Really? Really! Really.
Faithful UMC and “Institutional Integrity”

I’m a pretty high volume news consumer when it comes to the world of religion, politics, and social justice, so I’m generally aware of big stories and happenings. However, it seems I have been left behind a bit regarding the news of a certain cowardly and hateful movement within the United Methodist Church opposing the marriage of same-sex couples. The group (I guess its a group? Really its a petition people are signing), Faithful UMC, purports to be protecting the integrity of the UMC from the over 900 clergy who have pledged to continue in their blessing of committed unions between all people, regardless of their sex.

Now, I sort of think that people are entitled to their own opinions. Kind of. Well, I wouldn’t say that people are cowardly for expressing their own opinions, anyway. But what infuriates me about this petition is that the authors and signers are hiding behind the guise of institutional stability instead of just stating their opinion on the matter. Those who ascribe to the Faithful UMC message are not primarily worried that disobedience of church law would hurt the United Methodist Church as a denomination. Nor are they solely concerned that it would sully the reputation of “holy conferencing.” I think they simply do not believe homosexual unions have any place in the church, especially the UMC.

(I will go no farther in assuming their collective beliefs on sexual identity, as I’m sure it runs the (albeit limited) gamut of people who can’t quite accept sexuality as part of God’s creation.)

In their “defense” of United Methodism in its present form, however, they seem to have forgotten both our history and our future. They seem to have forgotten pain caused by the exclusion of people of color and women from membership and ordination, from representation at Annual and General Conferences, from any major leadership roles until embarrassingly late in history. Following the Book of Discipline’s institutionalized racial and sexual segregation and discrimination caused rifts we as a denomination still have yet to fully heal. I would have hoped that, retrospectively, we might have realized that institutions (even gasp churches) are not above perpetuating injustice, and we must critique institutions by what we know of God’s will for creation as it moves on toward perfection.

The lay petition claims:

"No institution that values its health and its integrity can allow those who represent that institution to willfully, publicly, and repeatedly undermine its policies by their actions or their statements. Doing so, whether in the name of compassion or diversity, will rupture our unity, weaken our witness, and cause our members to mistrust our leaders. The United Methodist Church must not sacrifice all the positive ministries of transformational discipleship that we are attempting to build for the sake of a defiant minority."

I don’t know about you (actually, if you’re reading this, I probably do), but I most mistrust clergy who accept what they know to be wrong in the name of denominational vitality. In fact, if leaders of the church are not fulfilling their call in the name of compassion, they should perhaps be the CEO of a company instead.

But like I said before. I don’t think this really has very much to do with the UMC’s longevity. Mostly, these people don’t believe homosexuality to be compatible with Christian teachings (abridged from my memory of the Social Principles in the Book of Discipline). And I think, were the blessing of same sex unions allowed at the upcoming General Conference, this group would act contrary to that decision, in the same manner they claim as anathema today.

I love the United Methodist Church, despite many of its flaws. I’ve had a Book of Discipline since I was in college, and a copy of the Social Principles for longer than that. I’m a life long member of First United Methodist Church Shreveport, I’ve been a delegate to the Louisiana Annual Conference, I’m a product of a UM college and I’m currently attending a UM seminary. So, you know. I’m pretty invested. But I truly believe that we as a denomination answer to something higher than the Council of Bishops (did I just ruin my chances of ever attaining a spot? I could have come up with awesome shirts.) or the Book of Resolutions. 

The arc of the moral universe is long, so Rev. King reminded us, but it bends toward justice. I sincerely hope that we can be on the right side of history this time around. But if our denomination cannot, I hope our clergy will.   

This is the best idea I’ve ever had. It’s cupcakes. Filled with cupcake batter. You’re welcome.

On Lesley and Whitney’s influence over seemingly spontaneous events

My last 24 hours in DC were… interesting, to say the least. I am rather sure that Lesley and Whitney made the following things happen to ensure my return to Chicago.

  1. The outlet my fridge was plugged into stopped working, so after trips downstairs to the breaker and upstairs to scavenge for an extension cord, I moved the fridge to the middle of the kitchen to plug it into another outlet. And there it sits.

  2. I woke up from a nap later that day day to an odd silence. It was silent because my air conditioner was off. My air conditioner was off because my electricity was out. For 4 hours. Was there a storm, you ask? Nope. Just, you know, your averge power outage for no apparent reason. Good thing it’s not 1000 degrees in DC.

  3. The next day I went to make lunch, only to find that, at some point in the who knows how long the fridge was off, some orange sherbert had melted all over the freezer and refrozen. Cool.

  4. After that, I was taking advantage of Netflix recent offer of Mad Men on instant streaming when the guys who live in the basement knocked on my door. It seems the carbon monoxide detector had gone off. I of course finished that episode of Mad Men, then went out for a Diet Coke, because I made it my whole life without a carbon monoxide detector, so I figured I could make it 20 more minutes.

Now I’m on the way back to Chicago, so Lesley and Whitney, if you could stop doing whatever incantation it is that has made all of these things happen, I would greatly appreciate it.

Oh you know… my summer fellowship on THE FRONT PAGE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES. Okay, it’s the front page of the website. But still. Click on the picture for a link to the budget story in the Times with another pic

Oh you know… my summer fellowship on THE FRONT PAGE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES. Okay, it’s the front page of the website. But still. Click on the picture for a link to the budget story in the Times with another pic

Why yes, it is around the corner!

Why yes, it is around the corner!

On my ascent (decent?) to liturgical loserdom

So here I am at midnight writing a litany for a prayer vigil surrounding the budget negotiations. I tried to go to sleep, but then I got a good idea, so I put my glasses on and got my computer back out to compose my intercessory prayer. Here was my thought process:

  1. I’m so glad I save all of my notes. These UM Worship guidelines are really helpful.
  2. Ron Anderson would be so proud
  3. I wish I brought my Book of Worship with me to DC. That would be a good resource right now.
  4. I just wished (aloud) for the Book of Worship to be readily available to me.
  5. I never ever thought I could get any lamer. I was incorrect.
Republicans are no longer allowed to say that people are rich. You have to refer to them as ‘job creator’. You can’t even use the word ‘rich’. You have to say, ‘This chocolate cake is so moist and job creator.’
Jon Stewart, on the GOP’s unwillingness to let the Bush era taxes lapse for the wealthiest Americans

More on the debt talks, this time from the Christian Century - “There’s a difference between refusing to move an inch ever and refusing to move an inch farther than the miles you’ve already moved… On the policy, one side already has—a lot. On the politics, compromise is an absurd concept, because you can’t both win an election.”

my newest blog post for my summer fellowship at Faith in Public life

On God’s reckoning of running and myself

Reason I know God does not want me to run:

  • rain
  • extreme heat
  • humidity
  • traffic
  • sweat
  • my short legs

Reasons I know God wants me to run:

  • Ben and Jerry’s