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s/o Duggar - Christian deception, Coronavirus, dominionism, insurrection, etc


Katy
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2 hours ago, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:

Disclosure: Read this post knowing I am an conservative Evangelical whose background is SBC, Independent Baptist (not IFB), Bible Churches, and Calvary Chapel (briefly.)

All of this is accelerating the rise of the Dones.  Dones are Christians leaving organized religion, but haven't left the faith. Often they're counted among the Nones, but only in surveys that aren't well written. Figuring out how to reengage them into a local community of believers is the tricky part. I'm almost Done myself and I spend time thinking and reading about it. 

I think an important component will be figuring a version of Christianity that isn't so denominationally oriented, but has more depth than the typical Evangelical non-denom church, which isn't easy to do in practical terms because practices are inherently...well... practical. The American church as a whole, particularly non-liturgical branches, are more removed from the idea of the Church Universal. Evangelicalism is so very very new compared to other branches and is so focused on separating itself out from other branches that there's no sense of unity among the different branches of Christianity here. It's critical that all believers understand The Spirit has been regenerating people in different branches of Christianity and we're all part of the same Body of Christ.

That's a huge hurdle to get over and it's going to matter as this Christendom comes crumbling down like it did in much of Western Europe. Americans have the advantage of living in a culture that highly values adaptability and innovation, so those left in the faith who aren't staunch traditionlists (I defined that upthread in a previous post) are better positioned adapt than people in other more conformist cultures.

Yes.

I think the challenge will be to find ways to make doing church familiar and user-friendly without just replicating everything all over. Evangelical churches are heavily dependent on programming, and Dones and those of us that are pretty close to Done are sometimes tired of that. I really think the church we're leaving had excellent programming, but I had a hard time fitting in with a ministry (I don't think churches know what to do with INTJs, lol). I was finally getting there--I was making a job I genuinely liked my own and finding ways to contribute that other people wouldn't have wanted to bother with. I don't even know how to start somewhere else. My first five years in a new church are a like a perpetual awkward stage of trying to not fall into a ministry that's a disorganized mess or stepping on toes with ideas (some churches are rather allergic to ideas).

1 hour ago, Faith-manor said:

Good point about the dones. 3 of my 4 adult children are dones. They are skeptical that anything could woo them back to organized Christianity.

I do think that if more dones were more easily identified, it might just maybe give the American church a wake up call just to see how many they have alienated. But then again, they might just circle the wagons, claim the no true Scotsman, and keep right on chugging along in their mindsets.

They will be too busy shoring up their programming to want to woo people back to church. They'll circle the wagons--after all, if Christians are stumbling because of other Christians, they don't really have their eyes on God, or so the meme goes that's been shared widely this year. Ultimately, loyalty to the programming and purposes of the local church is what keeps the doors open. I assume the Dones drop out of things slowly and just slink away, but maybe it's more pronounced. At the church before this one, we did leave fairly abruptly (wasn't abrupt enough for me) when I finally had enough data to convince my husband the ship was being steered by a control freak who changed his story a lot. DH had to catch him in a rewriting of the truth, and it happened when I asked a very public question. We were the only people who seemed to notice the answer was not consistent with past events--it was like we were the only frogs that knew the water temperature had risen slowly. I think the pastor truly believed the answer he gave and was not lying on purpose. 

Sometimes the programming is so carefully woven together that it's a hedgerow intended to keep out questions, innovation, and drama/trouble pre-emptively, but it's so tightly woven that there are no cracks through which someone can communicate real problems preventing them from supporting a ministry effectively. No one wants to know that the ship is leaking. If you see leaks, your eyes are off God, even if you have a proposed solution, and even if the leak is simple and easy to fix. The line is "We're all volunteers, and we're doing the best we can," but I'll add in, "[...but only asking certain people's opinion about what needs to change.]" 

35 minutes ago, Happy2BaMom said:

One of my favorite authors once wrote, "An idea is something you have. An ideology has you." Which pretty much sums up the state of a significant portion of Christianity, or certainly evangelical Christianity, in the US.

I think this is a good way to summarize how nationalism (and other problematic trends) went from being something a few people leaned toward or gave a nod to (plenty of churches honor veterans, for example) to something that is suddenly accepted, and it didn't go through a questioned/debated stage for some reason--it was just in the air. As Not_a_Number has said in past threads (I'll probably mess this up a bit--sorry!), where is your intellectual/evidence boundary that says you'll go this far and not any farther? I think many people lack those boundaries. Mine are sometimes vague if I try to articulate them (this, but not that, but my reasons are more like a spidey-sense), but when a boundary is crossed, I can't get away fast enough. 

Someone else said on another thread, "To the pure, all things are pure." I think this is also true. There are people with beliefs that look exactly the same on paper, but how they live, how they think, and how they use those beliefs to make decisions show that they are not really the same beliefs, and in the past, it's not always been necessary to examine all the little details unless you were spending lots of time with the people who were like you but not. You could just assume fairly safely that they were more like you than not and not read things into it. 

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Posted (edited)

My guess is some Dones slink away slowly, some are more abrupt. For my kids it was abrupt. The church at the time did not see it at first, we were traveling for the summer and eldest came back in time to move to the dorms. Then it became obvious when he never attended on his breaks, nor the summer after, and the same for the next one. Our 3rd had just a few friends at youth, dh and I had our feet out the door and were rarely there. He sporadically attended his senior year of high school, and then was gone, gone, gone. Then I took my job in community fine arts, and began singing at the piano for pay at area churches according to what fit my schedule, and at mostly progressive churches so that became pretty obvious. But, I play piano for pay (substitute pianist) at some local churches who have an entire generation missing plus most of the next. They graduate high school and never attend church again, and their parents as well or a large percentage of those parents. I am meeting more and more people who "stuck out church" because they thought it was good for their kids, but were otherwise exhausted by political nonsense, programming, guilt trips, legalism and finger pointing, and they were just profoundly relieved when their last child became an adult, and they dropped out of church entirely. I almost feel like we need some sort of support group, maybe two. One for the Dones who want to navigate maintaining faith outside of organized church, and one off the Nones who are just beyond faith entirely. It is a VERY painful process! I can attest to that, and often a very lonely road. The modern church could learn a thing or two from listening to both groups. They might gain some good wisdom.

