Puzzling votes in the House of Bishops

Something strange happened this morning in the House of Bishops.

First the Bishops voted down a resolution to suggest the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music received $105,000 to cover its total cost in the next three years. This sum had been in previously circulated budget drafts and covers ‘business as usual.’

Then the same Bishops sitting in the same chairs of the same room approved a resolution to suggest the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music received $200,000 to cover the total cost of fulfilling request of the Convention and duties set out in our rules (canons). This sum had not been in previously circulated budget drafts and presumably does not cover ‘business as usual.’

Same people sitting around the same tables in the same room a few minutes apart with different results for no apparent reason.

You have to understand the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music is a central part of our church.

And perhaps you have to understand the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music has brought before this Convention controversial and contentious proposals to permit the blessing of same gender couples.

And you might want to know a bishop from Texas said he would vote against these resolutions because what the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music is doing is an example of what’s wrong with this church and the way we govern ourselves. He said making new liturgies is an example what we do wrong – that it is spending money on ourselves instead of on mission.

How should we connect these dots? I don't know the bishop in question, so I can only guess at competeing theories. This Bishop from Texas may have unintentionally let us see behind of the screen of smoke and mirrors and catch a glimpse of an effort to create as much chaos as possible in the hope this will open the door for revolutionary, radical “structural change” to slip through. Or perhaps he has just lost patience with business as usual and is acting up because he feels powerless to affect real change. Or maybe he is one of those folks who likes the through a wrnech in the process to see what happens or in the hope of changing things. 

I can see why even a bishop can feel powerless at the General Convention. Budget proposals seem to come before each house at least two times, and action by both houses does not insure an expenditure will actually be in the budget. Once passed by both houses each budget resolution goes to the budget committee where it may or may not make it into the final budget proposal that goes back for approval by Deputies and the Bishops. Whether creating chaos causes change or creates unintended consequences for our church remains to be seen. It is early in the General Convention but already it seems smoke and mirrors are being pressed into service.