By far, the most mentioned critique of my thoughts in this present conversation (and for nearly 25 years) can be stated thusly: “Mike, you care more for the ‘unchurched’ and ‘de-churched’ than you do for the church and it’s ‘churched’.” Your critique is valid (logically speaking). I have no argument against your point. I only have a defense of my own point-of-view, which defense I find unnecessary. However, I will defend my thinking in this entry for the sake of the conversation, not for the sake of how I think. I do not care to defend myself (in this sense) because I don’t care if we agree or not. Yet, I DO care whether or not we are thinking. And, I think the shortest route to that end is by enumerating The Things That Get Me in Trouble.
I was recently involved in a conversation (within a church setting) where, as I was attempting to explain how I understand God’s worldview – an attempt that was failing miserably, by the way – an ordained Elder of the UMC described my point-of-view using the church’s language: “Mike, you are an evangelist more than a parish pastor.” Agreed! While I do not like the language, because ‘church speak’ is alien (and alienating) to most people outside of the church, the assessment is valid. While most “pastors” live within the walls of the institution, I live without; within the population, and with the people.
Therefore, my first qualifier in this response is my sense of calling. This position, within humanity, rather than within the establishment, is where I sense I am supposed to be. It IS important to me that I am “connected” to the establishment – I am a Methodist (United, and otherwise) – but my place in this relationship is with the people.
Secondly, I have already explained my priority of thought; i.e., my use of the Texts, Logic, Experience, and History to guide my thinking (a sort-of “Quadrilateral”). And finally, remember, Observation (Meta-Observing) is what I do. I make observations, analyze, articulate, and disseminate if necessary.
Politics (In General)
I have never directly voiced my political positions and/or beliefs from the “bully pulpit.” I HAVE indirectly stated my point-of-view on various subjects, however. I will make things clear, here:
1) I do not care about “Republicans” or “Democrats,” they are simply flip-sides to the same coin. I do not care about “Conservative” or “Liberal,” for both carry far too much baggage; too many things that one MUST support or reject based on the group. I am NOT “pro” or “anti” anything. The notion of “group thought” is self-contradicting and, therefore, illogical. I challenge everyone to think for themselves on any and every subject.
2) Politics is a religion where the government is worshipped, those elected to office are the priests, party platforms are the doctrines and dogma, and “special interests” are the form of communion.
3) I have written about “the American Ideology” in the past. On one hand, there are The United States. On the other hand, there is the American Ideology. The notion of “America” is based on the Constitution. Any ideology that contradicts the Constitution is (logically) Un-American. The states can be united in an ideology of one sort or another, but it is not “American” if not based on the Constitution of the United States.
4) I am, if anything, a Constitutionalist. The Constitution of The United States is our enumerated (individual) rights as citizens. It does not establish our rights, but recognizes that we have God-given rights as humans that government cannot trample upon. No (legal) law can be made by congress to remove these rights, because The Constitution is of higher order than congress and it’s ability to pass laws. It is important to understand that The Constitution doesn’t give citizens their rights, but simply enumerates them to control the (necessary) government.
5) I consider the 2nd Amendment to The Constitution as most important; for, we cannot ensure any of our other rights without a means of defense. The point of the 2A is to defend ourselves, as human beings, and citizens of the United States, against tyranny. I cannot speak freely (the 1st Amendment) without “the right to bear arms,” simply because tyranny can silence me without recourse.
a) I have had people question this thinking based on whether or not we could win a war against a far superior government (more weapons of war than the citizenry). My reply is that you are missing the point. I do not care about “winning.” I care about FREEDOM! I desire nothing more (or less) than to live free! If I am to die in that pursuit, then I die free.
6) Concerning politics in general, I am not suggesting that we not be involved in politics. What I am suggesting is that we hold our elected officials accountable and responsible for representing us.
a) These elected officials ARE NOT “our leaders,” they are our “representatives.” They are to represent our expressed interests within government. The Constitution ensures this fact – They work for us. They do not rule us.
7) In my circles, I have liberal friends, acquaintances, and family, as well as conservative (and all positions in-between). The ridiculous notion that we all must think the same is, hereby, rejected. ANY thoughtless allegiance is senseless and ignorant to me, and a waste of energy. Many of my own points-of-view will fall throughout this political/theological continuum.
1) Logically, by rule of the Quadrilateral, since I am a man, I have no express opinion on this issue. I cannot directly experience this, but only indirectly.
