Friday, June 26, 2015

The First Legislative Day

Our one-hour morning legislative session didn't do any actual legislating, but was devoted to organizational formalities.

Back to Committee 11 after lunch. The liturgical calendar of the church was front and center the entire time, in one way or another. Dealing with the substance of what comes before General Convention is challenging enough, but when precious time and energy get sucked into procedural matters, it's doubly frustrating, and that is exactly what we got caught up in, trying to piece together the components of a smooth transition from the (trial use) Holy Women, Holy Men to ... whatever comes next, presumably A Great Cloud of Witnesses, all in an environment of deep emotional investment in the "cause" of particular nominees to the calendar. Before the end of the meeting, we passed a set of resolutions that move GCW into the next step in the legislative pipeline, but with the proposed deletions undeleted, and about thirty new names to be studied for future inclusion. One of these came at my personal initiative--Charles Stuart, King & Martyr (January 30). He wasn't on the SCLM's list, but now he's among those who will be held up against the new (and looser) criteria that we approved. Of course, he has long had an established cult in TEC, with a long-standing devotional society dedicated to him. There was only one dissenting vote.

That said, even after expressing "tepid support" for GCW, I ended up being the sole vote against it. Why did I change my mind? As we slogged through the new criteria, we clearly opened a fairly wide door for future inclusion of individuals who are not only not "saints" in any traditional Catholic sense, but who were not even Christian. Gandhi, for instance could quite plausibly meet the standard for inclusion, as could, arguably, Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates. Suddenly I felt convicted that we are too easily abandoning the effort to have a robust theology of sainthood and a carefully thought-through process for judiciously naming individuals as such. People want a calendar of saints, and no matter how much we try to teach that GCW is not that, there will still always be a tendency to understand it in those terms. We need to beat a strategic retreat, let this matter lie fallow for two or three triennia while we deal with church structure and marriage and other really pressing concerns, and then, with a fresh vision and fresh eyes doing the visioning, put together a proper calendar. We need to kick the can far enough down the road that anyone presently chasing it will not be the one to pick it up. In the meantime, we still have Lesser Feasts & Fasts.

The late afternoon session of the House of Bishops finally got down to some legislating. There is an exotic quasi-liturgical form for this. The Committee on Dispatch informs a committee chair that a resolution coming out of that committee has been placed on the daily calendar. When called on, the chair goes to the podium and says something like "Committee #99 on Coffee Hour Resources presents its Report #17 on Resolution B123, "Add Starbucks to the List of Approved Coffee Vendors," with a recommendation to Adopt." The Presiding Bishop then opens the floor to debate, and the regular parliamentary process ensues. We barely got our feet wet with this today, dealing with some 25 resolutions, 22 of which were to refer to a different committee (one of the available alternatives to Adopt or Reject). Three others were adopted with no debate, one of which was the one approved by Committee 11 yesterday to authorize continued development of a revised Book of Occasional Services. I was the lone No vote.

Because we accomplished so much in our afternoon meeting, Committee 11 did not meet this evening.


7 comments:

donbullockjr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
donbullockjr said...

God bless you Bishop. Please continue to let the Holy Spirit guide you in your participation as the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Church we grew up are challenged. My prayers are with you and others defending the faith.

underground pewster said...

May you be so honored as to gain the moniker, "Bishop No."

Gary Sturni said...

As a friend suggests, "Holy Women, Mediochre Men?" And what about Holy Dogs" (St. Guinefort being the most prominent, who already has her own Saint's Day date(Aug 23))?

Small Farmer in The City said...

A suggestion or two, Your Grace:

1) With the exception of the apostles & saints of the NT remove all the rest from the national church calendar. And make those remaining feasts IMPORTANT or drop them as well.
2) Encourage dioceses and parishes to supplement the slimmed down calendar with commemorations of saints with a particular local following using the general Collects of Saints.
3) Consider creating an optional Litany of Saints for use on All Saints Eve naming all the folks being taken off the calendar....

Thoughts?

Scott Browning said...

Sounds like you have a problem in common with the medieval church: No matter how philosophically/theologically correct and orthodox their teach was, say, concerning the Mass, they could never overcome the popularity of the common misunderstanding of it among the plebs Dei.

Greg said...

Bishop Martens, thank you for nominating Charles Stuart, King and Martyr. I have always admired his struggles against the Puritans and his support of the Church of England. I have an icon of him at home and request his prayers. I believe that Father Tobias Holler also supported his inclusion in, Lesser Feasts and Fasts or Holy Women, Holy Men, alas, to no avail.