Shuck and Jive

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

Monday, March 03, 2008

Just a Guy With a Blog?

Both Presbyweb and the LayMAN linked to Jim Berkley's tirade on Monday. So I have had a number of visitors. I hate to disappoint you all with my normally boring posts. So here is a bit more about Rev. Jim.

Rev. Jim Berkley is not merely a holly jolly preacher from Seattle. He is not just a guy with a blog. He is employed by the IRD. This is a million dollar a year organization funded by right-wing political interest groups. Its purpose is to move three denominations, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Methodist Church, and the Episcopal Church toward religious fundamentalism. Check this YouTube trailer.

Why these three? Because these three denominations have a history of social justice and of religious scholarship.

Rev. Jim's job is to be attack dog against the PC(USA). That is his job. He gets paid to attack the staff of the PC(USA) and its policies. He is good at it. Make no mistake. They couldn't have hired a better man for the job.

This is not about him. I am sure he is a real live Jesus lover and that he honestly feels he is following Christ. But his vision is the vision of the IRD. It is disastrous for the church.

Rev. Jim is not alone. The Methodist Doberman is Mark Tooley. Nearly a third of the IRD's budget is about moving the Methodist church toward its vision of religious fundamentalism and destroying its social witness.

One of the tactics of the IRD is to attack the character and faith of denominational staff with which it disagrees. Our stated clerk, Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, is known by Rev. Jim as Pope Clifton the First. Is that an insult?

The IRD is into "loving discipline." This is a tactic of threat (and at times, action) to use the ecclesiastical disciplinary system against those who have a different vision for the direction of the church.

You recall in his recent tirade, that Jim called for my presbytery to discipline me. It is pretty bizarre really. Most folks when given a good jibe would give one back. Not the IRD. They want to bring out the tanks. Shuck insulted me! Call the COM! Discipline! Discipline!

Here are a few illustrations regarding Rev. Jim and his "loving discipline." On a recent post about a mission volunteer to Jerusalem, Rev. Jim took her report out of context, implied that good Presbyterians wouldn't want to support her work with their mission dollars, and then the clincher:
Who should be watching Shannon O'Donnell's back? Who cares about her enough to gently, lovingly disciple her, rather than allowing her to flounder?
Jim is good. His post reeks with condescension. Who will "lovingly disciple" her for Jesus' sake? This is what the IRD does again and again and again. They are good with the sanctimonious language. What is its effect? Its effect is to cast doubt, to create division, and to bring down the denomination, its staff, and its structures.

Discipline and withhold funds.

Now and then, Rev. Jim doesn't just suggest someone should be lovingly disciplined. He takes action into his own hands. It was Rev. Jim that filed a complaint against Rev. Jane Spahr. She isn't even in his presbytery. Here is an article about that.

Spahr even put in a telephone call to the minister who urged the Presbytery to file the charges against her. The Rev. James Berkley, director of Presbyterian Action for Faith and Freedom, has made up his mind that homosexuality is sinful, and nothing is going to change it. "God in his love and his care has told us that homosexual behavior is not something we should do, and we are at our very best when we do what God commands," he says. But even Berkley has kind words about Spahr, calling her "congenial" and "full of smiles."

That's nice. She is congenial and full of smiles, but I just have to take her to church court.

Presbyterian Action for Faith and Freedom is his section of the IRD. Whether it is about faith, I can't say, but it is anything but freedom. It isn't about freedom to be openly gay. One of Rev. Jim's latest brainstorms has to do with church membership. It is not enough that openly gay folks shouldn't be ordained as church officers. No Rev. Jim doesn't think they should even be members! Read this:

The policy states that “homosexual persons who sincerely affirm ‘Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior’ and ‘I intend to be his disciple, to obey his word, and to show his love’ should not be excluded from membership” (emphasis added). The language is appropriately encompassing for those who have a homosexual orientation.
But given the fact that homosexual practice is sin, the emphasized words show the assembly’s intent that those who seek church membership understand the lordship of Jesus Christ in their lives and what discipleship and obedience to the Word means. This is no free pass for homosexual practice, as if that particular form of sin were inconsequential in respect to church membership.

This isn't just one guy's opinion. There will be action that will move the PC(USA) toward enacting this into law. Little by little, policy by policy, church court case by church court case, the right wing in its various incarnations is determined to move the PC(USA) to the dark ages. Faith and Freedom, indeed.

It is not about freedom for women to make decisions regarding their own bodies. The PC(USA) is connected with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) which Rev. Jim calls a Really Crass Religious Coalition. Cute. He writes:

There is no excuse for Presbyterian entities--Presbyterians Affirming Reproductive Options, Women's Ministries, and the Washington Office--continuing to financially support and lend our once-good name to a crassly political, morally bankrupt, abortion-at-any-cost outfit like the RCRC.
Getting the common theme yet? Withhold funds. Destroy them financially.

It certainly is not about freedom of scholarship. He hassles the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation for publishing books not to his liking:

Two times lately, the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation (PPC) has released books that embarrass Presbyterians and propound theology in contradiction to our Reformed convictions: in July, Christian Faith and the Truth behind 9/11 by David Ray Griffin, and in November, Why Christianity Happened, by James G. Crossley. The publishing house’s board of directors actually repudiated Griffin’s 9/11 book, but kept right on selling it.

Thus, I’ve heard many people ask that if the PPC keeps acting in independent and harmful ways, why don’t we figure out a means to disassociate the PPC from the Presbyterian Church (USA)? “Why not cut the ties and end the embarrassment?” they wonder. That’s a good question, and it’s worth thoughtful consideration.
This is not a guy who just happens not to like certain books. He doesn't want you to read them either. It isn't him. He is just doing his job for the IRD.

Rev. Jim also mentioned Viola Larson, "one of the most decent and gracious persons I have ever met." I don't dispute that. But Viola also has a job. Whether she gets paid for it or does it for the love of Jesus, I don't know. Probably the latter.

But her organization, Voices of Orthodox Women, is also about loving discipline and hassling the denomination and its ministries such as Presbyterian Women and The National Network of Presbyterian College Women. Oh, and she writes that progressive Christianity leads to Nazism. As Jim would say, "Whatever."

The mainline churches, including the Presbyterian Church (USA), have a long-standing history of social justice ministry. The IRD will have none of it. The IRD, where Rev. Jim Berkley is employed, has a task. They plan to bring down the mainline churches. It happened to the Southern Baptists. It is happening to us.

Don't sleep while they take over the church.


74 comments:

  1. What I find truly incredible (that is, not to be believed) about all this is not just that they'd file accusations against people. That is, after all, part of our polity. For better or worse, any ordained person can file nuisance charges. No, what is truly reprehensible is that they publicize these accusations on blogs.

    Not only is our polity clear about who can file charges, but it is also crystal clear about the fact that those charges are to be kept confidential. Yet these folks publicize the fact that they're about to file charges, that they're planning on filing charges, etc. It's disgusting.

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  2. It is not just disgusting. It is tactical. The message is crystal clear. We will use the ecclesiastical disciplinary process against you, too, if we find you in our gun sites.

    The response is do not be afraid. Speak up. Our religious democracy is at stake.

    Thanks Alan for speaking up.

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  3. John,

    I can't speak to alot of these concerns, not having enough knowledge.

    Personally, in my work, I would want to speak to someone privately, and do everything possible to resolve any concern before approaching a supervisor.

    For me, this would have to be the absolute last resort, and then I would just ask the person to come along also. And, I would definitely do this in a confidential, caring way. (I think the Scripture also commands us to go first to a brother or sister privately in resolving a concern.)

    I do have to speak out against any church's association with the RCRC.

    There is a diversity in the church relating to the whole human life issue. Personally, I feel that we need to come to a consistent life ethic, here. I find abortion on demand to be inconsistent with authentic feminism.

    It seems to me that since there is a difference in the church relating to this whole issue, that diversity should be respected.

    How would you feel if the PCUSA decided to officially link with a pro-life organization, such as "Feminists For Life."

    It seems to me that in so many of our denominations we have folks at the top making some decisions that don't necessarily reflect the convictions of many of the committed, hardworking laypeople actually sitting in the pews.

    How just is that?

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  4. Here is the difference, Grace. All policies of the PC(USA) are done democratically. We elect commissioners to the GA. The staff is selected through democratic means. If you don't like a decision, you get on a committee and you work with the larger group to make changes.

    The IRD is outside of the PC(USA). It attacks the staff and the structures of the PC(USA) as not representing these supposedly common people in the pews.

    The decisions of the PC(USA) are made through the process, so obviously, people in the pew make these decisions when they get involved in the process.

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  5. Grace writes, "For me, this would have to be the absolute last resort, and then I would just ask the person to come along also. And, I would definitely do this in a confidential, caring way. (I think the Scripture also commands us to go first to a brother or sister privately in resolving a concern.)"

    Absolutely correct. Matthew 18 is crystal clear on how we are to deal with a brother or sister who is, we believe, wrong or who has wronged us. Discipline is to be the last resort. However, even when we resort to discipline we must do so compassionately. Discipline is to be used to restore the accused to full community, not to exact revenge. And in the PCUSA system of discipline, we believe that the accused is innocent until proven guilty. Thus, because we want to restore the person to community, and because the charges may be false, unfounded, or unsupported, we demand confidentiality in most parts of the process. Clearly some are only interested in making hay with these charges, and thus violate those restrictions by publishing all of that information on their blogs. I think one can then, given those actions, reasonably question whether their motives actually are to bring about restoration.

    But that is, as you point out, very different from opposing a particular stance taken by a denomination. If the denomination is doing something we believe is wrong, then we need to speak out!

    You wrote, "It seems to me that in so many of our denominations we have folks at the top making some decisions that don't necessarily reflect the convictions of many of the committed, hardworking laypeople actually sitting in the pews."

