Post Synod Reflection #3: At the Edges of Our Big Tent

The United Church of Christ proudly declares, “No Matter Who You Are, No Matter Where You Are On Life’s Journey, You Are Welcome Here.” In reality, this is more a goal than a statement of fact. There are plenty of ways in which the sense of welcome is tepid, at best. And, there are places where the denomination—particularly at the national level— is not especially welcoming to and for those whose values and perspectives are different from what appears to be the majority.

The efforts of welcome are a good and noble goal, but it is important that those of us in the United Church of Christ continue to work diligently toward this objective, paying close attention to those opportunities where we are confronted by the reality of our not so welcoming attitude concerning those whose opinions, life stories and circumstances, are very different from our own. The United Church of Christ is, in many ways, a big tent sort of place. But, without vigilance—as well as a thoughtful, reflective, and humble attitude—we can easily become just another small tent denomination, with a motto that is dangerously inaccurate.

At General Synod 31 this year, I discovered several places where we danced on the edges of our “big tent,” where the welcome of differing perspectives and opinions was especially fraught. There were two places, in particular, that offered a lens through which we may reflect on the denomination, and its ability to engage with what it means to be a welcoming church, motivated by the reckless love that Jesus himself shared.

In one instance, significant common ground was discovered. In another, not so much.

I’ve written about the first one already: the committee and resolution regarding corporal punishment in homes and institutions. When the members of the Maine delegation received our committee assignments, the person in the delegation who was assigned to this committee was very pleased. How hard could this be? “We’ll be done in 5 minutes!” he declared. After the first round of committee meetings, I bumped into him. He wasn’t so happy anymore. What seemed like an easy issue turned out to be not so easy. In the work of the committee, he was confronted by some realities that he had never thought about before.

After a great deal of discussion and deliberation, where considerable truth telling took place and, with that, a lot of listening and absorbing, a new awareness came to many of those who served on that committee. When the resolution came to the full floor, it was clearly evident that this “easy issue” was indeed thorny and complicated. I know I was not the only person to learn something new and to gain a new sensitivity about the lives of people whose circumstances are very different from my own.

In the other instance, where there was a clear clash of perspectives, involved more of clash of generations—the older generation versus millennials. In one of the resolutions (assigned to Committee 12, “Toward Disability Justice: A Call to the Church and Churches”), the word “intersectionality” was used (urging the national and other settings “to develop an active response to the intersectionality of race and disability in relation to police brutality . . .”). The member of the Maine delegation assigned to this committee was one of our older members. In committee, she had asked for the word “impact” to be added to the sentence where “intersectionality” was found, as in “impact and intersectionality.” The suggestion went nowhere. So, she brought it up again when the resolution hit the full floor. As soon as that happened, it seemed that every millennial in the large convention hall lined up in opposition.

Among those who spoke up were young people who talked about any addition to the sentence “diminishing” what the sentence was trying to convey. Another young person talked about how important the word “intersectionality” is to her generation. Sensing that there were people in the hall who didn’t understand the word (because if they did, they obviously wouldn’t want to mess with it) this particular speaker made no attempt to define the word for those of us who were clueless, but instead suggested that if there were people in the audience who didn’t understand what the word means, “they should look it up on Google.”

In the end, “intersectionality” was left to stand by itself, yet with a fair number of people still not knowing what in the world it meant, but now especially reluctant to ask, lest another millennial tell them how stupid they are.

Generational clashes are certainly not new, or unexpected. But, in our church setting, it’s disconcerting to experience so much derision from one generation to another. If our goal is to be truly “welcoming,” it seems clear to me that we need to find ways of allowing our toes to be stepped on, from time to time, and to enter into different ways of speaking to, and with, each other.

If nothing else, such an approach would be a significant and remarkable witness in these days where people seem more comfortable shouting at each other, rather than in engaging in dialogue.

The clash of generations displayed at Synod was a problematic moment for me. While I didn’t expect an absence of such moments, this one seemed to end with no sense or undertone of communal regret for what had transpired. In our church setting writ large, we must be particularly conscious of the ways in which we listen and the ways through which we speak. If we—as individuals and as community—truly mean to be welcoming, we must seek a deeper awareness of the limits of our own context, as we attempt to engage in meaningful dialogue with others, whose contexts and experiences are very different from our own. A part of this dialogue is the creation of “safe space” where people are allowed to say things that others may find insensitive and even offensive. This is the only way to build meaningful bridges of awareness and knowledge.

