The theme of this event I'm attending is Ubuntu. The Episcopal Church website explains:
It's graceful, but I need more explication.
Fortunately, retired Archbishop of Cape Town Desmond Tutu has explained in his wonderful little book God Has a Dream.
That's not an easy teaching for self-regarding, anxious North Americans.
When I heard of the Convention theme, I was reflexively a little anxious about our adoption of it. The Episcopal Church is not an institution which, by and large, understands that mostly white, mostly privileged people ought to consider carefully before they wax enthusiastic about concepts and activities derived from other peoples' cultures.
There's a reason that most of the world thinks Americans are grabby and arrogant. We see something attractive, we think we can have it. Why shouldn't we get a piece, or even take over, what is so obviously a good thing?
Well -- because it is someone else's culture. Theirs not ours. If we blithely assume we can just take up somebody else's concepts, we're not only being happily imperialistic, we're also being shallow and foolish. Cultural mores are the habits of a life time, lived into, not easily put on like a pretty new shirt.
And yet, and yet -- our human species is interdependent. We do live more and more in a global culture. Part of what that gives us is a chance to understand that other people do know things our culture misses. Not all goodness is Made in America. And people like Bishop Tutu do generously (and prudentially) want to share what they know of how people can live in harmony. Learning from each other, with each other, has always been part of how cultures change and grow. So there we are, back to Ubuntu.
Until July 18, I'll be working my butt off at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, trying to move us closer to full inclusion of all baptized people, including LGBT people, in all the life of the Church. This time is what we political junkies call "campaign mode" -- the crazy, exhausting 18 hour days of frenetic activity that sometimes win changes we seek and sometimes lead only to deep disappointment. I'm hopeful about how this project will work out. If you are curious about how we're doing, you can follow all the General Convention news at the LGBT advocacy group Integrity's GC portal. I don't expect to blog during this time except perhaps a few photos, but I've got at least a rudimentary post set up for every day, many of them more reflective than the time-sensitive political commentary I often write here. Enjoy.