    Well, this is an argument I don't really buy. The moderator, stated clerk, and nearly every other official in the PCUSA is elected by the PCUSA. We are a bottom-up system of governance. So, some people love to demonize our denominational leadership, turning these fights into an us vs. them battle. But actually, there is no "them" in the PCUSA. There is only "us".

    Notice how often some cast themselves as martyrs battling the vast left-wing conspiracy that pulls the strings of the marionettes who head up our denomination. It's a nice story, but anyone who understands our polity knows it's not really true.

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  6. Alan, I'm leaving aside the fact that Shuck has some facts wrong, and that he's also basing his description of IRD on a vast network of prejudiced assumptions that people have made about IRD. I don't expect you to believe me about that, so I'm not here to argue about that.

    What I do want to know is, when you are writing on a blog that is full of accusations, how can you say "what is truly reprehensible is that they publicize these accusations on blogs"? What is your reasoning on that? Is it OK for progressives to make accusations on blogs but not for evangelicals to do so?

    I have asked you a similar question, but about a different topic, in the comments thread on Shuck's post with the redneck pictures.

    Debbie Berkley

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  7. If I have facts wrong, please let me know what is inaccurate.

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  8. "Is it OK for progressives to make accusations on blogs but not for evangelicals to do so?"

    Debbie, we're using the word "accusations" in two different ways, so let me clarify.

    It is my understanding that John has not filed any disciplinary charges against anyone anywhere. (If I'm wrong about that, I'll stand corrected.) What I am describing is the habit of some conservatives to actually contact Presbyteries with the intent to either file charges or to start a disciplinary process, and then crow about doing so on their blogs, in blatant violation of the rules of confidentiality -- at the very least a violation of the spirit, if not precisely the letter of our Book of Order.

    And, since I'm annoyed with all of the generalities being thrown around by you all (ie. "Apparently one can be as mean and hateful and intemperate and undisciplined and abusive as one cares to be, as long as one espouses a progressive political line and directs the hatefulness at conservatives.") without any actual evidence here is my evidence:

    "And yes, his activities have been reported."
    --Rev. Bill Crawford, Thibodaux, LA"

    or how about this:

    http://grkndeacon.blogspot.com/2007/05/correspondence-on-discipline-and.html

    or you can see a comment in the thread at your husband's blog by that same individual, again talking publicly about having complained to John's COM.

    There is probably more evidence out there as well, but those 3 examples of what I'm talking about should be clear enough, I think.

    Now, if John has filed charges against someone, or contacted their COM in order to tattle on someone, and has published that information on his blog, I'd be just as displeased about that. Do you have similar evidence of that being the case? Has John published letters that he's written to someone's COM? I've only been reading here for a little while, but I certainly haven't seen anything like that.

    "I have asked you a similar question, but about a different topic, in the comments thread on Shuck's post with the redneck pictures."

    Yup, I saw that today and responded there as well.

    BTW, just a friendly word of caution Debbie, given that one of the commenters on your husband's blog wrote, "I think Shuck has a particularly nasty way of expressing himself that attracts some unsavory camp followers" I hope you won't be excommunicated for being another "unsavory" camp follower like the rest of us. :)

    Though I guess "unsavory" wasn't meant as an insult, because given it was written on a post decrying insults, that would just be just a bit ironic, no? And, since no one over there felt the need to call that commenter out for being insulting (or the other insults such as "juvenile or childish") I guess I should assume that "unsavory" is meant as a compliment?

    As for the term "camp follower", though it can often refer to prostitutes who follow armies around, it is also occasionally used to refer to heros like Molly Pitcher. I guess I'm supposed to take that in the complimentary fashion, not the insulting one, right?

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  9. "For better or worse, any ordained person can file nuisance charges."

    You don't have to be ordained to file a Disciplinary charge.

    You DO have to be ordained and be a member of the body in question to file a Remedial case against a governing body. Or you can be an unordained member if you are filing against your session. Or an employee against their employer. A governing body can only file against the next highest governing body to which they belong OR against the General Assembly or a GA agency.

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  10. Jim Berkley came into this blog a year or so ago and tried to deny that the IRD is essentially a right wing front group. When I cited various sources, including an article in the Christian Century, that pointed out that the overwhelming majority of its funding during the first few years of its existence came from a very small number of well heeled far right organizations, he suddenly stopped making those denials.

    As for Viola Larson, this is a person who smears religious progressives by accusing them of fostering Nazism. (The reasoning seems to be along these lines: a) The Nazis rejected orthodoxy Christianity. b) Progressives reject orthodoxy Christianity. c) Therefore, progressives are Nazis. Or course, as we know: Socrates was a man. All men are mortal. Therefore, all men are Nazis. Or something like that.)

    Right wing hate groups like the IRD should be called on for what they do. Thanks, John, for fighting the good fight.

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  11. You're right, of course, Mark. I was being a bit too specific, thinking of remedial cases.

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  12. Here's a fascinating tidbit for you. As many know, the IRS is now investigating the UCC because Obama came to speak at a UCC event and gave a non-political speech about his faith. The question has arisen as to who filed the complaint to the IRS. Although it is not known for sure, you can guess where it points to--yup, the IRD. Here is a blog posting that explains why the IRD seems like a likely culprit.

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  13. Gotta love the irony ....

    In the comments section over there, this sentence: "It is critical, for understanding to arise in our church debates, for progressives to stop accusing evangelicals of evil and hatred."

    Is immediately followed by this sentence: " John Shuck in particular is a catalyst toward more hatred rather than less."

    Heh heh. Pot, meet Kettle. ;)

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  14. Grace,

    If you are for the inclusion of gays, you have denied scripture and you are an apostate.

    How timely that the Layman just posted a piece by John Adams on Mark Achtemeier, Does the Grass No Longer Wither and the Flower No Longer Fade?

    Here are some choice tidbits about Prof. Achtemeier, a darling of the evangelicals, until they didn't like his compromise via the TTF report.

    "Mark Achtemeier was once considered an ally of the evangelicals..."

    "So, when and how did Achtemeier stray so far from the evangelical fold?"

    I am sorry, Grace. You can claim that Jesus is your Lord and Savior, but you are deceiving yourself if you think homosexuality is not sinful.

    But you cannot deceive God. May you find fullness in His love and grace and may our dear Lord show you true repentance. I say this in love and in concern for your hell-bound immortal soul, "You have strayed from the fold. We'll pray for you."

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  15. From an earlier comment thread, Grace wrote just this morning, "For what it's worth though, when I argue for gay and lesbian concerns, there is often strong disagreement, but, no one yet has called me a heretic, or apostate from the Christian faith. I guess someday there may come that time, but it hasn't happened yet."

    Well, that didn't take long. Now this afternoon over at Berkley blog it seems that Grace is also a heretic, though not apostate:

    "Now, if someone- other wise orthodox in who Jesus is (100% human/100% divine), what happened on the cross (victory over sin/price paid/satan defeated) and his resurrection (bodily), but teaches its ok to engage in activities scripture warns us against (sexual, ethical, whatever)- that person would be teaching heresy (abandoning specific teachings, but not the whole cloth). Heresy or Heretic would be the accurate label."

    Welcome to the club of heretical and unsavory camp followers, Grace. Don't you just feel the love? (No, it isn't hate, it's love!) We'll have your embroidered jacket, hat, and membership card ready for you in a few days. :)

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  16. John and Alan, the factual error is that Jim Berkley did not file charges against Janie Spahr. You can talk to her presbytery about that for verification. He merely wrote to them asking if they knew that she was conducting gay weddings. From then on he was no longer involved, except that newspapers kept contacting him due to the continual mistaken impression that he was involved. What you cite from that newspaper article, John, was an inaccurate depiction of Jim's views written by a reporter who was biased towards Spahr.

    So, Alan, if that is the basis for differentiating between accusations on blogs--whether or not someone files charges--then you were misinformed.

    And, Alan, you have taken my statement about John's being a catalyst towards hatred out of context and also used it in a different way to what I am objecting to. First, that statement follows a logical argument that should be read in its entirety. Second, I didn't say that John was hateful or that he hated us. I did say that he was a catalyst towards hatred. Those are not the same thing at all. My view is that calling people names in foul language is not a catalyst toward love.

    However, I don't expect you guys to agree with my view of your theology or strategies.

    As for the insinuations about IRD, they are all founded on a vast conspiracy theory with no facts behind them. When people, such as the people at Talk2Action, are asked to provide evidence for their claims about IRD, their answer is that they don't need evidence. They have one IRD document that is their sole "evidence", which they find "proof" in by misinterpreting some sentences. IRD has so little budget that Jim is the only Presbyterian employee they can afford to pay.

    I don't expect you to agree with me on this, but there is my witness about it.

    Debbie Berkley

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  17. Thank you, Debbie. Although I am confused how I got the fact wrong. I would like to alert folks to this Presbyterian News item regarding Jim and Rev. Spahr.

    I said in my post that Jim filed a complaint not a charge. Perhaps the verb "filed" is incorrect.

    Here is a link to the Presbyterian News article.

    The following is from the news article:

    "An investigating committee filed the charge with the presbytery’s PJC after Spahr’s participation in the same-sex wedding was brought to the attention of the regional governing body last March in an email sent by the Rev. James Berkley, a member of Seattle Presbytery and the Issues Ministry Director for Presbyterians for Renewal, a conservative renewal group that opposes the ordination of gays and lesbians.

    In his email, Berkley included a brief article posted on the TAMFS Web site announcing the marriage of two of its members, Dr. Douglas Potter and Greg Partridge, companions for 20 years.

    Spahr was listed in the article as assisting the Rev. John Mayor, a Unitarian chaplain from Canada, in performing the ceremony in Vineland, Ontario, on Feb. 28. Same-sex marriage is legally recognized in the province of Ontario.