Welcome cannot just be a nice sounding motto, something that we somehow expect from others while simply assuming for ourselves. For our “big tent” that encourages welcome of all, no matter where one is on life’s journey, no matter who one is, we must do a better job of living out that welcome, and making it real. This is a mission, and ministry, for each and every one, and for all of us together.

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Post Synod Reflection #2: Pointing Fingers

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Do you remember that saying about pointing a finger? That while you are pointing your finger, you actually have three fingers pointing back at yourself?

There’s a truth in that, and an aspect of that truth that is part of the United Church of Christ. And, it ought to cause a fair amount of concern.

Near the end of General Synod this year, while we were debating the last set of resolutions on the floor—after the resolutions had been discussed, debated and altered during committee work—we found ourselves at an important moment of truth, our own truth. The issue was a resolution that had come from two separate resolutions that were combined in committee. The issues were: advocating for a minimum wage of $15.00 per hour, and a call to promote a living wage.

In the committee presentation and on the floor, we heard about the significance of holding employers and our communities to higher standards for how employees are paid. While concerns were raised regarding the differences around the country of what constitutes a “living wage” as well as the impact of a higher minimum wage on small businesses, the resolution seemed destined for passage. Many people had spoken passionately about the “justice” of a living wage in the United States.

And, then, someone approached the microphone to highlight a part of the resolution that hadn’t received much attention up to that point: the call to our local churches to look at our own patterns of compensation. How many of our churches are paying a living wage? How many of our churches are paying $15 an hour to secretaries, sextons, and other employees? And what about clergy?

We’re very good at telling other people what to do, but what about us? How are we living into the spirit of this resolution? How are we ourselves, in our local churches, witnessing to the God’s “justice” of a living wage? As we point our finger, do we recognize our own fingers pointed back at ourselves?

The murmur of assent could be heard through the hall. While not everyone was pleased with the “moment of truth,” it was an important moment. The United Church of Christ is indeed good at pointing fingers, while it isn’t so good at recognizing the fingers often pointed back at itself.

To be fair, there were resolutions at this year’s Synod that spoke directly to churches, associations, and to clergy. Examples of such resolutions: advocating cultural diversity training for authorized ministers, and “disability justice,” which involves calling for churches to “include persons with disabilities in their ministries and social justice witness.”

Still, some of the most impassioned items of business involved how the General Synod of the UCC should speak to other entities, or should speak up for certain groups of people—most of which involved the pointing of a communal finger of scorn. While I listened to the varieties of finger pointing, I was reminded of the words from Isaiah 58 (9b-10): “If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.”

As someone who has spent most of my ministry career paying only casual attention to what happens at Synod every other year, I can’t help but wonder about what was actually accomplished at Synod, as we delegates debated, discussed, wrestled and voted. In our “nonhierarchical” way of doing things, General Synod cannot speak for local churches, associations and conferences. General Synod speaks to the various ways in which we gather. So, there we are, pointing fingers while not fully acknowledging the fingers pointed back at ourselves.

I wonder about how we spoke to each other at Synod and how our witness at Synod speaks for itself. While there were some significant moments of speaking and listening (I’ll admit here that, though it was far from perfect, the back and forth of speaking and listening was notable), we still have a long way to go in living out our claim that “God is still speaking”—without incessantly turning to finger pointing.

God IS still speaking. The questions are: how well do we listen, especially in large groups? How well do we make room for the Spirit, especially when the hour is late or when we’ve been sitting in the same chairs for hours or when we largely agree on an issue, but there’s a lone brave voice that speaks up in disagreement? How do we witness ourselves to the claims for justice that appear to concern us so greatly? Are we able to acknowledge the fingers that point back to our own selves?

It may be that in our finger pointing we lose an important part of what it means for us to gather as church, as God’s people. Perhaps if we were to point less often, if we were to endeavor, in different ways, to satisfy the needs of the afflicted—to witness by example rather than by decree or statement— perhaps then we would find that our witness would be much more powerful, that in the midst of the gloom, we would be, even more wonderfully, part of the rising of God’s light instead.

