Wednesday, September 13

Emergent Logo Conspiracy?

image unavailableThe "friend of emergent" logo appears to have disappeared from the internet. It's not on my blog anymore (it used to be on my sidebar) and the html code for it has strangely wiped itself off my template. Seriously. Where once there was a whole line of code there is now just half a line and a gap. Weird.

Also, It's not on the emergent site any more. And I can't find any anywhere else, including the blogs of Emergent and Brian McLaren.

see for yourself: here and here.

Is this sabotage by anti-Emergent types? Possibly.

Or is it a clever trick by the people at Emergent themselves? Is it some kind of time-released theological computer virus deconstructing our desire to label everything and turn a generative fluid conversation into a branded 'movement'?

Personally, I like the fact that it's disappeared. I think the "image unavailable" cross-in-a-box thing that is generated by internet explorer is the most powerful 'logo' the emerging church conversation could have. It says "we don't have a logo", "we are not a brand", "image unavailable".

I am a friend of emergent, but I'm quite pleased my "Friend of Emergent" logo has been deconstructed.

Preaching in the Emerging Culture

I'm preparing my first sermon as Assistant Pastor at BCC at the moment. I'm enjoying my preparation so far - been swimming in the text through some Lectio Divina and using the online labyrinth to guide my meditation. Highly recommend both.

There's a sticking point though. I grew up with a style of preaching (which was excellently done Dad!) very much rooted in the logical reasoning, linear thought and rhetorical style of the modern world, and profoundly influenced by the church structures that accompanied it (or did the preaching shape the church? - more on that in a sec), for example a centralised message (the pastor does all the talking while the rest of us sit and listen).

Now that my world has changed, and I see the church very differently, how am I to preach?

This is the question bouncing in my head as I prepare for next Sunday. Gibbs and Bolger, in Emerging Churches, describe the contextual mandate excellently:

"The church continues to communicate a verbal, linear, and abstract message [I would add 'centralised' - JD] to a culture whose primary language consists of sound, visual images, and experience, in addition to words. Meaningful activity assumes the convergence of sound, sight, and touch through activities, rituals, and stories. Current patterns and styles of preaching communicate with diminishing impact. Pastors must understand the comprehensive nature of language to be heard by the culture." (p. 20)

I just read Doug Pagitt's excellent book Preaching Re-Imagined, which is a great start at asking the tough questions about our cherished preaching style (which he calls "speaching"). Certainly, the question of cultural relevance is at the heart of the book. But a more central issue being the kind of communities formed by such a style. Briefly, he argues that preaching is "a socializing force and a formative practise in a community" (p. 25) and that a centralised, controlling preaching style produces communities of people who are disempowered and consumerist. The Biblical notion of the "priesthood of all believers" (1 Pet 2:9) is not put into practise in our preaching (the Reformers tried to get this important truth back into the church, but 500 years on we're still not there).

[I would add our worship into this same equation - just look at how we sit in rows like an audience, singing along but generally being consumers of worship experiences rather than worshippers.]

Pagitt provocatively calls this kind of one-way speech-preaching "an act of relational violence" (p. 26) He's not advocating an end to preaching in emerging churches, and nor am I. But how should we preach?

Still no "Boom"

Oh dear.

Don't know what more to say on this whole affair, which has been widely blogged. It would be funny (well, it is really isn't it?) if it weren't so sad. I was thinking of blogging about the nature of prophecy, reading contextually and intelligently, and the harm caused to people's lives and God's reputation by this morbid fascination with apocalyptic date-setting. But instead I'll let the picture speak for itself and leave a link to this wonderful open letter.

[head in hands]

Tuesday, September 12

How does it feel?

Monday, September 4

fresh beans for CST

Attention all CoffeeShopTheologians...
Important news on the CST site... :)

Non-violent protest and Israelology confusion

I don't think I've posted on the Israel question before, partly because I recognize the sensitivity of the topic, partly because there's lots of great conversation happening on the subject over at Boxologies, but mostly because I haven't the foggiest what I think about the whole deal.
I've been chatting to a few people lately and I think I have the beginnings of a trajectory of thought. Allow me to share some fragmentary thoughts...
I don't buy 'Replacement' (or 'Covenant') theology. Nor do I buy Dispensationalism either [sorry for the theology speak - don't want to go into detail about these positions too much]. I've been looking for a third way.
After many conversations throwing Bible texts around, I started asking the question from a theological viewpoint. If there is a future for the Jews, what would it look like? Certainly it'd be part of God's bigger dreams for all creation - dreams for its total restoration.
Now, (and bear with me on this one) I am reasonably convinced there is a place for the Jewish people in that disputed piece of land but if that is the case, is the only option the violent expulsion of non-Jews/land-grabbing/sabre-rattling (with reactive violent anti-Semitism on the other side of that coin)? What if this 'possessing of the land' looked less like military and political conquest and more like non-violent, turning-the-other-cheek, suffering servant victory? (after all, the suffering servant imagery in Isaiah is already claimed by the Jews). What if, instead of reacting to attack with retaliation, Israel unilaterally responded by refusing to get revenge?
I'm not being idealistic (well, maybe I am, but there's a real hope too). The kind of non-violent reform this suggests may take generations to have an effect. Maybe it would endeer the international community to the case of Israel. Maybe not. Maybe it won't work in the way we expect. Maybe the 'possessing of the land' would actually look like its loss. Maybe it'll look like failure. But then again, so did the cross - and that was a victory through self-surrender second to none. Perhaps there's a political model in the cross that we've not seen in action on a national scale before. Not by might, not by power but by the Spirit of God...
This is political power that looks like weakness (and a tough manifesto to get elected on - but that's another story). But it's cruciform. It's a suffering servant mentality, and one that can effect a real victory in surprising ways, as proven by Luther King, Gandhi, Mandela, the students of Tianamen Square...
In this way, they can be a living picture of the reconciliation God dreams of for all creation - every person and every chunk of land. The New Jerusalem needn't be without a shadow in the present one.