Pastor’s Memo…   What sparks my thinking today is the birth of Niccolo Machiavelli.  He was born this date in 1469.  He was a diplomat and a philosopher and an author.  He is most well known for The Prince; a treatise on political power that implied those wielding that power were not necessarily obliged to obey the law or the niceties of truth telling, promise keeping, and basic human decency.  In short, those in power to govern were in a class of their own permitted to do that which kept them in power (so long as it was in the generally exercised to the advantage of the governed).  There is no shortage of such power wielding in today's governing executives.  It is naive to believe only one's political opponents engage in such chicanery.  Machiavellian isn't a descriptor applicable only in our generation.  It's been in use for the last half a millennium. Nor it is only for the describing of local, state, or national affairs.  Local school boards and national labor unions and private sporting leagues are subject to the Machiavellian principles that beset our civic associations.  I would guess even the 7th grade chess club is not immune to the allure of gaining and keeping power. After all, someone must be in charge of refreshments.   Which makes it all the more dispiriting, that as the United Methodist Church lurches and staggers and bungles its way to division over its internal dispute about homosexuality, we find the playing of power politics in every nook and cranny of our broken body.  Factions and caucuses and whole regions of the Church are trying to put a civil face to our splitting.  Scripture is being employed by every side to justify positions at which Jesus would bow his bloodied head and weep.  Our denomination happily does not practice the 613 Laws of Torah scrupulously, but there are some who would go to war over one of them.  I hear you say we aren't Jews and Jesus and St. Paul put an end to the Law.  No.  No.  A thousand times no.  Jesus has come to perfect the Law so that in every jot and tittle of it love is revealed.  The Great Commandment is to love God and our neighbor.  Let that be reveled in every machination of our United Methodist body as we strive to divide and conquer late next year.