Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Speed Balloting...and Holy Conferencing

After observing the power of "speed balloting" with SEJ's new electronic balloting procedures the pace of the elections reflects a sense of expediency that I believe may need to be considered closely as we move forward. Now I'm in favor of technology, I've been blogging for several years, I have a FACEBOOK and a Twitter account, I use an I-Phone, etc. but I also know that if we aren't careful, fast technology can overwhelm good theology. If the pace moves too quickly then each vote is "cheaper," the emotion gets higher, and the Spirit may get preempted by expediency.

Each vote gets "cheaper" when they are taken in rapid order. There is the feeling that you will always have another chance to correct so you feel free to discern less and vote more. Like with any "consumer" product, when something is disposable it becomes easy to use it without consideration of its long term effect or consequences.

Emotion gets higher. I have noticed that the emotional tension during and after the first three votes is very high. There is concern about getting it right, about making sure you vote within the time constraints, and about where your nominee is related to everyone else. There is the pressure when you see a nominee moving to get on the train so you can support a "winner" and there is the emotion to hold fast to your nominee so as not to allow them to be seen as slipping. Group emotion is a very real by-product of "speed balloting."

I want to say that I know that the delegates to the SEJ are extremely discerning people but I also understand human nature. There will come a time when some may be tempted to let expediency overwhelm spiritual discernment. If we aren't careful the desire to be "finished" may well provide for a quick ending to a long process without proper reflection. While I am certain this would be an unintended consequence of "speed balloting," I also believe that we must be careful students of the environment to insure it is not happening.

I thank God for the discernment of the bishops and leaders who will be guiding this process. My prayer is that at no time any of our delegates allow their vote to be "cheaper," the emotion to guide their actions, or for expediency to overwhelm the Spirit but I thought that somebody should raise the flag to insure we remain focused on Holy Conferencing and not just fast results. I remain:

Consumed by the Call,
Dr. Marty Cauley
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