I was late getting out of Sumter and hit the Friday afternoon spring break traffic that snarled its way out of Columbia along I-26 nearly to Chap in before it settled down to a more normal, merely dangerously overcrowded narrow-shouldered highway of death at 75 MPH. So I missed the opening session of the First Theological Council and, from the leftovers I spotted, what appeared to have been a rather scrumptious dinner. I slipped through the crowded room during “The Church’s One Foundation” to the joyful strains of “by schisms rent asunder and by heresies distressed,” (The irony was not lost, and I couldn’t help but smile.)
The evening opened with a meditation by Bishop Waldo on what it means to live in community. He emphasized that the monastic life of St. Benedict and his order was to guide us and that we should strive in our small groups to show a spirit of forgiveness, reconciliation and mercy. As I typed my notes, I could see the man next to me shifting uncomfortably in his seat. He finally leaned over and said, “You’re not supposed to do that here.” I stopped, puzzled. “I’m just taking notes.” I wanted to add, “But don’t you see how wonderfully hip I am on my Zoom, so much cooler than those poor misled, IPad people,” but apparently before I came all high-tech note-taking had been banned. I looked around for a quill and a roll of papyrus but all that was available were cheap pens and tiny pads of paper. In the spirit of Benedict I switched off the Xoom. It’s going to be a long damned weekend and these updates aren’t going to be as easy as I’d hoped.
We were then led through a facilitated discussion of three paragraphs of the opening of the Anglican Covenant. Each participants was given plenty of time to react to questions like “When I is it more faithful to be in communion than to be right?” A perfect setup for people who are comfortable with ambiguity and impatient with pat answers, but not so good for people who just aren’t sure about all this stuff. The group talked for an hour and then the plenary resumed and people came up to microphones to say things like “What does it mean to be right?”
One delegate even went so far as point out that we were there because of same-sex relationships and that families are families even if they have two mommies or daddies. It was clear that most or all of the people who spoke were from the liberal or moderate side of the debate. Bishop Waldo even tried to draw some conservative voices, reminding us that this was a safe place for diverse opinions, but the conservatives spoke volumes with their silence. The trust that is necessary for open exchange is not yet born. Perhaps tomorrow?
The evening ended with Compline, that most gloriously sublime Anglican service and people wandered out, into the warm spring night.