Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Tuesday Morning

Yesterday I spent six hours in training to be part of the Media Briefing Team for the House of Deputies. On Friday the 10th, Tuesday the 14th and Friday morning the 17th , I'll be part of a three person team from the Deputies and two Bishops who will field questions from the press. General Convention Briefing sessions will be streamed on-line live on the Episcopal Church web site, 8:45-9:15 each morning and 6:15-7:00 each evening.

A couple of things stood out for me during our training. First, the Greek orators manifested three characteristics: Logos (the word), Ethos (showing moral character, inner source), and Pathos (the human connection, touching emotions). I like that.

Dan Webster who does communications for the Diocese of New York advised that every answer should end in a statement of our personal theology and faith: Point 1, Point 2, 3-Because I believe..."

Now if I can just remember not to speak in run-on sentences.

Ended the day watching the Disneyland fireworks from our Arkansas hospitality suite.

I'm halfway through reading Michael Battle's book Ubuntu: I in You and You in Me. Ubuntu is the theme of the convention, and Battle's book was mailed to every deputy. I am enjoying the book, and I'm excited that St. Paul's and the Diocese have combined to invite Michael Battle to Fayetteville to speak for next year's Diocesan Convention that we'll host February 20-21.

Ubuntu is an African expression of personhood. We understand ourselves to be formed in community. We are interdependent. Desmond Tutu says: "A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belong to a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are torured or oppressed."

Battle cites a study that says that 90 percent of all families watch TV after dinner. He speaks of "thresholds." "The threshold to TV is low, and so you move across that threshold easily. The rewards from that are also low. It is well established through research that when people get up from two hours of watching television, they don't feel well. They feel worse than they did at the beginning. so low thresholds produce low rewards."

Battle invites us to practice "focal things." Focal things have high thresholds, and high rewards. Preparing a meal; being honest; reading poetry; playing the guitar; exercising regularly; writing letters; playing tennis, hiking and fly fishing, and celebrating the Eucharist. "A focal thing is something that has a commanding presence, engages your body and mind and engages you with others. ...A focal thing is not a t the mercy of how you feel at the moment. You are committed because of your love." We build community through our commitment to participating in focal things with others.

Part of the meaning of Ubuntu is one's passion for the well-being of the other. Russian theologian Nicholas Berdyaev stayed up all night worrying about the concept of heaven. He wondered how could he die and then go to heaven, where all of his desires would be fulfilled, and yet still be conscious of someone in hell? "How could he still be in heaven knowing someone else was weeping and gnashing their teeth forever?" Ubuntu means that now one could be in heaven as long as some of us suffer. An injury to one of us is an injury to all.

Lots of good stories and good quotes, especially from Desmond Tutu. It's a good book.

I leave soon for my first meeting with the Liturgy and Prayer Book Committee that I'll serve on. We've got a daunting agenda. In addition to two major proposed publications – a set of liturgies and prayers for healing from loss related to childbearing and childbirth, and a new calendar of feasts for the church year – we also will be charged with considering whether the church will take a step toward rites for lifelong commitments of persons of same-gender orientation. We'll be a busy committee.



At 8:47 AM , Anonymous Leigh Wilkerson said...

A wonderful post filled with wonderful things to ponder. Thank you for it and thank you for all your work in the world. I'm not Episcopal, but I deeply appreciate all you say, do and write on behalf of justice, peace and love!

At 7:47 AM , Blogger derick said...

There is no comparison between LBJ's signing of the civil rights act and the adoption of D025. In reality, the only comparison that can be drawn is the prediction that your new church under D025 will loose a majority of followers and in less than the 50 years LBJ predicted the Democrats will loose the south. It's deliberately and totally untrue, and you aught to stop using reference.

Christ founded neither Church no state; he handed over no laws, no government, nor any form of external authority; but he tried to write the law of God in the hearts of men so that they might govern themselves.

The peculiarity of the position of the promoters of G & L under the disguise of inclusion to the body church is that they have founded their life on a 'teaching' which in its true meaning destroys that very life; and this hitherto concealed meaning that is caught up in all the rhetoric of the moment will come to light. The G & L supporters has built their house not on sand, but on ice and the ice has begun to melt and the house will collapse.

While the majority of Christian people who have not sided with D025 remain reserve to express they true feelings publicly, your group has seized and exploited the opportunity in their silence to introduce D025, double talk its real intentions. Don't be fooled that there isn't vast objections to what you and your cohorts are doing. The formation of the Orthodox church is one outcome, and all the 'original' church has are is the remaining members who will eventually show they disapproval and leave with the spread of D025.


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