Monday, June 29, 2015

June 29 - Blogging GC'15

A sign, not a measure

It took me more than a day to quit hurting over the election of our next Presiding Bishop.

Maybe because I'm one of those egghead professor types, I often need to put things into words before my emotions can listen to reason. On my run up Canyon Creek Road this morning, it finally came to me.

A vote tally is usually a measure of voter preference, based on their assessment of the quality or shared values of the nominees or candidates. But the House of Bishops elected the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry on the first ballot, and by a striking, actually astonishing margin. Here is how the vote was represented to the House of Deputies:

Click on the photo for an enlarged image.

That took me by surprise. I had not expected such a unity among the bishops, let alone that early in the process -- especially given all the positive responses to Bishop Breidenthal's video introductions and his answers to questions during the lead up to the election.

It still hurts a little, a cut that has begun to heal. But several fellow deputies have told me, on elevators, in corridors, when they find out I'm from Southern Ohio, that they really like my bishop. And I'm assured the bishops feel the same way.

This vote was not a measure. It was a sign.

It was a sign of unity in opposition to racism in The Episcopal Church and in the United States and beyond. It was a sign that Bishop Curry is very highly regarded as one who can represent our Church to other Churches and other faiths and to the larger world, to help bring the good news of Christ -- God-with-us in breathing flesh and bone -- to hurting people and a troubled world.

Perhaps especially in our current moment, we need that. And the bishops knew it. And they said it straight out.

I embrace that sign and celebrate it. I see a way to rejoicing. And I am excited about what lies just ahead.

 See more reflections here: Center Aisle Issue #6.


The House of Bishops began late yesterday afternoon discussing the proposed changes to the marriage canon (A036) and the proposed trial liturgies (A054) but had to postpone further consideration until today. 

The House of Deputies will consider today the proposed extension of the work of the Task Force on the Study of Marriage (A037), along with its expansion to include a wider spectrum of understandings in our Church.

Panel on Defining Marriage

Last night Bishop Breidenthal and five others were part of a very interesting panel discussion on marriage. The event was sponsored by The Living Church (see also this post-panel reflection). The Living Church is a well known news and opinion magazine representing the more conservative voices in The Episcopal Church.

These were the questions put to the panelists (as best I could remember them when writing  notes):
  1. What is marriage?
  2. Is marriage a human institution or a divine gift?
  3. Are children a [mere] addendum to marriage or part of its very purpose?
  4. What is the social purpose of marriage?
  5. What is happening with sexual morality today, given the relatively high rates of [non-committed] pre-marital sex and [committed] non-marital cohabitation?
  6. What happens next to marriage, given social and church changes afoot -- Do we see marriage as part of the final perfection of creation?
Some panelists shared personal stories, and the discussion was especially collegial. It was another witness to the breadth of understandings of marriage in our Church, as well as to the special gifts Bishop Breidenthal and others offer to our conversations.

It was also a happy reminder about how cordially we can discuss our disagreements, within The Episcopal Church. We can celebrate the lives and witness of those with whom we do not agree.

Up Canyon Creek Road

I turn up onto Canyon Creek Road, gates keeping cars down in the neighborhood. I join the runners, and the walkers with their dogs. Cattle dogs in the dessert, lapdogs on leash, shepherds watching their leaders for the next sign. Cyclists pass us all, climbing up and swishing down. The paved road is faded, cracked, speckled by dulled white gravel points in gray tar. Ochre grooves in the speckled gray, red clay smudged by tires into pavement. Green leafy bushes and trees line the road along the creek. Bare canyon ridges surround us. Smell the dry air. Hear the creek. Roly polies move across the road, delicate armor over eyelash legs, solitary, but so many, a hoard scattered, alone. And cottonwood down lines the edge where a hummingbird comes to have a look. At me? At lavender and yellow flower blossoms on the weeds? At a swarm of tiny red ants on dropped candy? And the creek gulps and sloshes around rocks. And cuts a canyon from ages unto ages.

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