From the Epistle lesson for Monday in the week of Proper 5 (Pentecost 2, 2015)
2 Corinthians 10
1 I myself, Paul, appeal to you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ – I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold towards you when I am away! – . . . .
Later in this morning’s pericope, in verse 10, Paul alludes to those who say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.” I have known a lot of people like that. People who, when removed by distance or technology, are bold and forceful, even rude and insulting, but who in person are anything but. In two weeks, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church will take place. Every three years the bishops and representatives of the dioceses gather somewhere to conduct the business of the church: adopt a budget, pass resolutions about social and church issues, enact canons, make weighty decisions (which will mostly be ignored by church members). This year the Convention will decide whether to extend the sacrament of matrimony to same-sex couples; the House of Bishops will elect a new Presiding Bishop and the House of Deputies will vote its affirmation of that vote; decisions will be made about the structure and organization of the church and whether to change it in some way. In the run up to the Convention, there are numerous electronic fora which deputies and bishops may use to express their opinions about these and other issues. Many are taking advantage of Facebook groups, Google, Twitter, an old-style email listserve, and other avenues to forcefully express their opinions. I wonder, though, when we get to the Convention site (Salt Lake City this triennium) whether those same people will be as bold face to face. I’m looking forward to meeting some, not so much some others. It will be fascinating to do so. ~ “Dutch courage” was a term my German grandmother used to describe the misplaced confidence engendered by consumption of alcohol. Perhaps we need a similar descriptor for the boldness that digital distancing provides to those whose emails and Facebook postings are “weighty and strong,” but whose physical presence is not; perhaps “silicon courage”?