For years I’ve been convinced than Anglican clergy live in a theological bubble, drifting aimlessly on an ocean of meaningless letters generally preceded by LGBT. Now, it seems Anglican deacons are awakening from their stupor and, much as Plato’s cave dwellers, wish to see what lies beyond the rainbow shadows that have hitherto been their only encounter with the cosmos and venture into the Real World.
To this end, they have sought inspiration not, as one might have hoped from the Bible, but from Elizabeth May and Leonard Cohen, the first of whom sees everything through a green mist and the second a sexual haze.
From Leonard they learned that “there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in” and from Elizabeth that “If you don’t have informed practice, you’re just flapping your arms in the wind”, rather like one of her beloved windmills.
After that blaze of illumination, who needs the Bible?
Hosted by the Chapter of Deacons of the Diocese of British Columbia, the conference brought together more than 70 deacons from almost every diocese in Canada, as well as representatives from U.S.-based The Episcopal Church, to talk about poverty, homelessness and reconciliation.
The conference kicked off July 27, in the evening, with an address by Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada.
Reflecting on a famous line from Leonard Cohen’s song “Anthem” (“There is a crack in everything/That’s how the light gets in”), May challenged the deacons to engage with the tension between the perfection of God’s creation and the pain and brokenness of the world.
Sharing from her own experience with tent city, she noted that good intentions are often not enough to make real and lasting changes in people’s lives, and that “lovely acts of kindness that don’t change anything” aren’t enough if they aren’t coupled with a wider analysis of the structural barriers marginalized people face.
“If you don’t have informed practice, you’re just flapping your arms in the wind,” she said.