Monday, December 16, 2013

Proclaim (popes and trials)

I'm blogging for Advent, following along with the themes that we're focusing on at Crossroads. I talk more about why I'm doing this in an earlier post. This week's theme is "proclaim."

Alright, here's what I've got, but really you should just go read this editorial from the WaPo by Elizabeth Tenety.

I was driving in to DC today, listening to a bit on NPR about Pope Francis.

And all these people were calling in, saying things like, "I'm an atheist, but I'm excited about this new pope!" or "I'm a Muslim, but this guy is doing good stuff!"

And all the panelists, including a Jesuit priest and the former U.S. rep to the Vatican See, were saying things like:

"Well, he's not saying anything that Jesus didn't say."


"Well, that's really what Catholic social teaching has always said."

Now, obviously, this new Pope is generating excitement for a reason--because he actually seems dedicated to living out some of what Jesus said and Catholic social teaching says.

But you literally had a Catholic priest preaching about the gospel of Jesus Christ on NPR because the Pope had the courage to move out of a palace and into an apartment and actually seems to care about people who are hurting.

So here's my message about proclamation for the day. My apologies. Generally I try to blog about universal themes, but this one is sort of narrow and parochial:


A little while ago I wrote about how the Pope's statements about gay priests actually don't get to the heart of the matter. But I'm going to say something a bit different this time around. This time, I'm going to say that while the Pope is telling the Catholic Church that maybe they should stop yelling about gay people and abortion and start caring about the poor, the hierarchy of the United Methodist Church seems committed to a "Let's ramp up the bashing gay people thing!" strategy.

Now, look. I won't lie. I have pretty strong opinions about the way the church treats LGBTQ folks. But say you disagree with me. Say you think that sexuality is a choice, that homosexuality is a sin, etc.

Do you really think that the best way for the church to spend its time, money, and people power, is to bring people to trial because they disagree with the church's stance?

Do we not get that while the Pope makes national news, including (as Tenety points out) in bastions of secularism, for caring about the poor, the UMC is making national news for the 21st century equivalent of witch trials?

So look. Here's the deal, UMC. We say that we exist to "make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world." But what we're getting attention for is "making examples out of people for presiding at their son's wedding."

So if we want to proclaim the gospel, I've got a good first step: Stop. The. Trials.

(The students at AU tell me that this is not a meme until it has been replicated with variations, so get on it.)

Today, a Jesuit priest talked about the gospel of Jesus Christ on NPR.

Dear UMC Bishops--who, by the way, could do a lot to end these ridiculous trials: What audience has heard your preaching lately?

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