There has been much coming out of General Convention. I was, frankly, deeply frustrated by the opening address of the President of the House of Deputies. As the Church struggles to renew its common life she seems to be too taken with the language and meme of perpetual revolution. Rather than taking the opportunity to help us find new and shared hope she articulated a divisive view of the Church and a dated understanding of the nature of power and relationship.
One of the deputies to Convention, Steve Pankey, shared the following reflection that I think summarizes much of the difficulty in the current discourse.
The 77th General Convention started to rev up yesterday. Legislative Committees had several hours worth of meetings, deputies and bishops were oriented, and the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies both offered opening remarks. During the PHoD’s speech, I began to realize the fullness of our problem. I tweeted “I’m realizing that the PHoD and I live in two different worlds. Her’s informs mine, but the foundations are fundamentally different.”
She, and many like her, had their lives profoundly shaped by the struggle for equality in the 1960s and 70s. Out of those struggles, many boomers developed two very strong identities (broad brush warning). Some are fighters: they continue to seek out problems that are in need of solutions, especially in areas of equality. Others are guilt carriers: they continue to emote the guilt that comes with realizing one’s privilege at the expense of millions who carried the full burden it took to create that privilege. Some, I’m guessing the PHoD falls into this category, carry both identities with in them.
I grew up in the excesses of the 1980s and 90s. Bubble economies, the rise of hip-hop, and the beginnings of digital communities have lead many in my generation to feel disconnected from the guilt-ridden fighting that has come to define so much of the rhetoric in our current debate. Sure, my world was cushy because of the world that two generations before me struggled to create, but my fundamental identity is not based in social change. And while I very much appreciate the hard work done by the generations that came before, I’m wondering how long guilt, shame, and partisanship has to rule our discourse? As I looked at the dais yesterday during orientation, as I realized that the leading candidate to replace the current PHoD and the leading VP candidate were two of the four bodies up there throughout. I’m thinking that we’ve got at least three more years in this transition.
The Old Testament lesson for Sunday tells us that David was 30 years old when the elders anointed him King over Israel. Youthful leadership is not something that is without precedent. It has been lamented all over the internet that there aren’t enough younger people present in the councils of the Church, and I agree. The problem is that we have made leadership roles all but impossible for those who still have to work a day-to-day job to make ends meet. How can we bring more voices to the table? How can we make sure that one group’s experience doesn’t define our fundamental identity? How can we enjoy the fullness of who we are, the truth that exists within every believer? I don’t have the answers at this point, but I’m certain they are out there.
Perhaps a starting place is forgiveness.
I offer you the Prayer for the Mission of The Church (BCP, 816-7)Everliving God, whose will it is that all should come to you through your Son Jesus Christ: Inspire our witness to him, that all may know the power of his forgiveness and the hope of his resurrection; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.