Thursday, June 21, 2007

General Synod Report II

I made it over to General Synod this evening, in time to hear the Windsor Report Response Group motion get passed, without an amendment strengthening the language. The strengthening amendment debate was probably misplaced by the Communion conservatives, though I applaud the effort - this voice is one probably best preserved for the bigger Saturday motions.

One thing brilliantly executed, though, was a reversal on the "Draw the Circle Wide, Draw it Wider Still" theme of Synod (based on the hymn by the same name). The rhetorical force behind this choice was certainly intended to be in favour of inclusion, the way "inclusion" is more typically understood among the liberal decision makers. But twice I heard this Wider Still business being co-opted by pro-communion people while they responded to the motion on the floor. The logic was "why not draw the circle wider and include the whole communion as we reflect on motion x?" Brilliant. Don't over-use it though, folks.

I thought that the Primatial election was closed to observers, but word is that we will be allowed in. I'll sit in on some of if I get there in time. So off I'll go, to sit in an old church (with no air-conditioning) at least until my early afternoon appointment. Parish life doesn't come to a standstill, even if Synod's in town.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

General Synod Report

I'm not sure how much of Synod I'll get to. I'm neither a delegate nor a volunteer, and parish life does go on. But I will get to some of it. I'll report a little of what I see when I see it.

Tonight I heard Andrew Goddard, of Wycliffe Hall, present a lecture called "Walking Together." It was a helpful overview of the documents speaking to our two presenting issues: Communion and Same-Sex relationships. To put a good word in for Mr. Goddard, my wife (who is very tired of communion politics), became suddenly excited about thinking theologically about our common life after hearing him at St. Margaret's last night. I think that he was aiming at delegates tonight, giving good background information in order to help people see where the Instruments of Unity are directing us as a communion, as well as the consequences of our possible decisions here at Synod. It was great to shake the hands of two other Anglican bloggers tonight too - Joe Walker of felix hominum (who apointed me Public Parson of Pubs), and Steve London of Our Hearts Are Restless. It looks like both of them will blog a bit from Synod, and they're delegates, so you'll get some of the inside track from them. Check them out, they are both worth the read.

After the lecture, I headed over to a reception for Bishop Mark MacDonald, our new Indigenous Bishop. Kind of wild, really, to go from seeing him regularly on the St. Margaret's Courtyard, then at Bishop's Ranch - to seeing him on the 13th floor of the Radisson Hotel in Winnipeg. Welcome to the Anglican Church of Canada, bishop Mark!

The gem of the evening came during the car ride home, though. My Dad is a delegate to General Synod, and is feeling the pressure of the moment. He's so stressed he dreamt last night that the King and Queen were here in Winnipeg, and it was his job to get them to sleep together in the same bed. I'll let you judge what that might mean about the subconscious of our delegates.

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General Synod and Sex

Registration begins for General Synod today, right here in Winnipeg. Anglicans from all over Canada will come togther for the next week, and, well, hopefully try to get a long.

If you read much news about Anglicans, you'll probably hear one of two opinions - 1. We're obsessed with sex, or 2. we're prudish about sex. Neither of these are quite true, but I can understand why it might look like this.

It certainly looks like we're obsessed with sex. We are talking about it a lot. The trouble for us, as Anglican Christians (and many other Christians as well), is that moral discernment is inherently dialogical.

While much of contemporary culture is content to say "you do your thing, I'll do mine", we are saying that this is not good enough. Moral discernment happens dialogically, not personally, because it is only interpersonally that we can have our moral sensibilities properly interrogated. I can only know if my moral choice is right and good within the context of a living community that is engaged in moral discernment through the deployment of common sources. It's simple, in a sense, and begins with the quesion "how do you know your choice is right?" As soon as you answer, saying "Because . . . " you are engaging diologically, and about to deploy a source that has some common standing. Think of General Synod as this conversation writ large, where General Synod is a gathering of people, part of a network of living Anglican communities, where we will deploy common sources like Scripture, tradition, and reason.

When Christians ask other Christians questions like "how do you know your choice is right?", and the choice is about sex (moral choices like "this is ok", "This is not ok"), we probably do look prudish, because it looks like we are questioning the personal moral choices of others. But this would only be true if we believed that there is such thing as a purely personal moral choice. Rather, the personal is embedded within our common life, and personal choices impact this common life. (At one time the opposite was far more true - that our common life impacted our personal moral choice in a significant way). This brings what may look like purely personal choices into the realm of common discernment. And how do we know that something is not purely personal, and subject to discernment? When it begins to tear at our common life. And the common life of Anglicans is suffering significant rupture over issues concerned with sex.

If you are so inclined, pray for us, that we may find common sources, and a common engagement of these sources. Pray that we are not just civil, but honest. Pray that we can be more than interest groups looking for compromise, but the living body of Christ.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Our Parish Website

St. Mary Magdalene has put up a website - it's looking pretty good, I'd say. You can find sermons, announcements, and our newsletter.

Check it out here. If you refresh the homepage you'll get a few different images, many of a trip to the Diocese of Central Buganda that some parishioners (and my dad and my sister) participated in.

Check it out!

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Finally Something to Say About Our House

I know some of you are curious about where we are at in the Ferndale Saga - that is, what the niggle is on our house.

The plans are long complete, contractors have seen the plans, and they've made their bids. Not only that - Workplace Safety (those who are paying for the renovation) has chosen the contractor. And - this is the best part - construction (beginning with a little demolition) is slated to start on the 1st of July.

We're hoping to be living in our house by the fall, about one year after we bought it.