Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Monday, April 16, 2012

My Hope for the PC(USA)

Now that I have been made famous by none other than Parker Williamson of the LayMAN, I feel it is time to put this fame to good use.    His editorial is not only on-line but in the print edition as well.  I have been collecting copies.  I might send one to my mother.   It is also listed under the LayMAN's links for information about the upcoming General Assembly.   This is so cool.  I am so tickled that I decided to crouch and fawn for vice-moderator!  Please pick me!

Parker wasn't writing about me.  He was writing about himself.  David Walters has it right.   He also tried to belittle my colleague and friend, Rev. Janet Edwards, who has more integrity in her little finger than Parker could hope for in a lifetime.  From what I have read of Parker Williamson over the years, he thinks there are two types of people in the world:  people who think like him and unbelievers.   With that typology there is little else that he can absorb.    He has mastered the skill of bullying.    Parker's divine mandate is to bully "unbelievers" into silence.

Sadly, this has had some effect.  There are people in our denomination who have been more careful than they wanted to be about speaking on issues theological and otherwise because of the way that the LayMAN operates.    Normal people don't like to be bullied, misrepresented, and used.   They will avoid that.  That avoidance can result in not speaking out regarding issues of importance.   Of course, I am not normal.   I love it.  I would love it if the LayMAN wrote about me every week. 

What is happening is that the LayMAN is losing its teeth.   Parker has become less and less credible to more and more people.     He can't even do anything about me, a loud-mouthed nobody right across the border in a neighboring presbytery, and a conservative presbytery at that.   I parade "with impunity [my] unbelief" and Parker is impotent to do anything about it.  That must irritate him something fierce.

Since, thanks to Parker, I have your attention, I invite you to explore this blog.   That is a pretty big task since I have been writing it for nearly six years.   Parker helped with that, though.   In his editorial, he quoted from two recent sermons (March 4, February 26) and from a blog post from two years previous.    Those are good places to start.

Here is the deal.  I put my sermons and my theological musings right out there.   I take seriously what I learned in my seminary experience as well as what I continue to learn every day.   I talk about it openly.   From Parker's perspective that is called "parading with impunity."   He is all about being punitive.    I think the denomination has had enough of Parker's punitive policing.   We can think for ourselves.

So, I read, write, and now host a radio program, Religion For Life, that tackles religious issues.    I recently interviewed PC(USA) vice-moderator, Landon Whitsitt, and this week I speak with Rev. Jane Spahr about the GAPCJ decision and what this means for the PC(USA) and for equality and compassionate ministry in general.

Within a few weeks WETS and WEHC will broadcast my interviews with Bishop John Shelby Spong, John Dominic Crossan, Bart Ehrman, and Robert Price.  The series will be called, "Will the Real Jesus Please Rise?"  It will be entertaining and thought-provoking.   For Parker, it will be further evidence of "unbelief."

I do have a belief.  I am not an "unbeliever."  I believe that God is a lot bigger than Parker Williamson's view of God.   God is certainly a lot bigger than my view of God.  So it would seem logical to expand my view.     That is what I try to do in my ministry.  That is what I think the church does when it is at its best.    I think that is the direction the PC(USA) is going.

These will be rough waters for some time as the LayMAN and others who think the denomination is sinking into apostasy and unbelief will write their articles and editorials from that point of view.    We will lose some people.  We have already.  We will gain some as well.  My congregation is an example of that.  My hope and my belief is that the PC(USA) will find its voice.    From my point of view that voice will be for open-ended inquiry, compassion, and justice.

In the meantime, I am looking forward to representing my presbytery as a commissioner to the General Assembly.   I thank my colleagues of Holston Presbytery with whom I serve and worship for this opportunity.  They are good people.   Even though we may disagree on certain things, overall, we are a community.   Parker's divisiveness will not end that.



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