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Organizer Invites Pagan Speaker To UM Center To "Push the Envelope" Like Jesus

Sent: Sunday, January 02, 2000 7:13 PM
Subject: Re: Question about upcoming gathering....

Dear Tom,

Thank you for your thoughtful inquiry. I can tell you that NOBS (Network of Biblical Storytellers") is committed to telling the stories of the biblical traditions. (Notice the "s" on the end of that word.)

NOBS has no litmus test as such. We tell the stories of the Bible---for the most part word-for-word, but also in creative and divergent ways. Our members represent a broad spectrum of theological viewpoints from the conservative to the avant guarde.

I think that many of us believe that it is good to push the envelope, as Jesus did; to test the limits, as it were---ever with respect, devotion and the love of the Lord foremost in our hearts. Storytelling has always been risky business. (And I am convinced that it was at least partly the storytelling of Jesus that got him stung up on the cross).

It has been a few years since I have talked with Sister Miriam Therese Winter. I recall that she was a gentle, humble, Christ-like presence with a fiery side like that of the prophets. We (NOBS) do not insist that our speakers adhere to any doctrinal standard. We prefer that they make us think, challenge us, stretch us, and cause us to experience the stories in a new way---even from the solar plexus. We do not endorse all the viewpoints expressed by our presenters, nor do we think that our participants need to be protected from potential heresy. We trust the Spirit and the good sense of the good folk to sort all that out. We do try to bring some balance to the program in terms of diversity of perspective, male/female, racial/ethnic and so on. I expect that Miriam will give a good bounce on the see-saw with David Rhoads.

I encourage you to come to the Festival Gathering in Atlanta. You will find it a rewarding experience!

Dennis Dewey

Sent: Tuesday, January 04, 2000 6:22 PM

Dear Mr. Dewey,

Please find the attached note/letter that I am sending to the directors and officials at Simpsonwood, United Methodist pastors, Bishops and others in the area.

You stated in your recent note to me (January 2) that , "NOBS has no litmus test as such." Having Ms. Winter as a featured "storyteller" at your "FestivalGathering" at Simpsonwood in August, that certainly proves to be quite an understatement.

You are right that Jesus "pushed the envelope", of course, but the envelope that Jesus pushed was Himself, the Christ...the Truth. It was the truth that got him "strung up" (as you put it), not the fact that He simply "pushed the envelope". What Ms. Winter is "pushing", however, is not the truth.... Ms. Winter's fascination with the "goddesses/Neo-Paganism and certain doctrines of wicca (witchcraft)---I will readily admit--- IS ""Biblical", as you say. That is, these subjects are definitely IN the Bible. It is "Biblical" in that the Bible is clear in its condemnation of such false and deadly spiritual teaching and idolatrous practices.

It is for this reason thatI will be doing my best to raise the consciousness level of any and all who will listen about the nature of Ms. Winter's "storytelling" program and agenda.

I am hopeful that the directors at Simpsonwood will have the courage to speak up forthrightly and clearly in opposition to the blasphemous heresies that Ms. Winter has in the past promoted. I hope that they, in fact, will insist that Ms. Winter be removed from your program schedule. Will they do that? Can they do that (legally)? I don't know. I haven't read Simpsonwood's by-laws, statement of purpose and/or mission statement as a representative arm of the United Methodist denomination in this area. But my hope and my prayer is that those in position of authority at Simpsonwood and within the denomination, perhaps Bishop Davis, will have the Biblical/Scriptural courage and conviction to say "No, Ms. Winter, not here----You are free to speak but not here where God's Holy Word is honored." In short, I hope they will have the discernment and conviction of faith to stand firmly and uncompromisingly against the onslaught of false teaching and false teachers that (who) are today ripping at the Church and infecting it like a cancer. If they will not (or cannot), then I am afraid that the denomination may very well be destined (justly destined, I might add) to wither and die....agreeing, as it were, to its own liquidation, swallowed up by her Babylonian captors. Denominations may come and go, it seems, but the Church can never be defeated.


You wrote that you prefer your speakers to "make us think, challenge us, stretch us....". Well, I have heard Ms. Winter's "storyline". It's a very old one, indeed....("Did God REALLY say.....?....You won't surely die......." Genesis Chapter 3) And I AM challenged. Not by Ms. Winter's spuriously "re-imagined" word but by God's own:

"But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them....." (2Peter 2:1....)


"...I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you......." (Jude: ... 3,4...)

Contending for the faith in Christ,

Tom Graffagnino

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