Sunday, June 30, 2019

Today in Hey! I Know that Guy!
My former pastor is currently in the national news.  His story is being reported on in publications across the country, for example, the Los Angeles Times:
Minneapolis pastor defrocked and his church expelled for permitting gay marriage
(Also in the New York Times: Minneapolis Church Expelled Over Support of Gay Marriage)

A few notes:
* I currently consider myself an agnostic, and so arguably no longer have a stake in Christian internecine feuds.  But I do feel like whether you're a Christian or not, you can't help but admire someone who is standing up for their beliefs.  I certainly do.  I feel great admiration for him in sticking to his principles in spite of the cost.

* Related to the above point: This guy has always been a class-act.  Dignified and authoritative, but also friendly and approachable.  Always calm, always knowledgeable, always caring.  I admired him back then, and I still do.
...all this in spite of the fact that, as I've moved from Christian to agnostic over the years, I've gone on to reject most of what he taught me about the Bible.
But then, there you go.  That's the thing, isn't it?  It just goes to show how little ideological alignment matters in human relations.  I once had a high school religion teacher, who told us: "Years from now, you won't remember any of the things I've taught you, but you'll remember how I treated you."  So true.

* Interestingly enough, the only issue I ever openly challenged him on was on this same exact issue: homosexuality.  I detailed the whole story at some length (and with a fair bit of digressions and rambling) in this old blog post HERE.
Either his opinions must have evolved over the years. Or perhaps he had more private sympathy for my position than he let on.  (I do remember him laying some stress on the fact that the denomination's official position on the issue had been to re-affirm that homosexuality was a sin, with the implication being that it was outside of his control.)


Whisky Prajer said...

Man, I feel for anyone who's "just folks" that makes international headlines these days, even if it's for doing the right thing. I hope your friend has a supportive group behind him.

It's an issue that a lot of us have come some distance on, isn't it? I had a recent discussion about it with my father that surprised me. And to be honest my own views have changed also -- I suppose they continue to change, for that matter. A decade ago I would have put myself on-board with 95% of what Pride was marching for. These days I tend to distance myself from any scene where identity politics hold sway. "Hey, it's their scene -- they'll figure it out" has been my general stance. But I'm not sure I see anyone figuring out much of anything right now.

Another unexpected turn: I've become a regular reader of Andrew Sullivan.

Joel Swagman said...

If Facebook is any indication, he's getting a lot of support right now. Hopefully he's also getting a lot of support face-to-face.

His son-in-law posted a blogpost describing the experience of him discovering he was headline news while in an airport lounge:

...I can only imagine how surreal it was.

To your second point:
I agree. Homosexuality is the one major issue I've witnessed a complete cultural change on during my lifetime. I guess the problem is that cultural attitudes change quicker than institutions. And no institution is slower to change than religious institutions. So for the next 10 or 20 years or so, the church as an institution is going to be out of step with the people who attend.

Identity Politics is also a tricky one. The way to win in politics is to say, "Join us, a better world is possible, and we can build it together." The thing not to do is say, "You are the enemy, and I can never work with you." Arguable, this is why the Left has been losing so hard lately. But... I don't know... at the same time, I can't blame gays for wanting to organize around their issues. And this news is proof that they are still being oppressed.

Andrew Sullivan... I went through an Andrew Sullivan phase around 2007-2008. I guess I classify Andrew Sullivan with Christopher Hitchens. He's smart, articulate, and always fun to listen to whether you agree with him or not. But for a smart guy, he's taken a number of really dumb positions over the years.
Nevertheless... his unpredictability makes him more interesting to read than some partisan hack who is just repeating the party line.

Whisky Prajer said...

You're not going to fall in line behind a guy who banged the drum in favour of invading Iraq? What kind of contempo-leftist are you?

Joel Swagman said...

Well, yeah, that's exactly what I was thinking of. And it's not just that I disagreed with him, it was the absolute contempt he had for ant-war movement. And his constant mis-representations of the anti-war movement.
But, then in 2007, when he became a critic of the Iraq War and Bush, it seemed to give him more credibility. And that's when I started reading a lot of him, and watching him on Youtube a lot.
I forgot about him somewhere along the line though... I haven't read anything by him for ages until your link.