Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tueday; the Last Shopping Day of Convention

Some great things have happened at General Convention, which I'm sure you have already read about elsewhere. Both transgender resolutions passed. The rites for blessings passed the HoB and will most likely pass the HoD later today. Gay Jennings was elected President of the HoD with a large majority. Also on the agenda is a resolution on the Covenent. Mark Harris, whom we all know is no fan of the Covenant, spoke on behalf of his committee who drafted this resolution. To sum it up, it sounds like it is neither a "yes" or a "no," but instead a "maybe." As you can imagine, some folks are not pleased. Personally, I trust Mark's judgment. He had the conversations with a diverse group crafting this piece of legislation. Even though I disagree personally, a "maybe" might not be such a bad thing. No word on the restructuring resolution yet, although I've heard some good things about the work of that committee.

They're doing the joint session budget thing now, which is something I just can't make myself endure again, so I'm taking some time to talk with the dozen of you who haven't given up on Jake's place.

The exhibit section of Convention closed down promptly at 2:00 today, so I quickly made some last minute art purchases. I'm moving into a new home, and need art for the walls.

First, there is this Celtic Cross, hand painted by artist Carol McRay:
You can't see the design very well in this photo, but one arm of the cross depicts scenes from the Hebrew scriptures, and the other scenes from the New Testament. The four achangels are also depicted. I also chose from the same artist individual depictions of the archangels. Here are Gabriel and Ariel:
...and here are Raphael and Michael:
My final choice was an icon, Pantocrater:
Ok, maybe more later...they should be done with the money talk by now. Time to get back to Convention.


Sunday, July 08, 2012

Sunday's Thoughts

I must tell you, being on vacation is the way to do General Conention!  You can skip what you aren't interested in, and sleep in if you want every day!

I have listened to a few legislative sessions.  A couple of interesting thing have happened, which were probably minor events and not mentioned much elsewhere, so I'll just say a few words about them here.

First of all, the part of the canons which mandates that the Presiding Bishop cannot continue as a Diocesan Bishop were deleted.   Somewhat tangentially related, in my mind, was that the Registrar, who lately has been the Canon to the PB, will once again be the Secretary of Convention, as it had been some years ago.   Both these changes seem to me to be the beginnings of redefining the role of the Presiding Bishop.  That may be a good thing, but to make such changes piecemeal, before any real conversations related to restructuring the Church have been held, seems, to me, to be a bit short sighted.  After all, Bishop Katharine will be in place until GC 2015, so there was no need to start redefining that office now.

The other somewhat unexpected event was a move to reconsider the inclusion of the English Standard Version as an acceptable translation within the Episcopal Church.  The move to reconsider was based on the claim that the ESV was a scholarly translation, and not a paraphrase.   After this resolution was passed, the call to reconsider was based on such ESV texts as I Corinthians 6:9, in which there is a reference to "practicing homosexuals," suggesting that this translation is in places a paraphrase. They will be reconsidering the ESV this afternoon.

This morning's celebration of the Holy Eucharist was a wonderful experience. The organist and choir were superb. The presentation of the UTO offering, with each Diocese named as their representative came forward, was quite moving, as usual. Bishop Katharine preached an excellent sermon, calling us to stand up and be prepared to be sent out to an "rebelious, impudent and stubborn people" (quoting the text from Ezekial). She also reminded us of the philosopher Pogo's admonition:  "We have met the impudent and stubborn ones, and they are us!"
The Diocese of Indianapolis hosted a grand affair this afternoon entitled Step Up Indianapolis. On the schedule is a "Gi-Normous Musical Chairs Contest", a"record-breaking flash mob Samba event" and the "Verger Olympics."
I'd been looking forward to this event, as since it was outside, my pup Korrie could finally attend a GC gathering. He's not been too pleased about being cooped up in the motel room, as you can see:
So, we arrive at Victory Field, little Korrie bounding with excitement, and after 12 steps inside, a security guard informs me dogs are not allowed. So much for inclusivity, eh?

Well, I was not going to disappoint Korrie. We were going to make this afternoon an EVENT one way or another. So, I found a way to get him down by the White River which runs through Indianapolis. Korrie seemed to appreciate soaking his feet after walking all those blocks on the hot pavement. He seemed to get over the rejection much faster than I did:

As we were leaving, I noticed a homeless camp set up in the riverbed not far from where we were:

This camp was less than a mile from the huge Convention Center:

Keep in mind it was 102 yesterday here, and 93 today, with thunderstorms rolling in.

I just find it ironic that right in the shadow of one of the largest Convention Centers I've ever seen, meticulously clean with easy access to first class hotels, are folks living in the riverbed. Did I approach the camp and offer assistance? I was alone, and I'm not a fool, so no, I did not. Just noting the reality check I experienced after coming from an environment that was so proper and posh. 

Tonight I'll be attending the Episcopal Peace Foundation's presention of its 2012 John Nevin Sayre Awards to Dr. Louie Crew and Mary Miller. Should be fun.  And then tomorrow morning, I got talked into offering testimony at some hearing at...wait for it...7:30 am!  So much for vacation.

More tomorrow.


Friday, July 06, 2012

Another General Convention

After a 14 hour drive, with my pup as my only companion, I have arrived in Indianapolis for my third General Convention of the Episcopal Church.
This time, I'm here just as a visitor; not as a blogger, not as a staff member of the ECC...just a parish priest who happens to care greatly about this Church. Nothing too dramatic to report so far. I found some good artwork for my new home in the exhibit area. I've seen a few old friends. The only newsworthy event was a presentation I heard today by Bishop Robinson.
The good Bishop reported, quoting Bp. Ely of Vermont, that it appears the House of Bishops is trying to restructure the Church by resolution, before any real conversation about restructuring has occurred.

This makes me nervous, as it should every Episcopalian. First of all, I don't want the House of Bishops standing alone in making such a call. Second of all, it is high time we had a serious conversation about restructuiring, without one House trying to sabotage the possibility of such a conversation ever happening.

Will our disussions of restructuring be unpleasant? Perhaps. But, avoiding such conversations because we prefer to avoid conflict, for whatever reason, is the best way to make sure nothing really changes.

If you want a good read to start your reflection on the restructuring idea, and why one should be concerned about the House of Bishops attempting to short circuit such a conversation, I commend to you Shared Governance: A Collection of Essays Prepared by the House of Deputies Special Study Committee on Church Governance and Polity 2012.

And now my pup needs a walk. More later.


Friday, May 04, 2012

Has the GOP Been Taken Over by Extremists?

IT points us to an interesting article by Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein. Mann is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and Ornstein is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, so these gentlemen are not exactly raging liberals. One would hope a good cross section of people will pay attention to what they have to say. Here's a taste:
...The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.

“Both sides do it” or “There is plenty of blame to go around” are the traditional refuges for an American news media intent on proving its lack of bias, while political scientists prefer generality and neutrality when discussing partisan polarization. Many self-styled bipartisan groups, in their search for common ground, propose solutions that move both sides to the center, a strategy that is simply untenable when one side is so far out of reach.

It is clear that the center of gravity in the Republican Party has shifted sharply to the right. Its once-legendary moderate and center-right legislators in the House and the Senate — think Bob Michel, Mickey Edwards, John Danforth, Chuck Hagel — are virtually extinct...

Do go read the whole thing, then come back and let me know if you agree with IT; have the Republicans gone insane?


Monday, February 13, 2012