Category: Church Renewal

IRD Intern @BrianKenMiller Criticizes Rowan Williams, Makes His Point For Him, @TheIRD

Pseudo-Methodist Washington think-tank The Institute on Religion & Democracy has interns.  If the goal is to produce people exactly as confused as they are, they are so nailing it! Brian Miller is the intern in question. He picked up on the comments of former archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and his comments on Western Christianity and

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The Pope Okay With The Gays?

A papal quote, made during a press conference on the way to Rome from Brazil

 

The Pope has made an early habit of saying pithy things that instantly get everyone's attention.

Today, he said, “If someone is gay, who searches for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge?”

In no way is he changing church teaching on the practice of Homosexuality, but he is bringing the church in line with the stated position of the United Methodist Church – which is that the church is to be in ministry with and to the LBGT community.

I can't be sure which came first, but the UMC has favored this stance for a while – and I'm just now learning that this is a catholic teaching, as well. So, I'm gonna give the nod to the UMC.

Call me a “homer.”

Anyway, thought this could use a once over on the blog.

 

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Is @JohnLomperis “Skeevy” or “Hateful?”

"Irony" ft. John Lomperis

 

Before today, I wouldn't have characterized the IRD's UM Action Director John Lomperis as “skeevy” or “hateful.”

That was before today.

For, you see, I've read his latest diatribe against his fellow creatures of sacred worth in the LBGT community.

In response to Arizona laws that discriminate against and criminalize the behavior of transgender brothers and sisters who identify as a sex other than the one they were born with – by preventing them from using public bathrooms according to the sex they identify with – the Desert Southwest Conference of the United Methodist Church passed a resolution stating the following:

  1. the Desert Southwest Annual Conference and the United Methodist

  2. 42 Churches of the Desert Southwest Annual Conference make the public statement that our

  3. 43 Churches and facilities (building, gathering spaces and bathrooms) are safe places for all

  4. 44 regardless of gender identity and that transgendered people may use the bathroom of their

  5. 45 choosing in our churches and affiliated buildings.

As you can see, this policy is designed to treat with dignity all of God's people – not just the ones people like John Lomperis are weirded out by.

Mr. Lomperis, however, decides it isn't enough to say he disagrees with it – he has to demean an entire class of people to get his point across.

Such an “open bathrooms” policy is ripe for abuse by a few perfectly heterosexual, non-gender-identity-disordered, perverted individuals who now seem to have an invitation in Desert Southwest UMC congregations to go into the opposite sex’s bathroom. If anyone questions them, they simply need to claim (perhaps with a sarcastic smirk) that they identify with that sex, at least that day. The resolution suggests no safeguards or concerns for such abuses.

Any church worth anything already has a “safe sanctuaries” policy that is designed to deal with such individuals to which he refers. In other words, it's a non-starter and an attempt to emotionally manipulate the reader into siding with him.

Along with using dog-whistles such as the term “gender-bending,” Lomperis just takes his shot (by lumping transgendered individuals into the same category with heterosexual abusers) at anything with which he doesn't personally agree – pretty skeevy, if you ask me.

He even tries to co-opt the argument of an LBGT activist to mislead his readers (a tactic he isn't new to, as you will see me address in the closing paragraph of this Huffington Post piece).

Overall, his piece demonstrates just how hateful he and his ilk can be when they try to approach an issue that both upsets them and weirds them out.

The policy he rails against is designed to treat all persons with dignity. His attempt to pervert the idea or make it into something it isn't shows just how weak his argument truly is.

P.S. Lomperis is likely to treat this type of article as a badge of honor, rather than criticism he should listen to, so I don't ever really expect a reply. The fantasy of living as some type of martyr is very appealing to the conservative, evangelical elite.

 

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Joel is Right, but Needs Further Clarification

The Cross, the Church and the Flag

My friend, Joel, posted an interesting theory about the decline of the mainline church and the anti-intellectual streak within evangelical mainline enclaves.

How much better would we be if we had taught questioning our faith instead of absolute intellectual surrender when the New Atheists and Ken Ham arrived?