Edited by Faith-manor
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re how safety-seeking engenders othering; and if you have to do it for two lives, you have to do it twice as vehemently

15 hours ago, Rosie_0801 said:

People are afraid and when they have to fear both for this life and the next, it is unsurprising they will look for ways to be right and safe. Unfortunately, that requires other people to be wrong and unsafe in comparison. "Pretty much everything in moderation" isn't dogmatic enough to make dogma seeking people feel safe.

Huh.

That is very thought-provoking.

 

 

13 hours ago, J-rap said:

I agree it is really disturbing and shocking.  Possibly the most disturbing thing I've ever experienced in my lifetime.  I've read so much about WWII and how the German Christians were suckered into supporting Hitler and wondered how in the world they could be caught up in all that.  Wow.  And now here we are.  I honestly can't quite articulate the root of it, except I think it was decades in the making.  Really sweet people I love have been caught up in this.  I'd recommend the book The Myth of a Christian Nation by Greg Boyd.  He is my pastor and I'm so fortunate to be part of that community.

Oh my. Please let him know that there's a circle of East Coast progressive Jewish religious-not-spiritual * close-readers-of-text who are his major fans.

 

 

 

* yes, that really is what I mean, LOL

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Faith-manor said:

In the Methodist church, we have traditionalist churches calling out the progressive churches and claiming that anyone who attends a progressive church is not a true Christian. That denomination will split over the issue of homosexual ordination and gay marriage in the coming year, though this has been an issue with them since the 70's. The difference is that at one time, in general, churches sought to be more reconciliation - agree to disagree in love - and now it is just vicious name calling on both sides, and has even descended into family against family in some places and again " not a real Christian" statements being used.

I recently read about this upcoming split (vote to be next year) because a large/megachurch in a major metro area just decided to disaffiliate with the main Methodist group. They say that it's because their pastor was told to reassign without warning (to a position on the race and reconciliation group), but the pastor doesn't want to leave his current position (in it since 2016), so he and this huge church are just breaking away. To me, it seems like there may be more there than grumpiness over a reassignment so I will be interested to see if they join the breakaway group once it is formed ("new, conservative “traditionalist” Methodist denominations. Churches and conferences would be able to vote to join those new denominations and take their properties with them.")

I don't know much about Methodist set-up but I was pretty shocked to read about a pastor and his megachurches (2 locations) just quickly deciding to "leave", especially with these plans already in the works for the denomination at large.

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10 minutes ago, Stacia said:

I recently read about this upcoming split (vote to be next year) because a large/megachurch in a major metro area just decided to disaffiliate with the main Methodist group. They say that it's because their pastor was told to reassign without warning (to a position on the race and reconciliation group), but the pastor doesn't want to leave his current position (in it since 2016), so he and this huge church are just breaking away. To me, it seems like there may be more there than grumpiness over a reassignment so I will be interested to see if they join the breakaway group once it is formed ("new, conservative “traditionalist” Methodist denominations. Churches and conferences would be able to vote to join those new denominations and take their properties with them.")

I don't know much about Methodist set-up but I was pretty shocked to read about a pastor and his megachurches (2 locations) just quickly deciding to "leave", especially with these plans already in the works for the denomination at large.

Mega churches and mega church pastors have an uneasy relationship with the UMC. The denomination is structured in a way that should avoid the cult of personality around pastors, but a whole bunch of factors including longer average appointments and changing relationship to media and social media have eroded that somewhat.  The guy you mention wouldn’t be the first to decide that the fact that a church grew huge while he was its senior pastor means that he knows more than everyone else and is therefore exempt from his ordination vows when he disagrees with the bishop and cabinet.

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13 hours ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

Yes, me too, but I've become aware that I just wasn't paying attention before because it didn't affect me. 

I think you're absolutely right.  

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I've been saying for the past year that American Christians will be surprised and angry when they realize how much 'prestige' they've lost due to their affiliation with Trump and terrible response to COVID. I many of these people are fine with the Dones leaving. They weren't "pure" enough anyway, right? But, I think they fail to appreciate that the Dones and the Nones is what provided them the status of a majority religion. They want their cake and to eat it too, to be "pure" but retain the prestige that goes along with being the majority religion. 

My theory about my old church (Orthodoxy) and my new church (Roman Catholicism) is that the bishops (in both) are completely clueless about what is happening on the ground. They don't know how divided people and churches actually are. They don't realize how many of their flock have been radicalized by online influencers. Orthodoxy and Catholicism are supposed to be hierarchical but what has happened is that these influencers are completely outside of the hierarchy but have more influence than the bishops on new converts, people in the pews, and the clergy themselves. Many Orthodox priests completely ignored the instructions from their bishops about COVID precautions because they heard from these online influencers that masks were evil and COVID was a hoax, etc. So these people, who pledge obedience to their bishops, decided to ignore their bishops. That's huge. 

In American Catholicism today, there is almost a de facto schism. A good number of 'faithful' Catholics believe our pope is a communist or a socialist and can be completely ignored. We have a bishop who is trying to set up a commune of "good Catholics" in his diocese who writes on Twitter that it is immoral to get the COVID vaccines. A group of bishops are threatening to withhold communion from President Biden, when a slight majority of American Catholics voted for Biden. I've been told by priests and laypeople that my vote for Biden means that I shouldn't receive communion. 

 

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4 hours ago, Seasider too said:

I read Bonhoeffer last year and had the same thoughts about the American church going the way of the pre WW2 German church. But also, ironically, smh over the fact that the author of Bonhoeffer apparently jumped off the ledge himself. 

You know, I almost went back and added that Bonhoeffer book to my post!  I read it last year as well.  I learned a lot from it and I'm a huge fan of Bonhoeffer now.  He seemed to have a very keen insight at a very young age, and could see the big picture when few others could.  A (still living!) pastor you might like is Rob Schenck.  He was more widely known as the pastor for the far-right legislators, for years...  He did an about-face and is now president of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute.  (His book Costly Grace is interesting.)  

