As the days have passed, I've found myself growing more and more uncomfortable with the proposed resolutions from the Special Commission.
In my diocese, we will have an opportunity to meet with the Deputies before they leave for General Convention. I would assume that many of you will have a similar opportunity. It occurred to me that maybe we could come up with some specific amendments to recommend to our Deputies. The full report, with proposed resolutions and explanations, can be found here. If you have trouble with PDF files, a brief summary of the resolutions can be found here
I've not gotten to the point of working with the actual wording of the resolutions, but I have started to be able to identify the specific parts that are causing me increased discomfort:
A160 - The expressions of regret and repentance are troubling. No matter what explanation we give, or how many words we use to explain what it is we regret, the reality is that this will be heard as; "It was a mistake to consecrate Gene Robinson as a Bishop." All of our talk of this being a Church that will have no outcasts will be negated. The claim that we have discerned the movement of God's Spirit will be marked as having been an erroneous claim.
We have been in the discernment process regarding these matters for over 30 years. We made no secret of this process. To now express regret to those who refused to participate in this process, even when mandated by General Convention, and then later by Lambeth, is to severely damage our witness to the world of God's radically inclusive love.
A161 - We regret that we have "caused deep offense". I can think of a number of bishops who "deeply offend" me because of their misogynist behavior, or their inciting Christians to violence (yes, I read his "spin" interview; I'm not convinced), or their incarceration solution to the "gay problem". But, do I expect them to express their regret and mend their ways or hit the road? Of course not. We disagree. But the final judgment does not rest with me, or Bishop Akinola. Should we bend to the will of those who insist on taking on the role of God?
In response to this regret, we will "exercise very considerable caution" in the selection of future bishops. The implication here is that we did not exercise such caution in the selection of Bishop Robinson. Is that what we want to say? I certainly hope not. The other implication is that the sexual orientation of a bishop is one of the most important qualifications to be considered when selecting candidates. I can think of any number of factors that I'd put before that one.
A162 - As I've said before, the separation of "public" and "private" is problematic. It feels, to me, dishonest; a return to the "don't ask, don't tell" approach. But, in further readings, the segment that really bothered me in this resolution was near the end; "...advise bishops who have authorized public diocesan rites to express regret." In other words, responding to the pastoral needs of the people of God in this manner was a mistake. Once again, if we agree to such wording, everything we've said for the last 30 years just went out the window.
A166 - A Covenant. An agreement that will bind us to "stop misbehavin'", or else. An attempt to routinize the Spirit. A peace treaty, signed with the blood of the victims of bigotry within our Communion. No thanks.
Lately I've been wondering why we even need to respond to the Windsor Report at all. We listened. We considered. And we find the recommendations unacceptable.
It feels as if the Episcopal Church is falling into the trap of co-dependent behavior. Someone is upset, so we must rush to fix it. We can't deal with confrontation. We want peace, at any cost.
I recall that Jesus was not always so quick to run from a confrontation. I think that sometimes confrontation is a necessary tool to uncover what is really at the root of being "deeply offended". I think our current situation is such an opportunity to dig deeper.
So, recommendations for amendments. My first recommendation is no resolutions at all; no response to Windsor. The document is too deeply flawed to be of any value in future conversations.
Recognizing that that is too radical for most folks, I'd recommend that all references to "regret" and "repentance" be removed. The agreement to a common covenant be stricken. And references to rites of blessing, both public and private, be taken out.
Of course, that doesn't leave much. Which brings me back to my first recommendation; no response. And then let the Communion do whatever they feel they need to do.
So there's where I am today. There's still a few weeks before Convention, and I may change my mind again.
Now I'd be interested in hearing your suggested amendments to these proposed resolutions.