from “Anthem”, by Leonard Cohen

Monday, April 4, 2016

On Waiting

                                     I was of three minds,
                                     Like a tree
                                     in which there are three blackbirds.

                                                                      - Wallace Stevens,
                                                          “13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”

In our ongoing non-conversation about homosexuality
in the United Methodist Church,
those arguing from one side rarely, if ever,
change the hearts or minds of those defending the “other” side(s).

Each camp responds to the other in the manner of boorish tourists,
impatient and frustrated because the natives don’t understand
their” language”.

So irritated, all sides shout louder still . . .  as if.

Unable to communicate better, all sides lament -

            why do they not comprehend what we are saying?
            (our position is so obviously true.)
            Not to mention that we are speaking so clearly!
                        Are they daft?
                                    or biblically illiterate?
                                                or maybe just plain stubborn?

In this state of dysfunction we have now wandered in the wilderness since 1972 –
4 years longer than did the children of Moses also wander.
Beleaguered tourists all, we simply cannot hear the “other” side, their language foreign to us. 
We are indeed spiritual babes, whining? in a tower of much Babel.
I include myself, of course.
There are few heroes in this long draining saga.

 - - - - - - - -

The quadrennial meeting of our beloved United Methodist Church convenes next month.

On the contentious issue of homosexuality,
a road to wholeness will once again be sought.

There are, of course, rumors in the air.
Of endings.
Withering compromises.
Woundedness without balm.
The usual sad stuff.

But it need not be that way.

It is still possible to tell the truth -
admit that our church as a whole does not know what to do about homosexuality,
and decide to have no “corporate” opinion whatsoever.


Since we obviously cannot agree,
why not remove all language about gay people from our Discipline,
then wait until such time when 
the Spirit speaks more clearly to all of us.

Why endorse a moral position (one way or the other) when significant numbers of our members will be in disagreement?

Our church has often avoided landing on one side or another of an issue when we had no commonly held settled opinion. (abortion, divorce, for instance)

Why should the issue of homosexuality be any different?

What is rush in “solving” this issue?

Since when is the United Methodist Church required to vote requiring every ethical issue in the world?

We don’t even have to agree to disagree!

We need only speak the most obvious truth in the room – which is that

                                                we have no consensus regarding
                                                the morality of homosexuality and so
                                                we will say nothing about it at all
                                                until a wider consensus is found.

 - - - - - - - - - -

I took the following from a blog called Rabbi Rami’s Guide to Judaism -

         We Jews love to argue. We argue with ourselves, with one another, and even with God. We value argument over faith, and doubt over belief. Ours is a tribe of inquiry. When we argue over our story we never ask, “What does it mean?” Instead we ask, “What could it mean?” And as soon as  one of us tells us what it could mean, another of us asks, “What else could it mean?” For us misreading Torah in order to yield ever–more meanings is the deepest spiritual practice, one that ignites the imagination and invites dialogue and argument.

         We never tire of arguing. That’s why we say, “Two Jews, three opinions.”          What tires us, what bores us, are answers. If you are looking for answers,   our tribe is not for you. If you are looking to sharpen your questions, or better yet discover new ones, you might find us a good fit.

I am jealous.

I love the way this rabbi encourages what our church so often discourages.

I want our United Methodist Church to encourage every member to hold at least 2 opinions on issues!

Is it possible we maybe misreading the Bible when we find inside its pages definitive answers to all of life’s questions?

Not every jot and tittle has to be just so, perfectly in place.

Not every issue needs to be addressed by tomorrow at high noon.

I wish our church were like Wallace Stevens’ tree,

accommodating, no,


                        3 opinions, or a 103 – in a tree holding all of us!

- - - - - -

To view Rabbi Rami’s Guide to Judaism –