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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Who are the Verbosians?

Note: About three years ago, this time, I wrote this piece for my fellow Verbosians on HOB/D (House of Bishops/Deputies listserv).

The Verbosians are so named because, well, we tend to go on a bit in our posts and never want for an opinion about much of anything. We had been meeting offline for several months to continue our discussion and it occurred to us, suddenly, that perhaps we ought to meet face to face and privately while at General Convention 2006.

One day, some one of us used the term, "The Verbosians" on HOB/D, which naturally piqued the curiosity of everyone on the list. We reconnoitered in cyberspace to figure out how to answer the question, "Who are the Verbosians?"

I wrote this little piece as a farce, we all had a hardy laugh, and it has languished somewhere in cyberspace since then. The question re-surfaced the other day and some one found it. It has finally been posted on HOB/D.

Some of us are hopeful to establish an "Open Space: A Politics-Free Zone" when General Convention meets in Anaheim in July of 2009. In service of that happy occasion (and, so it won't get lost again), here's the answer to the question:

The History of the Verbosians: the Hobdees, the Kibitzers, and the Wackadoos

The history of the Verbosians must be understood within the context of their membership of the Tribes of Cyberspace (see link), which include the Hobdees, the Kibitzers and the Lost and Banished Tribe of The Wackadoos (see links)

The Hobdees are a contentious tribe of The Episcopal Church (see link) who are also members of the World Wide Anglican Communion (see link) who spend most of their waking hours (and long into the dark nights) on an Anglican Reservation known as "The Hobdee ("HOB/D") Reservation" (see link).

Created in cyberspace, circa 1997 by Episcopalian Louie Crew (see link), the indefatigable and irrepressibly joyful gay man who has dedicated his life to the Christian notions of radical hospitality and radical transformation through conversation, this tribe now boasts a membership of approximately 1,800, with another group of approximately 1,000 people known as "The Kibitzers" (see link) who have a place on The Hobdee Reservation, but no voice and vote in the conversations (unless one of the Hobdees posts their words for them, giving up one of the three allowable posts per day).

In 2003, "The Thirty Long Year Theological War" (see link) in The Episcopal Church over the ordination of women and the study of human sexuality, led to the election, ordination and consecration of an honestly gay man named V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, USA (see link). Approved by both houses of General Convention (see link), this action, to the complete surprise, utter amazement and profound confusion of those who supported him, erupted into global theological warfare in the World-Wide Anglican Communion.

This led to the creation of warring factions in The Episcopal Church in general and on The Hobdee Reservation in particular. Some aligned themselves with the Sect of the Revisionist and others with the Sect of the Reasserts.

All around the World Wide Anglican Communion, members began to align themselves along the spectrum of these two theological ends, with most of the Episcopalians and Anglicans huddled together in a confused mass at the middle fulcrum, also known as "The Historic Place of Anglican Accommodation." (see link)

The "troubles" in the communion caused a severe "disturbance in the force" (see Star Wars link). The temperature on that end of cyberspace began to rise and the light began to dim, leading to an uncomfortably humid and dark climate in which in was difficult to see past each other's steamy rhetoric, much less acknowledge each other's pain. The end result was that perceptions became distorted, different realities began to be created and enshrined, and truth became a highly contentious topic of debate.

Quite suddenly, the guiding light of the foundational ideas of radical hospitality and radical transformation which established the Hobdee Reservation were reduced to quaint notions and distant hopes.

In the spring of 2006, as The Great Gathering of the Clan (AKA "Our Big Fat Anglican Convention," AKA "The Anglican Briggadoon" AKA "General Convention" (see link), prepared to assemble in Columbus, OH, a small group of The Hobdees - some from the Sect of Reasserts and some from the Sect of Reappraisers - began taking council, huddling together in a secret part of cyberspace.

These were a particularly articulate lot, neither shy nor unashamed to write long, passionate essays explaining their theological positions and beliefs. After a few email sessions, they came to understand that if they were going to survive General Convention with any sense of sanity, much less with their Christian faith intact, they must gather together to try and reclaim the foundational ideas of radical hospitality and radical transformation.

They recalled their common heritage of The Wackadoos (see link), those folks on The Hobdee Reservation who shared their wildly different theological perceptions and somehow survived the sometimes cruel responses from other Hobdees but were, in effect, banished and eventually lost.

This small but snarky band of Hobdees, some of them members of The Lost Tribe of the Wackadoos (see link), determined to meet together as a group in Columbus, to share the full and true presence of Jesus Christ, to greet, welcome and embrace each other with the sign of God's love and peace (no A-Frame hugs), and to enter into intentional conversation with each other about their differences.

They call themselves, "The Verbosians."

They prefer to work anonymously and in private, but there are a few distinguishing factors which make them easy to identify.

True to their cherished Episcopal tradition of "the imbibing of the spirits" ("Where ever three or four Episcopalians gather, there's always a fifth" - see link), they have created their own beverage (see link) - "The Verbosian Old Fashioned" (a dash - just a dash - of club soda, simple syrup and Pechaud - not Agostora - bitters).

They assure each other that, even though the drink is known as "Old Fashion" it will, nonetheless, delight the palate of even the most ardent Progressive.

They are also known to drink bourbon (Maker's Mark), single malt scotch, Banrock Station Shiraz (from the Hokus Pokus Liquor Store in LA), and one is reported to have great affection for the unlikely mixture of Vodka and Mike's Hard Lemonade (but also drinks, appropriately, Henry Weinhard's beer).

Their motto is: "In vino, caritas, broccoli, et crudite, et crustacaeae" so one is assured to find Verbosians lovingly lurking about the table at Happy Hour, drinking wine, eating broccoli and other assorted veggies, as well as shrimp.

While there is no T-shirt, button or uniform by which they will be easily known, whenever a Verbosian sees another in Convention hall, you will know them by their greeting: "Less heat, more light." (said loudly and with great passion).

Rumor has it that The Verbosians will create a place on Convention Floor where all may join them in prayer. Known as The Shrine of St. Verbosian (Verbosa Maxima Plenipuctualia, d 257? February 29), a Roman matron and martyr, who is patron saint of Blogging, Soft Sculpture and Espresso, there will be a pad of paper and a pencil and small basket near a Votive Candle where prayer petitions may be written and left.

You will recognize the Shrine Of St. Verbosian by her emblem - the open faced smiley;~0 -an icon of which will be placed in front of the Votive Candle.

At certain times, you will also hear the Verbosians chant their prayer of regret (not repentance): "Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima nissan stanza."

They have already made a few decisions, agreeing to begin their meeting on the evening of June 11 with Holy Eucharist (although not yet having come to a decision about the celebrant or if the celebrant is a presider), the use of a talking stick to insure full participation without interruption, and the list of alcoholic beverages to have on hand.

However, they have called for a moratorium - at least for a season - on revealing either their identity or the nature of their gathering in any public forum. This is seen as a hopeful sign to those who want The Episcopal Church to vote for two resolutions calling for other moratoria, as well as for those who will vote against said moratoria, holding onto the faint hope that the moratorium on revealing their identity will satisfy this desire.

It is reported that The Verbosians live in sure and certain hope that they - an unlikely mixture of the Sect of the Reappraisers and the Sect of the Reasserts; they of the Lost and Banished Tribe of the Wackadoos - will eventually come to supplant both The Episcopal Church as well as the Anglican Network and establish the One, True, Progressive, Conservative, Evangelical, Anglo-Catholic, Orthodox Church of Radical Anglican Accommodation on the cyberspace Hobdee Reservation.

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