    Runyeon said she wrote the allegations about Spahr’s alleged role in the same-sex ceremony and forwarded them to the investigating committee after receiving Berkley’s email.

    Runyeon said that Berkley’s email quoted a 1991 “authoritative interpretation” of the PC(USA)’s constitution affirmingthat “a Christian marriage performed with the Directory for Worship can only involve a covenant between a woman and a man, it would not be proper for a minister of the Word and Sacrament to perform a same-sex union ceremony that the minister determines to be the same as a marriage ceremony.”

    Berkley also cited a General Assembly PJC ruling stating that ministers should instruct same-sex couples that the service to be conducted does not constitute a marriage ceremony and should not be presented as such.

    “He (Berkley) did not want to be the one that wrote the allegations . . . which is why I was the one who ended up actually writing for the investigating committee, the initial complaint,” Runyeon said. “But as I say, once we heard what he had to say, and he had put it in the email, which in effect is in writing, it was incumbent upon us to do the investigation.”

    Presbytery members were informed of the disciplinary charge during a regular presbytery meeting Nov. 19.

    “I think that the presbytery is being responsible and doing what they must do,” said Berkley, a former associate pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Bellevue. “It’s no fun. Nobody likes the idea of this needing to be done. But when there is direct disobedience of what we as Presbyterians have decided are the boundaries of our practice, a presbytery, out of love, has to stand firm.”

    Yes, he sent an e-mail all right. One filled with legal details and one in which the investigating committee felt obligated to act.

    I don't see how I got the fact wrong.

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  18. "So, Alan, if that is the basis for differentiating between accusations on blogs--whether or not someone files charges--then you were misinformed."

    Debbie, in my comment to you, I provided links and quotes that had nothing to do with either your husband, nor the Janie Spahr allegations. They were clearly about John, not Janie. Did you even bother looking at the evidence I provided? It seems that you didn't follow the links or read what I was saying at all.

    You initially asked me if it was OK for progressives to make accusations on blogs but not for evangelicals to do so. I provided evidence for what I was describing in order to clarify what I was talking about. In doing so I asked you to back up your implication that I was being hypocritical. So, I'll ask again, are you prepared to provide evidence that John had done the same thing I have been talking about, that is, publishing letters to COMs on one's blog, etc.? You seem to have skipped over that point.

    I also asked you if it was appropriate for your husband and others on his blog to use insults like juvenile, childish, unsavory, etc., while at the same time ironically complaining about people insulting them. You also seem to have skipped over that point as well. Could you respond to that question as well, please?

    So I answered your question, and did so clearly, I thought. You ignored my answer completely, and ignored the questions I asked you. Now, of course, no one is forcing you to either respond to my answer and/or my questions to you, but perhaps you can imagine that I'm a bit dubious that you're interested in dialogue when you have so far not responded to my answer to you, as well as ignored my questions to you.

    "Second, I didn't say that John was hateful or that he hated us. I did say that he was a catalyst towards hatred."

    I'm afraid I don't see the distinction. Can you clarify then? If John doesn't hate you but is only a catalyst, then whom specifically are you talking about? Who hates you? And, can you provide specific evidence for their hatred?

    "However, I don't expect you guys to agree with my view of your theology or strategies."

    At this point, I quite frankly don't even understand what you're talking about, since I've asked questions you haven't answered. So whether you and I would agree about anything is unknown to me. Perhaps if you answer my questions, as I have answered yours then I'd understand you better.

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  19. One more thing. Even the Pacific Sun newspaper did not say Jim filed the charge. It said he "urged the presbytery to file the charges." What is different?

    Those bothersome reporters who keep calling. "Gosh, and I just have to talk to them." Are these quotes attributed to him in the Pacific Sun and the PC News Service fabrications?

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  20. What I mean is what is different from what the Pacific Sun and PC News Service said from the facts?

    Was not the intent of his e-mail to the presbytery for charges to be filed? I can't see how one can read it any differently.

    Secondly, he obviously was willing to talk about it with the news media. Or did the reporters make up those quotes?

    This is what Alan is talking about. There is a difference between accusations in general and in accusations that result in disciplinary action.

    For the record, I have never (so far) filed any type of complaint, or sent an e-mail with the intention that it might result in a disciplinary charge. So obviously, I have never bragged about it.

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  21. ((Alan))

    The person is sincere, and means to help me out. I can't explain it to you exactly, but I don't feel really offended.

    I just think he's not able to understand.

    Sincerely,
    Grace.

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  22. BTW, thanks Seeker. Good stuff on the IRD. I think it is time for a little truth-telling about this organization.

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  23. Debbie,

    As to the second issue regarding facts about the IRD. Oh we got facts. It is time for a little truth-telling about that group. Can you tell me what I got wrong?

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  24. So if I'm getting this right, Jim Berkley did not actually file charges in the Presbytery against Janie Spahr, but rather did a hit-and-run, leaving someone else to do the dirty work so that Jim could wash his hands of the whole sorry affair?

    This is better how?

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  25. I cited this information in John's blog back in January of 2007, but it bears repeating. A Christian Century article in 1995 discussed the massive infusion of cash by a group of four right wing organizations. Here's what the article says:

    Four conservative foundations - Bradley, Olin, Smith Richardson and Scaife - stand out as the most active players in the culture wars. Sometimes called the "four sisters" because they tend to act in concert, the four foundations together made grants of $57 million in 1993....

    The Institute on Religion and Democracy, well known for its persistent attacks on the National and World Councils of Churches and, more recently, for criticisms of the leadership of the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), received $260,000 in 1993 from three of the sisters - the bulk of of IRD's total grant receipts of $382,000 and total revenues of $483,000. After the IRD was started in 1980, foundations - overwhelmingly three of the four sisters (Bradley was not then a player) - provided 89 percent of the organization's financial resources for the first 25 months. In 1993, foundations were supplying 79 percent of IRD funding.


    (Emphasis added).

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  26. Thank you, Seeker. I added it to the sidebar.

    Now you will receive some loving discipline.

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  27. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  28. John,

    If people really believe that folks are hell-bound because of a difference relating to Scriptural interpretation concerning homosexuality, we should be crying out to God for them with compassion. They have missed the reality of the gospel.

    Do you see, John?

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  29. Grace, frankly we have been trying to do so for quite some time. My family did our best to accommodate these folks in the name of Christian love. The result: we got booted out on our ass.

    These folks are trying to foment the same bloody fight and schism that J. Gresham Machen did in the 1930s. Since then, mainline Presbyterians have been doing their damnedest to keep the church whole. But at some point, as when the PCA broke off from the southern church over the ordination of women and the Civil Rights Movement, the church has to take a moral stand for justice.

    I wish, wish, wish it hadn't gotten to this point, but with people like NWAC and IRD intentionally trying to pick fights, we are getting closer and closer to something very sad. The problem is you can't persuade a fundamentalist. Believe me, I've tried.

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  30. I'm so sorry ((Fly)) that you and your family had to go through this.

    Love,
    Grace.

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  31. Grace--Jim and I do not believe that anyone is hellbound because of a difference of interpretation of Scripture with regard to homosexuality. Nor do we believe that gays or lesbians are hellbound due to their homosexuality.

    Our belief is that everyone is in the same position, including us--it is faith in Christ, and that alone, that makes the difference.

    Debbie Berkley

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  32. Alan, I went and looked at the link you provided. I'm not quite sure what it is you want to discuss about this. Are you giving this as an example of a conservative insulting or accusing a progressive (in this case, John Shuck)? I do not see anything wrong about this. The person writing the blog (I didn't identify who it was) feels that John has beliefs that are out of line with those of the PCUSA, and wants to know what can be done about it. He posts an e-mail to show that the presbytery was not sympathetic to him. So he asks others to discuss it with him.

    Suppose that a progressive was frustrated that a minister of the PCUSA held beliefs that this progressive disliked very much. Suppose the progressive believed that this minister worked for an organization that ought not to be allowed to have an influence on the PCUSA. Suppose that progressive decided to publicize things about that organization on his blog and try to get lots of people to see it, because the progressive thinks those things are bad things. Would you find that wrong? Wait--I forgot--we're commenting on just such a blog right now!

    What I'm trying to get at is that, if people disagree with other people, they need to be free to say so, and to work toward having their point of view prevail. It's not wrong to advocate a point of view. And since the PCUSA is an organization based on beliefs, if a minister of that organization has beliefs that are felt to be in contrast to the most basic beliefs held by that organization, then it's not outrageous for some people to question whether or not it is appropriate for that minister to hold those beliefs. It is similar to a situation where a member of the Democratic party insisted on advocating Republican platforms. Other Democrats are naturally going to question whether or not that person is appropriate as a member of the Democratic party. Those other Democrats may be wrong, but it's not inappropriate for them to question.

    I did respond, I thought, to what was said about the words "juvenile" and "childish". I don't view them as insults but rather as descriptive words. They would fall in the same category with words such as "self-righteous" or "superficial", that might be used in a discussion about how viewpoints are argued. On the other hand, words like "S.O.B." are clearly aimed at the person, not at their ideas, and are much more insulting.

    When I said that John was a catalyst for hatred, I did not say that as clearly as I ought to have. I should have said that what John writes is a catalyst for hatred. When people read the foul language that he applies to evangelicals, and the mocking insults, it encourages them to behave the same way. That is what I mean by being a catalyst for hatred. Other people may be encouraged to be hateful by reading what he writes.

    Debbie

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  33. John and all,

    Despite what newspapers say (or do you believe everything you read in the newspaper?), Jim did not write that e-mail with the intention of the presbytery's filing charges against Spahr, nor did he urge them to file the charges. But TAMFS was publicizing the wedding she had performed, and since she was making it public, he thought her presbytery should know about it.

