Wednesday, June 24, 2015

June 24 - Blogging GC'15

Yesterday about 1000 people, deputies and bishops, plus official visitors and attendees on top of that, registered for GC’15. Deputies and bishops received their “credentials” (name tag & voting card) and their iPad containing the “vBinder” or virtual – not this year actual – gigantic notebook with all the paper documents produced before and during GC.

Also, the first meetings of legislative committees were held, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Committee #20 on Marriage, June 23, with 8-10 on my side not pictured

In Committee #20 on Marriage we did ice-breaker activities aimed at helping warm us to each other as people rather than positions-on-the-issues, and we heard an introductory presentation on the work of the Task Force on the Study of Marriage (TFSM).

Today the two Houses will have opening presentations from the Presidents of the two Houses, and the nominees for the next Presiding Bishop will be presented. Our Diocese of Southern Ohio (DSO) deputation, along with the deputations of the other three nominees, will then receive a special orientation on what happens if our bishop is the one elected.

Legislative committees meet again tonight, 7:00-9:00 p.m., when some will be holding their first public hearings.

Here are three things I'm thinking about this morning, all somewhat tentative, before the Marriage committee begins substantive discussions and hearings, all of which would need to be spelled out more fully:

One of the things proposed (in slightly different ways is several resolutions) is a change in our marriage canon (Canon I.18) so that gender-specific language ("a man and a woman" or "husband and wife") is changed to, or interpreted to function as, gender-neutral language ("two people" or "the couple"). In some dioceses where same-sex marriage or civil union or domestic partnership is legal, the approved rite for blessing same-sex unions is already being used in performing same-sex marriages, etc. This follows and conforms to actions taken at GC'12 but it also violates or seems to violate our marriage canon and the letter and/or spirit of our BCP marriage rite. Some observe, in response to concerns about this, that changes in our canons have often followed changes in our practices, rather than vice versa, so canon change now would not really introduce innovation but would follow the precedent for canon change to follow actual practice.  But if canon change follows change of practice, rather than vice versa, then that seems to mean that the [written, public] rules are not the [real] rules. What then are the rules? How can we trust each other if this is not clear? The rules should function as the parameters within which we can be open to each other and can rely on each other. When the rules are not the rules, and when the majority control what the [real] rules are, how is the minority or anyone to know the parameters? It can be easy to think that there are no [real] rules but only uses of power by the dominant over the smaller and weaker.

Because of the way the human brain evolved (see triune brain theory), we all have a default reaction when we feel genuinely threatened. The oldest part of the brain is sometimes referred to as the reptilian complex, which mammals share with reptiles. When threatened, we go into Security mode, and we use almost any means necessary for self-preservation. We can be steeled against this default mode so that we can override it, but the safest way to avoid Security mode is to be able to trust each other so that we don't feel threatened. Nonetheless, when we go into Security mode, we can get defensive, aggressive, and/or violent (psychologically and/or physically). Battle lines form. Hearts stiffen. Minds close. 

In my opinion, the best course through these discussions of marriage would be to find ways in which we acknowledge the merits of other approaches to the issues; no one comes out without making concessions; everyone contributes some of their understanding to our final resolution. As I commented in the previous post (June 20), I think the votes are there for approving same-sex marriage and "marriage equality." So here are, in my opinion, two large ways in which progressives can (and need to) learn from traditionalists (stated far too briefly here), on

(1) the importance of children and the nurture of children in families for the benefit and well being of our congregations and of the larger society; we could or should see the nurture of children as normative (normal and to be expected), so that not participating in the nurture of children, our own or children we have adopted, entails needing to commit some comparable investment in the common good (incidentally, Charlotte and I are being reminded about the sacrifices parents make by the baby on the other side of the doors dividing our hotel room from the adjacent room, who cries at various points through the night but who is quickly cared for and stops crying after he or she has woken parents and us), and

(2) the remedy for sinfulness in the practice of holy union; sinfulness comes in two main forms (perhaps among others): the "me first" form, and the "us first" form. Marriage is a practice that can transform us from "me first" to "you first" and "us first." Eucharistic community is a practice that can transform us from "us first" to concern for others, beyond our ethnic or sub-cultural group like one's local denominational church. 

One way forward, then, would be to acknowledge the importance of the nurture of children and the importance of marriage as a remedy for human sinfulness, drawing on two special strong points in traditionalist perspectives on marriage.

No comments:

Post a Comment