Now everyone who has been paying attention in ECUSA knows that confirmation has been caught in a bit of a sacramental bind resulting from the emphasis on baptismal membership in the 1979 BCP. Marion Hatchett's Commentary on the American Prayer Book says nothing on the rite other than to refer the reader back to the section on baptism, in which confirmation is hardly addressed. The addition of chrismation to the baptismal rite also confused matters because that Eastern element is typically held to be the equivalent of western confirmation. That said, there are traditional understandings which those of us who are old enough remember, and rather than simply dismiss them, it seems to me that there is something to be said for trying to synthesize them in light of the baptismal emphasis of the 1979 book.
I personally was confirmed into the church as a teenager, having been baptized as an infant into the Presbyterian church and made a communicant there some years prior. My connections to that church faded, and in any case I was sent to an Episcopal high school in which I was given a pretty good theological and sacramental education. Indeed, when I skipped forward a grade, the only course I was not permitted to skip was fifth form (junior) sacred studies! I came to understand that I needed to become a member of this church, and having approached one of the chaplains, it was arranged that I would be one of the confirmands in the spring. My understanding of this, for myself, combined the change-of-membership and bar mitzvah aspects, for it was in that act of conversion that I took full responsibility for my faith.
And I don't see this as problematic, thirty-five years on. When Olsen says, "baptism is full initiation into the Body of Christ; Confirmation is full initiation into the Episcopal Church," I might not use exactly the same words, but the sense is sound. And that is also why I think the rite is best reserved to the bishop: connecting us into this church is, within our polity, expressed as connection to her bishops. And indeed it's ironic that, for all the growing vagueness about membership and its rights, the one thing the progressives do tend to get dogmatic about in church structure is that hierarchy.
Overall, this reinforces my support for a do-nothing general convention. Here we have yet another big theological revision, hidden within a procedural change at that, which cannot be properly discussed--and particularly so given all the other weightier topics on the floor. This is perhaps the biggest challenge to the church as an organization: we have to find a way to deal with these issues which isn't so patently dysfunctional. And personally, I think that way is to accept our traditions and stick by them.