    John--you asked what you got wrong. Here are some random things:

    - Jim is not paid to attack the staff of the PCUSA.
    - Jim didn't take Shannon O'Donnell's report out of context.
    - Viola does not write that progressive Christianity leads to Nazism (don't you understand the difference between analogy/similarity and identity?), and following your link to what you wrote about that, I saw more errors: VOW does not love everything GW Bush does, and is not fundamentalist
    - I just refreshed your page and saw the new post, which has another error: Biblical Witness Fellowship is not part of IRD

    What evidence do you have for asserting that IRD as an organization supports the war in Iraq?

    These are just some of them. Almost everything that you allege about IRD is untrue.

    By the way, I see the question that is asked of Jim. He does not normally look at your blog. If you want him to answer the question, you should bring it to his attention.

    Debbie

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  34. I'm going to cut off my comments now. I didn't get enough of my work done today, and there are plenty of things I need to do at home.

    Thank you for allowing me to comment here.

    Debbie Berkley

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  35. I stand corrected. The Biblical Witness Fellowship is not a part of IRD; it is aligned with the IRD, but is not part of it.

    Viola does not write that progressive Christianity leads to Nazism

    Untrue. John has quoted some of her writings in John's blog. For example, she has written,

    "Religiously speaking, two important aspects of the liberalism of the German Churches in Nazi Germany correspond to Progressive Protestantism today, that is, a rejection of much of the Old Testament and a rejection of the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross. In fact both groups, the ‘German Christians’ of Nazi Germany and contemporary Progressives, reject Jesus Christ as he is found in both the Old Testament and the New."

    (don't you understand the difference between analogy/similarity and identity?)

    So, in other words, Ms. Larson is not saying that progressives are identical to Nazis, but rather similar to them. Oh, okay, then I guess that makes it acceptable. Thanks for setting the record straight.

    This is an example of an absurd and highly offensive smear tactic. She is tarring by inventing an association where none exists. This is the depths to which she sinks, and it is beyond the pale. Trying to excuse this by saying that she wasn't suggesting that progressives are "identical" with Nazis is a completely disingenuous defense.

    Ms. Berkley makes excuses for people like Viola Larson who engages in hatemongering of this sort, and then has the temerity to accuse John Shuck of promoting "hatred" against evangelicals. This is laughable.

    It is also interesting that no mention was made by Ms. Berkley about the funding sources of the IRD. If this organization received the vast majority of its funding at various times in its history from far right political organizations that are not specifically connected with the PC(USA), but which have had a right wing political agenda, it is understandable that she and Mr. Berkley would continue to ignore this matter. At one point in this blog in January of 2007, Mr. Berkley even went so far as to respond to this point by asserting that "some" of the funding came from organizations and then to ask me rhetorically if I knew where the funding came from. Well, Mr. Berkley, if you know the funding sources, then why don't you tell us? The one thing he didn't do was actually provide any statistics. When I quoted the Christian Century article with actual statistics, he suddenly stopped denying that outside organizations with a political agenda were a major factor in the funding. The word "some" disappeared from his vocabulary in the discussion.

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  36. Debbie, you are welcome to comment here at any time (unless I find out that you or your hubby are responsible for any "investigations" that come up in my presbytery about me. Then you don't get to play.

    "A couple of things. You wrote:

    "Despite what newspapers say (or do you believe everything you read in the newspaper?), Jim did not write that e-mail with the intention of the presbytery's filing charges against Spahr, nor did he urge them to file the charges. But TAMFS was publicizing the wedding she had performed, and since she was making it public, he thought her presbytery should know about it."

    The Presbyterian news service lied, did it? I can't possibly understand why you are arguing against that obvious fact. Do I believe everything I read in the newspaper? No, I believe only what Jim and Debbie Berkley tell me.

    You wrote:


    "- Jim is not paid to attack the staff of the PCUSA."

    Yes, he is. It is what he does.

    "- Jim didn't take Shannon O'Donnell's report out of context."

    Yes, he did. And his commentary was particularly vile. Here is a report about this insightful, intelligent, and courageous woman. Your husband misrepresented her and her work.


    "- Viola does not write that progressive Christianity leads to Nazism (don't you understand the difference between analogy/similarity and identity?),"

    Please explain it to me, dear teacher. Viola has made post after post trying to make the connection between progressive Christianity and Nazism. That appears to be one of her favorite themes.

    "..and following your link to what you wrote about that, I saw more errors: VOW does not love everything GW Bush does, and is not fundamentalist"

    Eye of the beholder on that one.

    "- I just refreshed your page and saw the new post, which has another error: Biblical Witness Fellowship is not part of IRD"

    OK. That is one going to take more research to see if and how the IRD
    is connected to BWF.

    "What evidence do you have for asserting that IRD as an organization supports the war in Iraq?"

    Where do I begin? Here is an article from Tooley

    "IRD has so little budget that Jim is the only Presbyterian employee they can afford to pay."

    I loved that one. Maybe we should take up a love offering for the IRD and its right-wing foundations. BTW, I think Jim should get a raise. He is good. Do you work for the IRD for free?

    "By the way, I see the question that is asked of Jim. He does not normally look at your blog. If you want him to answer the question, you should bring it to his attention."

    I see. So Jim doesn't normally read my blog. You do that for him? He just takes snippets and posts them? In the comment he quoted about how much I supposedly hate Viola, he left out this part:

    "Relating to you is kind of like fighting with my brother growing up. I love him more than I despised him, but when I despised him, I meant it."

    Anyone who would have read the whole of my post would have understood where I was coming from. I am not excusing or justifying anything. I was angry about what is happening in our church and our policies against lgbts and those who not only support those policies but even wish to make them more exclusive, like your husband, who has written that gays in relationship shouldn't even be church members. To me an angry juvenile burst is different from hatred. But if you don't get it, I am not going to explain it.

    Thanks for visiting.

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  37. Debbie, you seem to be completely misunderstanding what I'm saying.

    In the PCUSA, people can formally file disciplinary charges against other people. These charges are just like legal charges in the secular US legal system. These charges get investigated, and depending on the results of that investigation, they can be prosecuted in front of a group called a Permanent Judicial Commission.

    These disciplinary charges in the PCUSA are confidential. That isn't my opinion, that's a fact. If you do not believe me, then you should look it up in the Book of Order, which is very clear on the matter:

    D-10.0103: Upon receipt of a written statement of an alleged offense, the clerk of session or the stated clerk of presbytery, without undertaking further inquiry, shall then report to the governing body only that an offense has been alleged without naming the accused or the
    nature of the alleged offense
    , and refer the statement immediately to an investigating committee. [emphasis mine]

    D-11.0303: No party to a disciplinary case or any other person shall circulate or cause to be circulated among the members of the session or permanent judicial commission any written, printed, or visual materials of any kind upon any matter pertaining to the case before the final disposition thereof.

    As I wrote above, I believe it is disgusting a for a person to file formal disciplinary charges (or get or attempt to get formal disciplinary charges filed through some backdoor process) and then disclose that information on their blog. I believe that, though that may not be precisely an offense against the letter of the law (the Book of Order) it is clearly a violation of the spirit of the requirement of confidentiality.

    "Suppose that progressive decided to publicize things about that organization on his blog and try to get lots of people to see it, because the progressive thinks those things are bad things. Would you find that wrong? Wait--I forgot--we're commenting on just such a blog right now!"

    Debbie, enough with the ridiculous implication that I am being hypocritical. How can I make this clearer? Formal disciplinary charges are supposed to be confidential. As far as I am aware, no one, not a single person, no person at all commenting on this blog, neither the author, nor we commenters currently are, or have, or have ever filed, or attempted to file formal Disciplinary Charges under the Book of Order, attempted to file them, or instigated their filing, AND THEN broken the rules of confidentiality required by the Book of Order by publishing that information on our blogs or in our blog comments.

    I have provided links and quotes that demonstrate that folks on your side have done precisely that. John has provided others. And, as I have pointed out, as far as I am aware, not a single solitary one of your have done anything to condemn such actions. In fact, they are cheered on! And now, you appear to be attempting to conveniently rationalize away those actions and those violations of trust and confidentiality.

    I think this should all be abundantly clear by now, but I'll give yet another example, just to clarify further. I have written about the New Wineskins group on my blog. I think we both agree that is nothing wrong with that. I have suggested that those who are involved with this movement are secessionists and traitors to their ordination vows and to the constitution of the PCUSA, which they claim to uphold. I think we'd both agree there is nothing wrong with my writing such things, though you may disagree with that characterization.

    HOWEVER, if I were to file actual Disciplinary Charges, or attempt to file charges, or instigate charges through some back door process, and then publish those documents on my blog, I would be violating the confidentiality required by the Book of Order for the Disciplinary process. If I did such a thing, I would hope that my friends would chastise me for it, rather than cheer me on as your friends do when this happens. Now I have provided links and evidence that clearly demonstrates that such a thing has already happened on your side. You rather conveniently seem to disregard the importance.

    "Other people may be encouraged to be hateful by reading what he writes."

    And people may not be encouraged to be hateful by reading what folks on your side write? You don't think the terms "heretic" or "apostate" might instigate hate on your side?

    Again, you keep saying that if you have evidence that someone IS being hateful, then it is appropriate to call someone on that. Your husband's comment section is filled with people claiming we're hateful. So I'm asking you yet again for specifics, rather than vague damning generalities. Who is being hateful here, and where is the evidence? Where is the evidence that hatred is as widespread as you folks seem to believe?

    And by the way, how do you tell, via blog comments, the difference between frustration and hatred? Just curious. I think I might have a difficult time knowing the difference, particularly given that I don't personally know any of the people who comment here, or on your husband's blog.

    Debbie wrote, "Grace--Jim and I do not believe that anyone is hellbound because of a difference of interpretation of Scripture with regard to homosexuality. Nor do we believe that gays or lesbians are hellbound due to their homosexuality."

