Saturday, July 23, 2011

Of Washington DC & United Methodists

I was out watering my tomatoes and cucumbers this morning in hopes the continued heat and drought wouldn't hurt my plants and we'd continue to get fresh vegetables. Watering and nurturing plants is a peaceful Saturday morning ritual that helps me think and helps me get in touch with life.

Unfortunately, I was also decompressing from the latest news as our U.S. politicians in D.C. can't seem to work together on anything, and in particular currently can't figure out how to deal with the debt ceiling talks and avoid financial default. The people of the country are held hostage as the Republicans and Democrats wage war against each other standing for their party platforms.

Beyond the exasperation with the lack of common sense, and the aggravation that none of these jokers seems to be working for the average person, I'm also reminded of a larger truth this morning. One of the TV morning news programs had a mixed panel of D, R, and independent citizens talking through this debacle. As is typical, there seemed to be a common sense wisdom as the group talked through their own feelings, ideas, and best way forward in this matter.

This all reminded me the good wisdom of Methodist conferencing. Historically we've found greater strength and power as we dialogue together and in all the voices better hear God's voice. Methodism came into being at the same time as the colonies became the United States, therefore everything from our polity/governance to the way we dialogue and make decisions are related. Now I'm not talking about the default position many UM annual conferences have fallen to which is really more of an orchestrated religious convention with thousands of people. Rather, I'm thinking of conferencing as a way of dialogue that allows the different voices to be heard, yet is open to the larger wisdom of the group and of God. This isn't just majority or loudest voice approach, but something different. This way has some "give and take" to it, a sense that everyone has the best interest in mind, and that we'll still be brothers and sisters even if we have different positions. Imagine how that might change a religion or country if we returned to civility, a quest for the common good, and an eagerness not to demonize one another but to grow more in love of God and of neighbor!

Imagine if our US government might truly return to some of our "roots," and weren't so beholden to any party, constituency, or group that pays our bills or keeps us elected. Imagine if we are working for the good of all, and as interested in listening as we are to talking. What if our desire is to create a more "perfect union" so that the way we conduct business and he decisions we make have the interest of all citizens in mind. Can't we still grow a stronger community and nation through adversity?

Oh, but there is also a warning in some of this for United Methodism. I'm hoping as we move toward General Conference that we recall these distinctions, beware the fiasco we currently see in DC, and resolve to take the higher road which will lead us to God.

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