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Post Synod Reflection #1: The Maine Thing

I arrived home from Synod this past Wednesday. It didn’t take long for the river of my life in Maine to take me far away from my Synod experience. But, I’ve finally found a few moments to look back and write a bit. This will likely not be my last Synod post. There’s plenty to write about. But, for today: a few thoughts on the Maine delegation.

In our local churches, it’s common for lots of good, active church folk to have little or no awareness of the wider church to which they belong. And, for others, there may even be some antagonism regarding the connection to association and conference, as if through our connections beyond the local church, we may be giving over some of our power and/or independence.

For most of my ministry career, I’ve kept my involvement in the wider church closer to home, by mostly being involved in association-level work. The last several years, though, have offered new opportunities for moving beyond the local association. I’ve been involved in Conference work, Conference leadership and now part of the Maine Conference Synod delegation.

The Synod delegation from Maine included a couple of Conference staff members, several members of the Mission Council, several delegates beyond the Mission Council members, and a few visitors.

Even for those of us who serve on the Mission Council together, we’ve never spent nearly so much time together. In short, we all got to know each other rather well over the course of Synod. We sat together, mostly, during plenary sessions (those who were not voting delegates often had to sit separately). We ate meals, and attended meetings, either all together or in smaller groupings.

As an almost life-long Congregationalist, I’ve heard over the course of my life lots of suspicion regarding the wider church. While I came away from Synod with a few concerns of my own regarding the national denomination, I can’t say enough about how powerful it was for me to spend so much time with the Maine delegation.

The Maine delegation was made up of clergy and lay people, and a couple of people “in the middle” (in the ordination discernment process). A couple of people came from large churches in the southern part of the state, and a couple from small churches in the northern part of the state. And, a couple of us from smaller- to mid-sized churches in the middle of the state. We ranged in age from our 17-year-old youth delegate (who reminded me a great deal of my own son) to a woman in her seventies.

Some of the most memorable aspects of Synod were the small conversations I had with my fellow Mainers, as we shared our experiences of church, discussed worries and concerns about the local church (as well as the wider church), and dreamed of what was possible. One of the more interesting aspects of our conversations was to realize that, though many of us kept our local churches closely in mind as we considered the business of Synod, most of our local church people back home probably didn’t care much at all about the decisions that were reached in our deliberations in Baltimore. While little of what happens at Synod is binding on the local church (in our nonhierarchical way of doing things), the gulf that exists between the local church and the national setting seemed very wide indeed.

In the Maine delegation, we had plenty of serious moments, discussing some of the provocative and difficult aspects of Synod business. There were also lighter moments, as we discovered a shared animosity toward one of the presenters, as well as a little confoundedness toward certain buzzwords that were thrown about with reckless abandon (in our little corner of Maine, there are some things that take awhile to get to us). And, we discovered a few places where we disagreed about business or a presenter, places where we endeavored to articulate and understand our varying responses.

I came away from my Synod experience with a stronger appetite for engaging in the work of the wider church—even if just in my own home state and conference. Bravely venturing forth from the comfort and familiarity of the local church, we gain a deeper understanding of the work of the Spirit and catch meaningful glimpses into a faith that is strengthened when we cast a wider net. Through these relationships, we may find that we are much more interdependent, rather than independent. But, that’s not a liability. Instead, it is a grace and a blessing, a reminder that the God we worship does not belong solely to us, that together we endeavor to be God’s people and that we have plenty of friends accompanying us on the journey.

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General Synod: The Last Day

The penultimate plenary session ended a bit early.  Yay!  A rare treat.

The morning was filled with the last bit of important business, with the last of the resolutions presented and voted on.

First up:  Committee 3

On Corporal Punishment of Children in Homes and Institutions

I was warned ahead of time, by the Maine Conference delegate who sat on this particular committee, that this resolution was not the “slam dunk” that it at first appeared to be.  Of course, we in the United Church of Christ are opposed to corporal punishment, aren’t we?  Well, it turned out to be a lot more complicated.

The presenter declared that while there was consensus that corporal punishment of children in institutions should be condemned, discipline in the home was a different matter entirely.  He spoke of his own experience and shared that he and is wife sometimes employ at home what might be described as corporal discipline.  He, his wife and their three sons live in the Philadelphia area.  They are African American.  This man and his wife sometimes use strong discipline in the raising of their sons because they live in a time and place where every time their children leave the home, they are in danger of not returning.  In a dangerous place, where danger comes from all places, including those whose job it is to protect, strong discipline is sometimes required to make sure that his sons understand the very serious situation in which they live.