    It's good that you believe that, Debbie, because clearly some of the commenters on your husband's blog do not. For example, one commenter wrote, "The Evangelicals says with certainty, “We know (because the Bible tells me so), that those who practice homosexuality are in danger of missing the kingdom of heaven.”

    Sounds like works-based salvation to me, and that homosexuals, by virtue of their sexual orientation can loose their salvation. BTW, I didn't see a single person correcting that misinformation on your husband's blog.

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  38. "By the way, I see the question that is asked of Jim. He does not normally look at your blog. If you want him to answer the question, you should bring it to his attention."

    Funny, isn't it, that so many of these folks claim never to stop by here, and yet they're always so informed about what goes on here. Jim, Toby, et. al. always seem to have the up-to-the minute updates about what gets written, yet they always claim not to read this trash. LOL

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  39. IRD must be doing pretty well. John says they spend 1/3rd against the Methodists and the Anglicans claim half of the money goes to fighting them.

    I never was too good at math but that doesn't add up. Sort of like other stuff I read here.

    Alan (the evangelical one)

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  40. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  41. Thank the Lord, ((Debbie.)) We agree concerning the gospel.

    Your sister in Christ,
    Becky.

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  42. ROFL. No sooner do I post my last comment about how the conservatives all claim to never stop by here, then I ... um ... heard from a friend ... that Jim has got yet another post about what you've been writing here.

    I mean, I don't blame them. Clearly we're fascinating (well, mostly I'm fascinating, but you guys a little too.) :) But why the sham claim that they don't stop by here? Are there electronic cooties that get transmitted somehow? Heretical electronic packets transmitted via broadband?

    But I don't actually go over to Jim's blog ... I ... um ... just heard about it through a friend. Yeah, totally. LOL

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  43. Too many things to answer them all when I need to be working.

    Please keep in mind that the original issue was not people being hateful, but the fact that some progressives continue to call evangelicals hateful even after evangelicals have explained why their motives have nothing to do with hate.

    Now I'll answer a few things, but not everything, because I'm at work, and I'm really going to quit commenting after this, no matter how much I'm misunderstood.

    About this quote: "The Evangelicals says with certainty, “We know (because the Bible tells me so), that those who practice homosexuality are in danger of missing the kingdom of heaven.”

    Read it carefully. It does not say "those who practice homosexuality ARE missing the kingdom of heaven." The person who wrote this believes that any person who is engaging in sin (of any kind, not just homosexual practice) is in danger of missing the kingdom of heaven, because, if they are intentionally doing something that is sin, then their belief is out of step with Christian belief, which is what determines their participation in the kingdom of heaven. Again, I'm not expecting you to agree on whether or not it's sin to engage in homosexual practice. I'm explaining the quote.

    John--it's true that Jim does not normally read your blog. He found out about the redneck pictures and foul language because someone told him about it. He's got loads to do and as of when I left the house this morning had not even read any of the comments that I have been writing.

    I didn't expect you all to believe me about IRD's budget because you all believe the mythology about IRD. But consider this: it is possible for an organization that is interested in rightwing politics to also be interested in the goals that IRD has, and therefore to give money to it, WITHOUT controlling IRD and WITHOUT IRD having rightwing political goals.

    I myself am a Democrat and it would not have been possible for Jim to accept a job at an organization with rightwing political goals; it would have been too difficult for our marriage. IRD is not political; otherwise Jim wouldn't work there. He doesn't even care about politics.

    Laugh all you want, but it's true that Jim is the only paid employee who works with Presbyterian issues. He often laughs at the idea that he alone is supposed to be trying to destroy the PCUSA, according to the progressive mythology. "What power I must have!" he says. He usually doesn't even have enough time to read all the stuff that he needs to read to keep up with what's going on, let alone destroy a denomination that he loves and to which he is loyal and has no desire to destroy.

    Now go ahead and laugh. You don't know me, but I'm sure you assume I'm lying.

    Debbie Berkley

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  44. It's unfortunate, Debbie, that you didn't indicate whether or not you understood the point I was making about people publicizing disciplinary charges on their blogs, whether you thought that was appropriate, and if not, why people on your side don't criticize people who do that.

    "if they are intentionally doing something that is sin, then their belief is out of step with Christian belief, which is what determines their participation in the kingdom of heaven."

    No, it does not. No, it really, really does not. This is astounding to read from the wife of a minister in the PCUSA. No sin we commit, either intentionally, or unintentionally determines whether or not we go to heaven. This is nothing like the traditional, orthodox, Reformed view of salvation. I hope and I pray that you don't really believe that's true, Debbie. Fortunately, you won't go to hell for believing it, but unfortunately believing it will likely make life feel like hell.

    "You don't know me, but I'm sure you assume I'm lying."

    No, I don't know you. And you don't know me. And yet you're SURE that I'll assume you're lying? Really? You're sure about that. From whence does that mind-reading power come? After having a very nice discussion with you on another thread, Debbie, I find that statement surprising and contradictory to what you were saying there. I don't think you're lying. I just think you're wrong.

    But then all conservatives everywhere always want to ascribe the worst possible motives to every one of us progressives, don't they? ;) [that's a little joke between Debbie and me from the other comment thread we've been chatting on.]

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  45. Alan, I had just come back because I had forgotten that one important point. Sorry I don't have time to read your entire comment because I've got someone coming to my office any minute now. But are you sure that Jim wrote about the presbytery charges against Spahr before they were made public? I really don't think he did. He is careful about that sort of thing, because he does not like dishonesty and lawlessness (which is one reason he didn't like what she was doing--she was breaking a PCUSA law.)

    He may have written about her doing the wedding. After all TAMFS was already publicizing it. But I bet if you look into it you'll find he didn't write about the presbytery charges until they were public.

    Debbie

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  46. Please keep in mind that the original issue was not people being hateful, but the fact that some progressives continue to call evangelicals hateful even after evangelicals have explained why their motives have nothing to do with hate.

    If someone spews out bile, such as Viola Larson does when she compares religious progressives to Nazis, then the "oh I didn't mean anything hateful by that" defense doesn't wash. Sorry. Hateful comments are hateful by virtue of their content, regardless of any motives that the speaker/writer claims to have had. I would take your objections to hateful comments more seriously if you would join me in condemning Viola Larson's comments; however, thus far, you have defended them.

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  47. Debbie,

    Oy vey. First of all, the links and information I provided -- and I'm sorry for shouting but -- THEY HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH YOUR HUSBAND OR TAMFS!! I've stated that several times now! They were about Chris Larimer's allegations against John Shuck, which Chris published on his blog.

    I'll post the link again, not that I have any confidence you'll read it this time. The comments, particularly John's, are quite interesting:

    https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=30216641&postID=275224961753403378

    Notice how Chris was not chastised for publishing this information by any of you conservatives, he was congratulated: "Fight the good fight brother!" Frankly, it makes me want to puke.

    Now, as far as I've seen, Chris brings up these allegations on every blog at available opportunity, and no one, on any blog I've ever seen, ever chastises him for doing all this in the first place, that is publishing what are essentially charges on his own blog. Nope, you folks continue to cheer him for it.

    Now whether or not your husband violated confidentiality, I don't know.

    However, Debbie, properly speaking, only the accused can properly waive their right to confidentiality, the prosecutor can never violate confidentiality regardless. So it is still wrong for the "prosecutor" to discuss the case, even if the accused is shouting the details from the rooftops. You might have noticed in the secular world that responsible prosecutors always simply answer "no comment" when asked about accusations.

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  48. Sorry Alan--I looked at those comments before, but I don't know what they refer to. You're asking me to jump into the middle of something I know nothing about. What is the context here? The only judicial proceeding that I was aware of that we were discussing was the one about Janie Spahr, so I thought that was what you were referring to. Was there another one involving John Shuck and Chris Larimer (who I had never heard of before until all these comments started)?

    As for the Spahr case and Jim, I know nothing about what prosecutors do, since I don't follow court proceedings. And it wouldn't apply to Jim anyway, since he wasn't the prosecutor. I don't even know that he did write about Janie's case; I don't remember. I thought that you had seen something he had written about it, and so I was responding to that: if he did, it would only be after it was already public news.

    But now it appears you are talking about some other case. I will just say that in general, no matter who it is, I would say it is wrong to breach confidentiality.

    OK, I broke my self-imposed ban on no more comments because you seemed so upset. But apparently you thought I knew about that other case, but I actually don't.

    Debbie

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  49. I didn't expect you all to believe me about IRD's budget because you all believe the mythology about IRD. But consider this: it is possible for an organization that is interested in rightwing politics to also be interested in the goals that IRD has, and therefore to give money to it, WITHOUT controlling IRD and WITHOUT IRD having rightwing political goals.

    First of all the idea that a group of overtly political foundations, in this case all having a common right wing agenda and mission, would provide almost all the funding for a new organization in the first years of its existence for purely apolitical reasons strains credibility.

    Second, the assertion that the IRD has no political agenda is just untrue. If you go to their own website, you can see that there is a broad discussion of the political philosophy that they endorse. The article expresses a strongly free market ideology and attacks some churches on vague, unspecified grounds, as offering "arguments for oppression".

    To illustrate what this means in practice, Jim Berkley's attack against Shannon O'Donnell included a complaint that she committed the horrible sin of not loving George Bush or her country enough. Yeah, the IRD isn't political all right. Give me a break.

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  50. I am utterly amazed. Does no one have a life, other than commenting back and forth endlessly on blogs? Must one monitor them moment by moment in order to answer every thread of every blog whenever anyone alleges something foolish or factually wrong?

    Give me a break!

    On Chris v. John: Were actual charges made and did an investigating committee from the presbytery get formed and begin its work? If so, and if John Shuck didn't waive his rights by publicly saying it was he and then entering into a publicity campaign about it, then it would be proper for Chris not to speak about the pending case.

    However, if it was not an actual case before a PJC and if it was just a matter of a concerned fellow presbyter saying "Something's not right here, and let me explain...", then there was no problem, no breach of decorum.

