GC2016 — A Tale of Two Conferences

People are perceiving very different lived realities at General Conference.  I am writing what I experience and observe, but I admit freely it is only my opinion.  Many people are leaving feedback directly on the blog, but I am also receiving emails, tweets, texts, and face-to-face feedback — mostly disagreeing with what I am writing (some affirming/confirming).  What is most interesting to me is that people are not refuting what I say; they are more interested in evaluating my motives and fitness.  Those who disagree with my content are saying that they see no rude behaviors, they don’t feel we are wasting time, and they think the overall environment here is positive and respectful.  I would love that to be my reality, too, but sadly it is not.

Some of my critics write:

“You are only seeing what you are looking for.  When all you allow in is the negative, that is exactly what you will find.”

“You are projecting.  You are ascribing your own cynicism and negativity to others.  I have seen nothing but good people acting like Christians.”.

“Why are you so dedicated to looking for trouble?  I haven’t noticed any lack of trust or honesty in plenary or my legislative committee.”

“Of course you are seeing negativity.  Anyone who disagrees with your liberal worldview is wrong, hateful, angry and mean-spirited.  What you see is a bunch of Christian disciples who love the church, but what you describe is enemies who are causing us to waste time.  Courageous, visionary, Spirit-filled men and women are fighting for the integrity of the church, and you label them malcontents.  You see Christians stand up for themselves and you call it bad behavior.  The problem isn’t what you are seeing; the problem is the biased filter through which you look.”

The question I have is, why don’t these people leave their comments in the public forum of the blog?  Why take their potshots at me personally?  If they believe I am skewing the truth, why not call me on it in the forum and see if others agree or disagree with them?  I don’t agree with Creed Pogue very often, but he has the courage of his convictions to disagree with me publicly.  I have immense respect for that.

All that said, I am fine reminding people that this is a blog — it is my personal opinion and reflection.  I am not expecting to sway or influence people’s thinking, nor do I expect everyone to agree with what I say.  I write personal thoughts publicly with the hope of provoking deep thinking and inviting civil discourse.  I wish I were projecting THIS on the gathering.  I am looking for, desperately seeking, civil discourse and beloved community.  I confess, it is hard to find this year.  But I will keep looking.

I am delighted some people are having a different experience of General Conference.  The people who stop and talk to me tend to want to share their own stories that are similar to my own.

9 replies

  1. Dan,
    I’m an elder, coming into ordained ministry later in my life after 15 years in higher education, in the NGA Conference. I have yet to stream any of GC 2016 and am using social media and blogs to assess. Currently, I see little difference in this GC than the three previous ones that have happened in my 14 years of ordained ministry. It’s sad, and it confirms my disgust with the “institutional” church and the system that continues to provide exactly what the leadership desires for themselves. I’m always reminded of the book, Deep Change by Robert Quinn, and the ways it describes the inability of the older mind set of the UMC to effectively, courageously lead necessary change for the 21st century church of Christ. Lord have mercy, come Holy Spirit, come and fill the hearts of your faithful.
    Please, continue to blog.
    Susan

  2. Dan, I am appreciating all of your GC blogs. Having been a delegate myself in several earlier years, I find them perceptive & informative. Keep up the good work. Thanks!

    • Thank you. This is an amazing classroom for people who enjoy watching and listening. I learn much more by keeping my mouth shut and watching others. I have spoken when necessary, but I learned a long time ago that if I wait long enough, more times than not, someone else will say what I am thinking.

  3. Dan,

    I appreciate your kind words. I respect you as well. There are probably a number of areas that we would find agreement upon especially a frustration with the bureaucracy of the denomination.

  4. I feel that your observations, comments and frustrations accurately illustrate what is wrong with a great deal of today’s organized religions. I hear the mantra so often in church meetings that we want “more people, more $, more missionary outreach, etc.” and are genuinely surprised when the same approach is used year after year yielding the same results (refer to the definition of insanity).

    Our denomination needs to break free of some of these old mantras that actually push the curious away from ever entering our doors. We at times do not live and accept or view our fellow mankind the way Christ called us but instead judge.

    Jesus wept.

  5. I thank you for your GC observations. As you wrote several days ago we are all human and therefore flawed. I’m my opinion the best way for us to learn from each other is to openly share our perspectives and approach each other with open respect. That is being open to the discomfort that comes with considering the passion of another that differs from your passion. A maturing faith allows the possibility of refining and nuancing your understanding by exposing yourself to others who are different than yourselves.

    I attended 2004 GC as a seminary student. My roommate and I agreed to be open to each other’s very different views on LGBTQs in the church. We didn’t change each other’s mind, but we saw each other’s Biblically based passion and Spiritually based perspective. And we cried together over the many hurdles and barriers that others, in our opinion, couldn’t see through to maintain love and respect for each other in spite of and because of our differences.

    I liken our lives and our faith to a fabric woven together by a variety of threads: the people and the experiences we encounter. Our fabric is richer and stronger when the threads differ in color and texture.

    Thank you for sharing your thread so openly.

    Harriett Rowland Local Licensed Pastor Retired WI Annual Conference On May 14, 2016 2:55 PM, “United Methodeviations” wrote:

    > Dan R. Dick posted: “People are perceiving very different lived realities > at General Conference. I am writing what I experience and observe, but I > admit freely it is only my opinion. Many people are leaving feedback > directly on the blog, but I am also receiving emails, twee” >

  6. I too, appreciate every of your posts on this blog. It sound to me like GC and AC are very similar.
    Dan, one thing I like to ask you is that on behalf of the “beautiful people” in WC, have you done your best to minister to people on both sides of the aisles (the young and the old, the for and the against etc…)?

  7. Dan, I’ve always appreciated your intelligence, sincerity and fairness. If you have been negative (not much in what I’ve read so far, honestly), I believe that I would ascribe it to your idealism.

    It’s a hard time to have ideals. The higher the ideals, the more likely one will be disappointed with the process.

    I’m also guessing that the folks reaching out to you likewise have high ideals and are likewise disappointed and venting a little bit. (What i don’t like about the venting is that I assume it is a bit manipulative, seeking to control your words and voice.)

    Thank you for clearly communicating your thoughts, opinions and ideals, and publically. We need clear, open and public speaking of high ideals.

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