Traditionalists think United Methodists like me are the problem. But unfortunately, I think the people who self-identify as traditionalists don’t understand what it means to be a “traditionalist.” For many in our denomination, being a “traditionalist” is holding to one position on human sexuality and marriage. For me, being a traditionalist means many different things. It’s never been about the conflict between my vision of God and the rest of the world. Here’s what I envision when I hear the words “traditionalist” and “traditional”:
- I eat the same thing for breakfast most mornings.
- I watch the Andy Griffith show every day. Mayberry wasn’t perfect. Andy dealt with bigots, addiction, sexism, the place of technology in society, people set in their old-fashioned ways, greed, and hate. And he did it without a gun. I embrace that vision of traditional America.
- I miss my grandmother every day. She died in August 2005. She made great biscuits.
- I read the Bible every day.
- I want “Softly and Tenderly” sung at my funeral. The words “come home” are powerful.
- I believe love is the best tradition of all.
- I believe people are afraid of God’s new plans because they prefer the traditions of slavery in Egypt.
- I believe there are hurtful traditions.
- I believe in the traditions of the Sermon on the Mount.
- I believe Jesus, the carpenter from Nazareth, is largely absent from our debate on tradition.
- I’m so traditional that I still believe that the Gospel is a Love Story, not a Sin Story.
- I come from a tradition where people didn’t weaponize the phrase “The Word of God.”
- It took guts for the Apostle Paul to walk away from his tradition. I love him for that.
- I’m so traditional and rooted in the past; I remember when going to church was fun and not perpetually teetering on the edge of destruction. I miss that tradition.
- I believe traditions, in their best sense, should give meaning to our lives.
- Traditions should not be used to demean people from being whom God created them to be.
- I say no to the idolatry and false God of manufactured human traditions.
- Our task is not to protect tradition. We are to proclaim the Good News.
- Tradition can quickly become a form of institutionalized violence.
- The divine is bigger than any of us or our ideas for creating new Methodist traditions.
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