    It looked to me like Chris scrupulously followed Matthew 18 and then was told by the presbytery that belief doesn't matter for Presbyterian pastors. I can understand his dismay and his hope that as more presbyters understood the severity of the problem, perhaps some sanity would return to how the problem would be handled.

    This may be hard to comprehend without allowing yourselves into an evangelical mindset, but give it a try: Chris, I would guess, had two motivating factors: 1) Genuine concern for John, because grave error bears within it the seeds of one's own destruction; or more simply, John is hurting himself, like Saul "kicking against the goads"; and 2) genuine outrage at the disrespect for Jesus Christ, for the church, for truth. And Chris actually cared enough to DO something, rather than just pass by on the other side of the road. He wouldn't just "tolerate" such transgressions, as if they were inconsequential. And so he exercised the courage and the tenacity to speak out. As one pastor puts it, "Tolerance is just another way of saying 'I don't care.'" Chris did care, and thus his actions.

    You can disagree with his conclusions, his theology, his particular actions. But it's not a nasty little hateful thing Chris did. It was a right and courageous thing to do to attempt to rescue someone from his error.

    Now again, you have to step out of a parochial progressive mindset to be able to conceive of it this way, because within the clubby group-think operating here, what Chris did just has to be deemed hateful and stupid. It's only worth deriding and mocking, not understanding. So I probably ask too much for it to be treated thoughtfully rather than in a knee-jerk caustic way.

    But remember, what Chris did was not for HIS good; it even ended up being to his own detriment apparently as a candidate, because John appears to be Teflon coated in the presbytery but a candidate is oh so vulnerable.

    Now, about Spahr: I pointed the presbytery leadership to her very public newsletter, reminded them of pertinent polity that disallows what she was bragging of doing, and asked how it could be that a member of the presbytery could just thumb her nose at requirements all of us are supposed to uphold.

    And that's reprehensible, Alan? That's what a responsible presbyter is supposed to do, and that's ALL I did, other than receive a brief call from the presbytery's investigating committee after the presbytery had made charges and was following up on them with the IC. I heard about the course of the presbytery's prosecution of the case the way everybody else did: through the news. I was not a party to the case.

    Now, is that somehow dispicable? Cowardly? Deceitfully clever? Hardly. I thought it was responsible. It's how our system of government is supposed to work. I told the presbytery executive that I thought it entirely appropriate for discipline to be by those who know Janie Spahr locally--once she told me the presbytery was choosing to go that route. And those who know polity know that it is the PRESBYTERY that forms a committee to press the case, as Redwoods did. So I didn't hit and run, or something equally awful. I did what I was supposed to do.

    On timing when I spoke about the Spahr case: I wasn't part of the presbytery or part of the trial. From the moment that the charges were read on the presbytery floor, Janie Spahr immediately identified herself as the unnamed person charged, waived her rights to confidentiality, and then moved into high gear to milk the event and the subsequent events for all the publicity she could grab. She had a web site and a press agent.

    Okay, if I, then, just another Presbyterian hundreds of miles away, someone not part of the case, someone not party to any of the events--if I talk with a reporter if called or comment on the news as I read it or work to set the record straight when Spahr's publicity team seeks to make it look like I'M charging her rather than her colleagues in her presbytery (who DID charge her, press the case, and even APPEAL the case), have I broken confidentiality? Hardly! You can't break a confidentiality you've never been party to.

    Give it a rest, Alan.

    Finally, I hear that some nut is speculating that the IRD is behind the IRS investigation of the UCC for having a political candidate speak at its convention last summer. Somebody ought to curtail his own gossip.

    First, I tip toward thinking that the UCC ought to be able to have a member speak, even if that member is a political candidate.

    Second, categorically no, the IRD does not have anything to do with this case. I think we mentioned Obama speaking in an article about the event. So did several other news reports. That's it. It takes a malevolently suspicious mind to whisper such nonsense that the IRD is in cahoots with the IRS to get the UCC.

    And for the record, the IRD didn't fly planes into the World Trade Center, we didn't force a border incursion in Equador, we didn't fire home-made rockets on Israel, and we didn't supply the Palestinians with the CATERPILLAR bulldozer to knock a hole in the wall between Gaza and Egypt. Have I missed anything? Is there anything else that happened anywhere that you need me to specifically deny, too?

    This is it. I'll probably peek back to see what hubbub this comment raises, but I'm taking Shuck out of my diet now. He's been leaving a bad aftertaste, and I have far better ways to waste time.

    Jim Berkley
    Bellevue, WA

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  51. Debbie, "OK, I broke my self-imposed ban on no more comments because you seemed so upset. But apparently you thought I knew about that other case, but I actually don't."

    *sigh* Once again, not upset, not hate-filled, not angry. Just frustrated that you didn't seem to read the link that I provided, or recognize exactly which situation I was talking about, that's it.

    Given how much you all seem to try to read minds, guessing that we're angry, hate-filled, upset, etc... one might think, given all the practice you've had at guessing at our motives, you'd actually be a bit more accurate once in a while. (That's meant to be a joke, Debbie.) (Oh, and that comment is not angry, hate-filled, or upset. Just amused.)

    Jim writes, "Now again, you have to step out of a parochial progressive mindset to be able to conceive of it this way, because within the clubby group-think operating here, what Chris did just has to be deemed hateful and stupid. It's only worth deriding and mocking, not understanding. So I probably ask too much for it to be treated thoughtfully rather than in a knee-jerk caustic way."

    LOL! Thoughtfully? Rather than in a knee-jerk, caustic way? Gotta love the irony.

    So..... Jim, your wife has been trying to convince me that, unlike us hateful progressives, you all don't resort to insults and you don't automatically ascribe the motivation of hate to every one of our actions and all of our words, like we do to you. Alas, it looks like she's wrong, since that little paragraph contradicts her sentiments completely. But then perhaps I'm just too parochial to understand all your high falutin' intelligencin'. ;)

    If she happens to stop by and read this, Debbie, that would be precisely the sort of snotty, sarcastic, belligerent, and insulting crap that I usually get from folks on your side. Now do you see? Now, previously Debbie you said that I didn't clearly state that I was insulted by Viola in that other comment thread, nor did I clearly ask for an apology from Viola when I felt insulted. So....

    Jim, I didn't say either you or Chris was stupid. That's a lie. I didn't mock nor deride either of you. That is also a lie. I don't appreciate being called parochial, unthoughtful, knee-jerk, etc. Apologize for the insults and the lies.

    Notice by the way Debbie, that I didn't resort to such language. I stated why I was disgusted with someone's actions, but I didn't call either Jim or Chris names. I didn't mock them. I didn't say anything about "hate" motivating them, etc. I simply stated what I saw to be a problem, and why I thought it was a problem, and the fact that I found those actions reprehensible. I also stated that, while probably not technically a violation of the Book of Order, I felt those actions violated the spirit of the rules. Now clearly you two think I'm wrong on that. Fine. That's your opinion. But even if I'm wrong, that doesn't mean I'm some rube who only knows what to think when the rest of the cattle tell me what to think.

    At least I think that's what I think. I'll need to consult with my parochial, crass, knee-jerky friends here first. ;)

    Matthew 18? Publishing accusations about someone else for public consumption is described in Matthew 18? You must be reading a different very translation than the one I have, Jim.

    Here's a question that I honestly don't know the answer to: did Chris even ask John if he could publish letters on a public blog that were, accusing him of heresy to his Presbytery?

    Here's another question: Would a similar action have been appropriate if, for example Chris had suspected some minister of sexual impropriety, and then without an investigation, a trial, or a determination of guilt, he published such accusations (& communications with the Presbytery) on his blog?

    "And that's reprehensible, Alan?"

    Um, sorry, dude, you're the brain guy, I'm just parochial and my reactions are knee-jerk... so perhaps with your vast and enormous intellect, you could re-read what I've actually written, and what, in particular, I have a beef with (which is not the filing of charges, or even causing charges to be filed, even through some sort of back-door process.) Talk about "knee-jerk", eh, Jim?

    "Give it a rest, Alan."

    I see. Your calling out a problem that you see in the denomination is your duty as a good Christian. When I do it, I should give it a rest. Gotcha. Because clearly I wouldn't do it out of concern for the denomination or the people involved, or the process of our discipline. Clearly I'd complain about those actions only because I think you're stupid and hateful. Jim, thanks so much for setting me straight (so to speak.)

    Jim, you should take some lessons from your wife on how to talk to someone reasonably, without all the snotty comments and insults. Do you honestly see anything remotely pastoral about the tone of your comment? Anyway, learn from her. That's just a suggestion. I've been having a lively, spirited discussion with her in another comment thread, in which we have both stated our cases clearly and even forcefully, without, I think, getting snotty and insulting. At least that's been my impression of our interactions. (And no, before you start reading my mind again, that's not a suggestion made out of hate, or anger. *sigh* Apparently it's important to put that disclaimer in here every so often.)

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  52. "And for the record, the IRD didn't fly planes into the World Trade Center, we didn't force a border incursion in Equador, we didn't fire home-made rockets on Israel, and we didn't supply the Palestinians with the CATERPILLAR bulldozer to knock a hole in the wall between Gaza and Egypt."

    That's good. I am not sure if anyone here was making that case.

    The IRD and the IRS?

    "...categorically no, the IRD does not have anything to do with this case."

    That is good, too.

    Jane Spahr.

    "I pointed the presbytery leadership to her very public newsletter, reminded them of pertinent polity that disallows what she was bragging of doing, and asked how it could be that a member of the presbytery could just thumb her nose at requirements all of us are supposed to uphold."

    It appears that Jim Berkley took action into his own hands. He "pointed", "reminded", and "asked."

    I could see how the Pacific Sun might be confused by that as well as our own Presbyterian News Service.