2) I could have placed this subject under the “Politics” heading because there are at least two different conversations being had concerning it. There is an undercurrent to this subject that is intentionally and purely political – a means of division and unrest, especially in America.
a) I do not care what the Supreme Court “decides” on it or related matters because, Constitutionally, this is a State’s right. Likewise, as an aside, I don’t care what it “decides” about guns. They cannot overrule The Constitution. Only the citizenry can change The Constitution, and there is a process for that as seen by The Amendments to The Constitution.
3) Here is my position on the matter: Whatever a woman decides, I am here supporting you. I do not know the circumstances; the psychology, the physicality, and/or the context. If something, here, is vicious and malicious, then that is on you. We are each free – right or wrong, good or bad. My support of you does not necessitate my support of any action (one way or the other); it is not my business. I simply support you as a woman, and as a human being.
a) Much of the church believes that, because I am a pastor, there is a certain position I must take concerning this subject. What about me makes you think that I would succumb to such a ridiculous demand? This is “group think,” it is also doctrine and dogma of a religion which controls its people. Though I am a pastor, I am not the moral/ethical police.
b) As Paul says, “My conscious is clear concerning this. And not even that will convict or acquit me on that day, but He who sees all and knows everything.”
First of all, the notion of multiple races is highly illogical. There is but one race – the Human Race. Anyone attempting to divide us by color, and calling that division “racial,” has an agenda and is nefarious in every way.
1) Think critically – Someone has determined to divide us by color, calling it racism, when it is they who are racist for determining a difference (an inequality) based on color. Logic will never fail you!
2) This subject, also, I could have placed under the “Politics” heading.
3) That notwithstanding, there are atrocities in American history that cannot be ignored, erased, or otherwise rewritten. In the same way, it is irrational to generalize an entire culture as “racist;” including the generalization of symbols and ensigns (flags) of said culture.
a) Many of you know that I was born and raised in NY, moving to NC over 30 years ago. I have a unique perspective, seeing things from both sides of the “Mason-Dixon Line.” Because my family lies on both “sides,” I have studied this subject extensively, for years.
b) Philosophically, we don’t know what we don’t know. There are things in the southern culture that raises eyebrows (as it were), especially amongst the oldest living generation. Ingrained/subconscious beliefs, habits, and actions inform our attitudes and lifestyles, as a rule. It is a conditioning mechanism inherent from former generations.
c) However, I know of this same phenomenon in the northern culture. I can only deduce that this is a human trait. I understand that there is real racism – disparage based on color – but I sense the logical issue is cultural, generalized in color. We believe a certain color to be a certain way, concretizing the culture of the person in an unrealistic ideology.
4) Incidentally, contrary to popular (illogical) opinion, “racism” can be – and IS – expressed in all color/cultures. Again, I understand history, and the fact that the black community began its existence in America in complete and utter slavery, and later, still, at a severe disadvantage. And in some ways, that disadvantage is residual; it’s a condition that is passed-on to each generation, even though as a whole, everything about the ideology of America is open and accessible to all. I also understand the complete lack of trust in the “fairness” of the “system.”
5) But I challenge all cultures – If we weren’t focused on division by color, then we could clearly see that the “system” is based on elitism. There is a two-teared system – either intentionally or unintentionally – that favors an “Upper Class” – a “Ruling Class” – over and above everyone else. These are those who owned slaves and perpetuated the slave trade across the Atlantic, and they were European (specifically Portuguese). Know your history!
a) This country was formed by a handful of men with (almost literally) all the money. So, residual conditioning is working forward in this sense, also. Know your history. This is not an opinion, but a fact.
6) To the black community, I implore you – be alert and paying attention, your biggest threat is from many white liberals. This combination suggests a “racism” in the fact that they believe you cannot speak for yourselves, not because of inequality but because of your inability to articulate intellectually. They feel guilt and self-hatred (for various reasons) completely unrelated to the subject; but project it, inverted, onto the subject. While they speak of color, their words betray their desire to maintain a Plantation of controlled thought. You are free! Do your thing!
1) A country without boarders is (really) no country at all.
2) Either The United States of America has a Constitution and Bill of Rights, or it has open boarders. But it cannot have both.
3) These two ideologies (Constitutional Rights vs. Open Boarders) are mutually exclusive and, thereby, contradictory of one another.
4) Again, if you have open boarders, then you DO NOT have an American Ideology. You may have “The United States,” but they are united with the various countries of the immigrants. Logic is crystal clear, again!
5) [Do I really need to say this by now?] I have no problem with anyone (regardless of color) that wants to come and experience the American Ideology – Freedom; self-governance – but they must come legally.
6) According to the Vision, we NEED peoples of all walks of life, from anywhere in the world in order to be the full expression of a “manifold God.” And there is a legal way to get that done.
