Tuesday, 29 July 2008

optimism and pessimism

Chris and Bob with Bishop Barry Clarke of Montreal

Steve and the Canadian bishop of Saskatoon

Ron and Bishop Terry Brown of Malaita

Steve and Bishop Dennis Drainville, co-adjutor bishop of Quebec

Steve and I were staffing the Marketplace display for Inclusive Church in the afternoon, while the second half of the African voices presentation were taking place. The bishops had the afternoon off, so the traffic was reasonably brisk. [not all these photos were today]

Generally speaking, there are three types of visitors: those who respond in kind when you greet them with "good afternoon", and who slow down, or not, but don't really engage with the display staff. This is hardly surprising, there is a LOT of material in the Marketplace, and the bishops have more programming than they can possibly attend. Then there are those who come by, somehow see the dread words gay or lesbian, or who actually figger out what "Inclusive Church" means. Their eyes get real big, and they either say hello in a rather strangled way and scuttle past, or they pass by on the other side. One of the Canadian bishop's wives did precisely that this afternoon.

Then there are those who talk to us at length. We've been fortunate to talk to several bishops (not always at the display). I've heard comments both gloomy and positive: one bishop thinks that people are not prepared to make many concessions and is waiting for something nasty and directive to emerge. Another bishop finds his Indaba group discussions to be not bad, that while there was some crankiness about the structure set up for discussions, they're prepared [now] to go along with it, and listen carefully to others of different viewpoints. Bishop Brown of Malaita was at the 1998 Conference, and says that while he could wish for better discussions, the atmosphere is so much less tense and hostile this year than ten years ago, it has to be a better conference.

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