Author Topic: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 2006)  (Read 49296 times)

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #60 on: April 27, 2006, 10:15:41 PM »
Quote
Before I go, I express my sorrow that there was no response to my query about the journalistic holes in Pastor Kimball's report from the ELCA Church Council.

I wondered when I read it if he was in the room. If not, where did he get his information. He isn't clear about his source(s).
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #61 on: April 27, 2006, 10:29:07 PM »
Quote
1)The reporting isn’t up to the usual FL standards, so we can’t know what really happened.

2)Too little of the actual discussion is reported, so we can’t know what really happened.

3)The reporting is agenda-based, so we can’t know what really happened.


One should interpret a news report on the front page of a paper quite differently from a letter to the editor. It isn't clear what genre you were writing.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

hansen

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #62 on: April 27, 2006, 11:34:30 PM »
Quote

I've never said that the Bible wrongly condemned homosexual behavior;

I know you didn't, nor did I say you did.  I said "Let's say, for the sake of argument, that in God's eyes, homosexual monogamy is on-par with heterosexual monogamy.  It's only the quality of the individual relationship that matters.  From what I've gathered, that's what Pr. Stoffregen's belief is."  That's all I said, that you said.  

The rest, is from DH.

Quote
but the behaviors it condemns are not that of mutually loving couples in a life-long committed relationship.

Yes, I know.  And everyone else knows.  And counter-arguments have been given, countless times before.  But to no avail, because every single time, it's as if nothing was ever said.  Poof, it's gone, and the argument has to start all over from scratch.  No thanks.  My bottom line on your position, is that it's a painful stretch of eisegesis.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2006, 11:38:28 PM by hansen »

Charles_Austin

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #63 on: April 28, 2006, 03:13:55 AM »
Pastor Kimball writes:
Pr. Austin employs standard rhetorical tactics to discredit my report on the Church Council Response to Metro New York Synod:
1)The reporting isn’t up to the usual FL standards, so we can’t know what really happened.
2)Too little of the actual discussion is reported, so we can’t know what really happened.
3)The reporting is agenda-based, so we can’t know what really happened.

And I comment:
I thank Pastor Kimball for his response. But... as the former president used to say: Here we go again... you are not listening.

I made it clear that I did not intend to "discredit" the report. My criticism was that I didn't have enough information to accept or discredit the report.

Yes, too little of the discussion was reported. There were no quotes to give us the sense of who said what and in what tone of voice. Now we learn that the discussion was about 3 hours over a two-day period. That's useful information. In his report on Pastor Swensson's website, (If I read it correctly) he notes that one effort to make the resolution stronger on the "traditionalist" side failed by a vote of 17-16, with the Presiding Bishop voting on the losing side. That's useful information.

No one would want FL to carry a verbatim of the discussion. But a few quotes, an indication of who were the most prominent speakers and the feeling in the room would have been helpful. Of course, in a way, the decisions made "stand on their own" as you said. But it is critical to this discussion to understand not just the decisions, but how they were reached, and how people felt after they were reached.

And again (and again), I do not question the integrity of Pastor Kimball or his reporting; I only said that - without a fuller report, without some larger sense of the meeting - I could not tell whether the piece was fair. Even if a piece seems to be critical, it can be fair. (And if a piece is intended to be critical, that is all the more reason for the information to be presented fairly.)

And in passing, I will note that while the argument for "space" certainly applies to the printed version of FL, online "space" is virtually unlimited, and - if they wished - FL could have New Yorker-length reports; though I pity the editor that would have to work on such pieces.

I don't know Richard all that well - we only met in Orlando - but Russ will not be surprised to hear that I credit FL with  high standards. But maybe that's self-serving, since I have written numerous articles and reports for Forum Letter, going back to the days when my friend Richard John Neuhaus was editor.

I hope Russ and Richard will not consign me to the ninth circle of Hell if I contend that this report did not meet those standards. And I hope Pastor Kimball will not take it as an assault on his theology or character. When we agree to put our words out there in public, we have to understand that they can be criticized.

I've always told writers in the church: "You wanna be loved? Write successful fund-raising materials. You wanna be a reporter and write journalistically? Be prepared to be un-loved."
« Last Edit: April 28, 2006, 03:26:32 AM by Charles_Austin »

Ken Kimball

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #64 on: April 28, 2006, 05:49:19 AM »
Charles,
Rhetoric and whimsy aside, I acknowledge much of your critique of my journalistic skills to be fair.  Two things: I don't claim to be a journalist--I'm only a parish pastor (albeit with an English degree--a far cry from Journalism).  Two, again the space limitation.  I was asked to submit a piece for the printed FL based on my initial report, a copy of which you found on Pr. Swensson's site--I didn't badger or pester Russ to put my piece in--and among the guidance (instructions) was "don't be too technical" and "no long quotes" and "what did the Presiding Bishop have to say or do". I wasn't asked to do nor did I come offering to do a New Yorker style virtually endless piece.  