And yeah, it's really baffling that the author of the Bonhoeffer book is now completely sucked in to the conspiracy theories going around and such.  I'm glad I didn't know that until after I read the book!

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54 minutes ago, Stacia said:

I recently read about this upcoming split (vote to be next year) because a large/megachurch in a major metro area just decided to disaffiliate with the main Methodist group. They say that it's because their pastor was told to reassign without warning (to a position on the race and reconciliation group), but the pastor doesn't want to leave his current position (in it since 2016), so he and this huge church are just breaking away. To me, it seems like there may be more there than grumpiness over a reassignment so I will be interested to see if they join the breakaway group once it is formed ("new, conservative “traditionalist” Methodist denominations. Churches and conferences would be able to vote to join those new denominations and take their properties with them.")

I don't know much about Methodist set-up but I was pretty shocked to read about a pastor and his megachurches (2 locations) just quickly deciding to "leave", especially with these plans already in the works for the denomination at large.

I grew up Baptist, but when my mother was pursuing ordination, she flirted with becoming a Methodist so she could have more job opportunities (and was a Methodist children's minister for a long while during div school, which was super lucrative for me as a teen babysitter, lol) so I know a bit about this - and from the perspective that it's odd since it's not the way churches work in other denominations I've been in. But in the UMC, there's a good bit of job security that you don't see in a lot of Protestant denominations where the churches have complete or nearly complete autonomy to hire who they like. Methodists purposefully shuffle ministers around, in part to keep ministers from getting more attached to their congregations than they are to the church hierarchy as a whole. Like Danae said - it's an uneasy relationship. 

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1 hour ago, Pam in CT said:

re how safety-seeking engenders othering; and if you have to do it for two lives, you have to do it twice as vehemently

Huh.

That is very thought-provoking.

 

 

Oh my. Please let him know that there's a circle of East Coast progressive Jewish religious-not-spiritual * close-readers-of-text who are his major fans.

 

 

 

* yes, that really is what I mean, LOL

Oh my goodness!  I WILL let him know!  I know that when he hears things like that, it really means a lot.

For the life of me though, I can't quite understand what religious-not-spiritual means!  🤣   I feel so dense!!   Does that mean you support the philosophy of religious practice but don't hold specific spiritual views?

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59 minutes ago, Stacia said:

I recently read about this upcoming split (vote to be next year) because a large/megachurch in a major metro area just decided to disaffiliate with the main Methodist group. They say that it's because their pastor was told to reassign without warning (to a position on the race and reconciliation group), but the pastor doesn't want to leave his current position (in it since 2016), so he and this huge church are just breaking away. To me, it seems like there may be more there than grumpiness over a reassignment so I will be interested to see if they join the breakaway group once it is formed ("new, conservative “traditionalist” Methodist denominations. Churches and conferences would be able to vote to join those new denominations and take their properties with them.")

I don't know much about Methodist set-up but I was pretty shocked to read about a pastor and his megachurches (2 locations) just quickly deciding to "leave", especially with these plans already in the works for the denomination at large.

Well, it is the stalling. As I like to call it, kicking the can down the road for 40+ years. People are tired of it, and enough is enough. So then the pandemic came along and 2020 general conference was canceled, then the pandemic kept going so 2021 was canceled, and now it will be 2022 before any decisions are made, and it is still dicey over what decisions will be made. The larger churches are tired of sitting on the fence wondering. The Michigan Conference will absolutely go progressive or remain, but many of the small, rural churches are traditionalist and will leave to be in the conservative Methodist denomination. Unfortunately, many of them cannot make it financially without a robust organization behind them that has enough money to carry little churches while requiring very little contribution. So I think there will be a wave of rural Methodist churches combining or simply closing. I don't know if the new denomination will last long or not.

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37 minutes ago, Danae said:

Mega churches and mega church pastors have an uneasy relationship with the UMC. The denomination is structured in a way that should avoid the cult of personality around pastors, but a whole bunch of factors including longer average appointments and changing relationship to media and social media have eroded that somewhat.  The guy you mention wouldn’t be the first to decide that the fact that a church grew huge while he was its senior pastor means that he knows more than everyone else and is therefore exempt from his ordination vows when he disagrees with the bishop and cabinet.

The article said he had been there since 2016 as pastor. I don't know if he was there prior to that (in some other position), but I do know it has been a megachurch for about 20 years, if not more.

Megachurches, no matter the denomination, seem to be a whole 'nother thing. I am not sure how they typically fit into their hierarchical structures....

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5 minutes ago, Faith-manor said:

The Michigan Conference will absolutely go progressive or remain, but many of the small, rural churches are traditionalist and will leave to be in the conservative Methodist denomination. Unfortunately, many of them cannot make it financially without a robust organization behind them that has enough money to carry little churches while requiring very little contribution. So I think there will be a wave of rural Methodist churches combining or simply closing. I don't know if the new denomination will last long or not.

The article indicated it was likely this megachurch will be in the separate conservative branch, if and when it happens. So I guess that will be one big moneymaker in the group.

https://religionnews.com/2021/04/26/prominent-atlanta-area-church-leaves-united-methodist-church-over-pastors-reassignment/

 

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1 minute ago, Stacia said:

The article said he had been there since 2016 as pastor. I don't know if he was there prior to that (in some other position), but I do know it has been a megachurch for about 20 years, if not more.

Megachurches, no matter the denomination, seem to be a whole 'nother thing. I am not sure how they typically fit into their hierarchical structures....

In the UMC they tend to have a lot of influence because they pay into each conference at very high apportionment levels. Money talks. Bishops have a tendency to pander to the largest churches, and being appointed to them is a sign of exceptional favor from the bishop, being moved away from one in a move that is not upward mobility or at least lateral is a sign of discontent with the bishop and district superintendent. It is unfortunately highly political these days. Dh's closest buddy is a UMC pastor of 20+ years so he gets the inside scoop. Dh is also now a Done, but back when he was still holding on, he was hoping to be able to land at a UMC with similar beliefs to his. But the split is going to be ugly, and where we are currently located, there won't be a denomination that fits the criteria. I think he would actually do okay in the Episcopal Church, but the nearest one is an hour away, and especially in the winter, he isn't going to drive that. Maybe when we move to Huntsville he will find an Episcopal. I doubt there would be a UU in the Bible Belt, and I don't think I as a mere Deist would be welcome to warm a pew with him at any other type of church.

