Thursday, October 30, 2008

James Dobson is an ignorant fear-monger

I hate to break it to you my fellow Christians, but James Dobson doesn't care about you. He doesn't care about Jesus or the Gospel message either. The only thing he cares about is the Republican ultra-right wing platform and keeping a Republican, ANY Republican in the White House. Those are his friends, his cronies, and his power base. He will do and say anything to keep his buddies in office. Recently, he send a fictitious letter describing what might happen during an Obama administration. The contents of this letter are so disgusting and vile that it will turn your stomach. He tells us that there will be porno available on every newsstand, the government will ban homeschooling and churches will lose there 501c tax exemption if they don't perform gay marriages. There is not a word of truth in there. Not one word. If you believe any of these things will come true, I've got some ocean front property I want to talk to you about. You see friends, James Dobson is using you. He doesn't give a damn about you, your problems, or the real issues at hand. He doesn't care about the poor or the helpless. He doesn't care about using his influence and power to help people. All he cares about is scaring you into voting his way. He will tell you any lie and untruth to get your vote. Don't believe him. Educate yourself and vote for the candidate that YOU choose. Don't be a victim of the right-wing fear-mongering. This is a last ditch attempt to scare you into voting a certain way. James Dobson should be ashamed of himself, but he's not. Why? Because he wouldn't know real Christian values if it bit him on the ass.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Three things 6/21

I know I have missed a few days so sue me...

1.) BBQ ribs...mmm mmm mmm

2.) Movies...they allow us to suspend disbelief and escape if only for a couple of hours

3.) Since it is our 1 month anniversary my wife again

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Three things 6/21

Three things I'm thankful for...

1.) Home...there is no place like it

2.) My mom...for so many reasons

3.) Peace and quiet

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Three things 6/20

Three things I'm thankful for:

1.) Baseball: There is nothing more relaxing than being at the ballpark with a big hot dog and a good friend(s)

2.) The weather at Greer Stadium in Nashville was perfect. It was cool with low humidity and enough clouds so we weren't baking in our seats.

3.) Good friends, need I say more.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Three things 6/19

1.) My old Jeep, she might make strange noises, but she gets me where I need to go.

2.) Nurses... I don't think these people get near enough credit for what they do from the most mundane to things that would turn most of our stomachs. A good nurse is a blessing for anyone in a hospital, nursing home, or other care facility. If you get a chance thank a nurse.

3.) Positive people...those folks who lift your spirits just by their presence...most of them don't know that they are.

Three things 6/18

I know, one day and I forgot to post, but at least I remember this morning.

1.) The privilege to preach the gospel each week. Sometimes it is frustrating to create a new sermon each week, but I am always amazed at what God gives to me each time.

2.) The weather last night; it wasn't too hot or humid. It was really nice to sit out on my porch (such as it is) and relax.

3.) Shane at the Y. Shane is a trainer at the Maury County YMCA and he is always there with a encouraging word.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Three thingsm I'm thankful for... 6/17

Ok. I was listening to a sermon by Adam Hamilton from the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection today about surviving through life's trials. One suggestion was to end the day by writing down three things that I am thankful for each day. He quoted a study that showed that people who do this over an extended period had a healthier mental state, so we'll see if that holds true. I am going to try to be faithful to this every day.

1.) I would be in trouble if I didn't start out by saying that I am thankful for my wife. She is truly my better half, Columbia DS Willie Burchfield said it better when he introduced his wife as his better 7/8. Angie keeps me grounded and sees me as I want to be. She calls me on my BS and keeps me on the straight and narrow, but she also allows me to have my wild hairs every now and then. I love her dearly and I thank God for her.

2.) Today I am thankful for the gift of music, not my ability to play, but the privilege to have an extensive music library. My favorite way to decompress is to sit at my laptop with my headphones on and listen to music for hours. I love all kinds I only have two genres good and bad.

