Rome is burning, or at least the American Baptist version of Rome, and the reaction thus far remains useless, dithering and mad. Recent feeble attempts to reform the organization, assuring the inclusion of the word "transformation" to make the Titanic deck chair movement appear more dramatic, are falling short.
DD's policy on the needed reforms of the ABC are clear, simply, and the only way forward: abolish the Office of General Secretary, abolish the General Board, liberate the societies (AKA the "program boards")--the so-called Michigan plan taken to its logical conclusion. Valley Forge delenda est!
As Dennis McFadden reports:
In a round of e-mails circulating between members of the General Executive Council, industrial strength wordsmithing has been applied to the upcoming press release describing actions of the GEC. At this point, the participants are intent on finding a way to work the word "transformational" into the statement in place of the more pedestrian "helpful," "progressive," or "positive." They want to be seen as advocating truly radical and transformational, rather than merely incremental, changes in the organization supporting ABC life.
The very fact that GEC members are leaking material to Dennis shows the disgust that some in the inner circles have for the VF execs. As Washington was once rocked by the question, "Who lost China?" a question that GEC members must ask now is, "Who lost the PSW?" But Medley and company, just months out from the disaster, seem bored by that question.
Rather the reaction to the loss of the PSW is to find a new partner, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Clearly after mastering the lyrics to "Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover," VF is hoping to find a new darling in the CBF.
And in true Greek tragedy fashion, the execution of the messenger is comtemplated. Earlier this Spring, one VF insider darkly said to Dennis McFaddden (via email), "May God have mercy on your soul." (Doesn't that sound like the last words before the lever is thrown on the gallows? It also reveals that salvation is earned by absolute trust in the denomination, a very creative bit of theology. Sounds a bit pre-Reformational, though.)
Now, with another scowl at McFadden. As Dennis was sent insider info from people more concerned about the Gospel than making Medley, Wright-Riggines et al. look visionary, they were excoroiated in this paranoid neo-Stalinist email:
Dear Sisters and Brothers of GEC:
I thought we had an open, positive, ethical spirit among GEC members at the recent meeting. Therefore I am shocked to find this morning a new post on beacon churches blog by Dennis McFadden that cites the email message I sent to all of you on Tuesday concerning the UCC restructure information I accessed for our information as we discern the appropriate structure for this time. You will note that he quotes my message to you when I transmitted the link. Given the destructive blogging behavior of Dennis, it is beyond comprehension that any committed American Baptist regional or national executive would continue to leak him information exchanged among GEC members for the edification of the body. As I have told Dennis recently, he who attributes his convictions to "what Paul wrote" must be aware that Paul wrote frequently on the need to edify the body, not destroy it.
Can we be better than this?
The interesting thing is that it was beyond the comprehension of the writer. It seems that a lot of things are beyond the comprehension of the VF elite.
So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah. When he saw Elijah, he said to him, "Is that you, you troubler of Israel?"
"I have not made trouble for Israel," Elijah replied. "But you and your father's family have..."