Saturday, June 17, 2006

Presbyterians amuse themselves

BIRMINGHAM -- While sitting through two lengthy days of committee meetings at General Assembly, I found some peculiar items to be amusing.

My favorite quotation today came from a tired commissioner in a committee: "I think it’s a good idea to break and come up with a quasi … whatever!" The funny thing is that the committee did. It did break and then it did come up with a "quasi whatever" on Israel divestment.

The same committee encountered language that appeared to have the moderator stumped--so totally confounded that she sent for the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly to get a ruling on the meaning. The wording was found twice in an overture to end the process leading toward divestment from companies operating in Israel. It said that parts of a resolution were being "hereby repealed, rescinded, and declared null and void."

With nearly Hebraic threefold repetition, the line's intent isn't particularly hard to get, right? Well, the moderator just couldn't decide if "rescinded" meant an actual end to Israel divestment. I thought the intent had been clarified, elucidated, and made quite evident.

I think I heard the mother of all rhetorical overkill today, when a commissioner referred to the security fence being constructed by Israel as "terrorism by barrier."

By far the most comical occasion in the committee, however, was when a resource person went forward to answer a question. When he got to the microphone by the moderator, there was a pause while the committee leadership huddled on a matter. While the resource person waited, he casually crossed his arms and leaned back against the portable wall.

The problem was that where he leaned against the carpeted wall was actually a door. An unlatched door. Like the best comic pratfall you've ever seen, his disappearance through the doorway and red-faced (and unharmed) emergence from the floor offered just the levity the committee needed.


Blogger Colleen said...

Was the resource person for divestment or against divestment?

12:11 AM, June 18, 2006  
Blogger Jim said...

I'm not sure, but he learned something about divestment fallout!

12:23 AM, June 18, 2006  

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