3.) Today I am thankful for Dr. Pat Whittemore, professor of religion at Martin Methodist College for his willingness to make time to help me with a baptism even though we have had scheduling problems. He is gracious and extremely helpful. Thanks, Dr. Pat.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Even More Thoughts on General Conference 5/1

By now I am sure most of you know the outcome of the plenary sessions yesterday. The denomination's language on homosexuality and inclusiveness remains the same as it was 36 years ago. One can still see the denominational divide almost in two sections, the vote to change the language was 55% - 45%. As my friend and colleague Matt Kelley reports in his blog The Truth as Best I Know It (see the link on the side of this blog), the vibe in the discussion was very negative and hurtful. This is not what John Wesley had in mind when he began these holy conferences. My question is this; did we set ourselves up for this kind of failure of holy conferencing? In order to save money the denominational leaders decided to reduce the number of days that General Conference met this year by 2. That and an increasing number of petitions that must be sorted through and debated led to many late nights, lack of sleep, and a limited number of breaks and work during those breaks. This has led to some serious fatigue and irritability within the body as some other bloggers have reported. Everyone knows that these issues were going to come up as they will every year and so why do we give ourselves less time to deal with them. As I watched the live feed from GC I noticed many calls of the question before adequate debate and discussion, while other issues took too long in my opinion. When this kind of fatigue sets in people become less willing to hear other opinions and simply want to go home leaving things the way they are without change. This is what we got. In 2012 I hope the powers that be consider this problem in their scheduling. I think the money spent on two more days would be a good investment and I am willing to be that the delegates would agree.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Even More Thoughts on General Conference 4/30

Today has been a hotbed of intense debate and decision. The majority of this was on GBLT issues and the future of homosexuality and the church. I sum up the events of the day with the line, "it's the same ol' story, same ol' song and dance." The debate on GBLT issues has continued since 1972 when the line "homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teachings". A Judicial Council decision 1032 where the idea that the pastor has the final say whether or not a person is ready to become a member. The pastor in the Virginia Conference deferred membership to a openly gay man. The petition 80088 states that the pastor and congregation must receive all people who wish to become members. The rationale is that grace is abundant for all and that if we disallowed sinners the churches would be empty. The minority report wanted to uphold the JC decision and give the pastor the final say. The rationale is that people might try to take advantage of open membership for selfish gain, i.e. wedding discounts, and KKK recruitment (That is not my example, a clergy person actually stood in front of the body and said that a KKK member might join a church to recruit members, I would laugh if it wasn't so sad and pathetic). They say that the pastor must regulate the membership of the church. Personally I don't really want that responsibility.

BTW, the petition just failed by 8 votes. The Discipline language will remain ambiguous. This is disappointing and is another example of the impotence of the 2008 General Conference. The make big statements on easy subjects and ignore the tough issues.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

More thoughts on General Conference

So I am trying my best to keep up with the events of the 2008 General Conference. I realize now, just keeping up with the plenary business as it is streamed live on the Internet (kudos to the UMC for technological improvements) that these 10 days of discussions and committees are just a whirlwind of activity, emotions, and information. I really can't imagine at this point in my life being a delegate at GC and I have a tremendous respect for those who take on this heavy burden.

I can tell that the wear and tear of GC is getting to some of the delegates. There have been hints of sarcasm and cynicism in the body. This is not progressive nor Christian. I hope and pray that the delegates can continue to discuss and debate the issues of our church in a respectful manner despite fatigue and frustrations.

Today there has been a lot of discussion in the area of episcopacy. A petition (#81432) that called for a change in the number of bishops in the jurisdictional conferences basing the number of bishops on membership was passed by a narrow margin 457-401. The results of this petition would reduce the number of bishops in all jurisdictions, except for the Southeastern, by 1 and thereby saving money in the episcopal fund opening monies to bishops in the Central Conferences. I do not like this legislation for several reasons. One it puts even more emphasis on numbers, as if there was not enough focus on numbers. If you attend enough district and conference meetings you will hear a lot about increasing numbers. I believe that if we worried as much about helping people as we do about increasing numbers then the numbers would come. Secondly, our bishop in the TN Conference is also the bishop in the Memphis conference and therefore we hardly ever see him. Bishops have too much on their plates already and this will only add more burdens to the episcopacy. Also, although the Holy Spirit is doing great things in Africa and Asia and they are in need of bishops to lead new congregations, we cannot ignore the congregations in the US although the majority of them are losing members. We have to work together to makes disciples of Christ.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thoughts at the beginning of General Conference

