Seven pieces of institutional clutter the UMC needs to leave behind

Right now, the UMC, bound by institutional clutter, is unfree, rigid, divisive and has regulated creativity out of the system. I’m a sucker for the “25 things you need to get rid of” article. Clutter drives me crazy. I used to watch those hoarding TV shows. In so doing, I became aware of the ease of slipping into patterns like that. It takes constant effort to stay on top of it. I’ve developed a habit of daily “tidying” to maintain… Read more

Help! Do abusive people keep power by defining forgiveness?

When abusive people, those who misuse the power entrusted to them, face accusations of misconduct, they deflect the blame toward the one who has been abused. Dear Thoughtful Pastor: Why is it always the abusers and their advocates that concoct numerous ways to forgive them? Here is my experience. Abusers are usually sincere. They don’t think they’re abusing. So they justify and validate their behavior with rationalities. But when they do realize they inflicted abuse, they impose legislation on the… Read more

Help! How do I tell my sister to hush about her husband?

My biggest life mistake is asking people to read my mind and do what I want without my having to say it.  Dear Thoughtful Pastor: My sister is separating from her husband and will soon move in with me while they decide to stay together or get a divorce. I want to be there for my sister. I really do. But how can I ask my sister NOT to tell me intimate things about her marriage or gripe about her… Read more

It’s time. Blow up the UMC. My own breaking point.

These responses may be the breaking point for me. A church based on a theology of grace operates with the same nastiness of our current political discourse. I had planned a gentle, thoughtful post here. I have, after all, billed myself as the Thoughtful Pastor, although some certainly question the appropriateness of my claim. My proposed starting place would include kind commentary on a recent Peggy Noonan column in the Wall Street Journal. I thought it was superb. However, the comments, probably… Read more

Sexist pastors, sexist news commentators: losses and wins

Today: a possible victory for women subjected to sexist practices partnered with the long-running “Christian” and unquestionably sexist practice of keeping women’s voices subjugated. In the New York Times April 19, 2017, edition, the major editorial title reads, “Is Your Pastor Sexist?”  It’s a piece about the extremely famous NYC pastor, Tim Keller, an excellent preacher who has created a network of rapidly growing conservative evangelical churches in that notoriously unchurched city. Keller also holds strongly to the insistence that… Read more

Help! I’m peace loving and don’t WANT to fight wars for Jesus

Did Jesus finish the work of defeating evil or did he not finish the work and therefore we must go to battles and wars for him? Dear Thoughtful Pastor: There is a hymn called “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus.”  It speaks of Christians as soldiers of the cross, marching as to war against what would seem to be some tremendous foes. These soldiers are stridently urged into battle so the royal banner of Jesus will not “suffer loss.”  … Read more

Dear President Trump: You work for me and I care about your tax returns

An open letter to the 45th President of the United States about his income tax situation. I will put this in the US mail to him. Anyone is free to use or modify my words to do the same. President Donald J. Trump The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500 Dear President Trump, I am a voting citizen of the United States of America. I care about your tax returns. I request, nay, I order you, to… Read more

When women finally get fed up, stuff happens

When women finally say, “I’m not going to let these guys continue to ruin my life and the lives of my children,” stuff happens. These women were fed up. Desperately poor families would see their husband/father drink most of his income, leaving them even worse shape. The women lobbied. They got their candidate elected. They made sure he kept his campaign promises. They said a loud and collective, “No more” and did the necessary work to make things right. . …. Read more

Darkness came over the whole land–and we prefer the darkness

As we repeatedly mend the curtain, as we reinforce the barrier with each stitch, we work to make sure the darkness stays. Everyone has heard that, at the moment of Jesus’ crucifixion, darkness came over the whole land. But few seem to know or understand what follows, “At that moment [the moment of Jesus’ death as described by Matthew] the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.” The implications of this statement? “All barriers between… Read more

Help! I’m poor. Should I tithe to TV preachers?

However, large religious institutions, especially those with massive expenses and infrastructures, manipulated the tithe as a way to essentially extort money from less biblically literate members. Dear Thoughtful Pastor:  In the past, I have tithed money into various ministries that I enjoyed listening to on TV. As I do not enjoy attending church, I have contributed to the people who were teaching me. When my husband and I were both working, I could tithe up to 10% of my paycheck,… Read more

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