Bethany just brought up the Tim Tebow Effect over at her site, which refreshed my memory and relates to a few subjects I have had floating around since vacation. There was a man with a clerical collar next to city hall in Saratoga Springs with a sign that read "Palestinians are God's Children, Too." Well, of course thy are, but out of a thousand good causes in the world, picking that one seems...hmmm, I was going to say dishonest, but in a big world I suppose God has called someone to care about it. It's just that the other 99% have called themselves to this ministry. It is nearly always less-than-honest. It trikes me that it fits the Tim Tebow effect. No one cares about the poor Palestinians. Dunno. Sure seems like a lot to me.
Similarly, the was a yard sign in Skaneateles that read "Hate Has No Home Here." My first reaction was Sure it does. A person might well think that thought quite innocently, and even admirably. And if someone had put that out 25 years ago, or 50, or 75, it might have had some edge to it, but most likely was put there by some nice person who was perhaps a little lecturing, but basically a good influence on us all. Yet in our current climate, pounding a sign into your lawn out by the road is rather pointed. It is accusing, and we're all pretty sure which way that accusation runs, aren't we?
Might it possibly be close to innocent, some kindly person who thinks fuzzily but means well, worried that it really is the other side which is descending into hate? Certainly. But we get into a continuum there of how much humility, self-criticism, and open-mindedness can be removed before we have to say "Y'know Gladys, this is evil." Nonviolent people who smile and speak in soft tones and are genuinely polite can still be evil. It's all very Screwtape Letters and The Great Divorce. When you put up the sign, or even if you are starting to bring it up early in every conversation, you are moving into different territory.
The Methodists are going to split over gay marriage. Maybe next year. Those who believe in traditional marriage are now starting to push for it, seeing the writing on the wall, perhaps. It will be that or be forced to put up with practices they find unscriptural. For more congregational polities, this might be less of a problem, but Methodists historically try to keep doctrinally unified, everyone in the same boat. There is a natural "conservatism" that says don't change things, don't rock the boat, we can put up with things as they are, stick with the devil we know. This is now in tension with the "conservatism" of orthodox Christian teaching.
Both sides believe that one is listening to them. I could take a side on that, but I think I would be an intruder.