During my decades on the religion beat, it's safe to say that I have met very few preachers -- people whose work requires solid pulpit skills -- who were lousy when it came time to crafting one-liners and soundbites.
If you want good quotes, preachers are safe bets.
However, the leaders of major religious organizations -- like denominations -- are another matter. They tend to be hyper-cautious leaders of complex coalitions and they often hide their views in clouds of theological fog.
I remember a U.S. Catholic Bishops meeting long ago in which the men in black were debating the moral status of nuclear weapons and the strategic concept of deterrence. At one point, they released a draft document that was so unquotable that it could have been written in Latin. In a press conference, I asked a panel of bishops if their goal was to "launch a preemptive strike on American headline writers" -- preventing coverage.
The late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin offered this oh-so-quotable response: "Yes."
This brings me (a) to this week's "Crossroads" podcast (click here to tune that in), (b) my column this week for the Universal syndicate and (c) the latest strategic moves in the long, long, long war inside the United Methodist Church about biblical authority, marriage and sex.
The global UMC is less than a year away from a special General Conference that is supposed to make history. The goal is to approve a plan for church life in the post-Sexual Revolution world. Think of it this way: In terms of property laws, church agencies and pensions, they are trying to keep the "united" in United Methodism. Doctrine? Keep reading.
The bishops recently produced a press release that described two models that are under consideration. Pretend that you are a religion-beat professional who needs to parse this, as part of a religion-news game:
ONE CHURCH MODEL
The One Church Model gives churches the room they need to maximize the presence of United Methodist witness in as many places in the world as possible.