Heroes on Both Sides

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            The Star Wars prequel trilogies are not the most highly regarded aspect of the Star Wars franchise.   The movies do have some deep underlying problems.   Despite those faults, I personally really like the fairly dark story they are telling.  The driving plot underlying the entire prequel trilogy is the plot of Darth Sidious (who, spoiler alert, is also Chancellor Palpatine) to destabilize the galaxy and claim unlimited power for himself.  By the end of Revenge of Sith it worked, at least until a new hope brought about the return of the Jedi. 

            Until the prequel trilogy Star Wars had a really strong ethos of right vs. wrong.  The mighty empire was clearly evil and the plucky rebels were virtuous good doers.  However, the prequel trilogy muddied this.  The Revenge of the Sith title crawl has a small line that makes this clear: “There are heroes on both sides.”   The Republic army were not necessarily the good guys and the separatists were not necessarily the bad guys.   The issue was a lot muddier than that, because there were outside forces manipulating things and there were heroes on both sides.  

              I have been thinking about this a lot the last couple of days, as the United Methodist Church fights things out in called general conference.   In Methodist polity, a general conference is the only body that can make decisions for the whole of the church.   By rule, these typically happen every four years, but this special one was called to determine a way forward on the issue of human sexuality.  

            This is a blog that mostly writes about how laser swords and vigilantes with capes  illuminate the gospel, so I am not the best commentator to sum up the conflicting viewpoints, or plans that are being argued about to find a way forward.   If you are curious, I am sure a simple google search will provide days of reading.    The most basic thing to know is the United Methodist church is divided on the issue of full inclusion of LBGTQ individuals when it comes to recognizing matrimony and ordination.   This division runs deep and there are people on both sides that are so deeply entrenched that they are nigh immovable. 

            Much like the Clone Wars, both sides probably see themselves as the “good guys”.  One side of the debate could easily align themselves with the Jedi and the old Republic.  They see themselves as defending a sacred tradition from the chaos that attempts to wear it all away.  The other side could easily cast themselves as heroic rebels, speaking truth to power, and seeking justice in face of a monolithic power bloc.  The funny thing is that, again much like the sides in the Clone Wars, both sides had a leg of truth to stand on.   There were heroes on both sides.  This is true for the United Methodist church.   There are saints on both sides.   There are precious brothers and sisters in Christ, who have been saved by grace, and who are members of the household of God on both sides.  

            Within hours of this being posted the General Conference will be over and something will be decided or possibly nothing will be decided.  In some form or another the division will remain, and the fight will continue- probably in a year when the 2020 general conference happens.   There is real division in the United Methodist Church.  It is an issue that does need to be addressed, and until it does harm will continue to be done (again by both sides).   The solution, whatever it is, will not be easy.   I believe even at this late hour it can happen with grace.   However, the starting point has to be acknowledging there are heroes on both sides.   There are people who believe and claim the Lordship of Jesus Christ on both sides, and no matter how sharp the disagreement that should be enough to unite us in common purpose to resolve our differences. 

The Confession of John McClain

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