For so early in the morning, this was a big wake up moment.  While I sometimes look at my own, white, teenage son and know that he does not face the same issues that other young men face, this morning was one of those times of finding myself needing to stand in someone else’s shoes and realizing that the view is very, very different from my own.

Given what the Committee presented, the resolution passed with 91% support.

Next:  Committee 12

Toward Disability Justice: A Call to the Church and Churches

This resolution presented a different sort of debate.  We found ourselves in the midst of something of a clash of generations, an older generation versus millennials.  I’ll say more about that in another post (since I have quite a lot to say).  In the end, the resolution passed, 98% in favor.

Next:  Committee 8

A More Just Economy: $15 Minimum Wage, Living Wages and Job Creation

This started as two separate resolutions, but ended up in one consolidated resolution.

A healthy, thoughtful debate ensued.  We talked about the desire that people be paid a living wage, while concerns were raised about the impact on small businesses.  These differing perspectives, as in the midst of other resolutions, were heard respectfully and thoughtfully.  A brave soul stood up to ask a very important question:  What about our churches?  It’s one thing to make demands of a living wage upon others, but what about our own churches, which are themselves places of employment?  Excellent point.  We should talk about this more.

78% voted in favor of the resolution.

And, then after a few announcements, we ended a bit early.  Time to recharge the batteries– not just for myself, but my devices.

More later!

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A New Focus: Three Great Loves

Instead of my usual chronological approach, I’ll begin with the unveiling of the big new UCC theme, our fresh, shared mission, for the next two years. It’s not that it was so much a surprise, since we’ve been seeing the theme and its new logo all over the place since we arrived in Baltimore. But, tonight the President and General Minister offered more of the vision and plan:

Three Great Loves

Love of Children

Love of Neighbor

Love of Creation

A Just World for All

This will help guide and frame our work and connection together as a national church, seeking to find ways to hear from local churches on how they are already living out this mission, as well as new stories for how churches find renewal of mission through this vision.

In the midst of all of the business and resolutions, the discussions and all of the messy parliamentarian issues, the unveiling of the theme was a nice bright spot that helped me see beyond what often seems like a lot of slogginess in the business of the Synod and the moments—which seem all too frequent—of pettiness. Through the resolution debates, we squabble over language and punctuation. Sometimes, we endure commentary that seems not so connected to the actual content of a resolution. And, then there is what often feels to me like empty theological reflection at the end of our business, with someone speaking in breathless terms about issues that are really not so breathless.

For the most part, though, we somehow manage to witness to a shared experience of the presence of God. Sure, it’s muddy and messy. But, there is in the midst of us the way of being God’s people, where everyone is invited to speak, to participate. We are not about the business of sitting and listening to pronouncements offered to us from on high. We gather as a diverse body of people—lay and authorized—to work together to be the church, the wider church, stretched and stretching to live out God’s vision of love and hope.

Since my last post, we have waded through quite a lot of business.

Committee #9: On Establishing Procedures for Cultural Diversity Training for Authorized Ministers. This was a contentious issue, especially as we debated time and whether or not we can authorize such a thing. In the end, it overwhelmingly passed.

Committee #6: The Disparity of Rights of Adoptees to Access Birth Certificates for Adults. This was also a contentious issue, with lots of questions and concerns. It did not pass.

Committee #14, Part 1: The Earth is the Lord’s, Not Ours to Wreck. Passed with 97% support.

Committee #11: Affirming and Supporting the Authorized Ministries of Under-represented Clergy in Local Congregations: A Call for Greater Representation and Economic Justice. This also inspired quite a lot of discussion and debate. An amendment offered by the Maine Conference added “age” to the resolution. One of the comments that received a lot of affirmation from the assembled observation, that while we as a denomination hold the clergy to standards of accountability, we do not hold churches to standards of accountability. Good point. We should do something about that! Resolution passed with 93% support.

Committee #14, Part 2: On Recognizing and Studying Gun Violence as a Public Health Emergency. Passed with 97% in favor.

Committee #10: Resolution of Witness in Support of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse and Neglect. This was another resolution that garnered a fair amount of discussion regarding language. In the end, it passed with 98% support.

