Sunday, May 13, 2012

Do Nothing!

Permit me to be the next one to join the bandwagon behind Jason Ballard's cry for General Convention to do nothing. I can hardly do otherwise given how much of what Ballard says in support of this call to inaction. And besides, if you've been reading my comments on the various liturgical proposals being presented, you'll know that three of the four I categorically object to, and the fourth I have lots of issues with.

It's one thing for the national church to pass self-gratifying resolutions supporting this or that progressive political cause. These resolutions don't help the church, it seems to me, because the people who might join us for our politics are already members. They annoy a lot of the membership, either because of their contrary political commitments, or because there are a few of out there who don't have those sorts of commitments in the first place. But messing with the religion itself: that's terribly destructive. What needs to happen is that the people who have differences with fundamental tenets need to resolve them either by being instructed by the church, or by going elsewhere and cresting their own institutions. (And if they feel they have to take buildings with them, then let them.) The current practice of co-opting church institutions to teach against against it ought not to be tolerated.

And really, constant reconsideration of basic stuff needs to end. It creates a climate in which heresy becomes the norm and orthodoxy is at best tolerated as an aberration, and is in practice actively discouraged. It's too often the case that someone who exerts the first prerogative of orthodox tradition, objection to change, is told that any objection to change is to be dismissed, that change itself is virtuous. In every other context, this is nonsense: some change is good, and some change is bad, and the good should be embraced, and judgement should be based on the merits, not on simply some need for unspecified change. It's really all about power: priests and rectors have power to dictate arbitrary change, and laypeople can do naught but complain. And complaining laymen are dismissed as stick-in-the-muds or fuddy-duddies or fundamentalist troglodytes. In a functional church, social structures within the clerisy, and failing that church discipline serve to rein in untoward change. These plainly do not function in the Episcopal Church, and indeed, church structures are seen as ways to amplify the urge to arbitrary change. So it's best that these structures do nothing at all then that they keep at it.

So I echo the call: General Convention should pass a sane budget, not the one that has been proposed, ratify a few episcopal elections if necessary, and then should go home.

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