-- Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part Two
Our United Methodist Church is being shaken by all kinds of things these days. We are heading for a showdown between the progressives and the orthodox, though those are not the only two parties involved, and the final recommendations of the Bishops' Commission on a Way Forward may please neither of them.
The Commission's report is a good way off. Next year, at least. Then there's a called General Conference in 2019. But some people can't wait to hear what will be offered up, or what will be done about it. Rumors are flying, and all kinds of crazy things are being attributed to people in the know. But there's nothing to know yet, and all the responsible participants are respecting their vows of confidentiality and not talking about it. So where is this coming from?
Nature abhors a vacuum, they say, and when there is nothing to report, some people get so uncomfortable that they have to fill the silence with something. Some of them are speaking from their fears. And some are speaking from their hopes. They are both being foolish. They need to learn to wait upon the Lord. Or at least, wait upon events. The future will get here in its own time, and neither our fears nor our hopes will make it better -- or cushion the shock, if that's what it turns out to be.
A third group, however, is not speaking from hopes or fears. They are trying to drive the narrative. They think that they can shape the way things turn out, pre-condition how people will receive the report of the Commission when it comes. They have a very specific way they want things to turn out, and they're trying out various word combinations to see what they can use to make whatever is revealed work to the advantage of what they want to come out of the process. They are not foolish, they are manipulative little squits.
Among the manipulative little squits are a lot of people who write for the official denominational press. It's their job to put lipstick on every pig, and make every narrative support their idea of what the future should be. They don't just report what's going on -- they can't, in fact, because they don't know -- but they are sure trying to pre-determine who the good guys and bad guys will be seen to be in the upcoming drama.
Now, I've been around a long time. I've seen disgraceful things done in the name of the church -- and I've seen God overturn all the nicely prepared apple carts. I'm not cynical, I'm experienced. I will not be rushed or panicked or flustered about this. My faith is not at risk. God is on the throne. We will all see what happens when it happens. Now is the time to pray -- and also to prepare. But not to listen to gossip. Not even hot-off-the-presses gossip.
Have you heard? It's in the stars:
Next July we collide with Mars!
What a swell party this is.
-- Cole Porter, High Society