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15 minutes ago, Farrar said:

But in the UMC, there's a good bit of job security that you don't see in a lot of Protestant denominations where the churches have complete or nearly complete autonomy to hire who they like. Methodists purposefully shuffle ministers around, in part to keep ministers from getting more attached to their congregations than they are to the church hierarchy as a whole. Like Danae said - it's an uneasy relationship. 

Makes sense to help avoid a cult of personality.

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1 minute ago, Stacia said:

The article indicated it was likely this megachurch will be in the separate conservative branch, if and when it happens. So I guess that will be one big moneymaker in the group.

https://religionnews.com/2021/04/26/prominent-atlanta-area-church-leaves-united-methodist-church-over-pastors-reassignment/

 

Yep. Obviously it is just going to be a mess. Some are going on way, some the other, and everybody up in arms. Ugh. I grew up UMC, and had things worked out differently in my life, might still be there. It is disconcerting to watch for sure, and the really sad thing is this is going to be one of those house divided against itself scenarios because parents and adult kids are divided, churches are divided though some are a little more staunchly one way or another. I know UMC families that are just losing it on each other. So much for grace, mercy, and love. Sigh.

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21 minutes ago, J-rap said:

You know, I almost went back and added that Bonhoeffer book to my post!  I read it last year as well.  I learned a lot from it and I'm a huge fan of Bonhoeffer now.  He seemed to have a very keen insight at a very young age, and could see the big picture when few others could.  A (still living!) pastor you might like is Rob Schenck.  He was more widely known as the pastor for the far-right legislators, for years...  He did an about-face and is now president of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute.  (His book Costly Grace is interesting.)  

And yeah, it's really baffling that the author of the Bonhoeffer book is now completely sucked in to the conspiracy theories going around and such.  I'm glad I didn't know that until after I read the book!

I've never read this book but I've heard that there are some big problems with it. 

Quote

This same simplistic approach governs Metaxas's writing about German theology and about the church struggle under National Socialism. He flippantly compares the theological controversy between Harnack and Barth to the conflict between latter-day Darwinians and proponents of Intelligent Design. He presents the Confessing Church as if it were an American denomination founded by Bonhoeffer. Indeed, he describes the battles of American fundamentalists and of the Confessing Church as essentially the same. Bonhoeffer, Metaxas tells us, "equated the fundamentalists with the Confessing Church. Here they were fighting against the corrupting influences of the theologians at Union and Riverside, and at home the fight was against the Reich church."

HIjacking Bonhoeffer

Quote

Little mistakes cast light on vast tracts of incomprehension; most objectionable is perhaps his dangerously simplistic portrayal of Nazis as godless liberals and German dissidents as Bible-believing Christians. Had Metaxas done the most casual background reading on the so-called Church Struggle, he would have learned, one would hope, that Bonhoeffer eventually despaired of the Confessing Church movement because it refused to speak forthrightly against the Nazi government. The failure of even dissident Christians to mount a meaningful opposition to Hitler was the context within which Bonhoeffer agreed to take part in the conspiracy alongside a cadre of humanists, atheists, and the disillusioned “children of the church.”

Another point worth mentioning: In portraying Bonhoeffer as a conservative Christian who forcibly denounces humanism, Metaxas blithely ignores Bonhoeffer’s abiding loyalty to the Western humanistic tradition and to the liberal ideals of toleration, justice, humanity, and reconciliation. Late in his life, with the nation in ruins, Bonhoeffer spoke of his great joy in finding once again nourishment in that great scholarly tradition of the nineteenth century, and he affirmed the “polyphony of life” and “religionless Christianity.” But Metaxas dismisses these fragmentary and luminous meditations from prison as little more than fodder for the death of God movement of the late 1960s, explaining lamely that Bonhoeffer never intended the writings to be taken seriously.

Eric Metaxes's Bonhoeffer Delusions

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5 minutes ago, Faith-manor said:

Yep. Obviously it is just going to be a mess. Some are going on way, some the other, and everybody up in arms. Ugh. I grew up UMC, and had things worked out differently in my life, might still be there. It is disconcerting to watch for sure, and the really sad thing is this is going to be one of those house divided against itself scenarios because parents and adult kids are divided, churches are divided though some are a little more staunchly one way or another. I know UMC families that are just losing it on each other. So much for grace, mercy, and love. Sigh.

That's sad. My mother grew up in the Methodist church and my grandmother was a loyal Methodist her entire adult life. She passed away about 10 years ago and I'm glad she didn't live to see this. 

As an outsider, it always seemed to me that the Methodists were like the Episcopals but middle class. The Episcopals were more upper middle class. 

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31 minutes ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

A good number of 'faithful' Catholics believe our pope is a communist or a socialist and can be completely ignored. 

I had wondered about that as I have seen statements over the past few years and was surprised because I thought the Pope was supposedly the infallible leader of the (Western) Catholic church?

Protestant churches having dust-ups over leadership doesn't seem that strange or out-of-the norm to me; unusual maybe but it does happen. But Catholics? I had thought (at least in my younger years) they toed the line for the Pope.

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17 minutes ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

I've been saying for the past year that American Christians will be surprised and angry when they realize how much 'prestige' they've lost due to their affiliation with Trump and terrible response to COVID. I many of these people are fine with the Dones leaving. They weren't "pure" enough anyway, right? But, I think they fail to appreciate that the Dones and the Nones is what provided them the status of a majority religion. They want their cake and to eat it too, to be "pure" but retain the prestige that goes along with being the majority religion. 

My theory about my old church (Orthodoxy) and my new church (Roman Catholicism) is that the bishops (in both) are completely clueless about what is happening on the ground. They don't know how divided people and churches actually are. They don't realize how many of their flock have been radicalized by online influencers. Orthodoxy and Catholicism are supposed to be hierarchical but what has happened is that these influencers are completely outside of the hierarchy but have more influence than the bishops on new converts, people in the pews, and the clergy themselves. Many Orthodox priests completely ignored the instructions from their bishops about COVID precautions because they heard from these online influencers that masks were evil and COVID was a hoax, etc. So these people, who pledge obedience to their bishops, decided to ignore their bishops. That's huge. 

