Recommended Reading Round-up

1) David Watson asks, "What is Christian Unity?"
Over the past couple of years the debate within United Methodism over sexual morality has been complicated by a number of clergy and even a few bishops who have openly broken with their ordination vows to uphold our Discipline.  This has led to a crisis of trust in the denomination and a sense among many that we may be heading toward a schism.  In more recent months there have been numerous proposals to restructure the church.  Some would create a separate jurisdiction for liberal clergy and churches that would have its own standards for ordinations and its own theology of Holy Matrimony separate from the rest of the church.  Other proposals would leave sexual morality issues and the question of whether to bless same-gender unions to each local church and each individual pastor (this would be a radical step towards congregationalism and raises questions about the viability of our itinerant system).  I have asserted that it is foolish to think that these compromises will actually satisfy everyone and "end the debate;" in fact some of them would, I contend, move us from an ugly fight every 4 years at General Conference to an ugly fight every year at Annual Conference.  Would this really deepen our unity?
At some point it is worth asking if these "compromise measures" are not themselves actually dismantling our unity, albeit in a more subtle way, as the connections and the covenant that bind us are deconstructed.  Who are the real schismatics here?  Watson also prods us to ask if the mere sharing of the same denominational name, pension system, and logo is sufficient to make us a truly "United" Methodist Church?  If real Christian unity of Spirit, of faith, and of covenant loyalty does not exist, what exactly is the point of bending over backwards and radically restructuring our inherited polity to maintain a mere institutional unity?

2) Why Religion will dominate the 21st Century:
This piece at The Week asserts that, while the 20th century was a highpoint for secularism and atheism, the great events of the 21st Century will be dominated by religious convictions.  This might sound counter-intuitive considering the rising numbers of "unaffiliated" in the USA today, but the USA is not the world, and even some of the comparisons between the religiousity of Americans today versus the 1950s might surprise you.

3) The new-old-fashioned conservatism of prince Charles:
I once read a blogger argue in favor of constitutional monarchy like this: elected officials (by the nature of their office) are always looking to the next election, while constitutional monarchs (by the nature of their office) are always looking to the next generation; they help balance the short-term political expediency of elected officials with a longer view on things.  This article at the week, examining the recent publication of Prince Charles' letters to government officials seems to bear that argument out.

4) Again from David Watson - "The Millennial Obsession"
Professor Watson examines the United Methodist church's "obsession" with asking what will help us reach "millennials" and also explains his skepticism about bloggers who claim to speak for this whole generation.

5) Obama's MidEast Failure is outlined in THIS article at National Review. Plenty of commentators (including me) have bemoaned that the 2003 invasion of Iraq is a primary reason that the MiddleEast is ungulfed in fire and blood today.  But the National Review points out that Obama inherited an increasingly stable Iraq and could have exerted tremendous influence there for good, had he not rushed to remove our troops as quickly as possible. Now we are beginning to hear talk of whether we ought to send troops back in to retake areas for which our troops already bled.  There was a reason we  did not remove troops so hastily from Germany, Japan, or Korea, but worked long and hard to stabilize and sustain what had been hard won.

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Anonymous Danny said...

I think congregationalism is the way to go. Our circuit is an eclectic mix of great preachers and boring ones. There is no consistency, no continuity. We had a pastor that really preached well. He was also very involved in ministering his flock and made sure to visit as many congregants as possible. After he finished his stint, he moved on, and the pastor that replaced him was a complete opposite. The new pastor's sermons are yawn-fests, and was juggling ministerial duties with earning a doctorare. He is also not a people person and thus not very approachable. Maybe he's just going through the motions until he gets his PhD so that he can go to academia full time.

9:25 AM, February 12, 2016  

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