We v. They September 21, 2012Posted by Dan R. Dick in Communication in the Church, Core Values, Integrity, Personal Reflection, The United Methodist Church.
Tags: Christian Community, church, The United Methodist Church, Unity
Like everyone else, Raleigh Hayes saw the world, and the people with whom he was obliged to share it, through the kaleidoscope of his own colored designs. As the years turned the viewer round and round, the bits of glass fell into new patterns, but the perspective remained limited to Raleigh’s eye. (Handling Sin, Michael Malone, 1983)
Not everyone agrees with this premise, but I am of a mind that everyone sees the world, not as it truly is, but through a set of personal and unique filters that makes an individual worldview. As we encounter others, we bond most closely with those who share key elements of our worldview. This makes for a grand and glorious bell curve of subjective worldviews that we embrace as objective reality. The truth is out there, and each of us brush up against it, but none of us own it. It is through this kaleidoscope effect that we polarize and politicize and project. It creates the frame and forum for “us/them; we/they; right/left; right/wrong” thinking that defines our modern/post-modern U.S. culture in the early 21st century. This comes clear to me as I look at comments made about my reflections on the work of our General Boards and agencies of The United Methodist Church.
Partisan Piety September 18, 2012Posted by Dan R. Dick in Core Values, Personal Reflection, Religion in the U.S., U.S. Culture.
Tags: Religious Trends, Unity
Concepts of separation of church and state, the divide between science/academia and religion, faith and politics are generally muddy and misinformed. Early attempts to guarantee religious freedom and protect against theocracy have come to mean, in some minds, that the physical and the metaphysical should have nothing in common. And when we blur lines and pigeon-hole positions as clearly one thing or the other, we get in trouble fast. Political labels do not line up cleanly with theological labels, and to reduce people to categories is the worst kind of judgmental heresy. We live in a charged society where we define ourselves as much by what we hate as by what we love, by what we oppose as much as by what we support. Rather than focus on our own attributes and virtues, we waste so much time and energy castigating, attacking and insluting those with whom we disagree. We love living in the polarity — but not the polarity of separate, but equal. Instead, we want to prove superiority over inferiority. We take what we are not and make it a terrible thing that no decent, self-respecting person would ever want to be — like those people over there…
Church Or Society September 14, 2012Posted by Dan R. Dick in Core Values, Identity & Purpose, The United Methodist Church.
Tags: church, The United Methodist Church
I am currently attending my first board meeting with the General Board of Church and Society. Up front, let me say that I think this is one of the most important, most valuable of our general church agencies. I understand that this view is not shared by all. In fact, some vehemently oppose Church and Society, and it ALWAYS surprises me. I have written in the past that I feel United Methodism suffers today by a lack of institutional memory and an abdication of our core identity. If your tradition is the Evangelical Association, the Methodist church, or the United Brethren in Jesus Christ, then you are part of a biblically and theologically grounded tradition that elevated missions, evangelistic witness, and a commitment to social justice — in other words, a church that isn’t all about us, but a church that exists for the purpose of serving in the community and world. You may disagree that these things are important, but you can’t change history — this is who we are based on who we have historically been.
Obtuse Is As Obtuse Does September 4, 2012Posted by Dan R. Dick in Christian witness, Communication in the Church, Missions, The United Methodist Church.
Tags: Communication, The United Methodist Church
Okay, let’s face it, we have a lot of differences that are not easily reconcilable. We are split over dozens — maybe hundreds of issues. So, why do we go out of our way to misunderstand one another and to ascribe negative (even malicious) intention where there is none? Obviously, the current political campaigning is an excellent illustration, but let’s not go there. Let’s keep it close to home. I’ll use a personal example. I attended a conference last week, then came home to a long holiday weekend. When I checked my email, I found seven angry messages about “what I said” about Imagine No Malaria. Now, this is news to me, since I can’t remember the last time I said anything about Imagine No Malaria, but I guess someone “quoted” me at a recent regional gathering. Interestingly, the “quotes” are actually quotes, but taken out of context they are being used to convey a very different meaning. Here are three quotes pulled from things I have written:
- “…the United Methodist Church creates a bigger problem by saving all these lives.”
- “It is irresponsible to take such a simplistic approach to such a complex problem. This isn’t just about combatting one disease. The solution just shifts the problem elsewhere, but let’s us feel good about ourselves.”
- “…anything less than a systems approach to global health is indefensible. …we are compounding a tragedy.”