The two most memorable characters there were an older gentleman who loudly proclaimed a very orthodox position and the "crazy uncle at the family reunion" character. In my opinion, the Crazy Uncle provided the most comic relief. As the leader began to explain the process the search committee was using, there were questions about why background checks were being done. The leader responded that they had talked with a number of dioceses and that because of the experience of one diocese in electing a bishop whose background later turned out to cause some problems after his election, the decision had been made to do background checks on all individuals being considered for nomination. The Crazy Uncle declared in a loud voice, "it was because he was a "pee dee oo file." There were looks of horror. The leader said that was not the case and quickly moved on. Of course, the CU now has everyone's attention. I guess most people (me included) were wondering whether CU may or may not be violent.
The older gentleman expounds at times that things are fine like they are (very conservative). He opines that his male friends are leaving the church because of all the changes, especially, having women as priests and in leadership positions. That really hit a nerve with me. You would be proud, I did not disrupt the meeting. However, I did lean over to a man sitting next to me and whispered, as old as he is his friends aren't leaving because of women priests. His friends are leaving in coffins!
As the meeting goes on, the CU wanders around the room from time to time and stands or sits next to people and gives the people intense looks. One of the women in the group was addressing the group using a microphone and CU goes and stands directly beside her (he would have been violating my personal space limits) and looks her up and down.
THEN the older gentleman said something that made my head spin around like the possessed girl in the movie, The Exorcist. I'm not sure what his complete statement was now but I heard the phrase "socialist, marxist Jesus. I had read a blog earlier in the week that used the phrase, a "proto marxist hippie Jesus" that had been disturbing me for a couple of days. I did not respond in the meeting but after I got home I did some thinking, some reading and then some writing. Writing helps me get out some of my frustrations so this is my response to the blog commenter and to our older gentleman:
The comment about Jesus being a "counterculture proto-marxist hippie" has disturbed me for days. I had finally put the phrase aside and moved on...........until yesterday. We attended a "listening meeting" that is part of the process for our diocese in selecting a new bishop.
So rather than labeling the actions of Jesus, if we describe his actions, maybe we can come closer to a conversation in which we can all participate and move a little closer to that "beloved community."Having written my frustrations out, I realize that we all have our place at the table. The older gentleman has his place, CU has his place and even I have my place. We each have opportunities to act as Christ to other people no matter what our individual theological beliefs we hold.