The last post that I put on this blog concerned the IRD ( the Institute on Religion and Democracy) and what I consider its less than straight forward agenda regarding the United Methodist Church. I can't tell you how many people read that post...almost eight times the number of folks who read other posts on this blog. Clearly people hold very strong opinions and beliefs about the soul and character of The United Methodist Church as well as the work of the IRD. I have taken that post down because I believe that the comments to it distract from the overall tenor of this blog.
When I first began this little project, it was with the intention of creating a place for people who are progressive and Christian as well as for people who are searching for spiritual nurture but unsure about church. I hoped to carve out a safe place for people (primarily those who attend the church that I serve) to explore spirituality and the core of progressive Christianity and the possibilities of progressive church. By and large I have stuck to that goal. Every now and then, however, I have found that I felt called to respond to an event or an article that took me away from my primary goal. The post about the IRD was one such post. I stand by my opinion that the IRD is not an organization concerned with the health and vitality of the UMC. However, I have taken down the post so that one post doesn't become the sum of all of the other posts.
For more information about the IRD, check out its website.
For more outside understandings of the IRD, check out the book United Methodism at Risk: A Wake Up Call.
For more information from a conservative United Methodist opposed to the work of the IRD, see "Renewal or Ruin? The Institute on Religion and Democracy's Attack on United Methodism".
The United Methodist Church is a wonderful denomination that is diverse in theological understanding and liturgical practice. It is my family's church and the church of my ancestors. It has shaped me and made me what I am. In this church, I see a great possibility for God's vision to be made real on earth. I realize that as a progressive Christian that I am a minority voice in this church. I also claim nothing short of being progressive; I do indeed want change in the church - change that I believe brings us closer to God's kin-dom, a belief born from reason, tradition, experience, and scripture. I also know that many look at me not only as heterodox but apostate. All I can say to them is that I read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and I have come to a different place in understanding a great many things.
And now we can return to the real intent of this blog...to create a safe space for those questioning and searching for a progressive Christianity that nurtures their souls and speaks to their minds. I apologize to my regular readers who felt that the post was a departure from what I had promised to write and who thought that many of the responses diminished the "safe" nature of this blog. I will add, though, that authentic Christianity takes us into debates, conversations, and struggles that are unsafe because the gospel itself is risky and dangerous. It calls us to be present in the midst of the world that wants to deny the change it demands. It calls us to witness regardless of risk. And it calls us into solidarity with those who are the most ridiculed and defiled. Sometimes who we are will bring us into difficult places. In many ways that is the invitation of the gospel. So, while I've taken down the post in order to restore a certain sensibility, I also want to note that we as a people must be willing to step into the hard places to witness and proclaim the gospel that shapes us even in the face of risk and hardship.
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