Dogs at the Table

...or to put it another way, "Perish, priest!"

Monday, May 31, 2010

Every Day

For the next two weeks, I am going to try and put up a piece every day, to try and give a sense of what General Synod is like. So let me begin with today:

It's Monday of the week where we gather on Thursday. There's Parish Council tonight (since next Monday won't work because of General Synod), a possibly pending funeral for later in the week, and preparation of the usual Sunday things for next Sunday (in other words, the stuff that I usually do on Saturday), there's a decision to be made about how much of the General Synod materials I need to print (we have been asked to "green" General Synod by going paperless insofar as it is possible) but since there are no electrical outlets in the meeting area, it may be impractical for my aging laptop battery to attempt several hours at even the lowest power setting, there is a mailing to one of the groups I meet with to be finished, and I need to take my daughter-who-will-be-house-sitting grocery shopping this afternoon in order to keep her happy.

Oh...there's also laundry to be done so that I can pack for eight days out of the house. The dress code for General Synod is generally casual, with a couple of more formal occasions. I wonder if my souvenir baseball jerseys would work?

Today's weigh-in: 234 lbs. Not quite lean.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


When I hear the word "consultation" I have this notion that information will be mutually shared. When the church says, "consultation," it is much more of a one-way conversation where information will be delivered.

That is what I would call a sermon -- a one-way form of communication where little reply is expected, other than the presumed stirring of the minds and hearts of the listener. There is such a thing as good preaching, and I have heard many excellent sermons in my day. I think, however, that a good sermon opens up the possibility of a new way of seeing the world, or oneself, or Jesus or God. If it is delivered with style and panache, so much the better.

So there's a diocesan consultation today. I have to go because of some of the work I do. I think it is mostly to deliver some sort of bad news about budget projections. Maybe I'm wrong. But I am reminded of the scene near the beginning of Rob Reiner's film, The American President where Sydney Ellen Wade is in a meeting with government staff and her lobby group. She says, "I promise you, the White House Chief of Staff will not let us leave here until he's broken the bad news."

I don't think anybody's going to be allowed to leave today until the bad news has been broken.

Today's weigh-in: 238 lbs. More consultation required.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

After almost 20 years....

After almost 20 years of talking about "Baptismal Ministry" as the future of the church in this diocese -- in other words, that all ministry is, at its heart, rooted in the relationship established in Christ through Baptism, I read in our Diocesan Net News last night that a new pool of money was becoming available to provide training so that "lay people could help the clergy" even to the point of saying that "Clergy depend even more heavily on these same Lay people for help in carrying out their [ie. the ordained] vocations."

Don't they get it? That imperial top-down model of the church expired generations ago, and aside from a fond longing of simpler times, no longer exists. In the 1970's, Wes Frensdorff, the late Bishop of Nevada, went so far as to say we are called to be "ministering communities rather than communities gathered around a minister," which language is being used in this diocese as we formulate visions to move forward. And yet we have this announcement inviting the Laos of the church to make themselves more competent so that they can help the clergy.

As a priest, I don't see my role as the one who directs others' ministries, but the one who enables and affirms other ministries. The only unique ministry that I hold is to preside at Eucharist and to pronounce the church's absolution and blessing. If our view of ministry is based on ordination, then we lose the real dignity that comes from responding to the call of Christ in Baptism.

Ordained ministry is indeed special and unique and a privilege. But I was first called by God in Christ to understand a relationship with God in community, where the gifts and functions of ministry are always present first, before anyone is called to ordained ministry or leadership. Is that such a difficult notion?

Today's weigh-in: 237 lbs. Consistent if nothing else.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Preparing for General Synod

One of the matters that is coming before General Synod this year is a philosophical matter that deals with one of the outcomes of European Colonialism called “The Doctrine of Discovery.” Basically, it is the notion that as European explorers began navigating the oceans of the world, they “discovered” Africa, Asia, Australia/Oceania, and North and South America. All of these discoveries were only new to Europe, but the Euro-centric world view suggested that these “new worlds” could be claimed and conquered by the technologically or financially more advanced European nations. A good example is the reference to Asia as “the Orient,” which upon reflection points out that it is only east if you start in Europe.

Another consequence of the “Doctrine of Discovery” was to discount and exploit peoples and resources by claiming ownership or domination. It is ironic to think that although we have come to recognize native Canadians as ‘First Nations’ we continue to treat the original inhabitants of this land as second-class citizens.*

By repudiating the “Doctrine of Discovery” we are acknowledging our complicity in the continued exploitation of many parts of the world, beginning in Canada. Our country has still not signed on to the United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples (September, 2007), abandoned the Kelowna Accord of November, 2005 (the first nationally agreed upon schedule of reparations and recognitions for first nations), and failed to act on the apology offered to First Nations because of the abuse and cultural genocide resulting from the Residential Schools policy.

At General Synod, Anglicans will have an opportunity to provide intentional representation of native communities in The House of Bishops, the Council of General Synod (ie. CoGS), and to inform the liturgical and theological practices of our church.

It is appropriate on this Feast of Pentecost to consider the ways God’s Spirit touches all the peoples of the earth.

*The Episcopal Church (USA) repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery at their General Convention in 2009. For a first nations commentary, follow this link:

Today's weigh-in: 237 lbs. More time needed on the bicycle.