Whoa! Waking up to thunder and lightning and the clock saying 4:19 has a feeling of urgency. One, it’s Sunday morning and I’ve overslept, but at least I'm not preaching today. Two, there ‘s time to get Linda’s newspaper before it’s soaked by rain; the carrier always bags it, but the blue bag must be porous, as the paper gets wet regardless on rainy mornings.
Diocesan Convention is over. I didn’t go, I could hide behind an excuse that retired priests without a charge get voice but no vote, but when I retired fifteen years ago I resolved to use my privilege not to go, and pretty much have not except the years when I did have charge of parishes. This time there were, as I understand it, issues about diocese reorganization and sides sharply drawn. Truly, I don’t know that, but I do remember our first diocesan convention, February 1985, soon after we first arrived in CGC from Central Pennsylvania. Convention was in Mobile, at Trinity as I recall. Whatever the main issue was, it was intense, oh man, was it intense. Likely some resolution about sex, that would be Typical Episcopal. After the vigorous unto rancorous debating, and then the close voting and announcement of the winner, the man sitting in front of me, a delegate from some parish or other, stood, said, “It’s back to the Baptist Church for me,” and stalked out. I don’t remember the issue, nor likely does the Creator, but I do vividly recall the intensity of feelings.
Brian wonderfully on Facebook used the term Sayre’s Law, which all of us but the lawyers had to look up: “In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake.” It’s named for a professor named Sayre who is quoted, "Academic politics is the most vicious and bitter form of politics, because the stakes are so low." And then applied to every piddling issue that people fight over, the more trivial the more intense. Who has been to a meeting of a condominium board of directors and then gone outside in the fresh air and looked up at the stars! Ecclesiastical politics is/are of like nature. One year we had intense debate over whether to pass a resolution that the Alabama legislature should do something or other. There are no winners in church politics, only two sides of losers, one bitter, one jubilant. Someone speaks of the “narcissism of small differences.” Having no idea whatsoever what happened at convention, I pray that everyone came home feeling good anyway.
In Sunday School this morning we will be examining our lectionary readings for the day as we finish up reading from Matthew’s version of The Sermon on the Mount. And we’ll take at least a quick look at an essay published this week in our diocesan online newsletter, could be fodder for fight next Sunday!
Pax. As in peace.