Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Potholes (and worse) in the Road Ahead for Emergent

I've spent several months reading about Emergent. I've watched the PBS reports on Emergent several times over the past week, read the transcript of the first installment, etc. I've read the blogs, etc.

I'm still excited about the Emergent conversation/movement. I think that, in contrast to mainstream Evangelicalism, we are trying to answer the right questions. Honestly, the world around us is asking questions that traditional Evangelicalism is not prepared to ask or answer.
But I see some dangerous bumps in the road ahead. Over the coming week, I will write in this space about some of the potential crises I see in the road ahead.

Anyway: on to the Potholes

I guess the easiest way for me to begin describing the dangers I see ahead is to begin with the Religion and Ethics Newsweekly pieces. I have some REALLY mixed feelings about how they made Emergent / emerging look.

They played up the edgy, new-agey, anti-authoritarian aspects of the "movement." They made it look like our raison d'etre is to cater to selfish, self-absorbed 20-somethings (and unreconstructed hippies like myself) who want a "smorgasbord" Christianity: "a little bit of this and a little bit of that and I get a Christianity that doesn't offend me or make me do things I don't want to do."

I KNOW that the conversation/movement is about more than that. Do most of the people in the movement have yoga in church? A DJ mixing Sinead O'Connor hymns with Afro-Cuban rhythms? Couches instead of seats or pews? The conversation/movement is not about those things--they're trappings.

It's about an ethos of openness and complexity and ambiguity.

It's about accepting the multivalence (but not omnivalence, I would argue) of biblical texts.

It's about Christianity that is relational AND experiential AND historical & biblical--and a few other things that end in -al as well that I can't think of at the moment.

It's about community, relationships that go deeper than the surface.

It's about Christianity that is NOT so permeated with (Brueggemann's term) "the script of technological therapeutic militaristic consumerism" that it is inseparable from conservative Republican evangelicalism.

(And HEY! I AM a conservative Republican evangelical, I like "technological therapeutic militaristic consumerism". But I don't let that be the script for my life, I just happen to think Christianity is bigger than my individual political philosophy.)

That's enough to get me started. More tomorrow.



Anonymous andrew said...

i am just glad that we are more than the sum of our critics and the media - who see certain things and chose to ignore others.

lets not be defined by our critics or our fans

11:00 AM  

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