“Wealth is now defined, at least in part, by the ability to be offline whenever you want” Fernando Gros.
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Blog // Thoughts
September 27, 2007

With A Wink And A Nod…

Back in November of last year I wrote some new goals for this blog. One of them was to devote less time to the Emerging Church (which, in part, might explain the fall in traffic and linkeage to this blog). My goal was to devote less time to “… the conceptual debates around what is, […]

Back in November of last year I wrote some new goals for this blog. One of them was to devote less time to the Emerging Church (which, in part, might explain the fall in traffic and linkeage to this blog). My goal was to devote less time to

“… the conceptual debates around what is, or is not the emerging church and the conflicts between supporters and defenders of the movement.”

What comes through in the rest of that post was a desire to sidestep a lot of negativity, name-calling and abstraction from lived reality that frames so “Christian” debates about ecclesiology and mission. That is part of a growing realisation of how to orient my participation in Christian communities on a whole bunch of levels – from academic writing, discussion and future study, through local church involvement, to virtual connections. Lately it has iformed decisions about Facebook and today, it was the main reason behind pulling the plug on my involvement with a Christian forum where I have posted for some years.

I’m a weary guy – tired of the namecalling, tired of the bullies, tired of felling compelled to choose sides in debates that are tangental to the everyday reality of my mission and spirituality.

So, why am I even bothering to comment on the recent fracas over Mark Driscoll’s latest rant? Well, simply because I’ve put his name up on this forum in the past as a guy who said a few things about mission that I agree with. Although subsequent posts on Driscoll reveal a downward trend (here, here and here).

Part of me wants to join the absurdity-embracing wink-brigade (Doug, Josh and Joshua – love the buddy Jesus wink dude!!!). But, the truth is this just makes me feel sad at a very deep level – so I’m joing the post-winkers (like Steve and C. Scott). It also reminds me of some profound experiences that have marked the journey towards the emerging and missional conversation.

PoMo Pirate was at the conference (HT to Steve) and comments,

“Right now I think the last thing the Church needs are white dudes with clinched fists, especially when what they are clenching is “God’s Truth.””

Amen. Back in the mid-90s I recall a number of times where the unresolved anger of people I had respected around me in the church started to weigh very heavily. When that same anger started to appear in my own thoughts it was clear that a change was needed. The Driscoll-affair kind of maps the experience I had back in the 90s church of Sydney, on the edges of the Evangelical movement. It reminds me of The Briefing versus The Baptists, the whole “how to have a Godly controversy” mindset, of ministers who were “happy to see the back” of Sydney evangelicals in their congregations. It also reminds me of the horrid convolutions some friends went through to be seen as a “safe pair of hands” – invited on the right programmes, and welcomed into the career-advancing networking opportunities.

On a not unrelated tack, Anthony Smith has come out of blog-retirement at Musings of a Postmodern Negro (HT again to Steve) to comment,

“I’m tired of choosing between white Christian males in my arbitration of truth. Some things just don’t end. 500 years of presumptive white male theologizing is just too deeply wedded to Western Christianity.”

No single experience at theological college cut to my soul more devastatingly than an Urban Mission class where I had to sit through a lecture on racial integration – it was Christianity as a tool for social and suburban normalisation. From that point on it became harder and harder to accept Anglo-Celtic (white) guys desribing to me how I should interpret (or reject) my “ethnic” and “multicultural” experience and how important for my pastoral “career” it was to be seen as a steady Anglicised, suburban guy. In other words, I was being encouraged to lie.

Finally, Brother Maynard at Subversive Influence goes into nice detail about what is ultimately wrongheaded and un-ecclesiological about the debate and maybe even about the way I’ve posted on it here. Please read his thoughts and consider them.

