Tuesday, July 01, 2008

What Gave It Away?

I've been puzzling over something that happened to me at General Assembly last week. One morning I arose quite early to attend the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship Breakfast. As it happened, the Presbyterians for Renewal Breakfast was happening at the same time in an adjoining ballroom. As it also happens, I have friends in both organizations and might well have attended both events if they had not been scheduled opposite each other. (For non-Presbys, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship would be considered a "lib'ral" affinity group within our denomination and PFR a conservative one.)

Access to both breakfasts was via an escalator to the sencond floor of a downtown hotel. At the top of the escalator, a woman from PFR was helping folks find the right event. As I stepped of the escalator, she smiled at me and said, "The Peace Breakfast is over there."

Okay. What gave it away? How did she reach such a quick decision about what event I was looking for? I was dressed modestly, I was wearing no T-shirts, buttons, scarves or anything else that would telegraph my theological or political leanings. I was wearing dangly earings, but not THAT dangly. No way am I well known enough in the denomination that people would recognize me on sight.

The only thing I can figure is that she must have seen me the day before hanging out at the Covenant Network booth in the Exhibit Hall talking to some friends who were hosting that booth at the time. From there, she made the inductive leap that since I have friends in the Covenant Network, I couldn't possibly be interested in spending a morning hearing what the PFR folks have to say.

Which is sad. Sadder because, if I had been in her place, I might have made similar assumptions. Saddest because, in scheduling what Breakfasts would happen when, the Master schedulers of the G.A. must also have assumed that it was safe to schedule these two events at the same time because folks who wanted to go to the PFR breakfast probably wouldn't want to go the the Peace breakfast and vice versa.

I hope we can all look forward to The Great Day when we will all sit at table in God's Kingdom.


more cows than people said...

sigh. i hear you.

i'm sorry we didn't manage to connect last week.

Anitra said...

there are no master schedulers when it comes to affinity group events. Everyone does their own thing depending on room availability. There is a seasonal nature of GA which tends to cluster a number of events during the first part of the week rather than spread them out over the last few days. Once floor sessions begin, there are fewer events because commissioner days become even longer and less predictable. Breakfasts, lunches and dinners go on all over the place Sunday through Tuesday. It just happened that PFR and Peace Fellowship end up in the same building at the same time on the same day.

Which does not take away from your first question: how was it that you were profiled by the PFR woman who assumed from your appearance alone that you were more Peace Fellowship then PFR?

Anonymous said...