The first day of GC is always funny. Our first plenary session was initially consumed by conversation about iPads we were to use to put ourselves in line to speak to motions on the floor. Each table of five people has an iPad, and each delegate will enter an ID number and what they seek to speak to. There were lots of questions about how this will work. Getting in line electronically feels like letting go of control--it can take time to get yourself on the list, someone else might get there first, and only the presiding bishop sees the whole picture of who's seeking to speak. Plus some of the tables reported that their iPads didn't work.
This would be a huge change from the way this process happened in 2012, and an attempt to address problems there. In Tampa, the room was set up lengthwise, so that the back of the room was the farthest point from the front. People who wanted to speak held up neon green or red-orange cards to speak for or against, and waited to be recognized by the bishop. By the end of that crazy last day, when great swaths of our work had been declared unconstitutional, the process went wacko, as folks struggled for the floor. I'll never forget Bishop Whitfield speaking to people at the back of the room: "I'm sorry, if you stand on the tables, that's out of order, and I won't call on you."
We did go back to colored cards today, after someone noted that we were still debating the 2016 rules, which meant we were still under the 2012 rules, which said to use cards. And that also meant we had to adjourn at 9:30 instead of 6:30, as proposed in the not-yet-approved 2016 rules. We finally got all approved except Rule 44, which we'll consider tomorrow, and which I'll talk about when I'm not sleepy.
It all is at once maddening yet also what we do. I heard one bishop remember that we did this in 2012, too--spent the whole first day and evening arguing about rules, then finally approving them in their original form. I know there's anxiousness and mistrust at the bottom of it, plus I'm sure an opportunity for us to find a better way to consider these things. How we function is important. It's just that the way we figure that out can feel mind-numbing and eats up time. And our reliance on Robert's Rules, which are in the abstract intended to make things fair and equal for all, often ends up leaving a whole bunch of people out of the conversation. It also allows those who know the system to work the system. I remember much of that system, believe it or not, from student council in high school. But it's not a common language or skill anymore, and certainly not on a global scale. And that's part of what Rule 44 is trying to address.
More about that on Day 2.