In American Catholicism today, there is almost a de facto schism. A good number of 'faithful' Catholics believe our pope is a communist or a socialist and can be completely ignored. We have a bishop who is trying to set up a commune of "good Catholics" in his diocese who writes on Twitter that it is immoral to get the COVID vaccines. A group of bishops are threatening to withhold communion from President Biden, when a slight majority of American Catholics voted for Biden. I've been told by priests and laypeople that my vote for Biden means that I shouldn't receive communion. 

 

I'm aware of a lot of this stuff, and it makes me sad.  My dh is Catholic (although he doesn't attend the Catholic church anymore), and I've learned so much from my exposure to the Catholic church as a result.   At least in our state, the Catholic church is even now the community known for supporting so many social justice issues and really focusing on the poor, sacrificing for others, and making their faith their life philosophy.   But at the same time, it's been really difficult for the church to break out of certain long-held doctrine... just like any other denomination I suppose.  

We went through our pre-marriage counseling sessions through the Catholic church, and the whole way, they were very thoughtful and inclusive and welcoming to me (a Lutheran!).  It seemed so against their general philosophy to not allow me, a faithful-but-not-Catholic Christian, to receive communion with my dh at the end.

It's interesting how friends and relatives of mine who do still consider themselves Catholic are quite "progressive" and do not support everything the Catholic church espouses.   

 

 

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1 minute ago, Stacia said:

I had wondered about that as I have seen statements over the past few years and was surprised because I thought the Pope was supposedly the infallible leader of the (Western) Catholic church?

Protestant churches having dust-ups over leadership doesn't seem that strange or out-of-the norm to me; unusual maybe but it does happen. But Catholics? I had thought (at least in my younger years) they toed the line for the Pope.

It's complicated. The last two popes were conservative and conservative Catholics were always telling everyone that they had to listen to the pope. Now the tide has shifted and they hate it. 

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13 minutes ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

This same simplistic approach governs Metaxas's writing about German theology and about the church struggle under National Socialism. He flippantly compares the theological controversy between Harnack and Barth to the conflict between latter-day Darwinians and proponents of Intelligent Design. He presents the Confessing Church as if it were an American denomination founded by Bonhoeffer. Indeed, he describes the battles of American fundamentalists and of the Confessing Church as essentially the same. Bonhoeffer, Metaxas tells us, "equated the fundamentalists with the Confessing Church. Here they were fighting against the corrupting influences of the theologians at Union and Riverside, and at home the fight was against the Reich church."

Interesting.  I'd have to re-read the book again to pick up on this.  From my memory though, I had thought that even Bonhoeffer became disillusioned with the Confessing Church because they lacked the courage in the end to do the right thing.

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16 minutes ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

Little mistakes cast light on vast tracts of incomprehension; most objectionable is perhaps his dangerously simplistic portrayal of Nazis as godless liberals and German dissidents as Bible-believing Christians. Had Metaxas done the most casual background reading on the so-called Church Struggle, he would have learned, one would hope, that Bonhoeffer eventually despaired of the Confessing Church movement because it refused to speak forthrightly against the Nazi government. The failure of even dissident Christians to mount a meaningful opposition to Hitler was the context within which Bonhoeffer agreed to take part in the conspiracy alongside a cadre of humanists, atheists, and the disillusioned “children of the church.”

Another point worth mentioning: In portraying Bonhoeffer as a conservative Christian who forcibly denounces humanism, Metaxas blithely ignores Bonhoeffer’s abiding loyalty to the Western humanistic tradition and to the liberal ideals of toleration, justice, humanity, and reconciliation. Late in his life, with the nation in ruins, Bonhoeffer spoke of his great joy in finding once again nourishment in that great scholarly tradition of the nineteenth century, and he affirmed the “polyphony of life” and “religionless Christianity.” But Metaxas dismisses these fragmentary and luminous meditations from prison as little more than fodder for the death of God movement of the late 1960s, explaining lamely that Bonhoeffer never intended the writings to be taken seriously.

Again, it's been a year since I've read this, but my memory holds this information differently.  In my memory, it was the traditional fundamentalists who were wanting to hold on to their faith at all costs, even through politics, and who held on to the Nazi party out of fear of change.  And my understanding of the German dissidents he wrote about and who called themselves Christians were Christians who wrestled with their faith and what it meant to really be Christ-like in their choices/actions.  (And I guess I don't even know for sure what bible-believing means anymore!  It seems to have such different connotations!)

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Posted (edited)
20 minutes ago, Stacia said:

I had wondered about that as I have seen statements over the past few years and was surprised because I thought the Pope was supposedly the infallible leader of the (Western) Catholic church?

Protestant churches having dust-ups over leadership doesn't seem that strange or out-of-the norm to me; unusual maybe but it does happen. But Catholics? I had thought (at least in my younger years) they toed the line for the Pope.

Not Catholic, but I have worked in nursing for a couple Catholic hospitals and even a stint in a Convent for a while (as a nurse, not a nun).  The ones I worked with were mostly of Irish decent, and extremely liberal about everything except abortion. Liberation Theology liberal. The Pope is human, and is considered infallible only when interpreting doctrine.  There's some official language that Catholics use for that, but that's what it means from a protestant perspective.  The thing is many at least American devout Catholics disagree with the Pope all the time, but when you ask they say that the point is that unity is more important than being right.  Which is the opposite of the protestant point of view, which has Church splits over every doctrinal issue there is.  I wonder how all of these recent evangelical conversions feel about that, or if they even understand.