Though tired and spent, we ended with wonderful worship. Although it was tempting to sneak out and head right to bed before worship began, I’m glad that I didn’t. It was a great way of ending a very long day. I’ll try to write more later about the content.

It’s now Tuesday morning. The penultimate plenary has just started.

On this 4th of July, let us Make Glad!  Let us consider not so much our Independence, but our dependence on each other.

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Gen Synod #3: It’s Monday and I’m Tired

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Although I enjoyed a slightly slower morning yesterday (Sunday), things started to pick up in the afternoon and—except for an all-too-short time for sleep last night—things have continued to move, even though most of the time I’m sitting.

Sunday afternoon’s community worship was a wonderful worship experience. The music was especially inspiring, with the last hymn a rousing organ-accompanied singing of “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” It’s not among my favorite hymns, but I recognized that it was a good “shout out” to this year’s big Reformation anniversary.

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When worship was over, I ran into a couple of old friends and we spent a few moments getting caught up. And, then I went off to get something to eat with a friend from my Div School days. I hadn’t seen or heard from Marie since we were at HDS together over twenty-five years ago. Her conference, where she is now the conference minister, is sitting at the table next to the Maine Conference. What an amazing moment to run into her!

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After a lovely meal together, taking turns to offer summaries of all that each of us had done over the last twenty-five years, we returned to the convention center for the evening plenary.

The evening plenary featured several of the resolutions, an overview of financial status, amendments to the bylaws, and the election of the Rev. Traci Blackmon.

The resolutions were from Committees #1 (enhanced missionary support), #7 (immigrant welcoming), #5 (patterns of giving), and #2 (“rights of children living Israeli military occupation”). Most of the resolutions passed with little, or no, discussion. Committee #2 probably received the most discussion, overwhelmingly in favor but a couple of people suggesting that the information in the resolution was either dated or harmful to the work that is currently being done.

Plenary ended around 9:30.

Then, it was off to bed? Well, not exactly. A few of us decided to gather in the hotel bar for a little end of evening refreshment. When we arrived, it looked like most of the Synod delegates staying at the hotel had the very same idea. And, then even more followed.

Despite several attempts to extract myself, I ended up staying up quite late, engaged in an interesting conversation with some folks from the Nebraska Conference. We discovered a lot of common interests in the life of our churches, and the wider church to which we belong.

Finally, time for bed and about six hours to get some sleep before getting up for a 6:30 am caucus with the conferences in southern New England.

The alarm rang all too early, but I dragged myself out of bed and attended the caucus, which was a nice opportunity to gather with other New Englanders—all together, we are big! And, there was coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

Plenary was called to order right at 8:00 am. And, this is where I am as I write.

So far, we have elected new members to the UCC Board of Directors, a Moderator for the next Synod and a new Vice Moderator, along with some not exciting bylaw amendments.

The first resolution of the day was Committee #15, supporting legislation for aid in dying—the committee to which I was assigned. This has been the most controversial issue, by far, that we have addressed so far. Lines formed at all of the microphones, for, against, and suggestions for changes or points of order. This amendment inspired considerable conversation and debate, and even exceeded the time allotment

In the end, the resolution did not pass. It required 66% support and received just 65%.

This is a good place to stop for now, a good place to break.

Let us make glad, despite the lack of sleep!

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General Synod, Day 2: Some Good, Some Really Good, and Some Really, Really Bad

It’s Sunday morning, the beginning of Day 3 of General Synod. But, the day hasn’t really started yet, so I’ll focus on Friday night and Saturday.

After finishing Friday’s post, early in the evening, I attended the meeting of the committee to which I was assigned—Resolution of Witness in Support of Legislation Authorizing Aid in Dying. I can’t say that I went into that meeting with strong feelings about the issue, but most of the concerns that might have prevented me from voting in favor were resolved during the hearing earlier in the day, when the details—including the very narrowly constructed circumstances through which such aid in dying could be accessed—were outlined. The committee meeting was mostly a very thoughtful discussion about the issue, including a couple of personal stories that were shared.

