Monday, February 16, 2009

don't define me, just love me DAMMIT!!!

Don't define me, love me DAMMIT!

I found these from the tweets I follow on twitter through emergent village. These are helpful frames for wondering through the emergent conversation. First is this interview video of Peter Rollins done from Calvin College, a few weeks back, when he visited and held lecture/conversations with several others. Click below to hear some classic Rollins framing on emergent Christianity as only he so amazingly can do.

Peter Rollins Explaining Emergent Churches

Secondly, a couple videos offering a thoughtful and interesting montage from several emergent voices who help provide a larger vision, beyond one voice, for what this emergent thing is up to. Notice it isn't completely about destroying what is known as the "inherited church." Rather this expression could perhaps best be described in terms Mirslav Volf refers to as "differentiated unity." Or as I so graciously say, "this frickin' thing isn't an ecclesiastical beauty contest!" Enjoy.

part 1

One of the pieces I especially appreciate is the challenge for pinning this emergent thing down. People often ask me about this too and I feel their desire for information just falls within our sound bite culture of reductionism. One of the pieces that I find particularly dangerous at this attempt to define lies in the very concept of objectification. For it is this objectifying that leads too easily to dismissive and arrogant knowall attitudes. I realize that in the best sense these questions are motivated by a curiosity (which I'm all for) for achieving some semblance of understanding so as to know the other, to learn about the other, in this case the other as a fresh expression of church known as emergent, all in order for the sake of loving and appreciating this her/him, not IT, in a new formative relationship to oneself. However, rarely if ever do I sense this is the motivation behind the questions. It is instead asked through the a functional lens of getting at the next, latest, greatest and sexy trend for "getting people" back into church.

I often feel this very question asked about emergent is an attempt to domesticate it within a previous frame pre-determined by the location from which one is coming from, i.e. Luther, Calvin, etc. (Obviously and after all how could we think otherwise?) But this comes from a closed rather than open approach to knowing and engaging. If it can't be explained or understood in a short period of time, sadly enough, it is often and frequently dismissed by those within the walls. For me, it is precisely the same trouble we have when truly describing, what was mentioned in this viedo, what it means to be Christian in general. Many have come to hold Christianity with particular definitions such that this has become the standard for identifying it and we have done so without understanding the assumptions or philosophical evolution that has brought us to the place we've arrived at. If we are really going to explain this thing known as Christianity to someone who had never heard of it many would find it difficult to explain logically. I suppose you could do it with words and images but they would just be that and not the very thing itself. In the end the very essence for being church is inherently incarnational in the sense that it must be embodied before one comes to articulate what this actually is all about.

This is the one of the great gifts of emergent as it calls people, self identified in church or not, to have to deal with people and a growing engagement in God as God seeks to be born in our curiosity and wonder and that is not reduced to mere conceptual agreements. The gift is the thing itself being engaged and being encountered (encountering), not what it describes itself to be. This is the challenge, this is the shift, this is the gift.

In our little and fledgling community people still ask, "now what are we doing again? what is this abbey thing all about?" I LOVE IT!!! How often are people in churches even asking what they are doing anymore? How often are people posing the question of why they even gather and for what purpose? If anything, this provides the very framework for a new form of engagement as church, as listening space(s), for encounter of God in fresh and new ways, through each other and God's ability to wonder into us.

part 2

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