    "Okay, if I, then, just another Presbyterian hundreds of miles away, someone not part of the case, someone not party to any of the events--if I talk with a reporter if called or comment on the news as I read it or work to set the record straight when Spahr's publicity team seeks to make it look like I'M charging her rather than her colleagues in her presbytery (who DID charge her, press the case, and even APPEAL the case), have I broken confidentiality? Hardly! You can't break a confidentiality you've never been party to."

    Jim took a bit more action. "talk with a reporter."

    There is a difference between

    1) complaining about someone in general to the presbytery leadership, and

    2) filing a complaint (or whatever the term is) that results in the formation of an investigating committee, and

    3)filing charges (which is done by the investigating committee, after investigation has determined there is evidence for a case that should then be prosecuted) as I understand our polity. I am no expert.

    Jim certainly did not do #3. The gray area it seems, is whether he did #1 or #2. My hunch is that Jim did a number 2. Maybe it is a number 1 and a half. Gray area. But I could see how a reporter would have some difficulty with that hair-splitting.

    As far as Chris Larimer is concerned.

    No comment.

    I will say in general that if anyone does a #1 or a #2 on me, and I find out about it (say it gets published on a blog), the punishment will be immediate and severe.

    That person will not comment on Shuck and Jive. Weigh that option carefully. Consult your heart and your Higher Power.

    Now, my confusion is what to do about, let's call it, #1a. That is when a blogger suggests to the blog world that someone else ought to do a #1 or a #2.

    This would be something like the following:

    "And I’m sure Shuck's presbytery has a Committee on Ministry. Is this behavior well within the standards of clergy conduct and demeanor expected by the presbytery of its spiritual leaders? Does anyone care enough about him and about the church to step in and provide some necessary correction? Does the presbytery have any behavior boundaries? Does it have some guts?" --Jim Berkley

    So I am not sure what to do about #1(a)s. Should I allow them to comment on Shuck and Jive or not?

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  53. And for the record, the IRD didn't fly planes into the World Trade Center, ... we didn't fire home-made rockets on Israel, and we didn't supply the Palestinians with the CATERPILLAR bulldozer to knock a hole in the wall between Gaza and Egypt.

    Am I the only one puzzled by this random "be afraid of the Muslims, I hate Muslims" comment?

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  54. Jim,

    You captured the Fundamentalist Evangelical mindset pretty well with this comment:

    “This may be hard to comprehend without allowing yourselves into an evangelical mindset, but give it a try: Chris, I would guess, had two motivating factors: 1) Genuine concern for John, because grave error bears within it the seeds of one's own destruction; or more simply, John is hurting himself, like Saul "kicking against the goads"; and 2) genuine outrage at the disrespect for Jesus Christ, for the church, for truth. And Chris actually cared enough to DO something, rather than just pass by on the other side of the road. He wouldn't just "tolerate" such transgressions, as if they were inconsequential. And so he exercised the courage and the tenacity to speak out. As one pastor puts it, "Tolerance is just another way of saying 'I don't care.'" Chris did care, and thus his actions.

    ...

    But it's not a nasty little hateful thing Chris did. It was a right and courageous thing to do to attempt to rescue someone from his error.”

    This is exactly the mindset that places the Fundamentalist Evangelicals against the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s a twisted mindset that sets the Gospel on its head, one's own mindset above the mindset of Christ, and fails to live into or even see “the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ”

    Titus 1:15
    To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.

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  55. Very last comment. Alan, you said you don't think I'm lying; you just think I'm wrong. I'm tired of people saying that to me when I'm talking about my own husband's job. They don't think I'm lying; they just think I'm wrong.

    All right, then if I'm wrong about my own husband's work, then what else could it be if I'm not lying? I'm too stupid to understand what he does? Or I'm being duped by my husband? Or he's too stupid to understand what he does? Or he's being duped by his employer?

    Because there's no other choice than those if I'm not lying.

    Debbie

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  56. "Because there's no other choice than those if I'm not lying."

    Yeah there really is, Debbie.

    As has been pointed out here in several posts, there are some honest and serious questions about the work that the IRD does. You see that work in one particular way; helping the church, building it up, etc. Others see it in a very different way. I, for one, think you're wrong about the work that IRD does, that it does nothing to build up the church, but is destructive and harmful. That doesn't mean you're lying, or stupid, or duped -- just wrong.

    I hope that clarifies my comment for you.

    "I'm tired of people saying that to me when I'm talking about my own husband's job. "

    Well, quite frankly, I'm tired of people saying that I'm wrong when I'm talking about my own life. Trust me, I know very well how tiring it can be to hear complete strangers tell you that your whole life is wrong, evil, sinful, and hateful. Now you know a little bit of how I feel, eh? It really isn't so much fun, even if it's correction meant in love, is it?

    In the meantime Debbie, as I said above, you really should have a talk with your husband about how he writes comments. Even though, in your own words you're "tired" of people saying you're wrong, I still appreciate that you didn't see the need to insult me or make snarky, snotty comments in order to make your point. Your husband should take a lesson.

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  57. Alan, that's not what I was talking about. I meant that when I said that IRD was not working for political goals, or that they only had enough budget for one Presbyterian staffer (my husband) that I thought you all would probably think I was lying. You then said you didn't think I was lying, just that I was wrong. Well, if I'm not lying about those things, but you still think I'm wrong about them, then what is it? Am I stupid, or crazy, or duped? Those are the only other choices. That's the stuff that I'm tired of people saying I'm not lying about, but just wrong about. They aren't points of view, they are issues of fact, so they're either true or they're not.

    Debbie

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  58. I responded earlier to Debbie's comments about the alleged lack of political goals of the IRD, and pointed out that it just isn't true--unless, among other things, she thinks that posting political philsophy on the IRD website is somehow apolitical, or that it is apolitical to attack someone (as Jim Berkley did) for not loving George Bush. Which of course is patently absurd.

    It really doesn't matter why she is wrong when she makes these assertions. This isn't about Debbie Berkley or her character traits. It is about the IRD, it's mission, and its actions.

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  59. Debbie, I wrote above what I meant:

    As has been pointed out here in several posts, there are some honest and serious questions about the work that the IRD does. You see that work in one particular way; helping the church, building it up, etc. Others see it in a very different way. I, for one, think you're wrong about the work that IRD does, that it does nothing to build up the church, but is destructive and harmful. That doesn't mean you're lying, or stupid, or duped -- just wrong.

    Take it or leave it, I can't see how I could state it any clearer.

    "They aren't points of view, they are issues of fact, so they're either true or they're not."

    Welcome to my life. I've heard people like you say that homosexuality is like alcoholism. That's not a point of view, it's factually wrong. Alcoholism destroys families, homosexuality does not. That's a fact. Feel free to stop by my house sometime if you need proof. :)

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  60. Mystical Seeker, Jim did not say anything about loving George Bush. He did say that Shannon O'Donnell's priorities seemed to be about the inconvenience caused for getting to dance class rather than about whether or not a peace process might be started that day. Jim himself does not love George Bush and doesn't expect other people to love him.

    Alan, aside from what kind of work IRD does, what about whether or not it only has one person paid to do Presbyterian work? That's a fact statement. Am I speaking the truth? You said I wasn't lying, I was just wrong. Well, if I'm not lying about it, but I'm wrong, then I must be stupid, or deceived, or crazy.

    Debbie

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  61. Debbie, I hate to refute your assertions by introducing actual facts into this discussion, but here are Jim Berkley's exact words:

    She's just flowing with the stream of her political persuasions. How much more sacrificial and "hurting" it would be for O'Donnell to demonstrate genuine love for George W. Bush, for her own country, and, particularly in Israel, for the Jewish people and the government of Israel.

    Claiming that she doesn't love George Bush or her country enough is a political attack against her ideological views. (He goes on, by the way, to attack liberation theology, which also illustrates the political nature of his criticisms.)

    Further, as I pointed out in an earlier, comment, and as I repeated, the IRD web site contains an article with a complete summary of the IRD's political views.

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  62. You're right, Mystical Seeker, I forgot about that part. But knowing Jim (after all, I'm married to him), I know that that part meant Christian love, not political loyalty love. The kind of love that respects a person as a human being even if you disagree with him and don't like him.

    As far as liberation theology goes, you think that's all about politics? How about the second half of the term--theology? That's the part that Jim's interested in.

    I haven't read the Neuhaus article you keep referencing, and I'm not sure whether or not Jim has. (By the way, Jim has never met Neuhaus. During the whole time Jim has worked for IRD, Neuhaus has never made it to any of the board meetings.) Anyway, what I can tell you is that every minute that Jim spends working for IRD is spent on theological and polity issues. We are not interested in politics; we are interested in Christianity.

    As I've said before, I'm a Democrat, and I wouldn't agree to having a husband working for a rightwing political organization.

    Debbie

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  63. As far as liberation theology goes, you think that's all about politics? How about the second half of the term--theology? That's the part that Jim's interested in.

    Oh come on. Yes, it is about politics. You can't abstract the politics out of liberation theology, since politics is essential to its very nature as a theological construct. So when Jim Berkley is complaining about "liberation theology", as he did more than once in his blog posting, he is making a political statement. It is completely absurd to suggest that his objections to liberation theology are some purely theological, as if that were possible. His statement in the same blog entry that she "is assigned, oddly enough, to a radically politicized and highly controversial liberation theology outfit in Jerusalem" is another example this point. What part of "radical politicized" did you miss? He makes no secret in his blog that he objects to the politics of liberation theology. I don't care if you are a Democrat or a Libertarian or a Green or anything else. His words speak for themselves. How you choose to deal with the political aspects of his blog postings is up to you.

