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.