Tag: Joel Watts
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Can #UMC-ers ‘Blog It Out’ in Preparation for General Conference?

Joel Watts is attempting to work out what it means to be a United Methodist blogger – as opposed to a United Methodist who blogs. His latest post gets the ball rolling on the subject.

In doing so, he raises an interesting question:

Can, or should we, use [the blogosphere] to settle disputes before the General Conference?

There are certainly questions of efficiency and polity to consider, but why couldn't we make the blogosphere help us make General Conference a better governing body? Anyone who has paid any attention to General Conferences over the past few quadrennia certainly knows how constipated a process it has become. Could our rhetoric and advocacy in the blogosphere lead to a more pleasurable or productive General Conference experience.

To be sure, UM bloggers would have to learn to abide by certain ground rules. That is, if our rhetoric remains deadlocked within the same left-right, ideological malaise, there would be no reason to attempt this type of feat. However, if we agreed to speak with each other and about differing subjects as if we are each creatures of sacred worth, we might be able to incorporate the blogosphere into our polity in this fashion.

Am I off base? What would you suggest?

Let's get talking! 2016 is not far away.

 

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How Soon Will the #UMC Split?

Annual Conference is just around the corner. I'm excited, mainly because I will be comissioned as a probationary elder this year – something that has been nearly 10 years in the making. I will also be taking a new appointment shortly thereafter. It's an exciting time.

Unfortunately, the upcoming Annual Conference season has caused many in the UMC blogosphere to turn their attention to the incipient rumblings of a schism.

Dr. David Watson – Academic Dean at United Theological – wrote this thought-provoking piece.

John Lomperis – IRD director of UMAction – wrote about a group who claims schism has already happened in theory.

Joel Watts questions – among other things – the witness of a church that would schism.

To be sure, there are other things over which a church split could be fought. However, the ideological extremes (isn't is telling that phrase is germane to the discussion?) appear willing to pull the church apart over the issue of LBGT inclusion into the life of the community of faith. Since the 1970's, this issue has been pulling at the edges of the denomination – fraying and tattering the fabric of the church.

In the meantime, the culture has not stopped it's slow-but-sure turn away from the church. We are all aware that the Western church as a whole – not to mention the UMC – has spent the last 5 decades in decline. Each of the ideologically opposed sides has spent considerable amounts of time blaming each other for it, or they will point to their own numeric success as proof that their side has the market on righteousness cornered.

The fact is that the church's multi-decade, numeric decline has much more to do with cultural shift and the church's refusal to respond in kind, than it does with how the church acts on this issue. Yes, the church's stance on issues of LBGT concern effect the church's witness in the world, but church renewal folk will tell you we have bigger fish to fry.

In my opinion – and the opinion of many others – schism would only further kill the church's witness.

I spoke about the frayed edges of the fabric of the denomination. However, there is a vast middle. In this vast middle lives the majority of the denomination. These people see the same disagreements everyone else does, and they probably have their own opinions on this and other issues – with varying degrees of passion ascribed to them. What they see, however, is their local congregation and the communities into which they must minister.

Those in this vast middle see the ministry that needs to be done, and not their pet ideological issues for which they need to doggedly advocate. They are congregations who tend to be more conservative, being led by pastors who tend to be more progressive – or vice versa – and they see opportunities for ministry. They are communities of faith, and they understand that our minor disagreements over pet issues should not overshadow the vital ministry they could do together.

How much more effective and vital could our ministry be if we learned to live and love together? Could our disagreements be used to enliven our community, instead of being used as a way to divide it? Could we make ministry about the love and grace of God, and not about how we've learned to deny it to each other?

Even with General Conference being a couple of years away, there are rumblings of a schism proposal (or two) being floated around. It won't pass this quadrennial or next, but there are plenty of us who hear these rumblings and think it could be sooner rather than later.

I prefer never.

What do you think?

 

NAGR’s Increased Race-Baiting

My friend Joel – @eJoelWatts & unsettledchristianity.com – has commented on some of the racist rhetoric permeating the various gun rights advocacy groups online (here and here). I have been taking on a particular group, NAGR (it is beginning to look less and less like a coincidence) – The National Association for Gun Rights. Here

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Joel Nails It On “The Cult of the Constitution” – @ejoelwatts

Joel Watts – http://www.unsettledchristianity.com – wrote a nice little piece about how the Constitution of the United States takes on cult-like status with many of it's staunchest supporters. This hasn't been more clear than in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. There are many highlights from the article, but here is

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Joel & His Relatively Well-Constructed Tin-Foil Hat About Angus T. Jones (UPDATE)

My friend, Joel, has hypothised that the recent conversion of 'Two and a Half Men' star – Angus T. Jones – is part of a mental breakdown. As I understand it, Jones has recently shown varying opinions about the show on which he has starred since the age of 9. In his most recent public

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@eJoelWatts – Author AND Songwriter?

  We all know that Joel Landon Watts has become quite a prolific author.  BUT, did you know he got his start in songwriting?  Here is some of his early work.

Read @eJoelWatts Biography Today!

It might shock you, but you – and the rest of the American public – has a right to know.

@ejoelwatts on Deconversion & Why People Leave the Church/Faith

My friend, Joel, posted this quote on his blog: Testimonials at sites like ExChristian.net show that people leave religion for a number of reasons, many of which religious leaders have very little control over.  Sometimes, for example, people take one too many science classes. Sometimes they find their faith shattered by the suffering in the

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