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June 27, 2008: The Levees Have Broken

This morning I was watching the news. It is somewhat disconcerting to see real life in the midst of the bubble of a General Assembly. Even so, there was a spiritual resonance with the levees breaking.

Earlier this week, I described this Assembly as a 55:45 progressive leaning Assembly. Yesterday, as the day went on, we watched the voting percentages move to 60:40, then 65:35; and later to almost 70:30. It is difficult to say what is the driving force behind the shift. Perhaps it was the Fred Phelps idiot protesters outside the Marriott, perhaps it was something inside.

By and large, committee reports are going through as recommended. There was one interesting phenomenon yesterday: after the nFoG vote (to refer and keep it alive for a couple more years until the next Assembly), there seemed to be a collective desire to not handle anything controversial. The Assembly spent almost four hours (including a dinner break to try to sort things out) arguing over an amendment regarding Church Extension Funds. Then we spent another hour or so talking about sunset clauses for non-geographic language-specific presbyteries. Thus, we never got to the issue of the definition of marriage. That gets added to todays list.

Given the shift in voting, today promises to be a long, long day. I have a spiritual picture of the levee breaking. Abortion, ordination standards, marriage, Israel/Palestine, Iraq are all on the docket. It is my expectation that we will see a series of decisions likely to flood the larger church with anxiety and frustration; that is: authoritative interpretations to G-6.0106b that make Fidelity & Chastity optional (the John Knox overture, which does not need presbytery approval), another overture to delete G-6.0106b, the condemnations of Israel and companies doing business with Israel. and the like. The only question is whether the Assembly will overturn the committee recommendation to not re-define marriage. The mood on the floor suggests is possible.

This will be it for me in San Jose. It is unlikely we will be completed with business until late in the night and I'll spend tomorrow driving. I hope these updates and reflections have been helpful to you. God bless you and thanks for reading.