7) I understand the system (once again) is broken and/or needs improvement.
a) But this is another example of a bloated, enlarged Federal (i.e., Central) government. And…
b) The political side of this subject is distracting us from REAL answers and constructive ideas.
The (so-called) Pandemic
1) Once again, I could have placed this subject, too, under the “Politics” heading.
2) I believe that there really is/was a C-19 virus. I experienced it last year and, whatever it is/was, it was worse than any “flu” I’ve ever experienced. And I believe it is/was a manufactured crisis.
3) However, I think (almost) everything in the way it was handled is/was illogical.
a) “Follow the Science” became a religious chant rather than a constructive analysis.
b) “Science” displays the fact that, a cloth mask with material holes at larger microns than the size of a virus is utterly ineffective.
c) “Science” has always demanded that “Herd Immunity” is/was the answer.
d) It is too convenient that Big Pharma, it turns out, helped develop the virus and the “vaccine.”
e) It is too convenient that SO MUCH money is involved in this whole thing.
4) Incidentally, a “vaccine” would completely eradicate the virus, as vaccines have always done throughout history. If “boosters” are needed, then it’s not a vaccine. If I can still be infected despite being “vaccinated,” then it is not a vaccine. Logic!
5) There was nothing legal or Constitutional about the handling of this event.
6) I understand that many people have died, either from the virus, the “vaccines,” or the “boosters.” It is terrible. But the government does not have the power to establish, what amounts to, medical tyranny.
7) Fear was/is utilized to extract a desired action. This IS NOT God’s worldview.
8) If I die, I die free!
This, too, could fall under the “Politics” heading. But there are real people involved on the ground.
1) If we “follow the science,” there are (biologically) only two genders. Logic is very clear, here.
2) Only women (physically) have babies. I can’t believe that really needs to be said!
3) Now, one can certainly feel as though they’re on a sliding scale of gender (psychologically).
4) For reasons I’ve already stated, I have no issue with folks who decide or desire to change genders. You’re free. Do your thing.
5) You cannot make me, or otherwise legislate that I support it.
6) I support you as whatever you think you are, and as a human being (assuming, of course, that you think you’re human).
7) However, it defies the Laws of Logic to say (for example) that children should be 21 to buy a firearm, because they’re too young, otherwise, but a five-year-old is old enough to learn about Gender Fluidity. This is absurd and borderline psychotic.
I have written on this subject already. The United Methodist Church is in the midst of a split related to this subject. So, I will handle both topics here.
1) I don’t care about this subject. Again, I support you in whatever you decide, as a human being.
2) You cannot make me, or otherwise legislate that I support it. You’re free. Do your thing.
a) Concerning legislation – here, and also the Gender Fluidity heading, are wrought with real-world issues when it comes to legislation. There are inherent problems if a biological man, dressing and/or thinking that he’s a woman, goes into the women’s restroom. It has certainly happened for years, even before it was a political/legal matter. And just as certain is the fact that problems have occurred in certain cases on certain accounts.
3) In the UMC, the denomination is splitting over the ordination of homosexuals. I have written about this.
a) Each pastor, each local church, each person in that local church, and each Annual Conference (usually divided by state) must decide if they will remain in the UMC (ordaining homosexuals) or leave to join the newly forming “Traditional Methodist Church” or various other churches of their choosing.
b) I am remaining in the UMC. I am assuming “freedom” in their stance. If I am wrong in that assumption, then I will reconsider.
c) Before this decades-old debate, it was the question of ordaining women. Ordination is a recognition of God’s calling on and in a person by the community. Who am I to question someone else’s call, or the recognition of a community? The homosexual issue begs the same questions.
d) Whether or not I like homosexuality is irrelevant. I support the person. You’re free. Do your thing.
“Do Not Bother Me with These Things Any Longer “ – The Apostle Paul
In closing, let me just say that, though I am (hyper) critical of many things, including The Church, I am an optimist as a rule. Pessimism aggravates me and is unproductive. My intent, here, is not to be negative. I desire only to cast the Vision of God’s Worldview as I understand it. Again, I do not claim that I’m right (though I think I am), but I live and walk-out life according to that understanding.
Regardless of whether or not we are right or wrong, good or bad – or whatever other value judgments society assigns to us – I understand “Church” to be a community; multi-cultural and of varying ideologies. It is the Resurrected Christ who avails his own faith to each individual, to live-out life for living in community.
Abandon counterfeit religions – the Cult of Politics, the Cult of Covid, and Trump Worship, etc. Think for yourselves, in concert with the Spirit of Christ. Live to be of benefit to others, whatever that looks like.
You’re free. Do your thing.