Thursday, July 31, 2008

Day 13--Hitting a wall?

The morning started well, but a long and difficult discussion this afternoon changed all that. The Archbishop had called for an additional (optional) meeting of those who wanted to look at some possible plans for a way forward. His question to all of us this morning was: "Having heard the other person, the other group, as fully and fairly as I can, what generous initiative can I take to break through into a new and transformed relation of communion in Christ." In other words, is there a "compromise solution" in which both sides are willing to give up something so that we can stay together?

Being by nature a pragmatist, I attended this session hoping to hear some concrete suggestions. But none were really forthcoming. The participants keep rehashing the same old positions--liberals stressing full inclusion now (no more moratoriums), conservatives wanting some firm definition of who is in and who is out (the Americans being out).

Two of our bishops (Reeves of Camino Reale and Rivera of Olympia) offered a great plan based on relationship rather than doctrine. They called for a "rule of life" in which we would meet more often, pray for each other, and enter into supportive missionary relationships. But both being women, their proposal did not get very far.
I liked the story they included, even though it failed to get the attention most of of the old men:

Joan Chittester, in speaking of the nature of a Rule of Life, tells the story of someone who visited a huge sheep station in South Australia. After driving the vast expanse of the ranch, the visitor asked the rancher, "I see you have herds of livestock all over your ranch, but you have no fences. How do you keep your sheep on the ranch? The rancher responded simply, "We have wells."

The moral of the story--let's concentrate on offering things that will draw people to church, instead of putting up barriers to keep us apart.

Thank God for women in the church! The women bishops and the spouses who are here understand the importance of relationship, while the men argue about words and doctrine.

But here is the good news: Everyone wants to stay together. We have a much better understanding of each others cultural contexts and there is a real affection for one another. But we seem tonight to be at a kind of an impass as to how to create a structure that will enable us to do just that.

Tomorrow we continue with talks about a possible Covenant. Will we go away with something "robust" as the ABC calls it, or will it be a "we agreed to disagree" document?

By the way, the attached picture has nothing to do with any of this, it just came out well.


Caminante said...

"But both being women, their proposal did not get very far."

SIGH.... What else is new?

Know that I do not think you are on vacation -- it sounds just like General Convention.

Lee A. Crawford
(a woman)

Anonymous said...

The rule of life idea is developing among those of us watching as well. It may have some merit.


carol_hosler said...

You know, my sister and I -- the sister with whom there have been tensions our whole life long -- recently came to a new turn in the road. After quite a sustained improvement she got really mad at me and said she didn't want me to come visit her at her home anymore because it's just too hard to work stuff out there. But she calls more than she ever has and checks in by email more, too. And we plan to meet for lunch when I go to Phoenix. She had to set some limits on how we would continue working on our relationship while committing even more to staying connected. Because we committed to being in relationship because we are family -- no matter how hard it is -- we are still connected. Isn't there a model in that somewhere?

hcmerrick said...

We have been reading your daily blogs with great interest, particularly today when you introduced your Bible Study group members. How lovely to hear a strong Welsh accent!
As well as being the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan is the Bishop of what was our home town cathedral - LLandaff. When in Cardiff we attend Evensong whenever possible. It is a joy to hear the choir sing and we look forward to being able to do this Sept 28 and/or Oct 5 (parking can be a problem though!).
We shall continue to read your blogs with the highs and lows! When the going gets tough the tough get going.
Ceri & Howard Merrick
Trinuty Cathedral
Phoenix, AZ