Wayne Smith's occasional blog of pilgrimages and journeys

Saturday, March 14, 2009

HOB Day 1: Friday

We did in fact convene with the celebration of the Eucharist at noon, after which I was surprised (and delighted!) to see a friend from my Lambeth Bible Study group. Trevor Williams is the Bishop of Limerick, in the Church of Ireland, and he happens to be here as a guest of our House. At every meeting of the HOB in my time a bishop, and that would be since 2002, there have always been bishops from the other provinces of the Anglican Communion in attendance. Trevor is the first such guest with whom I have had a previous relationship, and I am very glad that he is here.

After the Eucharist, and lunch, the House convened in our usual and customary configuration--that is, in groups of five to eight, around tables. At my table this time is a guest, Bishop Blair Couch of the Northern Province of the Moravian Church. She with us as prelude to General Convention's ongoing consideration of full communion with the Moravians. What a wonder to hear about historic Christianity from another perspective.

When finished with preliminaries, housekeeping, and introductory conversations around the tables, we moved to hear complementary presentations from Bill Bishop and Walter Brueggeman. Bishop is a journalist and cultural critic; Brueggeman, a scriptural theologian and emeritus professor of Old Testament from Columbia Seminary. For the St. Louis connection, let me note that he is a graduate of Eden Theological Seminary and once served on the faculty there.

The title of Bishop's book, The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart, suggests the thrust of his arguments.

The the title of their presentations, as well as a theme for this meeting of the House: "A New Era of Engagement: Gospel Alternatives to Polarization." It is, let us say, a topic with currency, both in Church and in culture.

I tried very hard to summarize what they had to say, as well as the ensuing conversation with the bishops. Both presentations were rich, nuanced, and complex--and more than a little technical in language. I am not up to a summary, although I tried, but I do hope that their presentations will be made available online.

No comments: