Thursday, May 20, 2010

Woody Allen & Roman Polanski, Justice & Forgiveness

Clearly, Woody Allen doesn't get it.

At the recent Cannes Film Festival in France, the Hollywood legend was asked about the plight of fellow director Roman Polanski. Polanski, as you may know, was charged in California with raping a 13 year old girl in the early 1980s. He fled the United States and has since been living comfortably in Europe (primarily France), where he has continued his career, winning an Oscar in 2002 for The Pianist.

Allen responded - amazingly:
It’s something that happened many years ago...He has suffered, he has not been allowed to go to the United States. He was embarrassed by the whole thing...He's an artist, he's a nice person, he did something wrong and he paid for it. They [his critics] are not happy unless he pays the rest of his life. They would be happy if they could execute him in a firing squad. Enough is enough.

I have to wonder if Allen realizes exactly what he said. He suggested - no, he unequivocally stated - that embarrassment is an acceptable punishment for raping a child. Is de facto exile from the United States - to live comfortably abroad while continuing a lucrative career - acceptable punishment? Should we not pursue criminal charges against someone who is a "nice person", evidence be damned?

Woody Allen is, like Polanski, an excellent filmmaker. But his notions of justice are bizarre, to say the least. True, if Polanski were to return to California and go to prison, that would still not be a "just" punishment for raping a child. But it would be a step in the right direction.

Kudos to actor Michael Douglas, who refused to sign a petition in support of Polanski (which Allen dutifully signed), saying that it would be "unfair" for him to sign a petition for "somebody who did break the law." I sincerely hope that the bulk of the Hollywood community and the rest of the American Radical Left favors Douglas' approach rather than that of Woody Allen.

The Christian faith is all about forgiveness, to be sure. But implicit in Jesus' call to discipleship is a call to repent that we might know forgiveness, both at the beginning of his earthly ministry and near its end. In fact, Jesus always connected penitence with forgiveness, and penitence carries with it the notion of "penance", a desire to be forgiven and to "make things right". Polanski can indeed know forgiveness for even this vile crime, but it seems to me that penitence needs to be a part of his plan if he is sincere. Being a "nice person", unfortunately, isn't enough.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pre-Annual Conference Prayer list

As we prepare for Annual Conference, there are a few important items about which those of us in Western PA should be praying diligently.

* Bishop Bickerton, who will again be presiding over our Conference...pray that the Spirit would guide him, protect him & his family, and fill him with wisdom & joy;

* The Cabinet, which has done much appointive work in recent months (led, of course, by our Bishop), and which still has work to do...pray that the Cabinet will also have wisdom & an attentiveness to the Holy Spirit;

* The Conference Sessions Team, led by Barb Moore & Mark Goswick; these wonderful folks work tirelessly to make everything function in Grove City for us...pray that they would have the strength & stamina to finish their work for (and during) our 2010 session;

* Our Youth Ministry Team, led by Renaye Hoffman; one can hardly imagine how our Conference gatherings would look in any meaningful sense - functionally & spiritually - without the youth, who help with the proceedings and bring so much to the table in terms of mission & focus...pray that they are blessed & that the Spirit speaks to them & through them in Grove City;

* Our 2011 Conference Budget...pray that a missional heart will fill us all and that the Lord's will prevails;

* Prep for the 2012 General & Jurisdictional Conferences...pray that our work would bear good fruit & that those ultimately elected to represent Western PA will be filled with the Holy Spirit in every way;

* Legislation presented...pray that God will guide us & that every item passed would further Kingdom work in our region and around the globe.

* Additionally, we will likely begin work on a restructuring of our Annual Conference, as our Connectional Table is requesting permission to form a task force to present a plan possibly as early as 2011. Pray for the Connectional Table, chairperson Greg Cox, and the task force which will be formed, that the Lord will speak his vision to them.

Click here to view our Pre-Conference Journal .

Click here to see my friend Bob Zilhaver's take on our possible new staffing structure.

Click here to see Bob Zilhaver's take on the possibility of reducing the number of District Superintendents.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Missional Church...simple

This is a good brief summary of 21st century missional reality.

Most United Methodists & United Methodist congregations are (in my humble opinion) "trapped" in the model that begins around 0:07.

Annual Conference & denominational leadership tend to be (in my humble opinion) somewhere around 0:40.

Those models have both been effective, but both are dated (they're SO 20th century).

21st century "missional ministry", which actually refers back to an earlier time, begins around 1:15.

Definitely worth some prayerful reflection...