All of you Metho-nuts out there probably know that General Conference began yesterday in Fort Worth, Texas. For you non-Methodists (shame, shame ;) ) GC is a 4 year event where delegates worldwide collide together to discuss, debate, and decide the future of the UMC. The past few GCs were shrouded with the issue of GBLT membership and leadership within the church. This year, unfortunately, seems to have more of the same in store. There are no easy answers or remedies to this problem because if one side benefits the other side feels abandoned and alienated by the church. This is an issue that I continue to struggle with personally and so I understand the frustration and urgency on both sides of the issue. My prayer is that God is with all the delegates and that whatever discussion occurs is done in a Christian manner with love and grace for all. The world watches us not necessarily with enthusiasm unless of course they smell blood to which the calm will rapidly descend into a media feeding frenzy. Although this issue cannot be ignored at any level of the church, my prayer is that it will be done in a manner of respect and with a sense of delicateness. The world watches us because we are the church. It only takes a drop of weakness to draw the razor sharp teeth of cynicism and sarcasm. I am interested to see how the next 9 days work out and in what direction the powers that be steer the denomination. I hope and pray that it is God that steers and not politics and power mongering.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Politics as Unusual

Most people are familiar with the comments made by Barack Obama's former pastor Reverend Wright at Trinity UCC in Chicago. Those comments were harsh, uncalled for, ignorant, and completely inappropriate for the pulpit. This gospel of Christ is meant to be uniting not dividing and this is exactly what Rev. Wright was doing in those particular sermons. There are times to preach prophecy from the pulpit and there are times to speak truth to power, but not by using tactics and rhetoric antithetical to the gospel of Christ. These words have come back to not only haunt Rev. Wright, but also his former parishioner Barack Obama.

So today March 18th Obama stood at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, the city of "Brotherly Love", and gave what is arguably the most power and honest speech on race relations since MLK. He took what could have been a time for embarrassment and back-tracking and made a (in the words of Vanderbilt Divinity School) teaching moment. Some will argue that his words were disingenuous and political at best. I believe that these words come from the heart of not only a man, but from the heart of the country. He words held whites and blacks accountable while proclaiming the truth of a broken system. The truth of the situation, that Obama artfully communicated, is that we are not a union of individuals, but a community. What happens to the least of us affects the greatest of us. As MLK masterfully put it, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." It was the first time I have ever seen a politician be truly open and genuine, either that or Obama is the greatest BS artist in history. I don't think that is the case.

I hope people take this as a moment to examine race and racism in their own lives and in their own hearts. It starts within the heart of each person, but it can only change and come into fruition when those hearts are united in community.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Some things I Don't Understand

This past week Feb 5, 2008 as most of you know there were terrible storms and tornados in Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Alabama. I have seen these things on TV and even some in person, but I have never known a person killed in a storm related accident. That changed this week. My friend and classmate Michael Welch, his wife, and two kids were killed in a car wreck as they carried supplies to help those affected by the storms. They were hit from behind by an 18 wheeler also carrying supplies. Here was a person who was trying to help in a time of need, here was someone who was embodying the gospel while so many around him here taking advantage of others, by looting, cheating, and lying to these victims. There are so many people I see every day who don't care about anyone but themselves. They go through life completely oblivious to the pain and suffering of others. Except when they are hurt, then it becomes a different story. Then THEY expect people like Michael to come and help them usually with no thanks or appreciation given. I don't understand why good people like Michael are taken from this world and selfish, jerk off people are left behind. I hope that someday I be revealed this answer. I know that someday we will all be rewarded according to our actions on earth, but now it is difficult to imagine.