life is good

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Emerging Emergent

It's snowing on the field behind our house. It doesn't snow much here in southern middle Tennessee. People get excited (scared excited) at the mention of it, but it rarely happens. I've been pretending that that's my problem with the area--that it doesn't snow enough. And the truth is, I love snow, but I also love a brisk but cozy fall day in the woods, and the overwhelming pulse of the summer sun that puts me in my place while I run---oh and the artistic display that is spring in the "Southland". You see, southern middle Tennessee offers all of that...with abundance.

The real problem is that my soul has not been still for a long time.

I am not one to jump onboard with the latest thing, the latest movement, the new direction. Mostly those things come and go and I fear looking foolish. One of those areas of new venture often talked about in the corners of the blogosphere that I frequent is that of the "emerging" movement. When I do enter into or participate in something big, it's not usually through the front door. (I saw Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and THEN Star Wars).

So I've asked many of the same questions that others have asked when studying the emergent movement. "Great, but what is it?", "How will it help the church to be the The Church for us to gather over cool Youth Specialty style backpacks." You hear that emergent is a conversation--but my guard was up and I fully expected the next big machine of capitalism to rear its head. I didn't doubt or resent anything or anyone, I just couldn't find the answers to the questions I had. I read Generous Orthodoxy, I listened to Leonard Sweet, I followed with interest the success and failures of faithful churches across the country, I read Blue Like Jazz. Having finally taken the time to sit down with Brian McLaren's A New Kind of Christian, his explanation of (what is now) the emerging movement has finally given me the handle I've longed for. In the introduction, he compares his effort to a philosophical dialogue not unlike the style employed by Galileo when he challenged the status quo centuries ago. He quotes Galileo, "I have thought it most appropriate to explain these concepts in the form of dialogue...[to] make room also for digressions, which are sometimes no less interesting than the principle argument." All the talk of "paradigm shifts" for the last ten years had gotten rather hollow, but now I these words have helped reveal the heart of a new/old Christianity.

Maybe I've come late to love the place where I am, but I do. I don't just mean southern middle Tennessee, but this place in the church where I see with eyes of hope because God has always been calling us to emerge from the limits we put on ourselves.