I concede the point that I may not have been up to FL's normally high standards and certainly not your own high standards.  Hopefully I will learn from my initial short-comings and the helpful features of your critique.  For that: thank you.  I really don't give a rat's rear about being loved but I do care about writing well--and I care far more about the ELCA and its direction and finding a future in it for my congregations and myself.  
So since we've acknowledged and beaten to death my defects as a reporter and the technical deficiencies of my report, can we get on with the substance of the Church Council's Response and analysis and what it portends (or doesn't portend) for the ELCA?  

And yes, Pr. Stoffregen, I was there at the Church Council meeting for both days, April 1-2.  And Charles, a slight correction: I didn't say the debate on the Response to MNYS was over two days.  I said it was over three hours on Sunday morning into Sunday afternoon (over lunch).  

Ken Kimball

Bergs

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #65 on: April 28, 2006, 06:03:17 AM »
Brian Stoffregen!  Are you writing in Greek all over the other forum topics! ;D

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN
But let me tell Thee that now, today, people are more persuaded than ever that they have perfect freedom, yet they have brought their freedom to us and laid it humbly at our feet. But that has been our doing.
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Charles_Austin

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #66 on: April 28, 2006, 06:17:40 AM »
I think this website has been attacked by spam. I alerted the organizer this am., suggesting that the spam be removed and the site be checked for virii.

Mark C.

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #67 on: April 28, 2006, 12:35:39 PM »
Quote

apparently the only substantive concern had to do with my use of “endorse” in that it was my observation that the CC was disinclined to endorse the CWA rejection of resolution #3.  The Church Council cannot over-ride or invalidate an action of a CWA but it sure can refuse to affirm, defend, stand next to, or embrace with enthusiasm an action of a CWA.    


You are correct that the Church Council cannot over-ride or invalidate an CWA action (at least in theory, but I'm not sure that this is as clear cut in practice).  But the CWA rejection of resolution #3 is an action to not take action.   The CWA didn't pass some other resolution.  It simply didn't pass the resolution.  That leaves things as if the resolution had never been offered.  There are certainly political realties around the rejection, but there is still no CWA established policy on ordination and rostering of gay and lesbian persons.  The CWA took no action on that, leaving the status quo intact.  If the Church Council were to change Vision and Expectations and the Guidelines for Discipline at it's next meeting, there may be a political reality it flies in the face of, but the Council would not be reversing a CWA decision.  A failure to pass a resolution is simply not the same as passing a resolution that says the opposite.

It's possible that a "disinclination" on the part of the ELCA Church Council to "endorse" rejection of Resolution 3, may be a recognition that the CWA simply passed no resolution about the ordination issue, one way or another.

pastorg1@aol.com

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #68 on: April 28, 2006, 02:00:12 PM »
Phaedra

"Witless! Where am I? What have I said?
Where do I let my thoughts and feelings wander?
I must be mad, the gods have crazed my mind."

Phaedra Act I. Scene III. Jean Racine - Samuel Solomon, Translator.

In other words, the ELCA drives me nuts.

Pete
« Last Edit: April 28, 2006, 02:02:14 PM by pastorg1@aol.com »
Pete Garrison

Charles_Austin

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #69 on: April 28, 2006, 03:03:30 PM »
Mark C. Writes:

That leaves things as if the resolution had never been offered.  There are certainly political realties around the rejection, but there is still no CWA established policy on ordination and rostering of gay and lesbian persons.  The CWA took no action on that, leaving the status quo intact.  If the Church Council were to change Vision and Expectations and the Guidelines for Discipline at it's next meeting, there may be a political reality it flies in the face of, but the Council would not be reversing a CWA decision.  A failure to pass a resolution is simply not the same as passing a resolution that says the opposite.

It's possible that a "disinclination" on the part of the ELCA Church Council to "endorse" rejection of Resolution 3, may be a recognition that the CWA simply passed no resolution about the ordination issue, one way or another.
     
I note:
This may be a very astute observation; but I suspect it won't be well received here.

James_Gale

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #70 on: April 28, 2006, 04:39:33 PM »
Charles --

My views certainly trend toward the orthodox side of issues normally discussed here, and I receive Mark's comments very well.  

Let's try to bring some clarity to the issues that are running through this thread.

First, Mark is absolutely right that the CWA took no positive action when it rejected Recommendation 3 from the Sexuality Task Force.  It did not, by this vote or otherwise, restrict the Church Council's power to revise either Vision and Expectations or Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline.  These two documents are creatures of the Church Council, which retains full power to change (or repeal) them.  See http://www.elca.org/candidacy/vision_ordained.html and http://www.elca.org/legal/synods/guidelines.html.  

As Mark points out, there may be a "political reality" that restrains the Church Council from revising Vision and Expectations at this time.  (In my view, in light of the CWA vote on Recommendation 3 and the fact that upcoming CWAs will be taking up the sexuality issue again, the Church Council should recognize such a "political reality" and refrain from any action now changing Vision and Expectations.)

