With the 225th diocesan annual convention winding down later today, it’s fitting to reflect on lessons learned from protesting outside the meeting and related questions.
What is most notable about the convention is that, with all those dog collars roaming around, not one person asked me about my protests. Not one. Yes, there were a ton of hits on the blog, and a few people took my photo, but nothing beyond that.
The lack of communication is telling. As a modern-day metaphoric leper at the gate, my situation underscores one of the great myths about the church, which is that it is inclusive. It is not. Most often, it’s just indifferent. That’s sad, because it directly contradicts Jesus’ message about “as you have done to the least of these, so also have you done unto me.”
If nothing else, when I have seen demonstrators, persons with car problems or other issues outside my church, I’ve always made it a point to welcome them in. Many say no, fearing that the invite is a recruitment effort. But quite a few also have found that, even if the church doesn’t meet a need for a spiritual home, it’s at least a safe place to shelter from the vicissitudes of life.
My inclination would also be to learn more and see if there is anything I could do to help. If nothing else, I’d be concerned about the church’s reputation, and eager to do what I can to at least soften the conflict.
(It’s also amusing to see Episcopalians pretending they don’t see you. It’s like a Monty Python movie:
“It’s a bloody protester.”
“No, you daft bastard, it’s bloody terrorist. Why, he’s even carrying a sign.”
“Blimey, and I thought he was a protestor!”
“Well, I can’t see him. Can you?”)
That also points to underlying integrity issues with the church. How can the church be healthy and whole when it ignores problems literally at its doorstep? Hardly loving, liberating or life-giving.
That also raises the more tactical question: Will the diocese and its attorneys have the integrity to admit that Bob Malm committed perjury? Or will they try to defend conduct that is utterly indefensible?
If past results are any indication of future performance, they will do their utmost to avoid addressing the elephant in the room.