Edited by Katy
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32 minutes ago, Faith-manor said:

In the UMC they tend to have a lot of influence because they pay into each conference at very high apportionment levels. Money talks. Bishops have a tendency to pander to the largest churches, and being appointed to them is a sign of exceptional favor from the bishop, being moved away from one in a move that is not upward mobility or at least lateral is a sign of discontent with the bishop and district superintendent. It is unfortunately highly political these days. Dh's closest buddy is a UMC pastor of 20+ years so he gets the inside scoop. Dh is also now a Done, but back when he was still holding on, he was hoping to be able to land at a UMC with similar beliefs to his. But the split is going to be ugly, and where we are currently located, there won't be a denomination that fits the criteria. I think he would actually do okay in the Episcopal Church, but the nearest one is an hour away, and especially in the winter, he isn't going to drive that. Maybe when we move to Huntsville he will find an Episcopal. I doubt there would be a UU in the Bible Belt, and I don't think I as a mere Deist would be welcome to warm a pew with him at any other type of church.

There are UUs here in the South. 

Especially the bigger cities have a larger variety of people than you might think exist. Nashville I know has gotten a lot more cosmopolitan .

A LOT of people from the West Coast are relocating out this way.

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2 minutes ago, fairfarmhand said:

There are UUs here in the South. 

Especially the bigger cities have a larger variety of people than you might think exist. Nashville I know has gotten a lot more cosmopolitan .

A LOT of people from the West Coast are relocating out this way.

Thank you for responding. Nashville once in a while would definitely be doable.

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3 minutes ago, Katy said:

The Pope is human, and is considered only infallible when interpreting doctrine.  There's some official language that Catholics use for that, but that's what it means from a protestant perspective.  The thing is many at least American devout Catholics disagree with the Pope all the time, but when you ask they say that the point is that unity is more important than being right.  Which is the opposite of the protestant point of view, which has Church splits over every doctrinal issue there is.  I wonder how all of these recent evangelical conversions feel about that, or if they even understand.

Thanks for the clarification re: him being infallible when interpreting doctrine. That is what I understood but didn't say very well.

I do wonder if there will be a shift or split coming (not immediately but are the seeds being sown?), similar to what is going on in various Protestant denominations.

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8 minutes ago, Faith-manor said:

Thank you for responding. Nashville once in a while would definitely be doable.

Atlanta also has multiple UU churches. I think one of them is one of the largest in the US.

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3 minutes ago, Stacia said:

Thanks for the clarification re: him being infallible when interpreting doctrine. That is what I understood but didn't say very well.

I do wonder if there will be a shift or split coming (not immediately but are the seeds being sown?), similar to what is going on in various Protestant denominations.

I doubt it, because the converts don't have any power.  I think it's more likely they'll leave or come around.

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2 minutes ago, Stacia said:

Thanks for the clarification re: him being infallible when interpreting doctrine. That is what I understood but didn't say very well.

I do wonder if there will be a shift or split coming (not immediately but are the seeds being sown?), similar to what is going on in various Protestant denominations.

There has already been splits in the Catholic Church over liturgy. There are groups who believe there is no pope, sedevacantists. Then there in the Society of St. Pius X who operate outside of the hierarchy. I won't get into whether they are in schism or not. They claim allegiance to the pope but operate independently. There are also independent Catholic churches. 

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1 hour ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

I've been saying for the past year that American Christians will be surprised and angry when they realize how much 'prestige' they've lost due to their affiliation with Trump and terrible response to COVID. I many of these people are fine with the Dones leaving. They weren't "pure" enough anyway, right? But, I think they fail to appreciate that the Dones and the Nones is what provided them the status of a majority religion. They want their cake and to eat it too, to be "pure" but retain the prestige that goes along with being the majority religion. 

My theory about my old church (Orthodoxy) and my new church (Roman Catholicism) is that the bishops (in both) are completely clueless about what is happening on the ground. They don't know how divided people and churches actually are. They don't realize how many of their flock have been radicalized by online influencers. Orthodoxy and Catholicism are supposed to be hierarchical but what has happened is that these influencers are completely outside of the hierarchy but have more influence than the bishops on new converts, people in the pews, and the clergy themselves. Many Orthodox priests completely ignored the instructions from their bishops about COVID precautions because they heard from these online influencers that masks were evil and COVID was a hoax, etc. So these people, who pledge obedience to their bishops, decided to ignore their bishops. That's huge. 

In American Catholicism today, there is almost a de facto schism. A good number of 'faithful' Catholics believe our pope is a communist or a socialist and can be completely ignored. We have a bishop who is trying to set up a commune of "good Catholics" in his diocese who writes on Twitter that it is immoral to get the COVID vaccines. A group of bishops are threatening to withhold communion from President Biden, when a slight majority of American Catholics voted for Biden. I've been told by priests and laypeople that my vote for Biden means that I shouldn't receive communion. 

 

I’m related to an orthodox archbishop; Ive known him my whole life.  He is literally one of the most clueless people I’ve ever met(very smart, but clueless about real life).  From what I hear from my still Orthodox relatives, there is a real disconnect between the church hierarchy and the parishioners, especially the younger ones.

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2 minutes ago, Katy said:

I doubt it, because the converts don't have any power.  I think it's more likely they'll leave or come around.

Are you talking about the Catholic Church here? If so, I disagree. Many of the big names in Catholic circles are converts. Catholics are generally kind of enamored of converts and they have a little more power because of that. 

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Posted (edited)
29 minutes ago, fairfarmhand said:

There are UUs here in the South. 

Especially the bigger cities have a larger variety of people than you might think exist. Nashville I know has gotten a lot more cosmopolitan .

A LOT of people from the West Coast are relocating out this way.

@Faith-manor
This phenomenon is known as The New South. We considered moving to Nashville. It's going on here in Raleigh-Durham too. They're university and tech cities with the world famous Research Triangle between them. It's why we're here. I read a statistic somewhere that 50% of people in NC 3 years ago weren't born in NC.  We're getting a lot of Northeastern retirees out of NY, NJ, and PA.  Women leading the Calvary Chapel Women's Bible Study in my city just outside Raleigh sound like mob bosses from the movies. We're also picking up conservative flight from CA, but a CA conservative usually has a more libertarian view of role of government which is decidedly different than Southern conservative view of the role of government as an instrument of societal change/maintenance. The traditionalist locals are losing. their. minds. over it.

