Friday, July 17, 2009
Coming 'round the home stretch
Despite the mind-numbing legislative and budgetary processes that frame General Convention, I have, in fact, retained a firm grasp on the obvious.
Today is the last day of General Convention.
See, I have been paying attention. Indeed, I can't tell you how much I've been waiting for this day.
I, for one, am really glad General Convention will be shorter by two days next time. Yes, it's a great deal of work to be done in a very short period of time. But, I do think we can use technology to be more efficient, and ultimately, be better stewards not only of our financial resources, but more efficient managers of our time as well as employ a more effective application of our talent.
I'm also glad General Convention has been forced to limit national committees and standing commissions to have a 'face to face' meeting once a year. For far too long, many of those meetings have been seen as 'political junkets'.
This does place the bishops in an even greater, albeit 'unfair' advantage as they already meet much more than the 'Senior House'. Perhaps they will take the lead from clergy and laity on this issue as they have on other issues of justice and cut down their expensive junkets in the name of Jesus.
Today will be an opportunity for attempted 'end runs' by those who are unhappy with how General Convention has turned out. Back in the day (oh, less than 10 years ago) when most conservatives were known as 'conservatives' and not 'orthodox', the folks from N.O.E.L. (National Organization of Episcopalians for Life - which is now A.F.L. = Anglicans for Life) would submit last minute resolutions about reproductive choice, hoping that many from the more liberal or moderate deputations would have already gone home (many of them already had) and they could 'squeak' something by.
Not too many people go home early any more, but then again, not too many people try too many end-runs any more. It will be interesting to see what happens today.
The budget is probably the most disappointing development thus far. I'll have more to say on that later, but I'll say this (because while many are muttering it, I haven't seen it in print):
I think it is unconscionable for a church that purports to stand for justice to have cut 37 positions from the national church staff (7 retirements that will not be replaced and 30 positions eliminated) while not even considering lowering the salaries of those at the top in order to keep a few key positions.
You know. Like Evangelism. And, Mission. And, Anti-Racism. How are we supposed to accomplish our "Budget Priorities" without national staff to bring these programs to the congregational level?
Well, I suppose that question with all of its inherent "creative tension" will be one we learn to live into over the next three years.
Another thing: I think it's really, really important for our Presiding Bishop to be seen as a Global Religious Figure, but in this economy, perhaps her travel could have been cut back just a tad. You know, for the good of the whole.
We are a church which purports to 'do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God'. Alas, that begins to ring shallow when our budget reveals that we value hierarchy more than a full incarnational embrace of that prophetic imperative.
Well, according to my little illustration at the top of this entry, the above was part of the 'vast cognitive waste land' of this blog post.
Time to bring this 'think piece', such as it is, to a merciful end.
Just like General Convention.
Off I go then, into the home stretch. Your prayers and comments have been a blessing through these grueling, impossibly long days. Thank you. More later.