Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The art of the possible

"Successful politics is often the art of the possible rather than the achievement of perfection."

That's the quote I took with me to Anaheim. (I'm not sure who to attribute and Google came up short, so if you've got a byline send it on over.) And that's the success we brought home to celebrate.

For there while there is no arguing that what we accomplished at the 76th General Convention was in any way "perfection" (there are miles to go before "full inclusion" is a reality) what we did manage was to open up the possible -- on both ordinations and blessings -- and for that I am deeply, deeply grateful.

What I'm sitting here thinking about this evening (in addition to Manny Ramirez's Grand-Slam-in-the-6th-Inning-of-the-Dodger game I'm watching!) is how grateful I am for all those who have -- down through the years -- practiced the "art of the possible" in the service of justice, compassion and God's inclusive love -- not exclusively in the Episcopal Church, but particularly.
I think about how far this church has come in my lifetime -- yep, that's 55 years now -- as it continues to strive to live up to the baptismal covenant we share. And I'm thinking we've gotten as far as we have gotten by achieving one possible thing at a time on the road to the perfect -- AKA "thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven."

Not likely to come in our lifetime, but we labor on anyway. And I, for one, am more deeply grateful than I have words to express for all of the leadership and commitment to this Episcopal Church by those who have labored together as -- what St. Verna of Dozier named us -- a "peculiar people."

I think about Louie Crew -- who started Integrity as a newsletter response to his incredulous realization that there was NOT an organized witness for gay and lesbian Episcopalians. (That was then ... this is now: and where would we be without Quean Lutibelle?)

I think about all those early Integrity pioneers who had to rely on straight allies to speak on the floor of the House of Deputies for us. I think about those who returned again and again, convention after convention, open hearing after open hearing -- to "stand in the temple and tell" the truth of the love, commitment and values of their lives, their vocations and their relationships in the face of those who used biblical texts as weapons as they named them abominations ... and worse. Year after year. Hearing after hearing. Resolution after resolution.

I think about those straight allies who bore our burdens and shared in the struggle -- often paying the price of sharing our marginalization. Tonight I'm thinking particularly of my own Rector Emeritus, George Regas, whose ground breaking sermon "God, Sex & Justice" in 1990 opened up the way for All Saints Church to begin the blessing of same-sex unions nearly two decades ago.

I think about Edmond Browning whose radical-at-the-time proclamation that "in this church there will be no outcasts" inspired a generation and what a blessing it was to us that he was there with us in Anaheim last week to share another step forward toward that goal together.

I think about Michael Hopkins -- who was Integrity's president when I first became involved with its work and witness -- and whose mentorship and friendship has meant more to me than I can possibly express. Gifted preacher, able politician and careful pastor, Michael is one of the "rock stars" of the movement who exemplifies "the art of the possible" -- perhaps never more so than when working with Ed Bacon to bring all the LGBT advocacy organizations together to form the "Claiming the Blessing" collaborative in 2002. His wise counsel and savvy leadership was thankfully present again in Anaheim and what a gift he is to not only his own parish and to Integrity but to the whole church!

Just the tip of the iceberg of the great cloud of witnesses whose commitment to the art of the possible has made possible the progress we celebrate even as we commit to continue the struggle until there truly are NO outcasts.

So let's celebrate a little. Reflect a little. Sleep in a little and hydrate a little. And then let's get back to work.

Because what General Convention 2009 has made possible is the continued building up of this church as a beacon of inclusion, justice, compassion and love -- and the ones who have been given the task of proclaiming that good news ... of being evangelists ... is US!

Yes, we'll be back in Indianapolis practicing the political art of the possible as we strive toward the perfect. But in the meantime, the task in front of us is building up the body where we are now. Calling others to come and see what we have seen in the inclusive love of God made present in the work and witness of the Episcopal Church. And then empowering them to go and do likewise.

Ready ... Set ... GO!!


Wayne said...

Politics is the art of the possible.
Otto Von Bismarck, remark, Aug. 11, 1867
German Prussian politician (1815 - 1898)

Theh original quote was much shorter, which may have thrown off your search.

I'm not sure Otto Bismarck was an ideal model, tho his insight still pertains.

I think I remember Hubert Humphrey saying that in politics, "Half a loaf is better than long as you remember where you left the other half so you can get it later."


Jean-Marc said...

I'm French and episcopalian, living in Paris. I'm happy about these resolutions, but it seems that no blessing will be offered to my partner and I in Europe, since our bishop has signed the Anaheim Statement.

john said...

Do you realize, it's five days since GC2009



Sue - Duluth, MN said...

And think how far we have come since Gene Robinson's election was confirmed with police walking the catwalk above the convention center floor.