Isn't Huntsville, AL a military research area? If so, those tend to pick up highly educated transplants from all over, which I assume would make the area more cosmopolitan and diverse in thought.

Edited by Homeschool Mom in AZ
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1 minute ago, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:



Isn't Huntsville, AL a military research area? If so, those tend to pick up highly educated transplants from all over, which I assume would make the area more cosmopolitan and diverse in thought.

I would hope so. But our daughter the not yet Done but getting on the edge has not been able to find anywhere to attend that wasn't polarized politically or being very much into scaring children with hell, fire, and brimstone. She would like for our grandsons to have some church activities, but the children's ministries of several churches she has tried have been on the scary side for someone who does not believe children get sent to hell for eternity just for being kids. She actually doesn't even believe in hell for humans, more of just a separation or ceasing to exist kind of thing. This makes it quite hard to fit into so many churches. But, you inspired me to go look, and a new UU church has been formed on the sight of the former Highlands UMC. I am going to encourage her to give it a try. I was pleased to see on their website some community service that I would be quite interested in when we move! 

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It's not just big cities that have UU churches in the Bible Belt. A friend is on a UU church board that's in a small college town in NC. They're really all over the place. Obviously there are more in big cities, but most midsize cities and college towns also have a small UU congregation in much of the entire country - even the south.

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Posted (edited)

re what "religious-not-spiritual" means

2 hours ago, J-rap said:

Oh my goodness!  I WILL let him know!  I know that when he hears things like that, it really means a lot.

For the life of me though, I can't quite understand what religious-not-spiritual means!  🤣   I feel so dense!!   Does that mean you support the philosophy of religious practice but don't hold specific spiritual views?

Yeah, it doesn't much lend itself to interweb-scaled soundbites, LOL.  The most succinct working version is actually Kellyanne Conway's description of taking constructs & texts "seriously, not literally." 

It's hard to convey even in long form and even in person; and yet harder, I think, to people whose own relationship to their respective traditions weights creed over deed / belief over community.

 

Re Greg Boyle -- I first heard him interviewed on NPR, then read one of his early books, then actually met IRL a young man whose life trajectory he bent and ultimately transformed.  Then, years later, a dear IRL friend of mine (Republican and Catholic, FWIW with respect to the topics of this thread), told me that her church-based book group was reading Barking To the Choir, which I then read myself and thereafter pitched successfully to my synagogue-based book group.

Edited by Pam in CT
awkward wording
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1 hour ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

Are you talking about the Catholic Church here? If so, I disagree. Many of the big names in Catholic circles are converts. Catholics are generally kind of enamored of converts and they have a little more power because of that. 

Yes, but how many of them are clergy? How many are bishops? How many are cardinals?

Then there's the reality that American Catholics are a small minority within the global church. Pope Francis may not be to the liking of American conservatives, but he wasn't picked to appeal to them. His job is to shore up the RCC in the global south where American conservative political views are complete anathema.

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Just now, chiguirre said:

Yes, but how many of them are clergy? How many are bishops? How many are cardinals?

Then there's the reality that American Catholics are a small minority within the global church. Pope Francis may not be to the liking of American conservatives, but he wasn't picked to appeal to them. His job is to shore up the RCC in the global south where American conservative political views are complete anathema.

I'd guess that a good portion of American born clergy are converts but I can't define exactly what "good portion" means. I don't know about bishops and cardinals. 

 

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2 hours ago, Faith-manor said:

In the UMC they tend to have a lot of influence because they pay into each conference at very high apportionment levels. Money talks. Bishops have a tendency to pander to the largest churches, and being appointed to them is a sign of exceptional favor from the bishop, being moved away from one in a move that is not upward mobility or at least lateral is a sign of discontent with the bishop and district superintendent. It is unfortunately highly political these days. Dh's closest buddy is a UMC pastor of 20+ years so he gets the inside scoop. Dh is also now a Done, but back when he was still holding on, he was hoping to be able to land at a UMC with similar beliefs to his. But the split is going to be ugly, and where we are currently located, there won't be a denomination that fits the criteria. I think he would actually do okay in the Episcopal Church, but the nearest one is an hour away, and especially in the winter, he isn't going to drive that. Maybe when we move to Huntsville he will find an Episcopal. I doubt there would be a UU in the Bible Belt, and I don't think I as a mere Deist would be welcome to warm a pew with him at any other type of church.

If you are moving to Huntsville, AL, we do have a UU church here.  Huntsville is different from the rest of Alabama- though not so different that even the media discusses praying for victims of natural disasters or other bad things.

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58 minutes ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

I'd guess that a good portion of American born clergy are converts but I can't define exactly what "good portion" means. I don't know about bishops and cardinals. 

 

I googled and found this report from 2018:

https://www.usccb.org/news/2018/ordination-class-2018-cara-report-gives-reasons-hope-and-areas-growth

Quote

According to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate's (CARA) annual survey, in the Ordination Class of 2018, almost all responding ordinands reported being baptized Catholic as an infant (90 percent). Among those who became Catholic later in life, the average age of conversion was 26. Four in five responding ordinands (83 percent) report that both their parents were Catholic when they were children. One in three (35 percent) has or had a relative who is a priest or religious.

 

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Just now, chiguirre said:

Interesting. It probably varies somewhat by area. The majority of priests here are foreign born. That probably provides a kind of moderating influence in Catholic parishes. My experience with foreign born clergy is that they have very little interest in US politics. 

However, I still believe that converts have an outsized influence in the American Catholic Church. I agree that the American church is small within the worldwide church even though many American Catholics believe that their role is to "save" the Catholic Church. Many of the American Catholics with large platforms are converts. People like Taylor Marshall along with many of the integralists like Adrian Vermeule and Sohrab Ahmari. 

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2 minutes ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

Interesting. It probably varies somewhat by area. The majority of priests here are foreign born. That probably provides a kind of moderating influence in Catholic parishes. My experience with foreign born clergy is that they have very little interest in US politics. 

However, I still believe that converts have an outsized influence in the American Catholic Church. I agree that the American church is small within the worldwide church even though many American Catholics believe that their role is to "save" the Catholic Church. Many of the American Catholics with large platforms are converts. People like Taylor Marshall along with many of the integralists like Adrian Vermeule and Sohrab Ahmari. 

