The Bible in both Joel and Acts says this about old men, "old men dream dreams." In addition, this old man, Gil Caldwell, somewhat like a Jazz musician (When I grow up I want to be a second coming of Miles Davis.) writes "stuff" that is a blend of the rational and irrational. This morning, my question; "Has the United Methodist Church been seduced by those who did not want it to address racism; particularly its anti-black expression?" Do the following reflect a dream or nightmare, or both?
1. The UMC was born a few weeks following the assassination of Martin Luther King. Many of
us who were present at its "birth" wanted/expected it to be the nation's leading faith-based anti-racism Church. Did those who disagreed with that vision know that 21st century racism would be alive and well, and that an anti-racism denomination would challenge the legitimacy of that racism. Thus the 1972 General Conference introduced, not anti-racism language and legislation, but anti-homosexuality language and legislation. The "practice" of heterosexism became the new sin, thus diverting attention away from the old sin of the "practice" of racism.
2. The New York Times carried numerous articles about UMC trials of clergy who performed
same sex marriages. But, today as the Times has articles titled: "The Scourge of Racial Bias In New York State's Prisons", "What the Alt-Right Means", "Where Unfair Voting Practices Begin", "The Horror of Lynchings Lives On" (These two on the editorial page), and other media carry stories of the trials of the police killing of black men, and the trial of the killer of 9 black persons in an AME Church, the silence of the UMC is deafening! Could it be that those for whom the practice of homosexuality is their major concern should move on while those of us who view sexism, racism, heterosexism and classism as major challenges to/of our mission and ministry will remain, keeping in mind Wesley's sermon on Bigotry?
3. Once the Methodist/United Methodist Church was viewed as "America's Church." We boasted that Methodism was present in every County seat town. Those of us who are not Dallas Cowboys ("America's Team") fans despite their success this year, believed that we as a Church were more "American" than the Cowboys. But today in a distortion of the meaning of "Globality", we sacrifice the inclusivity, although not yet perfected, of the USA, in order to "use" the biases taught by missionaries, to justify discrimination in the UMC.
Tony Campolo and Shane Claiborne (Red Letter Christians) have written a NY Times op-ed titled; "The Evangelicalism of Old White Men Is Dead." I am not a white man, but I am an "old man." Thus, I join with Campolo and Clairborne and affirm the last sentence in their article: "MAYBE THIS IS A MOMENT IN OUR HISTORY FOR EVANGELICALS TO REPENT AND BE 'BORN AGAIN' AS RED LETTER CHRISTIANS." I, as an evangelical, agree!
Asbury Park, NJ
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