Nov 24 2014

The Painted Prayerbook: At the Edge of Advent

Image: End and Beginning  © Jan Richardson Advent, almost! With the new season beginning this Sunday, it’s time to head over to my blog The Advent Door, where I’ll be offering a few reflections during the coming weeks. I’ve posted a new reflection there for this Sunday; you can find it here: Advent 1: Blessing […]

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Nov 24 2014

Threads from Henry's Web: From My Editing Work: Discipleship Is Costly and Liberating

From Reframing a Relevant Faith, forthcoming by C. Drew Smith:

When Jesus comes upon these fishermen they are doing what they normally do on any given day; they are fishing. Indeed, this was their life; this was their existence. Fishing was what was routine and comfortable for them. While their occupation as fishermen was hard […]

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Nov 24 2014

Pastor Patrick - Never On A Sunday: The Shadow Now – A Review

A Review

It was 45 years ago, sitting in my bedroom listening to a recycled military radio that I heard “The Shadow” being broadcast from a San Francisco radio station.  Even then, the shows were old.  TV (alas, in black and white) was firmly in place and held more of my family’s attention than the radio did – but those old radio shows caught my attention.  Among my favorites, then and now, was “The Shadow”.

The Shadow has occasionally made his appearance in modern culture – either on the big screen, in print, or in a graphic novel.  It is this last format that David Liss and Colton Worley have chosen to bring The Shadow into our current time.  Having spent decades in the East learning anti-aging techniques from the great mystical leaders of another culture, The Shadow returns to New York City once again oppressed by the evil and sinister mobs that he had previously worked to destroy.  

In order to maintain his disguise,  the rejuvenated Lamont Cranston assumes the role of his own grandson and teams up, somewhat reluctantly, with the very real granddaughter of his former assistant, Margo Lane.  As I began to read, I was not sure what to expect; but I was not disappointed.  There were new criminals and some old ones that would take all of the cunning and planning of The Shadow and his crew to resolve.

I could not put the book down until I got to the last page.  Now I cannot wait for its next chapter to be released.  A huge thanks to the authors for making my day and allowing me to re-enjoy a bit of my childhood again in the 21st century.   

This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

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Nov 24 2014

Enter the Rainbow: The Root Cause of Schism: "Want of Love"

Have you ever wondered what John Wesley may have thought of proposals to divide the United Methodist Church? Wonder no more:

“It is evil in itself. To separate ourselves from a body of living Christian, with whom we were before united, is a grievous breach of the law of love. It is the nature of love to unite us together; and the greater the love, the stricter the union. And while this continues in its strength, nothing can divide those whom love has united. It is only when our love grows cold, that we can think of separating from our brethren. And this is certainly the case with any who willingly separate from their Christian brethren. The pretenses for separation may be innumerable, but want of love is always the real cause; otherwise they would still hold the unity of the Spirit in the bound of peace. It is therefore contrary to all those commands of God, wherein brotherly love is enjoined: To that of St. Paul, ‘Let brotherly love continue:’ — that of St. John, ‘My beloved children, love one another;’ — and especially to that of our blessed Master, ‘This is my commandment, That ye love on another, as I have loved you’ Yea, ‘By this,’ saith he, ‘shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye love one another.’” – John Wesley, Sermon 75, On Schism

Let me just repeat the phrase I highlighted above:

“The pretenses for separation may be innumerable, but want of love is always the real cause.”

In the present case, the pretense for separation is the status and role in the church of people who are gay, specifically as it pertains to marriage and ordination. There’s no way to know, except to speculate, as to what Mr. Wesley would have believed regarding the specific questions on same-sex marriages and the ordination of people who are gay. I’m not intending to engage in such speculation at the moment.

I am intending to elevate our denomination’s conversation to a place of love and true ecclesial connection. Talk of who has permission to marry or not, talk of who might be ordained or not … all is mere pretense. The true root of our division is want of love.

For God’s sake, can we not love one another?

Furthermore, John Wesley understood schism as more than mere formal division. “[Schism] is not a separation from a church … it is a separation in a church,” he preached (emphasis mine). In that sense, the United Methodist Church has already experienced schism, and the true question is not whether to divide or not, but rather whether to unify again or not.

The question becomes one of faith: Do we as a church have sufficient faith in God to become one again? We are already divided. The schism has happened. The question really is: now what?

It seems to me that if we truly loved each other, we’d stick together, even if we fight sometimes. My kids argue with each other, but they stick together, because they love each other. Can the United Methodist Church follow the example my children are setting?

There are a bunch of plans floating around out there; we could see anything from maintenance of the status quo to outright division to some kind of compromise. All will be decided in 2016 at our next General Conference, pending an appeal to the Judicial Council, I suppose.

As we approach General Conference of 2016, maybe the United Methodist Church needs to start with confessing that the schism has already taken place. Maybe by reorienting our denomination to that reality can we ask the questions that really need to be asked:

Are we bold enough to come back together?

Are we faithful enough to trust God with the future?

Do we love one another or not?

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Nov 24 2014

everyday theology: Who are You on Social Media?

Several different people have said to me, in the last couple of weeks, that people only present the good side of themselves on social media. Actually, the way it is often said is that “people are always fake on social media; they only share the good stuff.” Whoever says this obviously doesn’t have exactly the […]

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Nov 24 2014

Allan R. Bevere: Caption Contest… And the Winner Is…

W.M. James: “Captain, can’t we give him to the Klingons?”

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