I’ve Been Jacked by a Couple Methodists

This post is part of the Patheos Book Club. Check out the Book Club for more posts on this book, an interview with the authors, and for responses from the editors.

In their new book, Hijacked: Responding to the Partisan Church Divide, pastor Mike Slaughter and activist Chuck Gutenson have given us a valuable book on how Christians of different political persuasions can nevertheless maintain faithful and congregational unity.

This is, I must say, an overcrowded genre. Since the George W. Bush years, the Christian church has been politically polarized. A spate of books has been published in response. Hijacked is one of the best in that crowd, IMHO.

Slaughter and Gutenson are Methodists, and it shows. That’s not a bad thing. In fact, I think it makes their argument stronger. It embeds them in a tradition and gives them credibility. They end their book with an appeal to the (forgotten?) Methodist practice of “holy conferencing,” quoting a Methodist report:

As we seek to steer conversations toward a deeper level of meaning—hopefully—resolution, we can utilize principles of holy conferencing to do so. Holy conferencing starts from our own stories—it is more about who we are together than who is right…all parties must be willing to consider they may be wrong about an issue that is important to them.

Hijacked has a surprisingly robust middle section on logic. It may come off a bit philosophical for the lay reader, but I think it’s the strongest part of the book. In it, they deconstruct the statements that many partisan Christians often use, and they show that these are often illogical.

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Women Who Oppose Women

Women who oppose women bishops, that is, in the Church of England:

The Church of England is, in its own confounding and impenetrable way, preparing to welcome women as bishops. At the meeting of its general assembly earlier this month there was much debate about what should be done for Anglicans who do not accept female clergy ahead of a vote this summer. Among these traditionalists are several women.

One of them is Emma Forward, a teacher in her 20s who was elected to the Church of England’s lawmaking body at 21, making her the youngest of its 485 members. One of almost 9,000 women who signed a petition in 2008 objecting to the ordination of women as bishops, she says many other female members of Synod share her views.

“We represent thousands in the Church across the country. I think that women who oppose haven’t been in the spotlight as we are from ordinary walks of life who aren’t known to the media. Perhaps some press coverage finds it easier to portray this as a male versus female issue, and we complicate the issue for those who only see it in those terms.”

Traditionalists such as Forward want to serve under a male bishop because they believe the Church of England has no right to introduce women bishops. They may not have a majority, certainly not expected to be enough to stop the legislation to allow women bishops getting final approval in July, but they cite Jesus’s choice of only male apostles and the fact that other, major Christian denominations have not introduced female clergy as evidence to support their beliefs.

Read the rest: The women who oppose female bishops | World news | The Guardian.

I’ll admit, I don’t get it. But then again, the catholic church is full of women, and there’s a gender-based caste system in that church, too.

Ground Rules for Debating Same Sex Marriage

A Minnesotan and pastor’s kid offers these ground rules for my fellow citizens as we debate the marriage amendment, on the ballot this fall:

Let all Minnesotans remember that:

There is no one Christian position. Some, like the state’s Catholic bishops, advocate for the amendment on Christian grounds. Others, like the majority of delegates at the recent Minneapolis Synod Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, oppose the amendment. As a Christian pastor myself I would be the last to say that one’s religious convictions should not influence choices at the voting booth — anything but. However, it should be noted that Christians hold varied and complex positions on the amendment. We cannot be seen as one voting bloc.

We all support families. I believe both those supporting and opposing the amendment have the well-being of families at the heart of their position. In this way all voters are “pro-family;” they just deeply disagree as to what sort of families should have the legal status of marriage.

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Why Is the Q Ideas Conference So Expensive?

Fuller Seminary’s Burner Blog sat down with Q founder, Gabe Lyons, and asked him why a 3-day conference needs to cost $675. Personally, I find Gabe’s answer less than convincing:

Gabe Lyons

The best speakers and the most interesting venues are not cheap. The admission to Q events usually runs a steep $675. It’s not $3-7k for TED Talks admission, but it’s a lot for cash-strapped churches.

A sitting area at the Crosby Street Hotel in SoHo.

“Well, we try to run our organization in a sustainable way,” Lyons explains.  He notes that there are ways to make an event less expensive—hosting in a church for free, for example. “We could do that in Northern Virginia, and save $75,000, but instead we choose to host it right at the center of it DC on Constitution Avenue at the Andrew Mellon auditorium. We think the medium is the message in a lot of ways.”

We think [lower registration costs] would likely take away from the intentionality of everybody there–relationships we want to see cultivated. Our goal is not to grow something to be really big, our goal is just to talk about serious topics and to get people together who are working on these topics and want education on it and collaboration with other leaders.” He goes on to explain that Q presentations are usually released afterwards for those that weren’t able to attend.

Read the rest of the interview: Interview with Gabe Lyons on Q and the Future of Theological Education « The Burner.

Have you been to Q? If so, was it worth the money? If not, has the registration cost kept you away?