Sunday, July 16, 2006

On Being Important

Ordinary Time
6th Sunday after Pentecost


Dave Walker made me laugh the other day with his "My Emerging Church credentials," (go ahead, click it, there's a funny cartoon and I know you like pictures) so I got to thinking, how can I help other people to be as self-important as me in the "Conversation"?

This is how it's done, near as I can tell. Understand that it's much harder if you don't have cool hair.

Even so, I believe that I am quite possibly the most significantly self-important voice in the emerging church “conversation.” I don't know why more fundamentalists are writing me to tell me I'm not saved. Oh well.

Anyway, understand that it’s all about image control. I am important on the Internet if other people talk about me. Full stop. If people you don’t know talk about you as if you are an important and influential voice in the emerging church, you are. Well, Technorati ratings and Google searches help, too...

This is how you do it.

1. Talk about Brian McLaren. Lots. Get "worried" about the "state of the Church" when you do. I met him, I like him, I enjoyed the 2 books that I read, and think he made some good points. I don’t think of him when I wake and when I lie down. But if I talk as if I did, I will be an Important Voice.

2. Start slagging off the “Institution.” I don’t think that’s a bad word myself, but if I pretend, I become more important.

3. Use words like “gospel,” “postmodern,” and “relevant” a lot. Hormonal American seminarians with limited vocabularies will immediately think you to be "missionally" brilliant and/or real damn dangerous. They will get really upset with you while you cook dinner with your housemates and make jokes about pretending to be in love with Brian McLaren and starting your own Emergent Opus Dei.

4. Complain about how there aren't enough girl bloggers in the Emergent church. Even though you're a white male. Apparently all the men folk beat them with clubs when they blog. Okay, rant time: What? Don't you guilty liberals realize that the only thing it takes to be part of the "emerging church" (which I still insist doesn't exist) is to declare yourself a "missional leader" and say you have your own "cool" and/or "relevant" and/or "postmodern" and/or "house" church? My goodness, if I have people come over to my house to have coffee and pray on a regular basis, evangelicals try to tell me I have a house church! It gets even more interesting when I realize that some of them find it threatening and some of them think it's great, even though I don't think I'm "running" (what the heck is that, anyway?) a "house church" myself!

Uh oh, I'm all worked up now. I hope Alan censes the fireplace altar this evening...

But seriously (again), I'm trying to caricature a caricature. You can check out what I think about this "emergence" thing for real over on the right sidebar, and I was pleased with Catholic blogger Aimee Milburn's short and generous take on "emerging churches."

(You know you love this. Don't even pretend you don't.)

16 comments:

+ Alan said...

I was about to say you forgot to use the word "missional" and then you did. Damnit!

I still think talking about being missional all the time is, for many, just a cool mask for talking about doing evangelism because they have evangelical guilt. Oh, did I just say that? Holy Lord.

#Debi said...

OK, so my little rant on "sacred" is up. OUCH! OW OW OW OW OW OW!!!!! Stop hitting me!!!!!!! :^)

-mike- said...

I like Incarnational better. I think it a better term and a better idea...

A said...

What's an "emerging church"?

I seem to have heard that term somewhere before, but I can't quite place it....

Brian who?

A said...

Wait, I found a definition of the "emerging church":

A movement of (mostly) dissatisfied Evangelicals, who having been starved for things mystical and sacramental in their own traditions, have "mined" lots of "cool" stuff (e.g. candles and incense and icons and the Liturgy of the Hours and monkish stuff), from Catholic and Orthodox Christianity, and have tried to morph it and incorporate it into a still largely Evangelical context thus creating a pick-and-choose eclectic theology and practice at little cost and effort, and without historical continuity.

ableknife said...

don't mind if i comment...i was just searching blogs on emerging matters and came across your witty post. thanks for the smile in the middle of this hot so cal day. anyway, not sure what books you like, but while you're perusing books and more emergent "speak", maybe check out a book called Jesus in the Margins by Rick McKinley. blessings on your journey~

Kyle said...

Oh, you kids. Cheers. :0)

A, if your source said that to me in person, I would 'splain some things to them. They'd tear up and pee a little for sure.

Cheers, ableknife. I'm glad you enjoyed my little post, and I'll take a look at that book. Good luck with the crazy heat!

Antony Hanson said...

Kyle,
I penned that definition.

So start 'splainin...if that's what you would like to do.

+ Alan said...

I would 'splain that not all "emerging churches" or people who are part of them are so shallow - that they all don't do these things out of so little an understanding of deeper things - and that probably most of the emerging phenomenon still has no connection to anything Catholic, liturgical or sacramental in any way and doesn't want to. Thas' all I would be splainin' meester A. You know we love ya - Peace.

Young and Aspiring said...

That's quite interesting!

Antony Hanson said...

Alan,
No doubt but you are correct, and forgive me for letting my cynicism show.

Yes, I know you guys love me, and you know its mutual. Peace to you all.

Kyle said...

I'm pleased to let Alan's response stand, and to leave it be.

Peace.

Thomas Mohan said...

What happens when the emergence ends - what have we got then? Once it has fully emerged will the so called emergent church cease being relevant, no longer be a voice speaking into the postmodern culture? In my recent web conference meeting with Jordan Cooper, Len Sweet and Brian McClaren we concluded that what began as an organic initiative of God's Spirit could ironically become institutionalized - and double the irony since postmoderns are captivated by irony so that irony itself becomes a metaphor of itself. Is this making sense? I hope not since by being obscure I inch a bit closer to the pantheon.

Kyle said...

I only ever hear that question as snide (I feel compelled to note), but coming from you I'll assume otherwise. Tom, I don't suppose that Christ's Church is every completely finished incarnating the Gospel into a particular cultural moment. It's ongoing. So in terms of what I think "emergence" actually is, it doen't "end."

And insofar as "Emergent" leaders are concerned with doing anything besides that, they might as well be building another denomination.

Any church that is going to self-consciously talk about being an "emerging church" but can't have a conversation about incarnational mission and the specific problems of modernity and the challenges of the postmodern condition is really just choking on its own bullshit.

Thomas Mohan said...

I looked up "snide" and found it means derogatory in a malicious, superior way. I know the word but it was one of those words my mom used to correct me but never thought to look it up. I am having trouble here figuring out when people are joking around or being serious. WHatever.

Thomas Mohan said...

Interesting to see how the word "emergence" is defined on Wikipedia, mainly in the context of science and nature. This definition gives me a sense of the dynamic vs. static nature of the word in describing the church. Not to emerge to an end stage then go to seed but rather a description of a dynamic of change which reflects the nature of God's Spirit to blow in various directions at various times.