Postmodernism and the developing very Modern Emergent “movement”

In our Liturgy and Suffering course, we are going through Postmodernist thinkers as Jim Farwell, our professor, is setting up a way of approaching suffering, and theodicy in general, so that we do not deal with it superficially or just stuff the topic intoÂ… what? (and other stuff).
As Dr. Farwell spoke in class today, I thought of the differences between the “pop-postmodernist” ideas floating around and the stuff presented by postmodern thinkers such as Derrida and Lyotard (among others).
The “Emergent” conversation going on presently among some Christians is quickly dividing into two basic camps. Those who see themselves in the honest postmodern camp and who characterize themselves as having a “conversation” are of one camp, and in the other camp are those streaming toward the newest fad and who want to replicate the successes of some Emergent churches, they are striving to build a “movement.” This latter group is building structures that seem diametrically opposed to the openness of honest postmoderns (or something like that).
“Emergent” is a conversation, not a movement. The success of Emergent, it seems to me and if it truly is what the “conversation” camp is making it out to be, then cannot be an attempt to place it into Modernist structures or within the trajectory of such other movements as the “Seeker” church movement, etc. An honest Emergent, it would seem, does not see the conversation developing onward and into the next big thing, the next movement, the NEXT work of God, but of considering that other which is outside the framework of Modernism – seeking to converse about that which has not yet been considered. I think, anyway.
There is, of course, yet anther way.

Problems with Cohen

‘Ex-gay’ therapist cited for ethics breeches
Tom Musbach, PlanetOut Network
Wednesday, January 26, 2005 / 06:19 PM
Richard Cohen, an influential figure in the “ex-gay” movement, has been permanently expelled from the American Counseling Association (ACA) because of ethics violations, according to an ACA document…
Read the rest
Here is a very good opinion piece by Mel White concerning Fundamentalists (from a variety of religions) who blame the Tsunami in part on homosexuals.
We have been warned: A closer look at extremists who blame LGBT people for disasters
by the Rev. Dr. Mel White, executive director, Soulforce
December 16, 2004
After the catastrophic tsunamis struck on Dec. 26, most religious leaders of every faith rushed to their pulpits and urged their members to support the victims of this natural tragedy with prayers, food, clothing, medicine and money…
Read it here

Leadership in the 21st Century

From In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen. The noted professor who taught at Notre Dame, Yale, and Harvard moved to be the priest of a mentally and physically handicapped residential ministry.

“These broken, wounded, and completely unpretentious people forced me to let go of my relevant self – the self that can do things, show things, prove things, build things – and forced me to reclaim that unadorned self in which I am completely vulnerable, open to receive and give love regardless of any accomplishments.
I am telling you all this because I am deeply convinced that the Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self. That is the way Jesus came to reveal God’s love…
Jesus’ first temptation was to be relevant: to turn stones into bread… (p.30)
Beneath all the great accomplishments of our time there is a deep current of despair. While efficiency and control are the great aspirations of our society, the loneliness, isolation, lack of friendship and intimacy, broken relationships, boredom, feelings of emptiness and depression, and a deep sense of uselessness fill the hearts of millions of people in our success-oriented world.
And the cry that arises from behind all of this decadence is clearly: ‘Is there anybody who really cares? Is there anybody who wants to stay home for me? Is there anybody who wants to be with me when I am not in control, when I feel like crying? Is there anybody who can hold me and give me a sense of belonging? Feeling irrelevant is a much more general experience than we might think when we look at our seemingly self-confident society.
It is here that the need for a new Christian leadership becomes clear. The leaders of the future will be those who dare to claim their irrelevance in the contemporary world as a divine vocation that allows them to enter into a deep solidarity with the anguish underlying all the glitter of success, and to bring the light of Jesus there. (p.33-35)

Henri Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership, (New York: Crossroad Publishing Co., 1989).

SpongeBob and the UCC

I’m sure many have heard of this recent incident. James Dobson and Focus on the Family are claiming that SpongeBob Squarepants and other cartoon characters are being used to promote the gay-agenda. Now, the United Church of Christ has issued a press release unequivocally stating that SpongBob is absolutely welcome in their churches. Check out the press release and picture!
I have watched a whole lot of SpongeBob Squarepants episodes with my nephew. I love ’em!

To love with no agenda

In the New York Times Magazine there appeared a story on the new forms of Christian community popping up all over the place. This is a quote from Jay Bakker, who is part of Revolution Mnistries. (Jay is the son of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, from the PTL Club. Remember them?)

”We’re just trying to love people with no agenda,” he told the group. ”That’s hard, to be a Christian and have no agenda, and it’s hard for people to think of a Christian with no agenda.”

Link to article.

Apostle Paul reinterprets OT scripture?

Here is something interesting to consider in relation to scriptural interpretation adapting scripture over time. It comes from the HB/HD Listserv.

I wonder if a quote from Ephesians 6:2-3, from the readings at Morning
Prayer today, might have considerable significance concerning
biblical interpretation. It appears to me that Paul himself had adapted a
scriptural passage to fit his contemporary world.
“Honor your father and mother”-this is the first commandment with a
promise: “so that it may be well with you and you may live long
on the earth.” (Eph. 6:2-3)
The last word in that quote is the same in NRSV, REB and KJV (translating
the Greek word “ge”), however the Exodus 20:12 quote
“Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the
land that the LORD your God is giving you.”
I have to believe that Paul knew that the original commandment referred to
the “Promised Land” – Canaan. However, Paul was a part
of the Jewish Diaspora, a native of Tarsus, which was far from Canaan.
Paul took a specific quote from scripture and deliberately expanded it to
fit his contemporary world. I believe he did this to
affirm a wider view of God’s love than the original text intended. I
believe that he was right. I believe that his expanded quote
fits perfectly with Jesus’ habit of saying, “You have heard…, but I
say…” I believe that we are expected to, and have biblical
mandates to, expand our understanding of biblical truths to fit our
expanding knowledge of the creation and our expanding experience
of the unlimited love of God for all.
Bill Fleener, Sr.
Priest of the Diocese of Western Michigan, retired

Cast me gently into morning

If it takes a whole life I won’t break I won’t bend
It’ll all be worth it worth it in the end
‘Cause I can only tell you what I know
That I need you in my life
And when the stars have all burned out
You’ll still be burning so bright
Cast me gently into morning for the night has been unkind

– Sarah McLachlan, Answer, Afterglow

Gay Marriage: Broken or Blessed? Two Evangelical Views

Okay, here is another interesting piece. On the American Public Media radio program “Speaking of Faith,” there was a resent episode entitled “Gay Marriage: Broken or Blessed? Two Evangelical Views.” Richard Mouw (President of Fuller Theological Seminary) and Virginia Mollenkott (author of “Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?”) give their perspectives.
It is well done. If only we could deal with this whole issue in the manner that these two do, we would be far better off. Listen to the episode is you can.