I'm not sure large platform on social media = actual influence among lay Catholics or among Church hierarchy.

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6 minutes ago, chiguirre said:

I'm not sure large platform on social media = actual influence among lay Catholics or among Church hierarchy.

I don't think they have much influence on Church hierarchy but many "serious" Catholics pay a lot of attention to these people. Using scare quotes here because there are many different ways of defining a serious Catholic. I'm sure there is a regional element here as well. 

I don't think I've ever attended any Catholic church that didn't recommend Scott Hahn books or use his books for RCIA or book groups. Hahn is a convert and is fairly extreme. 

My parents have friends who forward out videos from Taylor Marshall. 

I think many of the people in the pews are completely unaware of people like Marshall although I suspect most have been exposed to a Scott Hahn book. But once you get involved in church activities, you seem to get exposed to these things. DD attended Catholic school for 3 years and is going back next year. We received some articles from Crisis. 

Although it seems like the one with the most influence is Bishop Barron who is not a convert. 

 

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I didn't mean to turn this into a debate about the power of converts in American Catholicism. The larger issue is related to the power of the right-wing in American Catholicism. Online Catholicism, in particular, is very right-wing. I think many in the hierarchy write this off as, "just online." That's a standard thing I used to hear as an Orthodox Christian, i.e. there's online Orthodoxy and *real* Orthodoxy. But every offensive I read online I heard in coffee hour and every jerk online is also at church on Sunday so I think that's a cop-out. 

Like I wrote above, the hierarchy doesn't realize that the "faithful" Catholics often pay more attention to these online celebrities than to their bishops. 

Quote

“There’s this whole Catholic-right media landscape that functions like a Catholic Fox News,” says John Gehring, Catholic program director for the liberal advocacy organization Faith in Public Life. He notes that EWTN’s lead anchor, Raymond Arroyo, has a regular gig cohosting Laura Ingraham’s show on Fox. Just as that network radicalized Republicans, right-wing Catholic media did the same. “It’s this echo chamber where you hear a lot less about what Pope Francis is talking about in terms of economic inequality, racism, and environmental justice,” says Gehring, “and a whole lot about Viganò.” 

Deep State, Deep Church: How QAnon and Trumpism Have Infected the Catholic Church

Quote

This is where the true damage caused by reactionary Catholic media can be measured. Under the influence of certain Catholic figures who have strayed from Church teaching, denounced the Holy Father, and imposed their skewed political rhetoric, unsuspecting Catholics have embraced a dangerous amalgamation of an incomplete faith and a radical partisanship that has laid waste to common civility.

I’m willing to bet that my homeschool group is not the only one whose members have begun casually excommunicating each other over politics—not by a long shot.

My Catholic Circle is trying to Stop the Steal

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3 hours ago, Faith-manor said:

I would hope so. But our daughter the not yet Done but getting on the edge has not been able to find anywhere to attend that wasn't polarized politically or being very much into scaring children with hell, fire, and brimstone. She would like for our grandsons to have some church activities, but the children's ministries of several churches she has tried have been on the scary side for someone who does not believe children get sent to hell for eternity just for being kids. She actually doesn't even believe in hell for humans, more of just a separation or ceasing to exist kind of thing. This makes it quite hard to fit into so many churches. But, you inspired me to go look, and a new UU church has been formed on the sight of the former Highlands UMC. I am going to encourage her to give it a try. I was pleased to see on their website some community service that I would be quite interested in when we move! 

I would suggest she look at Episcopal or ELCA Lutheran churches as well.  

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1 hour ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

I didn't mean to turn this into a debate about the power of converts in American Catholicism. The larger issue is related to the power of the right-wing in American Catholicism. Online Catholicism, in particular, is very right-wing. I think many in the hierarchy write this off as, "just online." That's a standard thing I used to hear as an Orthodox Christian, i.e. there's online Orthodoxy and *real* Orthodoxy. But every offensive I read online I heard in coffee hour and every jerk online is also at church on Sunday so I think that's a cop-out. 

Like I wrote above, the hierarchy doesn't realize that the "faithful" Catholics often pay more attention to these online celebrities than to their bishops. 

Deep State, Deep Church: How QAnon and Trumpism Have Infected the Catholic Church

My Catholic Circle is trying to Stop the Steal

It took me this long to read your links.  Thank you for sharing them!

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We left our church in part because q-anon and political ideas became an idol more precious than Jesus and his teachings to a lot of the members of our congregation. If you look at recent polling, Christian nationalism is a huge issue. We lost a lot of friends, and we have had to put some space into some family relationships. It’s both heartbreaking and scary. 

https://www.npr.org/2020/08/21/904798097/how-qanon-conspiracy-is-spreading-in-christian-communities-across-the-u-s

https://www.npr.org/2021/02/21/969539514/disinformation-fuels-a-white-evangelical-movement-it-led-1-virginia-pastor-to-qu


 

 

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I really hate the wheat/tares analogy someone mentioned previously. As I have mentioned elsewhere, we have been shunned for having left—we are viewed as a weed that shriveled in the sun or who has been plucked out. 
 

Ironically we viewed ourselves as having left an unhealthy situation (wheat, not tare).

In reality, labeling just devolves into tribalism and none of that is healthy. If good change can happen in a church, it will come from a diversity of opinions and not a bunch of likeminded people realizing that they should change themselves.

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40 minutes ago, prairiewindmomma said:

I really hate the wheat/tares analogy someone mentioned previously. As I have mentioned elsewhere, we have been shunned for having left—we are viewed as a weed that shriveled in the sun or who has been plucked out. 
 

Ironically we viewed ourselves as having left an unhealthy situation (wheat, not tare).

In reality, labeling just devolves into tribalism and none of that is healthy. If good change can happen in a church, it will come from a diversity of opinions and not a bunch of likeminded people realizing that they should change themselves.

Except the analogy came from Jesus and I think the point was they will be mixed, I always thought until judgment day. If nothing else it’s comforting that even though this feels like a new problem it’s actually an ancient one.

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