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Hymnal Wars Crank Up Again As Push For Goddess Worship In UM Hymnal Goes To Next General Conference

Methodist Progressive Hymns targeted by Cross and Flame

Mon Sep 10, 2007 at 12:47:05 PM PDT

Continuing a decades-long fight against songs of justice, a church renewal group campaigns to remove progressive hymns from the United Methodist Hymnal and replace them with militaristic victory songs.

From The Good News Movement:

We would encourage you to participate in a hymnal survey being done currently by the church. You can share your ten most favorite hymns as well as the ten least favorite that you would like to see removed from the hymnal. Mark Tooley reminded us recently that the supplement to the hymnal which came out in 2000, entitled The Faith We Sing, had some problematic hymns included. They were approved because the supplement did not have to be approved by General Conference. Hymns such as "I Am Your Mother," "Mother God," and "Womb of Life" to just name several, have problems theologically. They would be good for your removal list. To participate in the hymnal survey, go here.

Read on for more...

NOTE: Some background info for you...here's a timeline of the last time we did a hymnal revision, published in 1989.  LINK: Cokesbury.com

Just so you don't underestimate these folks' agenda, also in the email was this excerpt:

Good News was much involved in providing input and feedback to the Hymnal Revision Committee that gave us our current 1989 hymnal. We believe that significant grass-roots involvement saved the church from some serious mistakes that might otherwise have been made. The new hymnal added scores of Charles Wesley hymns and gospel songs which had not been in the 1964 hymnal. We will be watching this process carefully once again...

The Good News Movement was very much involved with the decisions to retain militaristic songs in the Christian hymnal. They pushed to keep "Onward Christian Soldiers" and "Battle Hymn of the Republic" in the hymnal...songs which are military based and sing of victory through military might, not just through Jesus.  

But what were the "serious problems" that they "removed"?  Here's an account from an individual involved with the process of creating the 1989 hymnal.

The work didn't always go smoothly. Committee members had strong feelings about which hymns to include or exclude, and what changes should be made...The revision committee also was aware of political pressure from within the denomination.

"I think too much was made of the continued and implied threat of the 'Good News folk,' that they would not support the hymnal at the General Conference if their improvisatory agendas were not adequately addressed," [Rev. Carlton R. Young, editor] said. "Consequently, the revision committee felt it politically necessary to include a vast number of redundant Gospel hymns, avoid recommending hymns which would have more fully expressed female metaphors, descriptions and forms of address of deity, and neutered metaphors, descriptions and forms of address of the risen Christ."

As you can see, with the first hymnal revision in 1989, the Good News got their way and kept out accessible songs of feminine images of God.  These songs DID make it into the supplemental The Faith We Sing hymn booklet...songs such as, you guessed it, "I Am Your Mother," "Mother God," and "Womb of Life"...the very songs the Good News mailing is hoping to remove!

Already, in 2006, at least one Annual Conference voted (well, referred to a church agency) to attempt to bring back in an older hymn into the new hymnal.  Was it filled with masculine images of Christ?  You betcha.

Whereas the 1964 edition of the Methodist Hymnal Number 538 contained the Hymn "Eternal Father, Strong To Save." This was and is a favorite hymn particularly among men and women and their families of the United States Naval Service and was and is affectionately called the "Navy Hymn."
    Whereas, when the United Methodist Hymnal was revised and published in 1989, "Eternal Father, Strong To Save" was deleted by the Hymnal Revision Committee. The Committee also attempted to delete "Onward Christian Soldiers" and "Battle Hymn of the Republic" because of their military references.
    Whereas the response to plans to drop the hymns was so great that protest telephone calls kept officials at the church’s headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee, from making outgoing calls for ten days said Rev. Canton R. Young the editor of the Hymnal Revision Committee. The protest persuaded the Committee to keep "Onward Christian Soldiers" and "Battle Hymn of the Republic" in the Hymnal.

Don't think for a moment that this is some crackpots.  This tactic worked in 1988, don't think it won't work again in 2008.

Take action: Hymnal Retention Survey

Let's compare the songs they want with the songs they want to remove:

Songs They want to Keep or Insert:

Eternal Father, strong to save,
whose arm has bound the restless wave,
Who bid the mighty ocean deep its own appointed limits keep:
Oh hear us when we cry to thee for those in peril on the sea.

Onward Christian Soldiers, marching as to war,
with the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
Forward into battle, see his banners go!

Mine Eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord,
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on!

Songs to Remove because of Feminine Imagery for God:

Womb of Life and source of being, home of every restless heart.  
In your arms the worlds awakened; you have loved us from the start.
We your children, gather round you, at the table you prepare.
Sharing stories, tears, and laughter, we are nurtured by your care.

I am your Mother: do not neglect me!
Children protect me - I need your trust;
My breath is your breath, my death is your death,
ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

Mothering Spirit, nurturing one,
in arms of patience hold me close,
so that in faith I root and grow
until I flower, until I know.

Why are they doing this?  We know from Charles Wesley that people learn more theology from the songs they sing than the sermons they hear.  The Good News Movement is a renewal group closely aligned with the Institute on Religion and Democracy, the topic of several diaries.  Indeed, quoted in their mailing is Mark Tooley, the IRD UMAction lead agent.  Both of these groups maintain their power by keeping people scared of hell, promoting a good/evil polemic that keeps things in black and white, and beating down women and feminine images of God that are empowering to women.  Charming!

Take Action!  If you are United Methodist, you also can take the time to vote for your favorite hymns and your least favorite hymns.  By diversifying the results, it will make it much harder for the Good News movement to remove the songs with feminine images of God and progressive beliefs.  While you may not sing the songs yourself, keeping in the hymns will continue to assure that the United Methodist Church has the resources to sing songs that speak to many different people groups, including those of progressive flair.

Take action: Hymnal Retention Survey

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