That sound you’ve been hearing for the past few weeks has been the sound of many eager deputies, flipping electronic pages in their PDF copies of the Blue Book*
The Blue Book is the 759 page tome of reports from committees, boards, and agencies to the 2012 General Convention, and it’s required, and somewhat gripping, reading. (Did you know there was a guy who is the Custodian to the Standard Book of Common Prayer? Did you know he writes a report? Doesn’t that conjure images in your head of the one, true, perfect BCP held in a vault of 815 Second Ave, NYC with Frodo and Sam guarding it?)
I am going to Convention this summer, and am on the legislative committee for Canons. While both of these facts mean that I have suddenly become way less fun at parties (“Want me to explain Title IV charges to you?”), they also mean that I get to highlight my PDF within an inch of its life. And that I get to learn all about ALL OF THE RULES.
Canons are nothing more than how we intentionally order our common life. Our ground rules. And as such, our attempts to set them are fascinating.
My former diocese had this practice of reciting our diocesan norms at every gathering. We would promise each other not to yell, not to name call, not to “impune the spiritual maturity of those who disagreed with us.” To watch newcomers’ eyes widen as they recited these was great. What trauma had befallen these poor people, that they set these rules?!
Rules, or our attempts at them, are thus instructive. Learn the rules, learn yourself.
It is in this spirit, that I will now attempt to bring you an overview, over the next few days, of the proposed canonical changes at GC2012. I’ll just hit the highlights, not include every grammar fix and language-clean up.
Resolution A030: Renunciation language
Proposed by the Standing Committee on Constitution and Canons
This resolution proposes to alter language in the canons around clergy who voluntarily renounce their orders. Apparently, certain sections of the church find the current ‘renunciation’ language to be too negative. This canon replaces this language with ‘release and remove’ which, I suppose, sounds better?
The gist of the whole thing is that people who no longer want to be clergy shouldn’t feel so bad about it, and we should find better language.
This resolution also includes an alteration to give bishops, who have been charged with abandonment of the church, the option to be released from their vows. Given our current situation, with bishops trying to abscond with dioceses and parishes and whatnot, I’d say that offering someone that option of voluntary renunciation (or release) is a good move. And saves on legal fees.
Resolution A033: Fixing Title IV
Proposed by the Standing Committee on Constitutions and Canons
Looking ahead to the B,C, and D resolutions, there are several requests afoot to revise Title IV, and right after we succeeded in getting the darn thing written, too. This set of revisions, among other things, provides a process to file a complaint, provides for the complainant to have an advocate without having to hire a lawyer, and specifies bounds for confidentiality.
Whether this will succeed in satisfying people’s problems with Title IV remains to be seen.
Resolution A061: Bibles!
Proposed by the Standing Committee on Liturgy and Music
The biblical translations read from during church services is decided by the canons. SCLM wants to add the Common English Bible and The Message to the approved translations.
While nothing says you can’t use whatever Bible you want to in your daily life, this suggestion has caused great controversy in the various listservs and Twitterspheres of the church. Apparently, The Message inspires controversy not seen since the advent of the Folk Mass. I will point out, however, that just because a Bible is approved, does not mean you have to use it.
The Good News Bible (1976) is already approved. That ship of “preserving formal equivalence” has sailed.
Resolution A062: Getting a Spanish BCP that Spanish-Speakers won’t mock us for
Speaking of formal equivalence! Know what preserves it? Our prayer book translations! They tend to be literal, clunky and awkward for native speakers, or anyone with more than a ‘liturgical’ knowledge of the language. This is not helpful when we’re trying to do ministry in growing non-English speaking populations.
Therefore, the SCLM wants to free up the translators to use idiomatic language and cultural context in their translations. Since one of the strengths of Anglicanism is our ability to adapt to various cultures, this makes a lot of sense.
Also, the report of the Custodian of the Standard Book of Common Prayer was all about how we should pass this resolution. So there’s that.
I’ll leave it there for now.
Next time, we’ll look at the proposals from the Standing Committee on Ministry Development: Many New Ways of Firing Someone!
*Which isn’t Blue. Rather, it’s salmon-colored, according to the Preface. Or would be, if it were actually made of paper, and had a cover. Instead, it’s electronic. This is a very meta book, you understand. The coen of its blueness/non-blueness helps us to contemplate the unknowableness of divinity.