Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The First Schism: A Fable

“Pretty moon tonight,” said one, gesturing toward the sky.

“The moon is pretty,” said another, “but why are you gesturing like that?”

“Like what?” asked the first.

“With your palm up and all your fingers outstretched. The correct way to point at the moon is with one finger extended and your arm straight.”

“Actually it is more proper to do as I am, it reveals the moon ever so much more elegantly.”

“But look at your elbow, all bent like that. Just awful.”

“Well look at your finger. You have dirt under your fingernail, in case you hadn’t noticed.”

And they stopped looking at the moon so they could concentrate on what was wrong with the other's gesture.

“They now enjoy the moon itself instead of fighting over whose finger points to it most accurately, quickly, or definitively.” - Richard Rohr, in "Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

Just then, two young lovers walked into the park. They noticed the old ones arguing, but they gave them not a second glance.

“Pretty moon tonight,” said one.

“Beautiful,” said the other.

And they danced together in the moonlight.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Schism Shmism?

I did not think that the UMC would divide eight and a half years ago when I wrote this post (click here), and I still don’t.

I think some people might leave, and I think that would be fine. In fact, people already have. But I do not think the denomination will divide. The ones who desire it are simply too small a minority for it to actually happen at the General Conference level. Cooler heads will prevail.

The “Via Media Caucus” doesn’t make a lot of noise, but we vote. If outright division is proposed, we will vote “No.”

By the way, the reason we will vote “No” has nothing to do with whether or not we think gay people should be getting married. The reason we will vote “No” is because we will consider the idea of schism to be the most inane idea we have ever heard, doing absolutely nothing to advance the mission of the church, and completely incompatible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

We won't even vote "no" - we'll vote "smh."

The truth of the matter is that the United Methodist Church doesn’t actually need to say “gay marriage is not allowed” anywhere in our official policy. It’s pretty much covered in the line that says, “The decision to perform the ceremony shall be the right and responsibility of the pastor” (340.1.c.1).  I don’t have to marry anyone if I don’t want to, as the current policy stands.

Which means, if an individual pastor really believed strongly that gay marriage isn’t cool, she or he could say, “No.” What the specific prohibition provides is institutional authority behind the pastor’s action. But we already have that, in the section that gives us authority to decide on each individual wedding.

So yes, the Book of Discipline is at times redundant, at others contradictory, and mostly a convoluted mess.

Is it messy enough to actually and formally divide the denomination into multiple parts? *smh* Hardly.

I will confess that sometimes when I hear/read about schism, I think, “Marvin K. Mooney will you please go now!” There are other Wesleyan denominations around that would welcome you. But in truth I do not want anyone to go; I love our holy mess.

Now, can we please stop talking about schism and remember what we’re supposed to be doing here?

btw: schism articles ... here ... here ... here