Essentially, he suggests that this “intellectual surrender” has forced the church to surrender credibility in order to maintain uniformity of thought. When a person with a question is told to “just believe” or that their question represents a lack of faith, why wouldn't that questioner find somewhere else to be? This is my paraphrase, but I think this is what he's saying.

I believe his theory to be correct, but insufficient.

We in the church must, first, disabuse (this word not used accidentally) ourselves of the notion that commercial success and the American Dream are synonymous with faithful Christianity.

They're so not.

They may even be the antithesis.

However, those who foster an unquestioning faith tend to experience the greater numeric church success.

Unless these ideas are separated by as much ground as we can get between them, the numeric success experienced by anti-intellectual evangelicalism will motivate the defense of the status quo – and his theory will wither on the vine.

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SERMON from 5-5-13: “Those Who Love Me…” (VIDEO)

This is my first attempt to record and share a sermon on YouTube. It will not be the last.

I appreciate your patience as I tweak the sermon podcast to make it more visually and audibly appealing.

 

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Same @TheIRD, Different Day

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The Institute on Religion & Democracy is at it again.  This time, they set their sights on Claremont School of Theology – a UMC seminary.

John Lomperis seized on a tidbit from the school and ranted (here) about how the school is effectively stealing from the Christian portion of the seminary budget to fund other non-Christian portions.  He uses intentionally divisive language – par for his course – in order to produce a scandal where none really exists.

Claremont responded with an article that the IRD – graciously, for them – posted on their blog, Juicy Ecumenism (still creeps me out).  Their claims are that the IRD unfairly characterized their recent restructuring and expansion plans – including plans to remove a cross.  They also claim that John Lomperis uses “provocative” language to make his points.

As a previous victim of the IRD’s reactionary carelessness, I was sympathetic to their plight.

The IRD has made a name for itself by sniping at anything that doesn’t fit perfectly into their idea of Christian faith.  They do use provocative language and innuendo in order to make their ideological foes look however they desire them to look – evil.  Since their inception – dating back to the Reagan Revolution and the Moral Majority – they have made it their job to suss out “marxism” within the ranks of United Methodist agencies.  Today, their main goal appears to be sussing out liberal influence, pointing at it in impotent rage or smug condescension, and asking for your money.

Given their particular brand of neo-conservative Christianity, I don’t even think we can call them Methodist, or Wesleyan, even.

Claremont ended their remarks with a nod to our national heritage and the need for actual ecumenism.  I hope the IRD listens:

Surely for the American experiment to succeed, Americans of differing religious viewpoints must learn to live and work together in harmony.  Religion can either continue to be the cause of conflict, or we can work together to make it the foundation for the needed harmony.  We believe that Jesus Christ calls Christians to the latter, being peacemakers and good neighbors.

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Catholic Church Pro-Life, Unless $ On The Line

A malpractice lawsuit has exposed the Catholic as a fraudulent, hypocritical, money-grubbing cult. One man has sued a Catholic hospital for malpractice in the death of his wife and unborn twins. When the pregnant woman was brought into the emergency room, a blood clot was on the verge of causing a massive heart attack. The

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An Open Letter by @csalafia To The Folks at @TheIRD

My friend, Christian – @csalafia & homebrewedtheology.com – wrote this amazing open letter to the neo-con, Washington think-tank posing as a United Methodist renewal group, The Institute on Religion and Democracy. There is scripture. There is Book of Discipline. It has it all, and should haunt the consciences of all those who inhabit the Washington

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The Church Is Not A Business, Jeffery Walton – @TheIRD

  In the wake of Atlanta-based pastor Louis Giglio’s decision to back out of praying during President Obama’s 2nd inaugural – due to backlash he received based upon an anti-gay sermon he preached in the 90’s – The Institute on Religion & Democracy has made sure to display it’s righteous indignation. I’m not writing to comment

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Spitballing the Future of the Church Part 2: Are There More Disillusioned Young Clergy?

  Yesterday, I had a Facebook message chat with a friend of mine.  I will not tell you how close, but he is on the cusp of being ordained an elder in the United Methodist Church.  We had always discussed what was bothering us about different aspects of the the church and the life of

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