I was looking at An Emergent Manifesto of Hope in a bookstore the other day, wondering if it would turn out to be one of those must-read books within the emerging church conversation. I mean, anything billed as a “Manifesto of Hope” must be a good thing. Still, it’s a capital-E Emergent thing, and I do tire of the brand a little… I’d rather be talking about missional themes. Steve Taylor is taking a closer look at the book — he says,
It includes the following quote from Brian McLaren: “So I am hereby giving notice that I’m not interested in arguing with anyone about modernity and postmodernity, but I would very much like to engage in honest conversation about colonialism and postcolonialism.” (143).
Well said Brian. One of 25 chapters, written by 25 different authors. Oh. All American. Yahoo. 25 American voices starting an “honest conversation about colonialism and postcolonialism.”
I continue to have an issue with the Americanization of the emerging church conversation. I mostly ignore it… but for the Americans in the conversation (on this or on missional themes), it’s rather like sleeping with an elephant. They don’t mean to steal all the covers, and they don’t even realize they’re doing it. They just don’t know how their relative size impacts those around them. I love to dialogue with the American folk, and their insights are valuable of course… but there are times when ethnocentricity creeps in, or when they just don’t understand that they are the elephant in the room.
To be fair, there’s a good discussion following Steve’s post, in which Doug Pagitt thoughtfully responds,
Hey Steve, we have worked hard to keep the Emergent convervation [sic] from the US about the US – As you know the other expressions in other countries come under the name Amahoro.
So when we in the US are speaking of the Emergent US we are not supposing to speak for the entire world, and ave worked hard to not do so. This book was a collective effort of the network in the US, that is why the authors are from the US.
And as you know from the book, the entire thing is not about colonialism – that was Brian’s contribution and a good one. So, this is not a book about colonialism, but about hope from a certain network of people – from a former colony.
Doug’s point is appropriate, but I think it’s also an example of the elephant not realizing how it impacts others when they roll over in bed. As I said, they don’t mean to do it, they just don’t realize it. And I’m still interested in reading the book.