Sunday, February 25, 2007

Am I Missing Something?

This has been a hectic week for me. Last Sunday morning Bishop Catherine made her first visitation to St. Mary’s. I read the epistle (“I will show you a more excellent way”). Ever since, I have been itching to post – both on this blog and in comments elsewhere. So much to say, on events near and far, and updates due on previous posts And so much happening in my own life that I truly haven’t had the time to keep up with reading the blogs and the statements, let alone write down my own thoughts.

Saturday morning I listened carefully to Bishop Katharine’s talk to the 815 staff. Frankly, I found it hard to see what the fuss was about. I wrote a thoughtful response to a post by Grimakin at Father Jake’s and then I had problems connecting to the internet. Life intervened again and by the time I got back to the computer the thread at Jake’s had moved so far along that I decided to post my thoughts here.

As I said, I listened carefully to Bishop Katharine’s talk to the 815 staff. This is what I did not post at Jake’s:

I found Bishop Katharine's talk helpful.

Unlike Grimalkin, I didn't hear “platitudes delivered in a motherly tone." And I didn't hear a speech to the whole Episcopal Church. I heard a report to the staff at 815, which the entire TEC (not to mention the world) has the privilege of overhearing.

It occurs to me, and I hope no one takes this as snarky, that we are so used to "spin" that we find it hard to interpret a talk that cannot be completely candid -- KJS is, by virtue of her office, constrained from revealing everything that she is personally thinking about this matter.

She said more than once that she didn't know what response the church (TEC) would decide to give to the primates.
She hinted at some of the downside of saying NO and at some of the possible upside of saying YES. Both of these were expressed in terms of effects within the AC and not in terms of effects within TEC. I think it would be helpful if she would also address the upside of saying NO and the downside of saying YES, both on the AC and within TEC. Yet I am heartened that she did not try to preempt the conversation that must now take place within TEC.

In the short term, I am not terribly hopeful. It seems to me that the costs of a either a NO or a YES are very high. And that is the source of much of the anger and depression I have heard this week.
(I apologize for the format of this post – preserving my early drafts and all – but this is a blog after all, not an essay.)

Then I finally read A Season of Fasting. I still couldn’t really put my finger on what others were hearing that I wasn’t hearing. Late Saturday afternoon, ENS sent out a story on KJS’s talk to the staff. In looking at what Mary Frances Schojnberg lifted up in that article, I began to see more clearly what is bothering people. Unless I’m wrong, people are more bothered by what isn’t there than by what is there. But that is precisely what she doesn’t say that I find heartening about her statements.

It would be improper for Bishop Katharine to say to the other Primates “We cannot comply with this request.” She would be pretending to an authority TEC does not give to our Presiding Bishop. But it would be equally improper for her to say to us in TEC “Let’s tell the Primates we cannot comply with this request,” or, God forbid, "Let's give them what they want." At least at this point, that is not her role.

I do not see Bishop Katharine as advocating for either a YES or a NO. And so I remain hopeful about her leadership.

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