    As for him speaking about Christian love rather than love for George Bush as a politician, his assertion that George Bush is "a head of state is knocking himself out to broker a just peace"--oh, and how dare anyone not view him in that light?--well, I'm sorry, but that is also a political statement. Those of us who detest Bush and his policies believe that using him and the word "just" in the same sentence is laughable. To assert otherwise, as he does in his blog, is also making a political statement, as it is to complain that others don't see him in that light.

    The entire blog posting that he wrote is laced with political commentary. If you choose to look the other way, that is up to you.

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  64. Debbie,

    With all do respect, to quote your husband, "give it a rest." (Which I'm sure he meant in "Christian love.")

    I wrote what I wrote and I repeated it. It's as clear as I can be. If you want to attempt to interpret that in a way that I didn't mean, that's your decision.

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  65. An attempted to post a comment on this thread the other night as was deterred since our host has chosen not to allow posts from people who do not avail themselves of Google Blogger. While I firmly believe in the concept of “your blog, your rules” I find it a little disappointing that participation in this forum is restricted based on something like that. After pointing this out to Rev. Shuck and receiving a response that was gracious, loving and full of pastoral care. (as well as questions about my intelligence, meant in the nicest possible way I’m sure). I decided to establish a Google blogger account.

    Therefore, I am going to make this belated entry into the conversation, for what it’s worth.

    I want to start out by saying I really don’t have a dog in this hunt (vis a vis you and Jim Berkley), you both are free to write what you want, however when you make statements like those below I get a little concerned.


    “This isn't just one guy's opinion. There will be action that will move the PC(USA) toward enacting this into law. Little by little, policy by policy, church court case by church court case, the right wing in its various incarnations is determined to move the PC(USA) to the dark ages. Faith and Freedom, indeed”

    You are correct; this isn’t one guy’s opinion. However IF there is action that moves the PCUSA in the direction you fear, it will be action taken within the governing structure of the denomination. There is no other way for such action to be taken. Further, if this is decided in the Permanent Judicial system, then it will be decided through the proper channels established by the PCUSA to settle such disputes. Please note; I am not arguing the merits of any cases, or speaking to the correctness of the decisions. I am simply pointing out that if this change happens it will be through the accepted mechanism for dealing with these matters. It is entirely possible (maybe even probable) that these decisions will be reversed in the future, while I may (or may not) agree with the reversal I respect and accept the process that led to the decisions. Finally, as are we all, you are free to leave the PCUSA if in fact it goes to far down the road to the dark ages.



    Here is the difference, Grace. All policies of the PC(USA) are done democratically. We elect commissioners to the GA. The staff is selected through democratic means. If you don't like a decision, you get on a committee and you work with the larger group to make changes.

    This quote is especially concerning to me for several reasons. First, the PCUSA is not and does not make decisions through democratic means. We elect representatives to the various governing bodies who make decisions for us. If we do not like the decisions we are free to elect new representatives who will make decisions that we support. However agree or not we should support our elected representatives because we have placed ourselves under their authority. Second, I believe that the denominational staff is hired (I’ve seen the ads), I have never seen any record of a vote PCUSA staff (obviously there are positions that are elected Moderator of GA etc. but the bulk of the staff are hired)
    I would agree with your committee suggestions, except I’ve seen too many instances where the committees do not represent the actual composition of the body they represent. So yes it’s theoretically possible but not likely. Third, when a significant number of voting representatives (from the presbytery level on up) don’t actually represent “the people in the pews” we really aren’t a representative system either. When the vote of a 2500+ member congregation can be offset by less than a dozen retired pastors or professors, there is s serious flaw in the system.

    The IRD is outside of the PC(USA). It attacks the staff and the structures of the PC(USA) as not representing these supposedly common people in the pews.

    As are a number of groups of differing viewpoints, who vehemently disagree with various aspects of, what happens in the PCUSA with varying levels of civility. So what?
    If the IRD is wrong people won’t support them, their agenda won’t be moved forward etc. Feel free to disagree, with them, but it’s disingenuous to pick out one group (or groups on one side or the other for condemnation) when others (on both sides are doing much the same thing)

    The decisions of the PC(USA) are made through the process, so obviously, people in the pew make these decisions when they get involved in the process.

    If this is in fact the case, then how can you not say that “B” does not represent “the people in the pew” this has been voted on (by the whole denomination) thrice. It seems as though the will of the people is pretty clear. I suspect that you would not object to “B” being removed via the PJC or using an AI (I could be wrong), or through the PUP/scruple process. But that certainly seems to deny the folks in the pew their voice.

    Finally, I completely agree with you that the “trust clause” should be removed and that individual churches should be allowed to determine if the want “to B or not to B”. I firmly believe that there is too much time and effort going into this that could be more profitably directed elsewhere. I would much rather be a part of a local church that was: clothing the poor, feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, reconciling with those of other races, bringing eye care to the third world, fighting AIDS in Africa, providing micro-loans to people in the middle east, and generally advancing God’s Kingdom. But instead we (as a denomination) spent time (and resources) in political maneuvering and engaging in an argument that cannot be won.

    To quote the great theologian Tim Rice “Can you feel the love tonight?”

    Craig

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  66. "We elect representatives to the various governing bodies who make decisions for us. If we do not like the decisions we are free to elect new representatives who will make decisions that we support.

    Craig, this is incorrect.

    We do not elect representatives to the various governing bodies. We commission commissioners. This isn't just semantics, it's a real distinction. Commissioners are under no obligation to represent any opinion other than the opinion that they discern is God's through the Holy Spirit.

    I'm confused by what appears to be a contradiction between these two statements, Craig:

    "Third, when a significant number of voting representatives (from the presbytery level on up) don’t actually represent “the people in the pews” we really aren’t a representative system either. When the vote of a 2500+ member congregation can be offset by less than a dozen retired pastors or professors, there is s serious flaw in the system."

    and

    "If this is in fact the case, then how can you not say that “B” does not represent “the people in the pew” this has been voted on (by the whole denomination) thrice."

    In the first quote, you seem to be saying that you recognize that our governing bodies do not always represent the people in the pews. In the second, you seem to suggest that they do.

    "I firmly believe that there is too much time and effort going into this that could be more profitably directed elsewhere. I would much rather be a part of a local church that was: clothing the poor, feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, "

    I think that's a false dichotomy. I worship in a church that clothes the poor, feeds the hungry, houses the homeless, works with recovering addicts, etc. Yet at the same time we also work to advance the cause of justice for LGBT people in the PCUSA.

    One can do both/and ... doesn't have to be either/or.

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  67. Alan,

    I tried to post last night and lost it so I will try this again.

    Disclaimer, I pulled some quotes from JS and they were in bold bofre I posted, so that may have contributed to some confusion as to what I was saying.

    First my post was in response to JS who asserted that the PCUSA is "a democracy". AS you pointed out this is correct, however your substantive difference is with JS, not me. Our difference is largely semantic.

    You are right that our commisioners are supposed to discern the leading of the Spirit in their voting. I would argue, that a commissioner/representative who is discerning the will of the Spirit from within a community rather than as a lone ranger is acting in a manner closer to the biblical ideal of life in community. Beyond that, the community does in fact control how their reprenentative votes through the nominating process. None the less the PCUSA is still not and never has been a democracy. Please direct any further correction on this matter to our host, not me.

    As to the second example (people in the pews) I was again responding to JS and a concern he vioced regarding the people in the pews not being heard. Without rewriting my earlier post, let me just say, the process that brought us to the current ordination standards was brought correctly through the polity of the PCUSA. Part of that process was 3 votes in which the people in the pews (at least a majority of them, which is still how the system works) spoke.

    Now it is obvious that trtying what Capetz is doing is an attempt to use a loophole in the system to get around the current standards. He is lucky that he is in a presbytery that will assist him in this attempt.

    Had you read my post, you would have realized that I am advocating a position of submission to our properly elected (commissioned) leaders. There is much that is done in the PCUSA (local church, presbytery, and nationally) that I don't agree with. My role (as I see it) is to support the leadership that the Holy Spirit has led to be in place, while trying to decide if my disagreements are such that they would cause me to dissasocite myself from the PCUSA, or to work within the structure for change. I do not advocate going outside the bounds of polity, if we do that what's the point of having a system of governance anyway?

    Finally, if you are correct that we "We commission commissioners." and who " are under no obligation to represent any opinion other than the opinion that they discern is God's through the Holy Spirit.", then there is a serious problem within the PCUSA. Either our current commisioners and leadership have failed miserably in discerning "God's opinion through the Holy Spirit" because these are the people who have given us the current ordination standards, or the GLBT community is actively trying to subvert "the opinion that they (the PCUSA leadership)discern is God's through the Holy Spirit.". The only other option is that this is all political and each side is just trying to hang on to (or achieve) a 51% majority so they can win.

    Sorry Alan, you can't have it both ways

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  68. Are y'all still back here? The parade has moved on!

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  69. "Either our current commisioners and leadership have failed miserably in discerning "God's opinion through the Holy Spirit" because these are the people who have given us the current ordination standards,"

    Yup.

    Both ways? Nope, you had it right the first time.

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  70. Alan,

    I'm glad I finally got something right. I'm not sure what, however. I guess were just not going to engage in anything substantive here, that's too bed.

    BTW, since our "current leadership" is much more supportive of your version of "God's opinion" than Jim's, and they've gotten it wrong, what's right?

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  71. "I'm not sure what, however. I guess were just not going to engage in anything substantive here, that's too bed."

    I tried that. It went nowhere. Take care. :)

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  72. Alan,

    You have completely lost me, I addressed a number of issues. You chose not to respopnd to the majority of my comment (which of course you are free to do). I'm not sure what you tried, but it didn't exactly go nowhere, it went exactly where you took it. Again, if you want to address what I actually posted, great, if not it's been interesting.

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  73. Alan,

    This Craig whoever is a troll. Let him go.

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  74. " Again, if you want to address what I actually posted,"

    Like I said (and just how many times must I repeat it?) I already did address what you've written. Several times. Take care.

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