November 2, 2010

Iacta Alea Est

Well, I voted this morning in our national, regional and municipal elections, using the newly devised balloting system — Oscar Nomination Form with Folder, Modesty Panel, Pen and Fax Machine — replacing the old combination of Frigidare, Switch-Panel and Tent.

In New York City, the ballot was horribly mis-designed, and very, very hard to read. The indications of number candidates for whom to vote was in what couldn't have been more than 6-point Helvetica narrow, and the rest wasn't much better. (Don't people know that sans-serif type, and ALL UPPER CASE is actually harder to read?) The instructions printed on the ballot said to mark the bullet above the candidate's name, while the handout distributed to voters on arrival gave the correct information: to mark the bullet below the name of choice — but due to a state requirement, each modesty booth had to have a posted instruction that repeated the discordant, and in the case of the city incorrect, instructions. Those who vote by party are in luck, however, as the candidates were listed in columns by party, and one could simply tick down the page and not go astray. (I do think, however, that organizing the ballots by party is a partial source of confusion; I'm not a partisan in general, but it seems to me it would be less confusing if each office was in a block, with the candidates listed alphabetically, and their party — or parties in case of multiple endorsements — indicated in parentheses.)

However, on top of the problems with the ballot itself — hard enough to read even in broad daylight — the modesty booths were so positioned that the "modesty" portion cast a shadow from the overhead lights upon the area on which one had space to mark the ballot, so only a tiny sliver of the "desk" surface (slanted and wobbly at that) was available for actual illuminated use. It was like voting at Stonehenge — if you can imagine Stonehenge as a slanted, wobbly contraption of tubular metal and cardboard, and the sun as a fluorescent light fixture. The slant of the surface and wobble of the whole apparatus were annoying, as every stroke of the pen to fill in the bullet-holes caused the modesty machinery to wobble.

I understand the designer of the ballot has been sacked. So much for justice — though a better penance would have been to be forced to write one's memoirs standing at one of these torturous, half-lit booths.

+ + +

On another subject involving votes, this Thursday the Standing Committee of the Diocese of New York (on which I serve) will take up consent to the election of Dan Martins as bishop of Springfield. There has been considerable discussion of this election and consent on the blogs, both pro and con. I've read through the negative material distributed by the Diocese of San Joaquin, as well as Dan Martins' response. I also directly asked him what I regard as a crucial question, and he gave what I regard as an honest and satisfactory answer.

Some have compared him to Mark Lawrence, and warned of the possibility of similar problems to come, but I think, and have always advised, that in the area of vocational discernment it is unwise to compare individuals. While Mark and Dan are not as different as night and day, they are at least as different as "tropical storm warning" and "partly cloudy." While I do not agree with Dan on any number of topics, we do agree on others — but the important thing, from my perspective, is neither our level of agreement, nor the fact that, unlike Mark Lawrence, Dan Martins does not remind me of a histrionic ham actor with an axe to grind. The important thing is that I can see in Dan a person committed to do the best he can in a ministry to which he is manifestly called and duly elected, and in whose record and present statements I cannot find an impediment to his consecration. A number of deputies from across the spectrum have issued a short letter to Standing Committees in response to the request for consent; I am happy to be a late signatory, though I had no part in the drafting.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG


R said...


I am grateful for this open and honest conversation over Dan Martins' consent in a contentious time. I agree with you that I find his responses to the questions raised direct and honest, without equivocation.

While my experience with him is not as extensive as yours, it has always been cordial, and his fidelity to The Episcopal Church has always been clearly evident. I will also hold him and Springfield in my best prayers.

Brother David said...

This is one of the biggest flip flops that reeks of, "Please, please, please vote for me, I promise to be different!" that I have seen in a long time."

Tobias this man has said despicable things about all of us in the past. Now he writes in humble and moderated tones to garner votes. The scorpion does not become another beast. It is not in its nature.

He may not take Springfield out of TEC, but perhaps you lot should be prepared for it to become Fortress Springfield as yet another con-evo is given power to do as he sees fit and does all he can to sabotage Springfield's future of normal and conciliatory relationship with the rest of your province.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks, Richard.

Dahveed, that has not been my experience of Dan Martins in the past. I can't think of anything "despicable" -- at least I never encountered anything at that level; I've always experienced his writing as thoughtful and relatively moderate -- or at least no more pointed than my own, and I hope I've never descended to the level of "despicable." I actually see him as a way forward to conciliation between Springfield and the rest of the church. Of course, in the words of the inimitable Mad One, I may be wrong; but I do not see the flip-flop you perceive.

Anonymous said...

" histrionic ham actor with an axe to grind." Nice very Christ-like.

And you don't have an axe to grind?

John 2007

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

John 2007, if you have ever heard Bishop Lawrence speak at a Committee Meeting or hearing, you would know what I mean. He appears to be doing an impression of Lionel Barrymore at his worst. I have served on committee with him, and seen him pound the table and strain his voice in emotionial outrage. Dan is entirely more self-containwed.

Whether my description is Christ-like or not, I stand by it as accurate. I don't think telling the truth is un-Christlike, however brusque it might seem. And no, I do not have an axe to grind.

Brother David said...

From a comment he made at Preludium, you lot have won over Lapinbazarre, so I would say that if you got him you are getting many others!

Wormwood's Doxy said...

This is a man who would not allow you to serve as a priest in his diocese, should he be elected.

You are a much bigger person than I am, Tobias...


Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Dahveed, I'd not seen the Mad Rabbit's comment; I hope everyone will make a well-informed decision as they vote on the subject; not giving in to political pressure but consenting or not on the basis of the question asked: is there an impediment to Dan serving as a bishop.

Doxy, whether big or small relative to you, I appreciate the observation concerning whether Dan would want me to serve in his diocese. You may well be correct. However, I base my actions not on how others might treat or have treated me but upon how I would hope to be treated -- whether that hope is realized or realistic! If that puts me on higher moral ground than others, I can take no credit for it; I just find life in the valley of hurt uncongenial to my own health and well-being. I've been there; but I've learned the hard way about the power of forgiveness and grace. And hope.