Thursday, July 05, 2007

Sleight of Hand


Yeah, I think I'm convinced. Wasn't sure at first, but I can't come up with an alternative explanation for this.

LCMS President Gerald Kieschnik, smiling nearby, took great pains to ensure that all of us Synodical Delegates were duly elected. How very thoughtful. But actually, what we Synodical Delegates were really wondering was whether our votes would really matter, in view of the shenanigans that seem to have transpired in recent years.

See, there was—for the benefit of the uninformed—this little lawsuit a few years back, about the question of suspected illegitimate circuit divisions and the mustering up of more delegates to reelect the incumbent the last time around. That was finally settled out of court, but then along came Rev. Fred Baue with a letter to all delegates explaining, quite intelligently and succinctly, how he remained unconvinced. Very convincing letter, that. Verrry convincing. Like, where did all these delegates come from, when the size of Synod is shrinking? How come they mostly came from districts favorable to the president's re-election in 2004? How come the "exceptions" he granted didn't seem to have sufficient logic? The bylaws permit the President to grant exceptions to the general rules in extraordinary cases, but up to now it was always taken for granted that the extraordinary cases would be just that: extraordinary, and rare. Now the exceptions started popping up like crazy. These were, as I understood them, Rev. Baue's points, which, I thought, were sensible and sound. They certainly raised some questions in my own mind, just when I was beginning to wonder if this entire lawsuit clamor was so much ado over nothing.

So anyhow, President Kieschnik sends this blue ribbon committee to "investigate" the matter, and, sure enough, he reports, Ta Da! They found that everything was done properly. At least, that's what his cover letter said. And that's what the first three or four points of the report also said.

But I kept reading the thing, and, strangely, the last points didn't seem to be saying that at all. The whole tenor of the last part was, I thought, one of a large however.

As in: true, the President didn’t actually break any rules: however, we did find some curious discrepancies which merit further investigation . . .

In other words, the entire report seems to exonerate Rev. Baue, but only if you read the entire report. If you’re an ordinary lay delegate who wants to take his appointment seriously, but you really haven’t got the kind of time you'd like to take to look this all over, since you have other things to do like milking the cows or whatnot, you might well just read the first part, or even the whole thing, but with the President’s preliminary remarks in mind, and finally shrug, scratch your head, and say, Yup, somebody was unhappy with the results of the lawsuit situation, so tried to makes something out of nothing, and here’s the report to prove it. Sure, it seems there’s something minor in the later points, but hey, that’s nothing.

In fact, I recently talked to a Synodical official about my concerns, and he said just that! Naww, you go back and read it again, and you’ll see . . .

Well, I already knew what I read. If you take the report—the whole report—at face value, and you just might begin to see what Rev. Baue has been saying all along, namely that something does smell a bit fishy after all.

Oh, and by the way, I happened to have the opportunity to talk face to face with one of the men who sat on that committee, over drinks, so I asked him about what I had observed. Was I missing something? Nope, he said. You’re exactly right.

Hah. I knew it.

So, to the two or three of you who might actually be worried about whether you’re a legitimate delegate, I hate to rain on your parade, but my recommendation to you is simple: never trust a guy who has a personal stake in making assurances to you. We have a name for that: conflict of interest.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

They call this kind of thing, I believe, Jerrymandering, no?

Lawrence said...

This is all kind of creepy. As viewed from someone raised in the hinterlands of LC-MS, and not directly privy (until recently) of all the "goings on in the big city" of the Synod.

Charles said...

As a clergy delegate I read the whole report, and was also surprised by the conclusion - that while the letter of the law was being followed, the spirit seemed to have been lost. That was not at all what I was expecting to read.

Anonymous said...

I must not be reading the same thing you are as my reading of Today's business indicates a clear vindication of Kieschnik's position. This is part of it: "Cases identified by Frederic Baue in his “Update on Circuit Exceptions for the 2007
LCMS Convention” as problematic and requiring additional exceptions were found to
have reasonable explanations as a result of data provided during the delegate certification
process."

I do not see any hint of any concerns discussed. If I have missed it perhaps you can show me where.