Yesterday the "yes" was clearly "yes" and the "no" was clearly "no."

Yes, Canon Gene Robinson was cleared of charges. Yes, his election gathered consent from the House of Bishops. But no, the decision was not going to be bogged down in the arguments about how this or that group of objectors felt. No, those who opposed his election were not going to go quietly into the night.

There was sorrow and anger, joy and exhaustion. There were rumors and side conversations about just how and why the allegations against Robinson came up at exactly the right time to hold things up for 24 hours.

Today, however, General Convention folk heard a lot of "maybe," and more than a bit of mumbling, spread through the day.

As Canon Robinson was introduced to the House of Deputies as the bishop-elect of New Hampshire, now consented to by both houses, there were impolite additions to the niceties of the normal tableau. Normally, respect and custom brings Deputies to their feet when the bishop elect is asked forward. But today several delegations sat in protest, and a number of them talked among themselves while the introductions were taking place. Episcopalians notice such things.

After Canon Robinson left the dais, the President of the House of Deputies called on Dr. Kendall Harmon for a statement of personal privilege. Harmon's remarks, however, turned out to be a restatement of all the arguments mounted against Robinson's confirmation combined with a variety of statements about the pain this whole thing has brought to orthodox Anglicans. He went on at considerable length. Several members of the House felt he had misused personal privilege for a post-debate debate.

For Episcopalians, inducing liberal guilt is an invaluable skill, one being used widely by the orthodox crowd at this convention. It has become a way to transfigure a "yes" into a "maybe"--yes, there is consent to Robinson's election, but maybe the consenters will come to see they were wrong to have hurt others so much. Yes, Robinson was exonerated, but maybe he is still a sinner anyway. Yes, General Convention worked its will, but was it also willful and arrogant? Maybe so. "Pain," was the cry, but "blame" seemed the mutter.

The orthodox Anglican folk, who call themselves "mainstream Anglicans," met for prayer at a local Lutheran Church, and on reappearing in the halls of Convention were marked with ashes on their foreheads. Maybe they were repenting for themselves and for the Church and perhaps even for us all. Then again, maybe not. Whatever else it was about, it was a sign that disturbed.

"Yes" and "No" are fighting words. Maybe is easier to mutter.

In the land of maybe, things seem more malleable. So today the House of Deputies spent its time doing the "maybe" sorts of things. We celebrated the consent given Robinson's election, but maybe we felt badly for breaking with the past. We worked on and passed a mountain of legislation, but maybe it will mean less than we think, for we have yet to face the financial consequences of the battles we have had.

The Budget was presented this afternoon to a joint meeting of the House of Deputies and House of Bishops. There was no mention, no hint that maybe, just maybe, the contributions of all the dioceses might not be as certain as assumed. All budgets are guidelines, of course. So the maybe is always there. But this time hearing it presented seemed a bit more ephemeral than usual.

Deputies worked until 6:45 p.m. passing the legislation, but there were no mighty shouts of "yes!" It was a long and muttering sort of session. There were some moments of energy, but mostly work, work, work.

The House of Bishops met in the morning to hear the pain, then met in the afternoon to take up legislation concerning same-sex blessings-quite a combination. At the end of the afternoon session they passed on resolution C051, amended to address some of the hopes of those wanting blessings of same sex unions, but they avoided the publication of liturgies for official consideration at the next General Convention in 2006. This legislation will come to the House of Deputies tomorrow. I hope it will pass without amendment and quickly.

There's no question that the Church works with compromise, with the push and pull of the many forces. "Maybe," is a working concept in a community in flux. But "maybe" can be heard to mean yes, even when spoken by someone who means no.

Tomorrow we will mutter some more, pushing toward some clarity on how to open this Church to options that include blessing services. May it be so.

Tuesday, August 5, 10:00 p.m.

Late last night (August 4th) it seemed as if today would be a day in suspended animation, or perhaps a day in grey tones. When we gathered this morning for worship and the first session of the legislative houses all we knew was (i) that Bishop Scruton of Western Massachusetts was in charge of an investigation of Canon Gene Robinson who was accused of offenses, (ii) action on Robinson's confirmation was on hold in the House of Bishops and (iii) the life of the Episcopal Church's General Convention was going on, if not as usual, at least as needed.

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