The Methodist Church Takes a Giant Step Backwards

I’ve been a Methodist, at least nominally, my entire life. Looks like that’s about to change.

The denomination’s bishops, its top clergy, pushed hard for a resolution that would have allowed local congregations, conferences, and clergy to make their own choices about conducting same-sex marriages and ordaining LGBT pastors. This proposal, called the One Church Plan, was designed to keep the denomination together. Methodist delegates rejected their recommendations, instead choosing the so-called Traditional Plan that affirmed the denomination’s teachings against homosexuality.

This is a short-sighted, idiotic, almost unbelievable decision. One that may- and if it endures probably should- relegate the religion of my childhood to the ash heap of history. It’s a shame, and it didn’t have to end this way.



Many of the people who claim to speak for him are full of shit, but Jesus was and is a superstar.  It’s easy to forget that when we’re bombarded with fundamentalist idiots who use religion as a weapon of oppression.  But God is Love, and Jesus loves all of us.

Happy Easter.

It’s Time to Reclaim Religion


To avoid any doubt and to lessen the chance we get off on some avoidable tangent, let’s summarize my religious views as of 2014.

I believe in God, fully and completely.  I pray all the time.  I am less sure exactly what God is, but I am certain some greater power is at play.  I don’t know that God micromanages the day-to-day operations of life (I tend to end up somewhere along the benevolent ant-farm line of thought), but that doesn’t affect what I want to talk about today.

I believe one’s relationship with God should be direct, and not via some person or organization who offers or demands to tell you what God thinks and what God wants you to do.  In other words, the more human beings you put between you and God, the more messed up things get.

I believe that far too many of the human beings who would place themselves between you and God have agendas that aren’t always in the best interest of you or God.  This is not to say that there is no place for organized religion.  I simply approach so-called religious doctrine imposed by some human beings on other human beings as inherently suspect.  God is love.  Religious leaders often forget or ignore this foundational reality.

I believe that far too many people who claim to speak for religion and/or God are doing way more harm than good.  I notice more of this with Christians, because I am one (more on that below), but it is the case with all or most religions.

I believe that far too many people who claim to speak for Christianity are conscripting religion to further their own purposes.  If you doubt this, ask yourself the last time you heard a so-called Christian leader say “I’d really like to do X (marry my same-sex partner; drink a beer; you name it), but the Bible says I can’t.”  It’s always “those people would like to do X, but the Bible tells me that they can’t.”

If Christians don’t get a handle on this soon, there is a risk that, by acting in ways inconsistent with right-thinking Christian beliefs (take love and tolerance, for example), we will allow Christianity to become marginalized.  In other words, if you make good and just people choose between calling themselves Christians and acting in a good and just manner, they will choose the latter.  If I’m hesitant to call myself a Christian because of all the idiots and haters spouting off nonsense on Facebook and in the media, that’s a small problem for me, but a huge problem for a religion that wants to matter in 10, 20, 100 years.  I’m in my 50’s and I have a problem with the lack of love and tolerance exhibited by many Christians.  Imagine how young people feel.

A big part of the problem is that people (usually old men trying to hold on to diminishing power or influence) start rattling on about what the Bible means, and how if you don’t do this and that- or if you tolerate this and that, you are acting against the word of God.  The thing is, it’s not the word of God.  It’s some other cat’s interpretation of the word of God.  And more often that not, that cat has an agenda.

The Bible is a work of love, not a weapon of control.

If I came face to face with God and could ask him just one question, it would be: “Do you think the Bible is the best thing or the worst thing that ever happened to Christianity?”  I think it’s an open question, not because of the Bible itself, but because of the way it’s used by some to influence and control others.  The two stupidest things I regularly hear are:

1. Global warming isn’t happening.
2. The Bible is the literal word of God and must be literally complied with.

The problem with number 1 is that it is clearly disprovable, by facts.  I suppose one can debate the cause of climate change, but its existence is no more debatable than the existence of atoms and molecules.

The problem with number 2 is that proponents of this theology pick and choose which parts are literal, while ignoring both the parts that don’t fit their objectives, as well as all the crazy stuff.  And there is a lot of straight-up crazy stuff in there.  By picking and choosing which parts matter and which don’t, the Biblical literalists disprove the foundation on which they seek to stand.

Which leads me to the list.  I am tired of debating people on a one-off basis every time someone posts some allegedly Biblical-based reason as to why we shouldn’t let some people marry, why we shouldn’t watch the Super Bowl (the topic of probably the most idiotic thing I’ve ever read), why this group is bad and the other group good, etc., etc.  So if you want to claim the Bible is the literal word of God and that word means we have to act in an intolerant or unjust manner, be prepared to explain the following.  I’ll add to the list over time.

Or we can stop fighting over the unimportant stuff and get back to love and tolerance.

