Telling the truth isn’t easy

It’s not easy to write news in a way that covers all the bases. Almost inevitably, someone will feel that their perspective was not well represented, even while another party will say, “That was a great article.” Take for example the recent ENS article on the Presiding Bishop’s visit to North Carolina.

The ENS piece suggested, to me at least, that discussions were not especially easy. When I see phrases like, “open, honest, and frank” that tells me that people spoke their minds. Covering the conversation between clergy and the PB, the article says this: “A dominant concern voiced was that their more conservative views are not heard or represented by the national church leadership. ” I got the picture that our PB got an ear full. Not everyone liked the coverage, including Bishop Mark Lawrence.

Apparently he felt the need to issue a clarification:

What the article failed to convey, however, is the depth of the theological chasm that lies between many of us in South Carolina (and others within the church for that matter) and the trajectory of so much of the leadership of The Episcopal Church. To explore these cavernous depths is indeed the great work that lies before anyone in leadership today. Along with showing hospitality and witnessing to God’s work among us, the earnest exploring of this chasm was and remains one of our chief objectives.

Interesting. I thought the article implied the theological chasm, but the bishop is right: the article didn’t explicitly say that there’s a chasm and how it was addressed. I wonder if it might have been helpful to quote one of the clergy who attended the event? Or perhaps to explictly enumerate more of the specific issues where differences were articulated?

Conservatives often claim that the people at 815 don’t hear their voices. I think there is some truth there. Having written articles about diocesan conventions, I know how hard it is to encapsulate disagreements while focusing on the broader mission of the church. In other words, while conflicts are real, they don’t define who we are. Still, we cannot make the mistake of denying that there are real, perhaps intractable, differences.

Let’s strive to ensure that all voices are heard, even if it makes some others of us cringe a bit. I don’t think ENS white-washed the article, but perhaps the whole picture wasn’t painted. Then again, I wasn’t there, so I just have the words of ENS and Mark Lawrence. Thank you, Bishop Lawrence, for helping us understand what happened from your perspective. Let’s all keep working on this, and listening to one another.

Photo: ENS / Dick Schori

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