Friday, 7 September 2007

The blogging bishop - she's certainly not tame

Bishop Margot Kässmann who will be in our press conference today and who is chairing this morning's plenary discussions is also doing a blog from Sibiu - in German of course. It's great because she says what she thinks but is not over-critical either. She's obviously made an effort to get both to plenaries and a variety of the different hearings and events.
She neatly weaves together political, spiritual, personal and institutional concerns. The WCC is just translating one of her recent books on spirituality - one of the tasks waiting for me when I return to Geneva.
One of the big differences between Sibiu and the other two European Ecumenical Assemblies (in Basel and Graz) is the fact that many of the grassroots groups are not here - given the accommodation problems we've experienced with the numbers who are here this is perhaps understandable. It does mean though that this assembly is much more top down and the agenda is not driven by concerns coming from activists. I'd also say that is very institutionally driven and the huge majority of keynote speakers are male.
Margot Kässmann says in her blog that because there were far fewer groups attending she felt the hearings were really rather "spartan" - even beautiful icons everywhere don't make up for a lack of human contact . When there are fewer people the energy levels are also very different and the views in discussions are often less diverse too.
I'll try and write a bit more about top down and bottom up ecumenism later on. I think it's a recurrent theme in many ecumenical meetings - is ecumenism a movement or a series of institutions?