Thursday, April 3, 2014

Editorial: Four important words

By Jerry Wolgemuth
Director of Communications

“The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-minded America is Tearing Us Apart” is authored by columnist and reporter Bill Bishop. He says, “America may be more diverse than ever coast to coast but the places where we live are becoming increasingly crowded with people who live, think and vote [the same]. We've built a country where we can all choose the neighborhood—and religion and news show—most compatible with our lifestyle and beliefs. And we are living with the consequences of this way-of-life segregation. Our country has become so polarized, so idealogically inbred, that people don’t know, and can’t understand, those who live just a few miles away.”*

Spread across this country (and the whole world) is this group of believers called United Methodists who profess a Wesleyan world view but who also suffer the consequences of societal clustering and polarization, Christians who desire to witness to their world as a united church but struggle with the attraction of uniformity.

Where do we take hold of the dilemma? Bill Bishop contends that “we Americans don’t know how to listen anymore.” Writer and speaker, Tom Peters co-authored In Search of Excellence in 1982.** In 2010 Peters posited that the most important words in an organization are: what do you think?  Peters says, “Those four words mean, ‘You are a person of value who has an opinion that I want to hear.’”
Maybe that’s where we start. As humans we are driven by a freedom to express ourselves as to what we hold dear in our beliefs and our longings. “What do you think?” can be music to our ears.

There is a certain weariness that comes in a quest to innaugurate victors and excommunicate vanquished. Might the weariness of that “football kind of mind” bring us to a place that would make us more anxious to speak gracioiusly, to listen intently, and to find common ground on which to live with our differences in a more congenial, creative, and collaborative mode? And that should be good news for people who call themselves Methodists. Connexionalism (to use Wesley’s spelling) is the brand in which the Methodist Movement was birthed and we may live to see the day when our connectedness ignites a revived spirit among us.
The bad taste of a church split is on our lips and we seek God’s face.

Much of publishing these days is interactive. It is two way with the chance to respond to ideas submitted by authors. As the Susquehanna LINK we will be venturing into a new communication endeavor in the near future. We ask your prayers and attention in the next few months.

So, what do you think?

— JW

  * See tinyurl.com/thesort
** See tinyurl.com/4importantwords

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