Sunday, July 15, 2012

General Convention Postmortem

It's all over but the application of the Secret Episcopal Procedural Decoder Ring to figure out exactly what didn't pass. And the results aren't pretty.

Hardly anything bad was actually entirely rejected. Holy Women, Holy Men got sent back for another round, but there's no reason to believe that the standing committee is going to straighten out and get rid of the questionable entries. Communion of the unbaptized at least was not authorized: Eastern Oregon's resolution did get tabled at the start, but North Carolina's study resolution was gradually mutated into a completely different statement that baptism before communion was "normative". At that, it took until the last possible moment for the bishops to get rid of a sentence essentially authorizing communion of the unbaptized through the trapdoor of "pastoral sensitivity"; it's not clear whether or not the deputies were able to readdress the final version. So the best that was perhaps achieved on this front was the status quo: that places where it is being permitted will continue to invite unbaptized people to the altar.

The big news-making issues, of course, were the transgender protections and the approval of same-sex blessings. The latter was pushed through by terming the rites "provisional" rather than "trial", in order to get around a supermajority provision in the church constitution. I see no reason to take the difference seriously: the words are, in context, essentially synonyms, and nobody can surely believe that the next GC will be able to say, "no, that was a bad idea; we'll stop doing these." Furthermore, the authorization to reword the rite according to local laws surely will be taken in some dioceses as grounds to use the rite to do same-sex marriages.

The transgender resolutions are something of an empty gesture in light of the two such clerics who spoke on the measure. One can do the math and consider the possibility that every transgendered person who has considered ordination is already in a collar; the impediments which supposedly already stood were surely naught beyond the need to move to a different diocese.

I lost track of the other liturgical junk. I think we still are stuck with pet funerals (though without assurances of our dogs joining use in heaven) and some of the other rubbish from SCLM, but mostly they stand as symbols of unorthodoxy rather than as present threats to what goes on in church.

The usual round of political posturings was enacted, an enormous time-waster considering that nobody cares what a church of less than 1% of the population thinks.

And finally, restructuring. The WSJ article that has attracted a lot of attention is nearly as wrong-headed as people accuse it of being, but there is a kernel of truth at the bottom of it all. It is hard to imagine that restructuring these days will not encompass means to continue to drive the traditionally orthodox out of power. What should have happened to the liturgical resolutions is that everything except same-sex blessings should have gone down in flames, and the blessing rite should have been brutally overhauled to remove all the anti-dominical heresies embedded within it. That none of this happened indicates that orthodox believers don't have much of a future in this church.


Jon in the Nati said...

It is hard to be surprised at what happened, really. It was pretty clear that the same sex blessings bit was going to pass easily, and it did. The fact that the CWOB (etc.) matter was actually seriously considered is more troubling to me. That thing should have been voted down like a pay raise for schoolteachers, but it ended up being way, way closer than it should have been. As it is, it is just a bare (and I mean bare) affirmation of the tradition position, but of course as you note nothing will change in the places where such practices are de rigeur anyhow.

I'm still a bit baffled by all the transgender concerns; do trans-candidates for ordination really face significant obstacles because of their trans-status? It has been made quite clear that the genitalia of a priest matters not, and also it matters not how one uses that genitalia, so what could possibly be the issue for trans-persons? I'm not being flip; I'm serious.

Finally, that WSJ article was an absolute waste of space. Most disappointing, because there was a real opportunity to actually explain the stuff that is going on. And there is enough bad stuff going on that you don't have to make up stories about lavish parties at expensive steakhouses. A shame, really.

Deus, misericors...

C. Wingate said...

I don't begrudge the bishop a decent steakhouse dinner, myself.

I imagine that if you lived in Charleston SC and your gender identity was, um, non-standard you would have to move to another diocese to get ordained. This is against all the stories one hears about how straight white male candidates are discouraged in various ways. It's hard to guess what the truth really is.