Home General News Obadiah Slope on Conservatives, Progressives, Tears and Testimonials

Obadiah Slope on Conservatives, Progressives, Tears and Testimonials

by ervte

Half a lifetime ago, Obadiah attended a few annual conferences of the old Australian Union of Students (AUS). The young Peter Costello and Tony Abbott got their political practices sharpened there. Feverish caucusing, battles for votes, all-night business sessions.

Obadiah was more a unionist than she was, kind of the dodgy centrist he is today. He became a media official, the only non-Marxist official in the union.Obadiah Slope on Conservatives, Progressives, Tears and Testimonials

AUS met at Monash Uni and, at that time, the Australian Fellowship of Evangelical Students on the other side of campus. Obadiah hurried across the sports fields to the other side. He felt equally at home or equally uncomfortable on both sides. Life was just as complicated as it is now. Obadiah still ponders how Christians relate to a society that thinks differently from God’s flock.

This brings us to the General Synod of the Anglican Church. Obadiah was there all last week. It felt very much like the controversial sequence of the AUS talk fest.

Only much milder. And a much better president. (Thank you, Archbishop Geoff Smith of Adelaide.)

Obadiah can report that he was not threatened with being physically beaten, which happened at AUS for a year.

At AUS, the correct terms were still gay and lesbian for the themes that arose at the time and that dominated the synod. We’re talking pre-Mardi Gras.

Obadiah can testify that there were tears and sadness at the synod, especially when certain motions were rejected on both the conservative and progressive sides. Obadiah would have preferred to see more tears during the speech than after the votes because this topic must be discussed through tears.

And sometimes it was. Peter Sherlock was in tears as he discussed his life as a gay man in the Church. Obadiah felt we could have heard more such personal stories. Nobel assured the whole synod that he loved them.

What better place to learn about dealing with divisions in the Church? As evidenced by the election results in which several conservatives won key committees, we were amidst a historic shift towards a more conservative church.

The headline in Australia’s new youth website, The OZ, was 100 percent wrong. Anglican Church says YES to same-sex marriage.

An early vote in the synod caused the House of Bishops to block a conservative motion. But it was just nonstop action. The Conservatives won the other key voices. Could the progressives stop the conservatives only by votes by houses – laity, clergy, and bishops?

There was a noticeable lack of rancor as Obadiah watched the week unfold at the press desk at the back of the conference room—occasional eruptions, just like the rain, but no sustained downpours.

A very Anglican revolution has started this week. Very polite with finely crafted speechmaking. Scrupulous rules of the meeting procedure. There were only a few blows when the result of the vote was announced – and it was made clear that this was NOT the intention.

A prayer: Let me choose a phrase from the night prayers or Compline, although that may seem unusual to those I want to pray for.

Take care of the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying; soothe the afflicted, pity the afflicted, protect the joyful, and all for the sake of your love. Amen.

Protect the happy. Please save the conservatives at the General Synod of Triumphalism.

Vale: Because he was not in his usual place, Obadiah missed something important, a memorial service for Judy. Unfailingly cheerful, even though she had few possessions and could easily be overlooked in a success-oriented world, Judy was a guardian angel. She had the gift of showing up when she could help, sometimes in dramatic circumstances. And suddenly, as he’s typing this at the Gold Coast airport, Obadiah wipes away his tears.

Judy, like others, taught me that we are all fundamentally equal in the kingdom of God. And in the reverse domain, she is ahead of me. It’s not just a theory; it works in real life.

I fell for it: There was a fake message in my email from work. It took the title of a recent email and mimicked a Microsoft login. Sorry, dear techs at work. You know who you are.

Explainer: Obadiah needs to ensure that readers “get” the name of this column, only to avoid Facebook questions. It was an oddly appropriate nickname this week as it comes from Anthony Trollope’s overly long Victoria novels – Obadiah Slope is the “abominable evangelical” who wreaks havoc on a cathedral community. So listening to Rt Reverends, Venerables, Bishops with diagonal moves, and Very Reverends for a week, although I had to look one up to get it right, I felt Obadiah the most.

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