Every now and then I get behind (or way behind) on links and stuff I want to post. I put some of these into my “Unfinished Reading” list in the sidebar… this functions like a “blog within a blog” but only allows me a limited amount of text and a single link per post. It does have its own RSS Feed, so you can watch that space as well. So here I am trying to catch up with stuff about which I wanted to spin more words than a nominal amount off in the sidebar.
First up is the blogosphere buzz on Brian McLaren’s three-part post chronicling his journey in response to critics. Or a critic, perhaps. Find it recorded as Part ,  and . Regardless of where you see Brian and whether you view him with horns or halo, I urge taking the time to sit down and read his story, giving it due consideration. Part 3 includes an epilogue to A Generous Orthodoxy in which he answers the question of what he’d do differently. Hearing the story of someone’s journey honours them and makes it so much easier to understand what they’re saying. Although released in a series, I recommend this one be read through in a single sitting if possible, so intentionally waited to link the first two posts. A pdf of the whole thing is forthcoming. In response to Brian’s series, Scot McKnight posts a thank-you and Jason Clark posts a reflection.
Speaking of books, our Height-Endowed Kiwi friend and Brian Baute are both talking about Dangerous Stories the forthcoming book by The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the 21 Century Church authors Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch. TSOTTC rates highly with me and afaik with anyone else who’s ever read even excerpts from it, so I’m eagerly awaiting the new one. Brian Baute reports that it will “bring insights from the Chinese House Church movement into the wider emerging missional church conversation.” My early thought on house churches and missional living involved significant reflection on church structures in China, so their new book is somehow starting to resonate with me before it’s even published. Here’s a tidbit from my reflection though… while the attractional church may tell you that persecution is a catalyst for church growth in China — and I won’t argue — how do they know that the more significant catalyst isn’t the structure of the churches themselves?
Then there’s Dan Kimball’s description of the ten phases of Reality Church where people move from being excited about Jesus to overcommittment to disillusionment to being happy and balanced. Each phase has a look to it — pictured here is Phase Eight, in which we go see The Dukes of Hazzard movie. This reminds me of two things: first, back in college days, so many of us got overinvolved that we used to quip, “Would you like to overcommit your life to Christ?” It stopped being funny at the time, like those jabs that are true enough to be sad rather than funny. The other thing is that I went with a friend to see Batman Begins about a month ago, and we saw the preview for the Dukes movie. I leaned over and said to him, “Looks like a mindless escape into one big endless car chase. I’ll probably go see it.” He being still in an institutional church seemed to think the movie was a probably a waste of celluloid. He might be right, but to see him speechless was worth it. At least Batman was worthwhile, and now thanks to Dan Kimball’s efforts I know that I’m only two phases from a happy balanced life. Seriously, it’s a good description of the detox process — or it would be if the journey he described didn’t end up in the same church that it started from… I think the majority make a break in the ninth and tenth stages and move into a more missional or emerging church expression.
Fresh from the “Updates Department,” there’s Daryl Dash on Moving from attraction to mission/incarnation (background discussion started by Hamo) and there is Si Johnston’s second installment on emergen-cy ecclesiologies? and John Frye continuing to re-imagine the pastoral role in Pastor: “Good Shepherd” as Servant-Leader. In a similar vein, there’s Darren Moore’s blog post, The Web of Interconnectedness Based on Jesus’ Servanthood Teaching in Mark and the Emerging Church. On the whole, we could stand to have a much better understanding of Jesus’ notion of servant leadership, or the servant posture of the pastoral role. We’ve had enough of pastoral CEO’s. Besides these, there’s yet another review of D.A. Carson’s idea of Emergent. Speaking of DA, sounds like he’s refused to dialogue with Doug Pagitt. Word has it for the second printing (to keep up with sales of A Generous Orthodoxy), that the book will be retitled from Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and Its Implications to instead be Launching a Monologue Against a Caricature of the Emerging Church Conversation: Misunderstanding Brian McLaren, Emergent, and Other Voices in a Fresh New Movement. Okay, not really — but can we at least hope, even in vain?
Also interesting is Van S on Incarnational Practices — the link is to part 3 in a series (okay, here’s Part 1 plus Part 2 and Part 4). Van S also has one of the better posts on the much-blogged (but quite excellent) Bono interview, “Grace over Karma”. Quoth Bono, “Religion can be the enemy of God. It’s often what happens when God, like Elvis, has left the building. [laughs] A list of instructions where there was once conviction; dogma where once people just did it; a congregation led by a man where once they were led by the Holy Spirit.” And later, “[I]f only we could be a bit more like [Jesus], the world would be transformed. â€¦When I look at the Cross of Christ, what I see up there is all my s— and everybody else’s. So I ask myself a question a lot of people have asked: Who is this man? And was He who He said He was, or was He just a religious nut? And there it is, and that’s the question. And no one can talk you into it or out of it.” Thou speakest well, Bono.
Also of note is Bob Carlton asking the pointed question, If I saw the face of God and Love, would I change? …and then from the obscure observations desk, there’s Late night mongrel epiphanies. Lastly, and with this I’ll quit (at least for now), there’s Millinerd on Art and the (Emergent) Church, which contains the Millinerdesque disclaimer, “By the way, if the following views are not deemed Emergent someone please let me know. Maybe I’ll be privileged to be the first disciplinary case in Emergent. Perhaps, in their eagerness to recover ancient spiritual practices, they’ll use the Rosary of Shame.” Indeed. Other thoughtful stuff then follows, but perhaps the Rosary of Shame is a good idea for those who refuse to engage in dialogue… maybe I’ll bring up the idea at theology pub on Friday… but not before the third round… ;^)