Bishop Alan Wilson, Buckingham, one of the bishop bloggers the Café follows, asks Why So Crypto?. Although he is talking about the Church of England - the same questions apply to The Episcopal Church and especially the House of Bishops.
When church members who come from different points of view on the issues of the day are asking the same questions about secrecy, perhaps there is something troubling? Bishop Alan suggest the advantages to public discussion, what do you think?
Here are some distinct advantages to public discussion, especially if it can be conducted by people who listen to each other with mutual respect and a longing to understand:
Openness prevents people treating questions as settled before, in fact, they are. Premature closure breeds immaturity in a community, and privileges reductionism.
As we discover with open source software, openness is the precondition of collaboration. When I am open I trust others with thoughts that matter to me, and, if they do the same with me, our relationship grows. Modelling a world where you can like and value people with whom you disagree witnesses to the possibility of a kingdom based on transformed relationships.
Openness stops people taking hierarchy seriously in the wrong kind of way. In a public discussion people's last idea is as good as their last job, which pricks the bubble of hierarchy and gives opportunity to shine to the person with the best idea, which can then be acknowledged
As Benedict points out in the rule, the youngest and most improbable person sometimes has the best idea — without being open to this the whole community is stunted.
Being open forces me to try and be consistent. If I go round saying to one closed clique that I think the C of E is all washed up and morally bankrupt and to another that I think it’s a marvellous national mission with a big moral message for society, I suggest both cliques going out for a drink together to prick the bubble of hypocrisy and force me to say what I really think to both.
Being open forces theoretical thinkers to earth their wisdom in human reality, and test it in an open forum. It brings together people who are big on ideas and those big on pragmatism.
Open discussion privileges the kinds of people who like to think out loud, indeed cannot develop ideas without sharpening them up in a group discussion. That means it discriminates against reflective learners, who need space to develop their thinking before they feel it worth brining into the light of day. That’s why you need some conventions, disciplines and routines; to protect thinking space, and prevent either kind of thinker from stealing the show.
The Holy Spirit sometimes reveals his will, Quaker style, in a gathering of people, when a deep conviction emerges among them through processes of open debate. This communal activity transcends the arrogance of individual primacy, and expresses the corporate nature of authority in the Christian tradition.
Public debate builds trust. Stitch ups breed cynicism.
What is public belongs to the public. If a community knows not only what was decided but how it came to that conclusion, it can move on to the next decision with understanding, and own what has happened.
Public life destroys the myths of perfection. People interacting publicly show their weaknesses and absurdities as well as their shining intellectual process, or lack of it. In a Hungarian public bath earlier this year, splashing around with the family and several hundred people of all sizes, ages, shapes and proclivities, I noticed how everybody is absurd, but everybody is also, in their own way beautiful.