For the most part, I felt quite positive about the whole experience. People spoke respectfully and they listened as well. There was a moment, though, when someone stood up to talk about the “hard time” she was having with the issue and I was struck by the thought that we could have a resolution declaring that the sky is blue and there would be at least one person who felt compelled not simply to have a “hard time” with it, but also feel compelled to share their “hard time,” using of course, the maximum amount of time available. Still, except for that one strange expression of someone having a “hard time” (yet was unable to actually articulate anything that sounded at all truly connected to the issues at hand), it was a positive and rewarding experience, as a room full of strangers connected only by the tenuous thread of our nonhierarchical denomination, managed to conduct business with quite a lot of respect, humility and trust.  The resolution will now move on to the full assembly, probably Monday.

To sum up Saturday, I first should admit that I kept my Synod experience just to the morning. It was a very full morning, including a Maine delegation caucus meeting at 7:00 and the first plenary of the day starting at 8:00. The plenary ran until close to noon. That was enough Synod for me.

The first part of the morning was great. The Rev. Traci Blackmon, the candidate for the Justice and Witness Ministries Executive Minister, was introduced by a dynamic speaker. Then, Rev. Blackmon offered her candidate speech. While I didn’t agree with everything she said, I was impressed. She offered a meaningful, substantive speech, delivered clearly and passionately.   I was ready to take on the challenge of doing the “messy, difficult work” of “making room” and not just “creating space,” and considering carefully and thoughtfully the different set of tools we need to confront the things that divide us, understanding that healing comes in community.

When she finished, and we all stood up to applaud, it was only mid-morning—and it was looking like a very good day.

Alas, that’s when the day took a bad turn.

It was time for the keynote address of the morning, in the form of a conversation between the Synod Moderator and Ms. Glennon Doyle. I had never heard of Ms. Doyle, but the bio in the Synod materials described her as the “New York Times bestselling author of Love Warrior, which was chosen as one of Oprah’s Book Club picks for 2016, as well as the inspiring and hilarious New York Times bestseller, Carry On, Warrior. Doyle is the founder of Momastery, an on-line community where millions of readers meet each week to experience her shameless and laugh-out-loud funny essays about faith, freedom, addiction, recovery, motherhood and serving the marginalized.”

Ms. Doyle’s remarks began with a rundown of all of her life issues—addiction, bulimia, escaping pain, an unexpected pregnancy, a cheating husband, a divorce, etc. She went on to talk about life as “brutal,” but that most everything could be made better if only there was more yoga: “If you can sit with the hot loneliness, that is the journey of the warrior.”

Warrior?  Really?

She also had the enormously annoying habit, after making certain points, to say to the assembled, “Right?” just so that she could gather up a little affirmation from the audience, which seemed much too willing to offer it.

Ms. Doyle suggested that “we are all afraid of the pain,” but that we shouldn’t be, and that pain is the way to transformation— (say this next part in your best Valley Girl voice) because, you know, that’s what happened to Jesus, like he suffered and he could have escaped the pain, but he didn’t, and then he was crucified and then he experienced new life. Right?

Her remarks were delivered in that way that one hears occasionally from people who somehow, mysteriously and on shaky grounds (which Ms. Doyle was at least gracious enough to observe for herself), make it into the public square of purveyors of truth and wisdom. They think they are offering something tremendously original and profound, yet it’s really just pedestrian drivel.

And, what seemed even more problematic to me was, after not only such a great and inspirational morning, but a morning when we were challenged to consider the ways of injustice in our society and in our world, we were confronted by a clueless privileged white girl who appeared to argue that yoga is the answer to problems. And, much, much worse than that, that she touted a message of transformation through suffering and pain after a powerful and meaningful speech by an African American woman whose own family and ancestors likely heard the very same message—that through their suffering, they would—eventually—experience reward. Although Ms. Doyle made reference to Rev. Blackmon as a remarkable person, she seemed to have no actual appreciation for the content or context of the speech that Rev. Blackmon had given. The confrontation against what vexes as a society should have started in the midst of Ms. Doyle’s presentation.

Before it was over, I walked out. Eventually, though, I came back and listened to the rest of the morning’s speakers.

But, then I was done. And, off to the Walker Art Museum I went. And, after that, it was dinner with a few of my new Maine delegation Synod buddies, where we enjoyed the Inner Harbor of Baltimore.

Today’s start is a little later than yesterday. Thank goodness. But, then, there’s lots to do, with community worship this afternoon and a very full plenary session that begins just after dinner.

 

 

 

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