9 Surprisingly Progressive Moments In The Bible

The 9 most baffling passages in the Bible, and what they really mean

10 Religious Verses Used To Justify Terrible Atrocities

10 Biblical Figures Who Teach Outrageous Morals

The ‘Gospel of Jesus’s Wife’ Is Real: What Now?

10 Truly Bizarre Or Unsettling Biblical Accounts

10 Misconceptions About Jesus

Millennials ‘Talk To God,’ But Fewer Rely On Religion, Survey Finds

​God’s 12 Biggest [Mean] Moves in the Old Testament

When Thomas Jefferson Rewrote The Entire Bible

Mary Magdalene Was Never A Prostitute

Hout and Fischer conclude that a big part of the decrease in religiosity can be attributed to “liberals and moderates declaring no religious preference as a way of rejecting the growing connection between churches and conservative politics, especially conservative cultural politics on topics such as the family, women and sex. [They] were saying, in effect, if that is what religion means, count me out.”

Again, I love God.  I just don’t like a lot of the things human beings say about God.  It’s time for right-thinking people of all religions to take back their religion from those who would misuse it for their own purposes.

God is love.  Peace.

The Possibility of Miracles

This post is about Easter.

But first, I want to start with a couple of preliminary thoughts, before I write the substantive content.

First, about religion. I am a Christian, though not always a good one. I am a fairly active member of a local Methodist church. Having said that, my religious philosophy can best be described as a “many paths” approach. Unlike much of the religious right, with whom I largely disagree, I do not believe that one religion is better than another. And I do not believe that there is only one path to heaven or a heaven-equivalent. I believe there are many. Many paths. Many maps. But paths and maps that have far more similarities than differences, and paths and maps that lead to substantially the same destination.

Second, about miracles. My personal definition of a miracle is something good and very important that happens in the face of a set of circumstances that make it highly unlikely that a good result will occur.

For those who celebrate it, of course, Easter is about miracles.

I have personally witnessed two miracles that I know of. Neither involved me or my family. Both involved friends and specifically children of friends.

The first occurred 3-4 years ago. A friend of mine’s son was in a horrible automobile accident. He was in a coma for weeks and at one time the prognosis was not good (to put it mildly). During his long stay in the hospital, I stopped by on my way home from work several times a week. I saw his parents in a state of complete anguish. I and many others prayed for this young man. A lot.

My friend’s son woke up. Got better. A weak ankle is about all that remains from that horrible event. It was a miracle. How do I know? Because I believe it to be so, based on my definitions and my meditations.

The second one occurred this week. Easter week 2006. Some other friends of ours have a little girl about Cassidy’s age. They live in different states, but they know each other and are friends. This little girl got sick a month or so ago. Very sick. Initially, the prognosis was very dire. Again, people prayed. Family, friends and strangers. Through a web site the family started to keep friends updated so they could focus on medical care, people all over the world came to know and care about this little girl.

Earlier this week brought a diagnosis of a treatable disease. I was overcome with joy (literally) when I read the good news. Because this little girl is going to be OK. And because I knew, again using my personal definition, that I had witnessed another miracle.

Miracles are complicated, however. There is no recipe for them and they are often withheld, even in the face of sustained and widespread prayer.

For that reason, I cannot and do not attribute prayer as the reason for miracles. It is simply not possible to do so. Otherwise, prayers would have brought upon miracles in other situations where they were needed just as much. Prayers would have protected Dear Elena (for whom I still mourn even though I didn’t know her personally). Sadly, there are many more examples of miracles withheld than there are of miracles occurring.

Thus, when we celebrate a miracle that did happen, we simultaneously mourn the ones that didn’t.

Miracles are not a mathematical equation- which is difficult for someone like me who sees almost everything as math. Miracles are about faith. Faith not that they will happen, because too often they don’t.

Faith only that they can happen. Faith to recognize it when one does happen.

Miracles cannot be predicted. They can only be hoped for. For many, that hope and the recognition that miracles sometimes do occur is the basis of prayer for those in need.

Prayer is the celebration of the possibility of a miracle.

That doesn’t make it any easier for me to think about the miracles that didn’t happen. But it does allow me to reconcile, at least to an extent, the pure joy and gratitude I feel when I think about our friends’ daughter getting well with the sorrow I feel when I think about miracles withheld.

It’s the possibility of miracles that I am grateful for on this Easter.

Friday's Link:

Friday’s Link for this week is I love the idea of an unbiased site where I can read and learn about the world’s religions. This site was created as part of the author’s preparation for a doctoral program in the history of religion. I love this quote from the FAQ:

What religion are you, if any?

I’m not telling and it’s not relevant anyway. is not intended to promote or support any one religion and I have done my best to keep any and all personal biases out of it.

In addition to a lot of factual information about various religions, the site contains links to news stories involving religion and some very well written original articles. I am going to spend a lot of time reading this site. I hope the author writes a lot!

I found out about this web site from Eamonn Sullivan’s web site, which I enjoy and read regularly.

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