Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Viewfinder

One of the many ways that clergy shout into the wind, saying helpful things that no one listens to, is trying to get people to not take endless snapshots durings weddings, baptisms, and even occaisionally funerals. You end up looking like a Blue Meanie on the issue of the flash and telling people that these disturb people. And they do. While getting sudden bursts of light during worship is a good thing, I don't think this is what God had in mind.

I have an another beef, though, and it has to do with the viewfinder. When you are photographing or videotaping something, you are looking for the perfect shot. You see the world through the perspective of this frame called a viewfinder. Things must fit in it. The value of an event is determined by how it will look in the viewfinder. And anything outside the viewfinder is unimportant.

So Dear Uncle Eddy jumps out into the aisle and pops off the camera--with the flash--just at the moment when the priest is pouring water on the baby's head in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit not because dear little Baby Esmerelda is being initiated into Christ's One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. No, he is trying to "catch" the moment and what a great picture that will be.

Well, true. But in trying to get just the right picture, we may overlook that Uncle Eddy has both promised to uphold Esmerelda in her life in Christ and, by the way, renewed his own baptismal vows. And then there is the fact that we are doing these as a community, which is a wonderful thing in and of itself, and might be missed if we are all looking through viewfinders.

I say this because most of the press coverage of the Convention has been strictly through the viewfinder. On arrival, most of the press were still covering the General Convention of 2003. Similar headlines, similar analysis. A few things did happen since then. Just the same the first viewfinder has Minneapolis II.

Bishop Katherines election as PB is a case in point.

The second viewfinder is conflict and all the people who are unhappy about something. Very few blogs that I have read have talked about what a marvelous and unexpected thing we have done. Most of the blogs and news reports have spent at least some energy on the traps ahead and on the numbers of unhappy people. Well, the people who are thrilled here outnumber the people who are unhappy by a huge percentage--80-85% or more. But they don't put their energy into blogs or running down reporters. The unhappy people do and will and have.

I need to repent of this, and remember that the flavor of what is going on here is on the floor and in the connections with the people all around us and not just in the pressroom. The Holy Spirit has done a marvelous, glorious thing and is still doing something marvelous and glorious. We just don't know yet what that will be.

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