Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Nose pressed against the glass

Like many other synods, the life of the Outsider is definitely from outside. The bishops come and see us when they can, and other hangers-on come by the display, and some conversations take place. But that's a small cross-section. To some extent, you feel (let's not generalise: *I* feel) as if my nose is pressed up against the outside of the window-glass. The bishops are meeting in plenary, in Indaba groups, in bible study, and the overlap with us isn't large. I was going to say "sequestered", but that's too strong. But thou-shalt-not go anywhere without your ID badge (and lanyard). The Lambeth organisers are quite antsy about potential disruptions and demonstrations. This means you need to sign up for various events beforehand, and get checked off a list as you enter. I have to show my ID to get in to the Franciscan centre at 10am for a Eucharist (this is the one for the workers - about twenty people show up). I understand why they feel the need to put such a tight lid on things - thank you, Peter Tatchell (*). But it is frustrating.

There are other venues to interact, of course: fringe events that we can get to, and sitting around Rutherford college where we might see more purple-shirted traffic. As he reminded me, coming here is work. We shouldn't be pining that we can't be in the plenary halls, but (like a political convention) working the halls. I'm staffing the display as I key this in, but when my shift is done at 1pm, I'll go do that.

(*) he said ironically. Peter Tatchell is a UK gay activist who has less than no time for the church, and who has invaded Lambeth Palace garden events, and interrupted George Carey preaching an Easter sermon at Canterbury Cathedral. That sort of action is NOT helpful for those of us trying to work inside the church for inclusion - it is positively repellent [well if THAT's the way those dreadful homos are, I want nothing to do with them] for those in positions of power and capable of effective change. It also prompts hyper-caution among organisers, and makes it that much more difficult for us here at Lambeth to actually interact with the conference participants.

Chris at the marketplace display

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