Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Now That the Voting Is Over

What an interesting sense of humor God has. As Amendment 08-B moves to defeat, I was sure that the Puerto-Rican presbyteries would deliver the coup-de-grace. But instead-- it's SAN FRANCISCO?! I think that it's time to examine all the ideas and attitudes that have been slain by this vote.

1) Conservative/Evangelical confidence in inevitability. Walking in, I think most of us assumed that rejection would be a slam dunk-- that the total would go up from 2001, and that we could assume that the PC(USA) had found a form of stasis: General Assemblies go wildly liberal, and the presbyteries stay solidly conservative. We could just wait until the liberals died off, and then it would all be over. WRONG.

2) Liberal/Progressive confidence in inevitability. This is still thrashing around, but it's throat is cut. Hegelian dialectic philosophy notwithstanding, it is impossible to look at this vote without seeing that the PC(USA) is hopelessly divided. Liberal/Progressives read the increased vote as a sign that they have almost achieved their goal of having the PC(USA) to themselves. WRONG. Next time it will not be over, even if the votes change some more. Conservative/Evangelicals will still be here-- and will still be half of this denomination.

3) The Book of Order is the means to a solution. One would think that this would already have been obvious to everyone after at least vote #3, but no. Why this dumb idea won't die is beyond me. Who thinks that we have managed to solve anything by this waste of time, other than to squander dwindling resources of public esteem, and our time, attention and treasure to prove to ourselves that those who disagree with us really do disagree? Does ANYONE actually think that anything has been accomplished, for all the blood spilled?

Let's spend some time outside of our own echo chambers, not acting like this is a football game and we are just "fans" of our side. Instead of figuring out a strategy of beating "them," why don't we find out who "they" are, and what they want? Why don't we act like we are not competing for some prize, but that we are trying to be faithful to Christ? The voting is over-- let the learning begin.


  1. Thanks, Clay.

    I appreciate your viewpoint, especially the need for the learning to begin and the need to get to know each other, as you said, find out who "they" are.

    Here is my quibble with your post, so you can get to know me :)

    This is not about beating others. It is about changing a bad law. I don't want to chase people from the denomination. I would like Christ to change their hearts and minds. This is happening. People's views are not static.

    There was a great deal of good that came from this vote. Witness and testimony was given in presbytery after presbytery and hearts and minds changed.

    In response to point #3 of attitudes slain: the Book of Order is the solution because the Book of Order is the problem. G-6.0106b was put in the BOO. It can be taken out.

    Clay, it is a bad law that keeps people from serving God. If you don't see it like that, fine, but that is how I see it.

    It is not about not being nice or civil or working on projects we have in common. It is not about liberals beating conservatives or driving them out of the denomination or vice versa.

    It is about Presbyterians doing their thing--that is using the means we have before us (legislative, debate, etc.) to discern the will of Christ and make changes so our polity more reflects our vision of God's kingdom on Earth.

    Neither of us has a crystal ball so we cannot predict the future. I think I know what I will be doing.

    I will as best as I can take your advice to learn and to seek to understand those who don't see things as I do and to be in community with them.

    I will also follow my conscience in regards to working to make changes in our constitution and practice to include those who have been excluded.

  2. John--
    Until there is enough love (the old word would be "comity") between us, we can't do "our thing" without destroying Christ's thing-- this Body, of which we are very temporary stewards.
    I believe I do understand what you are saying-- my challenge to you would be: what do you think really motivates me? What is it that 6.106b protects, from my perspective?
    As to point #3, the solution is not going to be as simple as "take it out" or "keep it in." The real witness-- our real thing-- is to show a culture that no longer knows how to compromise and seek uncomfortable solutions how to do what we must do not only for future generations of Presbyterians, but future generations of Americans. We can learn how to do this, John-- but we have to get out of old ruts and take a look at the ground between us with new eyes.

  3. Clay,

    Thanks for the response. You wrote:

    **Until there is enough love (the old word would be "comity") between us, we can't do "our thing" without destroying Christ's thing-- this Body, of which we are very temporary stewards.
    I believe I do understand what you are saying-- my challenge to you would be: what do you think really motivates me? What is it that 6.106b protects, from my perspective?**

    As far as destroying Christ's body is concerned, I don't see making legislative changes destroys Christ's body any more than adding G-6.0106b destroyed Christ's body in the first place. I think it needs to go; you think it needs to stay. As of now, your will is being done--even as you may interpret it as God's will.

    Which leads me to respond to your next challenge: What do I think motivates you?
    I would love to know! Tell me what it would take, what argument I could give, what act I could perform that would motivate you to vote for removal of G-6.0106b and I would do it.

    If you have a compromise, I will be happy to consider it. Frankly, I don't see one coming.

    The slaves are free or they are not.
    Women have the right to vote or they don't.
    People are free to marry those of another race or they aren't.
    Our LGBT sisters and brothers are free to be ordained or they are not.

    Obviously now they are not (at least not in most cases and without a great deal of hassle).

    G-6.0106b will likely be removed. Other changes have already happened. It may happen in two years, maybe four, maybe eight.

    When that happens will those who are in favor of it staying in the BOO be able to adapt to this change or not?

    Some will, some will not. Regardless, I will stay in the denomination even as I have to live with something placed in it ten years ago that has violated my conscience.

    Thanks for the conversation!