Second, the Church Council's decision was much less tentative or ambiguous than the lead article in this thread suggests.  True enough, the resolution finds that the MNYS resolution is "probably not" in compliance with ELCA governing documents.  Why did the resolution hedge rather than ruling in absolute terms?  "There are inherently conflicting statements" in the MNYS resolution.  On the one hand, the resolution purports not to change ELCA policy.  And to the extent that these statements are accurate, the MNYS action is in the nature of a "sense" of the synod resolution.  Such a resolution has no effect on practice and therefore would not be contrary to ELCA governing documents.  However, other parts of the MNYS resolution do appear to contemplate a revision of ELCA disciplinary standards and practices in the MNYS.  To the extent that this was intended, the Church Council makes clear without any ambiguity that the MNYS resolution is not in concurrence with ELCA governance documents.   http://www.elca.org/secretary/governance/Actions20060404.pdf at pp. 9-14.

(I have to run now, and don't have time to proofread or edit.  Please forgive any typos, etc.)

Richard Johnson

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #71 on: April 28, 2006, 04:48:21 PM »
Quote
I hope Russ and Richard will not consign me to the ninth circle of Hell if I contend that this report did not meet those standards. And I hope Pastor Kimball will not take it as an assault on his theology or character. When we agree to put our words out there in public, we have to understand that they can be criticized.  


I don't have that authority, and as you know, we theological conservatives are all about authority.

Whether Russ has that authority or not, I don't know. I haven't seen his job description. But he's the one who decides what actually goes into Forum Letter, so my opinion of Pr. Kimball's article is irrelevent. (This is one of the advantages of having an associate editor. We each can blame the other.)

But then on the other hand, I'm the one who has the authority, more or less, to decide what Forum Letter articles get posted here. So maybe I am to blame for something. Heck, I'm to blame for plenty of things, being in bondage to sin and all, so why not this?

I'm not to blame for the recent spate of spam, however. We're trying to correct it. In the meantime, our readers can take a proactive stance. If a new topic is entitled "smgetyg%$m" or "pharmonline," chances are high it's spam. Nobody requires you to read it. I can promise you that I'll check it out, and if somebody starts a real topic with a title like that, I'll step in and change the title.

Humbly at your service,

roj
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #72 on: April 28, 2006, 06:22:30 PM »
Quote
Brian Stoffregen!  Are you writing in Greek all over the other forum topics! ;D

Whenever possible and appropriate.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #73 on: April 28, 2006, 06:30:34 PM »
Quote
To the extent that this was intended, the Church Council makes clear without any ambiguity that the MNYS resolution is not in concurrence with ELCA governance documents.   http://www.elca.org/secretary/governance/Actions20060404.pdf at pp. 9-14.

This is also the way it is reported in The Lutheran (May 2006). The headline states: "Council: Synod resolution conflicts with policy."
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Bergs

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #74 on: May 03, 2006, 10:10:20 AM »
For whatever it is worth, the more radical revisionists believe the ELCA News Service got it wrong in their headline.  

Grace & Peace
Brian J. Bergs

www.goodsoil.org

ELCA News Service Misrepresents Church Council Decision

-- 2006-05-02

The ELCA News Service, among others, has stated erroneously that the ELCA Church Council found a Metropolitan New York Synod (MNYS) resolution to be in conflict with ELCA Church rules when the Council’s action clearly stated only that the MNYS resolution may be read as being in conflict.

Because the Church Council’s ruling was not definitive, it is important that Synod Assemblies continue to voice concerns regarding the relationship between the ELCA’s mission and its processes for discipline and candidacy. Your help is needed to bring this issue before your Synod Assembly.

At its April 1-2, 2006 meeting, the Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America responded to a MNYS request received last fall for an evaluation of a resolution the synod adopted at a special assembly on October 29, 2005. The resolution stated in sum that the MYNS would not disqualify a candidate for ministry in a committed same-gender relationship solely on the basis of the relationship. The MYNS said in the resolution that it would put that fact in the context of what was best for the mission of the synod and the church before rendering judgment.

In a response as nuanced as the resolution itself, the Church Council said, in part, "that the resolution contains inherently conflicting statements that may be read as being in conflict with the constitution and bylaws of this church" (emphasis added).

In reporting the action by the Council, the ELCA News Service misrepresented the decision by the Council when it issued a press release headlined "ELCA Council Finds Synod Resolution Conflicts With Church Rules." Clearly the Council has not done that. In fact, the lengthy press release itself did not support that headline; rather it laid out the nuanced position the Council had taken in its decision.

Unfortunately for the truth, many people do not read much further than headlines, and headlines are often all that is remembered. And, there are others who will knowingly use this very flawed headline to their own purposes. The ELCA News Service has an obligation to exercise a care for precise language equal to the church bodies it reports on, especially on sensitive issues. Clearly, the ELCA News Service failed miserably in this instance, and should revise its press release and issue a corrected version as widely as the original.

But let me tell Thee that now, today, people are more persuaded than ever that they have perfect freedom, yet they have brought their freedom to us and laid it humbly at our feet. But that has been our doing.
The Grand Inquisitor