I’ve always been at the extreme edge of the emerging/emergent/missional “conversation.” I’m not much of a joiner, networker of conference-goer. I’m not that guy. But, I’ve been attracted because of the warmth of some of the people I’ve met, both online and in person. I’ve also been attracted by the honesty and non-combativeness. I stay connected because of the desire to talk about everyday faith, everyday spirituality, everyday mission. The sad realisation is that there seems to be no way to avoid the name-calling and intellectual violence.

[tags] Mark Driscoll, Angry White Christians, Evangelicalism [/tags]

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8
Responses
c. wess daniels 12 years ago

I’m with your fernando. I don’t think we need any more provoking personally. I don’t think I’ve ever posted on Driscoll, and trust me I’ve got lots of opinions about the guy. But I’d rather take the offensive and keep doing what I’m doing, and not sling mud, even if it’s full of winks. There’s too much else to do to worry about what some “Reformed Radical” is waxing on about.

Actually, this just made me think of the reading I’ve been doing on Yoder. For Yoder any grasp at power is coercive, if we think of control as a way that we can get our point across we are no longer in line with Jesus’ total renunciation of violence. I like all these guys who are doing it, some of them I consider friends (in the blogging sense) but I do think this is a grasp at power and control. It doesn’t appear to be turning the other cheek or praying for one’s enemies.

Paul 12 years ago

yep, personally i’m for Apollos, oops sorry that’s so first century. By far the most balanced and in my opinion worthwhile post on the subject is this one by Duncan if anyone is still interested in listening, reflecting and open honest engagement/challenge anymore?? wink wink nod nod 😉

Fernando Gros 12 years ago

Bringing Yoder’s idea of coercive power into this issue seems like the right move. I wonder if maybe we should also be asking about mimeticr rivalry, what tempts us to join the fray.

For me this is all hard discipleship stuff, because I was trained for ministry in a power-oriented context.

Fernando Gros 12 years ago

Apollos, Paul, et al. – nice way to frame it. Yes, there is an issue here of choosing sides in a jejune way. Duncan’s post was a good read, but I felt dumped back in the wash of (famous) names. What’s dawning on me (again?) is that these names are *very* tangental to the everyday context I find myself in. It’s not really about the names for me, more about the abstraction of the debate.

Duncan McFadzean 12 years ago

Fernando, I agree. In my context, as someone involved with a lot of students, it seemed to make a bit of sense to discuss it. Plus I find value and nonsense in both of them, as I’m sure they would in me. I guess it might even be our comfort zone, that to discuss what someone else said is a little bit more of the day I don’t have to live it……..thanks for the reference.

Andrew Hamilton 12 years ago

Yes – I am tired too.

I feel in the exploration of what it means to be a missionary like I got drawn into a fight I didn’t want to have. I tend to go hard for a cause and don’t mind a bit of a fight so I got stuck in for a while…

But some days I just want to walk away and have a good long shower.

It all gets a bit tiring… and maybe even silly.

Fernando Gros 12 years ago

Andrew, I can see exactly what you are saying. In fact, your comment reminded me of what I used to call “the crush.” What I saw as a young (naive) minister was ordinary Christians in churches trying to “get on with it,” sometimes in innovative and what we would now call missional ways and higher-ups in the denoms all too interested in abstract debates and namecalling. I recall talking to one well known fellow about a church I was involved with and he just talked in total abstraction, referencing the fights of the day. I know he was trying to “describe” what I was doing and where that church was located, but it just seemed so crushing. In fact, the downward crush came to be something of a metaphor for what was wrong with these debates.

Fernando Gros 12 years ago

Duncan – it does make sense to discuss it and in your context it is probably very worthwhile. I guess part of the challenge is not just to talk about it, but to go somewhere with it. For me, I’m in a place where the tension of devoting a lot of “headspace” to issues that have no practical, everyday purchase, is becoming untenable.

Put simply, the next dinner party I go to, someone may well talk about Richard Dawkins, but 100 to 1 they won’t talk about Mark Driscoll or the emerging church.

In fact, I’m pretty sure it is over a year since I had a “real world” conversation with anyone where Mark’s name came up!

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