BB NOTE: It is an interesting group that finds itself dropping into the BabyBlueCafe. Wish I had a few Chai Lattes and Butterbeers for everyone - guess we'll get to to work on that. But a kind and wise old owl dropped in to the cafe last night and left this reflection from one of the patrons of the BB Cafe. Here's a great response to "Broken Protocol" (Click here for original posting). This reader wins the official Goldenrod Award.
12 Examples of Broken Protocol
From the perspective of the PB and her supporters, I'm sure this letter is the very model of humility and hospitality. For that matter, I usually prefer to assume the best about people, especially when they're just beginning the duties of an important church office.
Nevertheless, with your challenge in mind, here are my guesses at how the PB has broken protocol with this letter.
1. She makes what should be a private letter into a public one.
2. By making the letter public, she places the four primates in the awkward position of either accepting her public invitation (which could alienate some of the very conservatives they are coming to meet) or declining it (which could make them look like heavies, as some leftist bloggers already are hoping will be the case).
3. By making the letter public, she turns what could have been a gracious and quiet gesture of hospitality into a vulgar grab at public relations, spin control, and a photo op.
4. There is no discernible order to how she lists the primates. They are not sorted alphabetically by name or nation, and they're not sorted by the dates of their investitures.
5. She addresses the four primates as her peers rather than showing any deference to the length of their tenures.
6. She presumes to lecture the primates about the Millennium Development Goals, especially here: "I would hope we might see the common interest we all have for seeing those Goals met."
7. She insists on using the politically correct "Reign of God," failing to recognize that none of the four primates would use this language in their routine communication.
8. She refers to the expense of the trip, which seems rather patronizing considering that the left believes Howard Ahmanson Jr. and the IRD cover all such expenses anyway. In any case, publicly dragging money into the discussion is boorish.
9. She writes, "I understand that you will be in the United States in mid-November for a gathering in Falls Church, Virginia." This seems like a passive-aggressive way of protesting that the four primates did not notify her of their visit, as Father Jake insists was their duty.
10. She writes, "I hope that during your visit you might be willing to pay a call on me," which places the onus on the four primates to make the journey to New York. (To attempt placing it in a better light, perhaps she's trying to avoid looking like she's inviting herself to Falls Church.)
11. She compounds that error with the next sentence: "If that is a possibility, I hope you will contact this office as soon as possible. I would be more than happy to alter my schedule to accommodate you." Again, the burden is on the four primates to *contact her office* and she will alter her schedule to "accommodate" them. It seems to me she should offer to meet them at the location of their choice -- "Anything, Anytime, Anywhere," to cite the title of a Bruce Cockburn song -- without announcing her grace with a trumpet fanfare.
12. By releasing the letter now, she breaks the protocol of being introduced to the primates in February at Tanzania. (It is not clear which primates will recognize her office *then*, though I expect that a majority of them will, in the interest of basic courtesy.) She acknowledges that she has not yet met all four of these primates, but she acts as if they already are involved in a relationship of some kind. I guess they are, in an abstract
and theological sense, but