Thursday, July 05, 2012

The First Legislative Day

Toward the beginning of every General Convention, the initial focus of energy and time is in committee meetings. Every resolution has to be reviewed by a committee before it arrives at the "house of initial action." So there isn't much to do in the legislative sessions because the committees haven't had a chance to create very much work for them yet. As time goes on, the proportion shifts. Committee meetings are shorter and less frequent, and the legislative sessions begin to feel like marathons. Today is known in General Convention parlance as the "first legislative day." Both houses met, indulged in some formalities that make sense only because that's the way we've always done it, and are a manifestation of bygone eras in the church's life. And we began to actually act on some resolutions. Tomorrow sometime, we in the House of Bishops should actually begin to receive messages from the House of Deputies (and vice versa), and our action will be to "concur" (or not), thus formally enacting legislation (or not).

The committee on which I serve--Committee 13 on Prayer Book, Liturgy, and Worship--spent its time in two major areas. One combined the intent of two resolutions and call for the creation of a special Task Force to produce a study on the theology of marriage, and to include in that study guidelines for churches in states where same-sex (we actually changed it to "sex" from "gender") marriage and/or legal domestic partnerships are recognized. I spoke against this resolution, and voted against it. In the abstract, I would be enthusiastically in favor of producing a theological study of the sacrament of Christian marriage. But it is evident to me that the conclusion is all but foregone, and this is simply a vehicle by which the ultimate goal of those proposing the resolution can be delivered, which is recognition of marriage as a compact between any two consenting adults, regardless of sex (or gender, depending on how one understands it). I which we could just be honest about that rather than going through a charade.

The other issue was the sanctoral calendar. The current project in that area, Holy Women, Holy Men, is really a train wreck. I proposed a rather drastic substitute resolution that would have pressed the reset button and just allowed us all to take a collective deep breath and not do anything at this convention. My proposal elicited some interest and sympathy, but was defeated rather handily. Then somebody else proposed another substitute, which was eventually adopted, and this is what we are reporting out. It keeps HWHM in trial use, but reaffirms the already-enunciated criteria that have been effectively ignored in the compilation of the list of "saints," and removes the language about producing a final product available for "first reading" in 2015. This is certainly a better result than the original resolution. But unless the SCLM begins to "get it," I'm skeptical about the chance of meaningful change.


Dolores said...

Thanks for the report!

Father Thorpus said...

Good call on the Theology bit: the existing theological reflection in the Blue Book is little more than" blah blah blah blah do whatever you want." it's not an honest presentation of pros and cons, arguments for and against. It does not represent faithfully the full spectrum of theology in our church.

And I sure hope the list of 'saints' actually has personal sanctity as a qualification. Unless our church has given up on that altogether.

Derek Olsen said...

Good news on HWHM--thanks for your efforts here!!