow--the day of rest--the eucharist and ingathering of the ECW will be at 10 but I'm a minister of communion (I actually volunteered!) and have to be there by 9 for orientation. There will be between 6 and 7,000 people at the service and about 90 folks to give out bread and wine. It is such a trip to be a part of that kind of liturgy. There is a 45 minuted prelude of music and visuals on the two 30'x20' screens. We will have a 3 hour session in the house of deputies from 3-6. Some day of rest....
Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the storm that ravaged much of New Haven County and did enormous damage to st john's. Judy McManis sent me a long email about it. If I knew how to do computer stuff I'd put the email in this blog...but I don't.
*Bonnie Anderson, the President of the House of Deputies, a lay person from Michigan, invited 7 international people she has met in the last three years to speak to the House. There was the head of the House of Deputies in Canada, the Dean of the Cathedral in CapeTown, a seminary dean from somewhere else in Africa, an indiginous theologian from New Zealand (I heard her preach at a Gen Con and she is astonishing!), the archbishop of Brazil and a couple of others I can't give a title to right now. They were from three different continents and New Zealand and all assured us that whatever we do at this Convention, the Anglican Communion will still see the EC as a gift to the communion. Bonnie will catch hell for stacking the deck with people who support the progressive nature of the EC, but it was fun to hear. The Dean of Cape Town wore a tee shirt that I could read on the big screens. It showed two african men in profile and said "OUT IN AFRICA". The new zealand theologian who kept referring to herself as 'you indiginous sister' spent 15 minutes condeming the Anglican Communion for their treatment of the American Church. It was stunning. But even I must admit it was 'one sided' in the raging debate that is the Anglican Communion.
The Dean of Cape Town reminded us that there is a concept in African called 'curative rape'. Fathers whose daughters are lesbian will have them kidnapped and repeatedly raped to make them heterosexual. I think there are few people in the US--no matter what their thoughts about homosexuality--that would find that to be a sane solution. Is there any reason to wonder why the debate between "the Southern Hemisphere" of the church is at odds with the EC's somewhat open policy toward GLBT folks.
The House spent some 20 minutes today debating a resolution having to do with health care. A motion to 'divide' the resolution (vote on two parts separately) failed, two different amendments failed, a dozen or so people spoke before the question was mercifully called and in the end, the voice vote was practically unanimous! Tom Fuhr, who sits next to me at the Ct tables--a first time deputy--shook his head and wondered to me, 'why did we spend so much time on something we all agreed on?' A valid question. We really need to move quickly because we are almost a day behind on the calendar of resolutions already. It always happens in a legislative body of 800 people. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in his parody of a hymn: "Like a mighty tortoise moves the Church of God, Brothers we are treading where we have always trod...."
The Integrity Eucharist--as usual--was one of the most exciting and moving moments of GC. Gene Robinson, bishop of New Hampshire and the center of the firestorm that has been burning the Anglican communion since 2003 because he was the first 'openly' gay bishop in a committed same sex relationship, was the celebrant. The preacher was Bishop Barbara Harris, retired Suffragan of Mass. and the first woman ever elected bishop in our church. Barbara is also black, so she was the first 'black woman' to be a bishop besides. She took no prisoners! She said that, according to the current stance of the EC, because of B033-2006, GLBT folks had, at best, a 'half-assed' baptism and suggested if gay/lesbian folks couldn't be elected bishops we should be honest and deny them baptism as well. She also said (and this is so clever I wish I'd thought of it!) that marriage, for most of human history, has already been same-sex--a contract between the bride's father and the groom!!! I saw bishop curry, who was there, afterwards and asked, "Why can Barbara Harris say those truths and sitting bishop's can't?' He smiled and shook his head--"she's FREE," he told me, "she can say whatever she wants...."
Barbara has a 'get out of jail free' card that active bishops don't have because they, like the EC, is so emmeshed in the tangled and confusing alliance with people who don't want to be in communion with us in the first place. We bend over backwards to appease and satisfy folks who don't want to be in our presence to begin with. B033 got the Presiding Bishop a ticket to attend the meetings of the Primates of the other Anglican Churches, but a significant number of them won't recieve communion with her....The cost for that 'half-assed' acceptance is Justice and True Inclusion. Don't tell me Irony is dead.....
At the end of the Integrity Eucharist, Gene Robinson invited all the gay/lesbian priests in the room to come up on the platform. That platform, about 30' by 20' couldn't hold them all. I know some of them. They are some of the most gifted, committed, devout priests and Christians in our church. And, at this point, they cannot be considered to be elected bishops. Irony...like I said, is alive and well in Anaheim.
Finally, something you might not know, the EC's clergy are divided into 'tribes'. Where you went to seminary really matters to us. It's about the first question asked when two priests meet. Each of our Seminaries has a distinct 'culture' and ambiance. Tonight was the night for Seminary dinners. I went to Virginia's dinner. Virginia is not only the largest Episcopal Seminary, it is the largest (and richest) seminary in the Anglican Communion. Many of the priests in CT went to Berkley/Yale (or simply Berkley before the merger) or EDS in Cambridge or General in New York. There were some 300 people at VTS' dinner and I brought back the menu just to compare with the other guys dinner.
I thought I'd share it with you.
*open bar and appetizers on tables and from waiters
*Roasted corn and seafood chowder
*Spinach and Belgian Endive/fresh California goat
cheese/apple bacon dressing
*Point reyes crusted filet mignon/melot-fig demi
*seasonal assorted vegtables
*cafe noir mocha mousse/pistachio biscotti
*assorted bread basket and sweet butter
*Redwood Creek Chardonnay and Melot
*Coffee and Tea
All that was missing was the cigars. I'm sure, in a less politically correct time, they would have been available....
Plus they gave everyone a really neat VTS tote bag with zipper.
For that, we paid $40. In the resturants I've been in here, $40 would have gotten you the soup and salad and a glass of wine. I bet some of the seminaries had cash bars....I can't wait to gloat....
I told you this stuff, for whatever reason, matters to us.
At the dinner I saw the bishop of Sudan (one of the most conservative of all african bishops) who was at my table, embrace the bishop of California, arguably the most liberal bishop in our church. Bishop Andres was right across the table from me. He shut his eyes, smiling, joyfully and authentically embracing a bishop as far from him on the spectrum as possible.They genuinely care for each other. Neither could have faked that embrace...Irony isn't dead...but neither is Hope. Praise God!
(There's a mirror above the desk where I am writing. I just looked up and realized I look like a negative of a photo of a raccoon. this california sun has turned my face brown except for where my sun glasses sit. I am white around my eyes....)
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