The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: February 23, 2019
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OUR LONG DARK NIGHT IS OVER…
Major League Baseball teams reported to Spring Training this week. Here are a few shots from Mesa, Arizona, where the Cubs train. Few things in life bring as much hope as the beginning of baseball…
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BIG WEEKEND FOR THE UNITED METHODISTS…
Today is the day when the United Methodist Church meets for a special General Conference, where they will hold a critical vote on whether to ordain openly gay clergy and allow individual churches to conduct same-sex marriages.
At First Things, Dale M. Coulter outlines the three options being put before the UMC:
Last July, the Council of Bishops offered three possible plans for moving forward: the One Church Plan, the Connectional Conference Plan, and the Traditional Plan. The One Church Plan calls for removing language from the Book of Discipline that upholds traditional teaching on sexuality, and allowing individual churches and conferences to decide on the basis of conscience whether they will permit same-sex unions or homosexual bishops. The Connectional Conference Plan calls for completely reorganizing the regional conferences around shared beliefs rather than geography—in other words, creating traditionalist and progressive conferences and trying to hold them together. The Modified Traditional Plan calls for upholding the traditional teaching on sexuality and then offering an exit path for any local churches or conferences that disagree.
Even though the bishops offered three plans, most have come out in support of the One Church Plan, even creating a website to push it. They hope this plan will preserve the denomination’s unity by allowing individual churches and ministers the freedom to follow their own theological convictions. Most of the traditionalists urge adoption of the Modified Traditional Plan—traditionalists that include organizations like the Wesleyan Covenant Association and the Africa Initiative Group, which represents many African Methodists.
RNS tells of a prayer journey undertaken this week by Helen Ryde, who “began a 600-mile pilgrimage from the North Carolina mountains to the America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis, site of the meeting. As she travels through Tennessee and Kentucky and Illinois, she planned to stop in dozens of United Methodist churches to say a prayer and pin an envelope containing her prayer to the door of each congregation.”
“Holy God,” her prayer read, “may every LGBTQ person who has ever been baptized, confirmed, attended or served this church know how fearfully and wonderfully made they are.”
A married lesbian, Ryde works as a regional organizer for the Reconciling Ministries Network, a group that encourages Methodists to embrace LGBT equality.
But the bigger issue is survival of the denomination itself. Dale Coulter sees an inevitable schism.
This is a war for the soul of the UMC. People on both sides feel strongly about their positions, and I don’t see how they can live together any longer. Progressive and traditionalist churches are pledging to leave if the outcome does not go the way they want. This includes significant churches like Mt. Horeb UMC in Lexington, South Carolina, the largest church in the state conference. The One Church Plan feels like a shotgun wedding when what is really needed is for both sides to walk away. The recent history of the TEC, ELCA, and the PCUSA on this same question suggests that the best way to avoid either a scorched-earth campaign or a slow death with a steady stream of churches departing is to agree to separate amicably.
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I’M SORRY, I HAVE TO LAUGH…
“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett staged a racist, anti-gay attack on himself because he was unhappy about his salary and wanted to promote his career, Chicago’s police superintendent said Thursday. (NBC News Chicago)
Ever since this happened, there has been a hot and heavy firestorm about the supposed assault on Jussie Smollett in Chicago. Folks on the left immediately latched on to the idea that the actor was a victim of a hate crime motivated by racism and homophobia. Folks on the right immediately blamed the “left-wing media” of blowing the story all out of proportion and using it to further their radical agenda of identity politics.
And guess what? Now we find out that none of this was actually about racism, homophobia, or any political agenda. AT ALL!
This was an example of PURE CAPITALISM.
This was about an actor using his talent in a devious way to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes so that he could make a few more bucks and get a little more fame for himself. This was an all-American story of greed and self-aggrandizement. This was about a guy marketing himself, taking advantage of the spirit of the age, to climb the success ladder. We may be liberals, conservatives, or moderates, but together, in this great land, it’s all about buying and selling when it comes right down to it.
Come on, America. A hand for the entrepreneur!
It was a good old fashioned grift. And a lot of us fell for it.
Cue the timely P.T. Barnum quote.
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Tomorrow night is the Oscars. I can’t remember a year when I was less invested in the Motion Picture Academy Awards. In fact, the last time we even went to the movies was two Christmases ago. It seems I get less and less interested with each passing year. Not sure why, but part of it is probably just due to the season of life we’re in. Add to that the variety and content available on our TV screen at home, and I guess I’ve become a going-to-the-movies dropout.
What about you? Here is a list of some of major categories up for awards this year. Any favorites?
A Star Is Born
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Christian Bale, Vice
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
Glenn Close, The Wife
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
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R.I.P. PETER TORK OF THE MONKEES…
It may be difficult to imagine now, but there was a time in the 1960s when a pop band, in a single year, outsold the Beatles and the Rolling Stones combined — and not even a real band at that. Really, the group was four strangers thrown together on a TV show about a band all living in an imaginary group house. Both the band and the show — the Monkees — were instantly and wildly popular among a certain set of American kids.
Those kids are now in late middle age (or older), and that band is finally going home. In 2012, lead singer Davy Jones, at 66 years old, was the first to die ; on Thursday, 77-year-old Peter Tork died from a rare form of cancer. Along with Mike Nesmith, Tork was one of the two real musicians in the quartet. (Stephen Stills had recommended Tork for the role after being passed over for being too snaggle-toothed.) The other two Monkees — Jones and drummer Micky Dolenz — were actors.
The most technically skilled in the group, Tork had trained classically and played guitar, banjo and French horn and was particularly talented on keyboards, though he was best known on the TV show as the band’s bassist. Nesmith has been quoted as saying that Tork, not himself, should have been the band’s main guitarist.
…How to explain the Monkees’ unlikely staying power, their stalwart presence on oldies radio? I think many baby boomers, obviously, found them accessible and relatable, certainly unthreatening. But more importantly, Tork once said the band had real chemistry — not just any four young men could have done what they did. I think there was a sense of vindication they shared among themselves that critics had turned up their noses at the supposed ineptitude of the Prefab Four and were proved wrong — in which case, all among us who are judged and found to have come up short still have a chance.
Most of all, there are the sounds of those hits, pristine in their peculiar moment, which when matched to those particular voices, still succeed. They form a part of the soundtrack of many baby boomers’ lives, a validation of their memories, making believers of us all.