Thursday, June 15, 2006

report from our secret agent...

The Whitehall mole inside General Convention is Father Thorpus.  Here is his report from Day 1.

We are in Columbus, staying with family, and
I'm attending General Convention as a plain-ol'
visitor.  The first day was kind of uneventful, except
that the Archbishop of York showed up and addressed
the Deputies while I was there.  I spend both
legislative sessions in the HoDep yesterday, and I
want to try to sit in on the HOB today.  The
convention center in Columbus is huge, and there were
probably 3000 at mass yesterday morning.  The
distribution, however, was really fast -- not more
time than it takes for us to do it in my parish at
home.  Griswold's sermon was about not letting our
unexamined [orthodox] prejudices get in the way of the
Spirit's movement in the church.  Some-ol', same-ol',
tired message.  If he'd have said something about
dealing honestly with mutually contradictory values,
we might have got somewhere.  No such luck.

Saw Bob Duncan, saw Kendall Harmon, saw David Anderson
at the AAC's daily lunchtime briefing.  George Werner,
president of the HoDep, is doing a great job with
procedure -- it's not at all easy to mash over 800
Deputies through Robert's rules of Order, but he does
it, thus far, with fairness and humor.  Rumor has it
his diocese (Pittsburgh?) thought he wasn't fair
enough to the orthodox and so didn't re-elect him as a
deputy (he's always treated the Albany delegation
well, though, even to the point of allowing us two
extra deputies and making sure we get on good
committees) -- that's why he's 'retiring' this year,
so we also have to elect a new one of those.  I read
through the AAC's anaysis of each of the candidates
for PB (you've probably heard all this before): they
were suspicious of Jenkins for having compromised so
much, felt the bishop from Columbia was simply an
unknown quantity, and hated the other nominees.

Today and tomorrow committee 26 has its hearings.
Committee hearings take place at 7:30 AM, 2:00 PM, or
7:30 PM.  Committee 26 is the special committee to
deal with our relationship to the Anglican Communion.
They've booked a 1500 seat auditorium for tonight's
hearing, and they've had to issue a restricted number
of tickets to make sure the bishops and deputies can
get in.  I'm hoping to be able to get a seat at that,
but we'll see.  There's also an interesting hearing
coming up on Seminarians with college debt.
Unfortunately, that one's a 7:30 AM one (maybe they
figure seminarians will be used to getting up early?).

David Anderson said, during the first day's AAC
briefing, that he was thus far encouraged with the way
the convention was going.  If you just sit and observe
the gatherings, everything looks hunky-dory, like
we're one very big, multinational, happy family.
Everyone's laughing and happy to be together.  But
when you talk to anyone who's really involved, you
realize there's a sub-text to everything, and that
forces are being marshalled on all sides.  It's
surprisingly hard to get down to that layer of the
event.  I guess that has to do with getting
information and knowledgable analysis, and unless you
go to the dueling news briefings (Episcopal News
Service in the morning, AAC at lunch), information is
really in short supply.  It's just like being at the
Super Bowl: yeah, you're there, but you'd be getting
better commentary and actually seeing more if you were
watching it from home. 

Anyway, those are reflections after day one.  We'll
see how the rest goes.

No comments: