Thursday, September 27, 2018

A homily for candidates and electors in any selection process

Luke 9:7-9
Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead,  by some that Eli′jah had appeared, and by others that one of the old prophets had risen. Herod said, “John I beheaded; but who is this about whom I hear such things?” And he sought to see him.

So it begins.  A weekend of seeing each other in the flesh and of hearing the clicking mineral sounds of minds being made up and the churning liquid sounds of minds being changed. 

Deborah Kerr, Julie Andrews and others might have said or, rather, sung:

“Getting to know you.  Getting to know all about you”

which might suggest that, somewhere out there, is a reservoir of facts - information, additional items and increments - which further answers to pointed questions will provide.  Under this logic, the more our delegates and parish members pump the candidates for answers to their questions, and their views on the issues delegates feel are important, the more they’ll know them.  Is that how it works?

Surely, though, there’s a difference between

“knowing that….” or
“knowing how…”

and the type of knowing we claim when we say that we “know” a person.

There could be a problem with the English language which doesn’t differentiate between

Savoir and ConnaƮtre or
Wissen and Kennen

the way other languages do.  To the English language you might need to specify the nuance that coming to know a person has a dialectical element to it.

Our anticipation
must meet with
its contradiction

so that
a new thing emerges

which is not directly the fruit of what we first believed.

I was visiting friends in Albuquerque New Mexico years ago.  I was alone in the apartment one morning  Their phone rang and, and as a guest, I let it ring.  It switched to the answering machine and what I heard next on the speaker was a political robo-call of some sort relating to the State elections which were taking place at the time.

Candidate A was rubbishing his opponent, candidate B

who, it appears, wanted to raise taxes (and was happy to let terrorists teach kindergarten) but who, most importantly, had “flip flopped” on Proposition 6 (whatever that was).  I remember thinking, at the time, that changing one’s mind was clearly considered to be a sign of weakness in a candidate for a State election. 

Why should that be? 

Perhaps candidate B had gotten the interns doing a little research and now knew more about it.  Perhaps Candidate B was tough enough to stand up to her own constituency association and her donors because, after researching the matter thoroughly, she had come to the opinion that Proposition 6 was an utter dog and needed to be opposed. 

Let’s hear it for flip floppers! 

Let’s hear it for men and women who are not so tied to first impressions, or the search for a candidate whose opinions are completely congruent with their own, that they cease to be open to sensing the candidate with whom they could build a healthy and life-giving relationship.

Facts and additional increments of information might not do that.  Reserve may not be helpful.  Expressions of personality in question-and-answer sessions, in informal conversations over coffee might well fit the bill better.

We could quite realistically, as candidates, as electors and as non-voting persons involved in the transition process in our Convocation, pray earnestly for a hearty process of loss and gain this weekend.  We should be happy with a dynamic process this weekend in which our delegates and visitors arrive at the Town Hall meetings in Paris, Munich and Rome, with their minds made up and end up needing to admit, either sheepishly or with immense pride, that they have changed their minds.

I was pleased to see today's eucharistic lectionary reading from Luke's Gospel at the beginning of a series of town hall meetings.  Herod is eager to meet Jesus and to compare his person with his reputation.  With friendlier intentions, but no less curiosity, our delegates are eager to meet you.






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