Jaquandor, the Buffalo area’s finest blogger, asks:
1. Are there any words you dislike, just because of the sound of them and not necessarily the meaning?
Used to be that German words I tended to dislike as too gutteral. The K sound would get stuck on the roof of my mouth. But I’ve mellowed, and nothing immediately comes to mind.
2. Are there any subjects you really want to know more about and yet never seem to get around to learning about?
Oh, yeah, dozens, everything from various sciences, such as astronomy and botany; to languages, which I do not seem to have a talent for, starting with Spanish and Latin. But I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I probably won’t do anything about it unless I give up something else, and evidently, I’m not willing to do that.
3. Are you surprised that gay marriage passed in New York? (I am, a little….)
Heck, yeah. It failed miserably some 600 days earlier, when the State Senate was controlled by the Democrats. OK, “controlled” is probably an overstatement, since it was pretty chaotic. The last two governors supported it, and it didn’t matter. And it passes with a Republican-controlled Senate? More like shocked.
Tom the Mayor, once a mail order whiz at FantaCo, among other attributes, asks:
Are all the members of your church as Liberal as you are? could you be a good christian, yet disagree with the beliefs of your church’s leaders?
Tom asks simple questions which I will complicate in answering.
Somehow, as a result of singing in my old church choir at my grandmother’s funeral in May 1983, it got me to decide to start attending church again, after more than a decade of mostly not going. But I couldn’t just go back to a church like the one from my childhood, which I loved then, but found that my theological development was not in tune with that church’s theological positions.
So I went church shopping.
When I first attended Trinity United Methodist Church, it was June 13, 1982. I remember this quite well because the day before, I was at an anti-nuke rally in New York City. The minister, the late Stan Moore, said something quite positive about the rally in his sermon, and this endeared him, and the church, to me. While the shopping continued for some months, I decided I wanted to be there by the end of the year, though I didn’t actually join until December 1984.
In that congregation, I did have leadership roles, first as vice-chair, then chair of the Administrative Board, which was the church’s meeting of the whole, then chair of the Council on Ministries, which was the chairs of the major service committtees. I left, not because of theology, but autocracy, involving a change in church structure under a subsequent minister which made it less accountable to the congregation.
I started attending First Presbyterian in the spring of 2000, and joined in 2002. At some point, I was an elder there, but didn’t enjoy it; I think I’m all meetinged out.
So to your actual question: if by the church, you mean the congregation, most of them are as liberal as I am, though by no means all of them. I remember having a conversation with one of them at the (late) YMCA, where you used to work. He mentioned that one of the Clintons, Bill or Hillary, was having a book come out, and he, who reads the New York Post, a conservative tabloid, every day, said he was sure that I would be buying the book from that “liberal”. I surprised him by stating that I didn’t think the Clintons were liberal at all.
If you mean the Presbyterian Church USA, our congregation is definitely more liberal than some. But of course, this depends on your meaning of liberal. If feeding the hungry, clothing the needy is “liberal”, then it’s almost the whole denomination that is liberal. If it’s something such as the role of gays in the life of the church, the Albany Presbytery, which represents our church, is more progressive than others. But given the fact that the PCUSA denomination in 1997 created MORE restrictive language re participation of gays as ministers, elders and deacons, then in May 2011 agreed to less restrictive language, not many people bolted the church when either event occurred.
Presbyterians are much more deliberative than Methodists. The fact that our Presbytery was at odds – no, too harsh, disagreed – with the PCUSA on gay ordination for over a decade was surprisingly not a big deal.
Oh, one other thing: I wanted Trinity UMC to take more of a stand on gay rights issues when I was involved there in the 1990s. It was downplayed because the church had “made a proclamation” back in 1979 or 1975, or whenever, which preceded my tenure there, and that seemed, to some, to be enough. So it’s not just a matter of beliefs; it’s acting on the beliefs, regularly. My current congregation participates in the Gay Pride parade annually, with our rainbow tapestry hanging from the bell tower as well as over the entrance, as an ongoing, living, breathing statement of faith.
Did I actually answer the question?