The most dangerous words one can utter to any entrenched bureaucracy; whether government, corporate, or religious are these: “I disagree”.
To publicly disagree makes those who’ve lived in protected positions of power uncomfortable and angry. Whether one disagrees at length or with the brevity of those two words, the understanding remains the same: don’t question how authority is administered within the context of the denomination. When Holy Spirit gets involved the 1st Amendment gets murky, especially for pastors.
Our church is polarized, probably beyond repair. The grand tribalism and deeply entrenched positions are not going to move; especially when I can’t disagree on a minor level without provoking anger. The Council of Bishops is begging for the denomination to have an open mind when it comes to the Commission on a Way Forward’s report. How can the denomination have an open mind to systemic cultural change when a pastor at a district meeting in North Carolina can’t ask a simple question without being vilified? You can’t. It is impossible. We’re done. Methodists can’t talk to other Methodists. It doesn’t surprise me because Americans aren’t talking to other Americans. On top of that, I’m not going to apologize for being pro-middle of the road United Methodist. I support my teams. Go Duke, Go Ocracoke Dolphins, Go United Methodism!
In this era where our connection is held together by increasing amounts of duct tape and prayer, the least any United Methodist can do is ask questions when something sounds destabilizing. I want to ask questions about what it means to be a Methodist. If you want to be a Southern Baptist, Liberty is the place for you. Have at it! Go! God Bless You. I hope you find peace and happiness. Let’s talk as Methodists and embrace Methodism as the Bishops suggest. Or we can all be quiet, shut up, and keep rearranging the deck chairs while the ship sinks. “Head nod our way into oblivion,” is how I put it in the first article. I love it when people quote me back to me as if I won’t remember what I said. May I quote me back to me? Will I get my own sense of irony or sarcasm? Probably not. Either way, I don’t want to capsize.
None of this may matter in the long run. The Bishops urge patience. I don’t know how much longer we can wait. Given the current conditions in this country and Vladimir Putin’s speech this morning, he’s going to kill us all with his super secret missiles. All of our rhetoric, including mine, will have been for naught. No one’s going to care about any of this during a nuclear winter.
Richard Lowell Bryant