More on my travels
John Dorhauer printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Oct 02, 2007 at 10:21:12 AM EST
As I continue my travels across the country (and its very early here in Tempe, and I'm on just a few short hours rest, and I have two more cities to get to before the week is out - all of which is to say this will be somewhat brief), the circle of those who are coming to know more about what we write about here widens considerably. In the last week, I spent a few days in Western PA with a group of dedicated, faithful UCC clergy; and two days in Tempe AZ. Still to go this week is a day with the Conference Staff in the Central Atlantic Conference, and a trip to San Diego with a church celebrating its 50th anniversary - and building the themes of Steeplejacking into the entire weekend.

There have been radio interviews, newspaper articles, clergy retreats, church skits depicting a steeplejacking, conference staff seminars, keynote addresses before standing room crowds in large auditoria, television interviews (C-SPAN being the most notable to date), and long conversations with men and women who all have their own story to tell about how their churches are going through exactly what we describe.

Churches across the country, from Kentucky to Illinois to South Dakota and many points in between have contacted us to talk about how the book has served to help them protect their church from attack, and in some cases from what they thought was an inevitable take-over. I have to say that, with each successive presentation, we are learning more and more about how to galvanize the array of materials we have into a more succinct, more concise, and more convincing presentation.

I have made it onto the front pages of a number of web-sites: Biblical Witness Fellowship (more about that in a second), UCC Truths (I am a disgustingly frequent target of theirs), and the Institute on Religion and Democracy. They all have this in common: a firm belief that Sheldon Culver (my co-author) and I have imagined a conspiracy that does not exist and for which we have no proof.

Well, they use the wrong verb. The conspiracy was less imagined than uncovered. And it is becoming easier and easier with each passing presentation to connect the dots.

A frequent tactic in response to these presentations is the cry from the IRD, from UCCTRuths, from The Biblical Witness Fellowship that "They have no proof!" That is a semantic argument. What we have is evidence. What we do is present it, along with our theories about how to interpret the evidence, week after week to a different audience - within which there are those predisposed to believing what we disclose because their own experiences have already confirmed what our research has uncovered; within which there are those who are curious but who really don't have any predispositions about the material; and within which there are those who are very skeptical about the theories we present (last week, one of the clergy in Penn West with whom I spent the early part of the week told me he came to "cross swords with me," but left convinced that the thorough research we did was on the mark: we were not the extremists that some had portrayed us as. And what we have experienced is that the evidence we present to these various audiences is very, very compelling.

Last night in Tempe, one of the gentleman who attended shared with me he was a graduate of both the Warren Brown school of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, and of Hebrew University (he is currently preparing to become a rabbi). At the close of the event we spent a few quiet moments reflecting on the evening, and he was grateful - very much so - for both the thorough work we had done and for taking the time to disseminate this crucial information. His affirmation especially meant a great deal to me - and also serves to remind us that the crowd of those affected by machinations of the radical religious right is always larger than we think it is.


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