aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

So, what have we learned?

GC'19 stumbled to its conclusion just ahead of the monster trucks coming in for the next show. Bishop Carter, Lord of Misrule, pronounced the benediction to send everybody home. "So," as a Scoutmaster friend of mine likes to ask when the Scouts have made a mammoth bollux of something, "what have we learned?"

1. The bishops are not only corrupt, they're incompetent.

Everything worked fine during the Legislative Group, since the bishops weren't presiding. Regardless of how you feel about the result, things got done, and everybody minded their manners. It was a different thing today, when the bishops got to preside again. It was shambolic, and it was obviously done hand-in-glove with the progressives in order to talk the day away and try to prevent the Traditional Plan from passing in a form that would pass constitutional muster with the Judicial Council.

The bishops don't play fair. But it's not just in their presiding. They had their whole weight behind the One Church Plan. Remember Bishop Carter smugly announcing that "the church will follow the bishops" when they appointed the COWF? No more pretense at fairness: the referees were going to take the field and push the ball across the goal line.

It didn't turn out that way. The bishops squandered their moral authority and became mere partisans for a losing effort. Then they acted out of spite to thwart the will of the body. But more, this was their baby. They called this meeting. They set the conditions. They set up the Commission. And they couldn't put it across even when they cheated.

2. The progs don't have the votes.

This was now the third or fourth GC at which something like the One Church Plan (Plan UMC, Third Way, yada yada) was proposed. It lost. Again. American traditionalists are a minority in the US church delegation, but when combined with Africans, Filipinos, and Central Asians, they form a global majority: an enduring global majority, it seems.

This drives the progressives nuts. They know they have the momentum in American society. All the cultural drivers are in their hands. And they tell themselves this little story of the inevitability of their cause, because they're on the right side of history and all that. And then they lose. When they lose, they yell and demonstrate and start their spiel from the top. It doesn't move the dials: the remaining American traditionalists have had everything thrown at them and the remnant of the faithful is not going to be stampeded; the overseas delegates are not part of our cultural milieu and are not open to the same pressures that work so well here.

Now, there are no permanent majorities in politics. Over time, both American and African delegations will change, in various ways. But unless something really radical happens, it won't change too quickly. Meanwhile, the proportion of overseas delegates, especially from Africa, will continue to increase while the shrinking American church will send fewer delegates to GC. For the next generation or so, the demography is in the trads' favor. The progs Don't. Have. The Votes.

3. The disobedience will continue.

Almost the last thing said at GC'19 was by the Western Jurisdiction, which said that no matter what was passed, they would not obey it. We are in schism, and there is no way to stop it, because the will to stop it is not there, and the means of stopping it didn't make it into church law. Absent the will to stop the mutiny, I'm not sure any means, however draconian, is really able to stop it, anyway.

This sets the conditions for next year's regular General Conference, and succeeding ones. More clergy will do what they're forbidden to do. More Conferences and more BOOMs will approve more candidates they're forbidden to. Eventually, it will go smash, because it can't continue this way. You can either drive on the left side of the road or the right side of the road, but you can't let everybody choose which side to drive on. Not without causing enormous harm to an awful lot of people.

Gracious exit provisions or not, the disobedience will go on. What effect will that have on local church ministry? Well, it can't help. And we're all slowly dying in the US, as it is. I presume that the leaders of the traditionalist coalition will make another run at this next time. What else can they do?

4. Your money paid for this debacle.

It cost just a bit over $3.6 million dollars to put on this special called General Conference. That's not counting the expense of the COWF and all that in the run-up to it. And it accomplished -- not much, if anything. Basically, we just flushed all that money down the toilet.

And where did all that money come from to spend on this brawl? Out of the offering plates of 30,000 US churches, basically. That's right. All those faithful tithers, the little old ladies who were formed in Christ so to give no matter how little they had, all those families putting God first, the dwindling army of saints who give to everything: you paid for this.

You pay the bishops' salaries. You especially pay for the disobedient Western Jurisdiction bishops, whose own churches can't or won't pay the cost of their poo-bahs' upkeep. You pay the costs of General Conference, Jurisdictional Conferences, the General Agencies. You paid for all the slick advance press that tried to manufacture support for the OCP. You help keep seminaries in business who teach heresy and disobedience.

Yes, you pay for a lot of good things, too. We still do good deeds in Jesus' name all around the world, and we plant churches like crazy to gather in the nations (just not here).

But I'm finally coming around to thinking that the only way to bring the beast under control is to starve it. The arrogant princes of the church with their bloated staffs and deep expense accounts, who have shown that they do not care for what you care for or respect you and your beliefs: they are ultimately dependent on you to keep the money flowing. If they won't obey the rules and play fair for conscience' sake, and they refuse to be accountable to others in the church through the complaint or supervision process, then maybe when there's no money coming into the till, they might feel the need to walk humbly with their fellow pilgrims.

That doesn't mean I'm going to stop giving to the church, but I'm going to start directing my giving to keep it out of the hands of the pampered poo-bahs. They have proven that they can't be trusted with it.

Well, that's my hot take on GC'19. Maybe it'll look better in the morning. To be sure, Jesus is still on the throne, so it'll all come out right in the end.

P.S. I'm seeing a lot of news sources saying that we stayed the course, held the line, didn't give in to the culture. So that's something. We're the only Mainline Protestant denomination in the US to date not to do so. That's not nothing. Even if no real change comes of it, we didn't buckle to the pressure. It's something to build on. But dear God, I'm tired of this.

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