Six Flippin’ Years???

Advent I Seems hard to believe, like it’s been forever but also like it was only a year or two ago at most. Yet six years ago today was my first post here at Subversive Influence. It’s not the six years of blogging that seems so unbelievable (particularly given my lack of consistency over the past year), but the events that precipitated it and the changes in our lives since that time. It was just over six years ago when the pastor I’d been working with for ten years on a in the church I’d been part of for sixteen showed up on my doorstep shortly after I’d gotten home from church one Sunday morning and gotten my kids some lunch. I stepped out onto my driveway to speak with him while he had his wife and kids sitting in the van, and he proceeded to blow a gasket, not only yelling at me and telling me my contributions were no longer welcome, but throwing some of my own vulnerabilities in my face and asking how I dared critique anything they were doing when they were serving? I’d say it was the beginning of the end, except the beginning had really come some years before that, creeping up on us unawares. Instead, this was the proverbial straw that did the camel in.

“Absolved by Attendance”

report-card.jpg When one of the Missional Tribe instigators spoke the title phrase in the midst of a conference call a couple of weeks ago, I wrote it down. Perhaps a bit of context is needed, but not much — I love the phrase for the shorthand way that it communicates so much by saying so little. In fact, this is one of the reasons I moved away from the institutional church… there can be a sense among many that simply showing up on Sunday mornings (or every time the doors are open, depending on your level of “commitment”) somehow absolves you of whatever it is for which you require absolution.

Four Years of Blogging, and I Have a New God

birthday4.jpg This weekend, on November 30th, I will mark four years of blogging. And just today, I’ve discovered that I’ve been nominated for “Best Religion/Philosophy Blog” in Canada. Wow. And voting closes tomorrow, so what can I say? Vote now? I’m kinda late getting my “campaign” started, but I only just found out I was even in the race at all. Shows how oblivious I can be — but thanks, whoever nominated me. I even get a fancy badge of honour to display. Now, in the unlikely event that I actually make the cut into the final round of voting, I’ll need y’all to go and vote again next week, okay?

The System vs. The Movement

arlo_guthrie_alice.jpg Mike Todd caught this the other day as well… Seth Godin asks, What happens when we organize? Seth opens his post with the observation that “Most power occurs because one side is better organized than the other.” This is a good description of an imbalanced power structure such as happens in the church where a divide exists between clergy and laity (Seth gives other examples). These structures are being upset in the present changing environment where Internet tools and a shift in values toward egalitarian ideals drive collaboration and spontaneous organization around a goal rather than simply falling into a rigid power or authority structure. Books such as Seth Godin’s Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us and Clay Shirkey’s Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations fill out the rest of the picture. The message is that the power structures are beginning to crumble under the realization that they really aren’t necessary, and their reaction to the changing milieu appears to be confusion — for the most part, there’s an instinctive desire to oppose this new disorganized organization, this “grassroots” movement that threatens to upset everything. Unfortunately for them, they are ill-equipped to meet this challenge; Ori Brafmann and Rod Beckstrom’s book The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations gives a good explanation of why this is so. Boiling it down to a single sentences though, one might latch onto the one which Seth Godin ended his post with, as I believe it to be highly accurate: “The system doesn’t know what to do with a movement.” They’re as ill-prepared for what’s coming at them as “Officer Opie” was.

Life After Church: A Guest Review

pencil-notebook.jpg A little while back I decided that I would like to feature a few guest-bloggers from time to time, and that I should share some of the books in my review pile around so that a few others might be able to produce some short reviews and reactions, lightening my book review load in the process. Like the other day, today’s post is a book review guest post, combining both ideas. This one is by Dianna, a friend and journeymate. We’ve known her and her husband for more than 20 years now, and we not only share a CLB, but also our current journey in a home-based small group church.

Seth Godin on Faith, Religion, & Heretics

sgtribes.jpg Today I’ve been reading Seth Godin’s latest book, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us. I began over breakfast in a local hotel restaurant, where I’ve been known to show up for breakfast with no companion other than a book. (Today it was also a prelude to an oil change.) As I read along quite enjoying myself, I arrived at page 79.

Fear, Faith, and Religion

People who challenge and then change the status quo, do something that’s quite difficult. They overcome the resistance of people they trust, people they work for, people in their community. Every step along the way, it’s far easier to stop and accept the thanks of the balloon factory workers than it is to persist and risk the humiliation of failure.

So why do it?

Halting Your Story

dontwalk.jpg On Friday I talked about Recasting Your Story and raised the question of whether the retelling of our story helps distance us from its pain and allow us to move on. This is an important question for church-leavers and I had expected a bit more dialogue on the subject… perhaps it’s not a good question for a Friday afternoon, especially based on a metaphor. I would encourage a further review of the post, as it ends with some unanswered questions which are followed by two comments which only raise more questions. For instance, if retelling our story helps remove the pain, does the retelling of hope have a negative effect? Why or why not? Friday’s post included an excerpt from Paulo Coelho‘s book, The Zahir, in which the author says “I try to understand why people are so afraid of changing.” For this discussion, there is another relevant excerpt in the book which I discovered Coelho also talks about on his blog when he mentions the concept of “the accommodating point.” He writes,

Recasting Your Story

speech-balloon.jpg Someone had recommended Paulo Coelho‘s books to me, so I picked up a couple of his titles and this week I read through The Zahir. On the whole it feels like he’s telling a story infused with a worldview, with the story being just a vehicle for the ideas, a kind of mystical interpretation of love as a force in the world. At times this wore on me because I wasn’t completely buying the worldview but I wanted to hear the story, to make it move faster… which is ironic, given theme the book. It’s a quick read though, and setting aside major portions of its theme, I wanted to appropriate an excerpt that had me thinking in metaphoric terms. Back in January 2005 I wrote some early thoughts about The Importance of Story, and more recently I wrote a piece about Coffeeshop Poets and the ways in which an older story was rejected in favour of a new one.