This evening is in a way a day of closings. It’s the end of the week, and the end of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. I think our television has been on almost nonstop for 17 days now. And it’s been good seeing our Canadian athletes doing so well. 14 gold medals, more than any country has ever won in any winter Olympics. I think the early glitches of the games were pretty much forgotten as we showed the world how we party at home. People in the street spontaneously singing the national anthem? That’s pretty remarkable for any country anywhere, I’d say. And of course, we made sure to remind the world that hockey is our game. I might have over-tweeted that point, but there it is. Here we are being Canadian… thoroughly proud to the core of all our athletes who scored a podium finish, and feeling sorry for those who didn’t, whether those others are Canadian or not.
Brian McLaren’s new book (A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith) has just been released, and it’s already causing a bit of a firestorm. I’m still awaiting my copy, but plan to look through it at his ten questions and interact with those once I’ve been able to consider them in more detail. In the meantime, there are a few things upon which I really feel the need to comment, and since I have a ready-built platform, there’s nobody to stop me. I apologize for the length of the post — I went back to see if I could split it up into two parts, but it just doesn’t work very well to do that. It’s long, but I think it’s important. Thanks in advance for bearing with me, and reading on. And if you get bored, skip down — I summarize at the end.
This is a summary of some of the posts I’ve written over the past couple of years defining missional. Most notable among these are two series that I did on the subject. The first was my exploration of the topic, and the second was a summary of the posts contributed in a synchroblog on the question. I’ve marked a couple of the notable posts with an asterisk.
Defining Missional Series (August-September 2007)
• The Dangers of Missionalism & The Dangers of Language
• Aloha, Missional
• *Missional Essentials: A Short List
• *Understanding Missional: Personalizing the Central Tenets
• Missional Definitions: A Brief Survey
• Missional Interlude, with Post-Christendom Considerations
• Missio(nal) Dei?
• Missional Reading, Pre-Missional
• Coming Up… (Summary; overuse of “missional”)
• The Keys to the Missional Kingdom (Kingdom of God)
• The Mission of Missional
• Missional Theory: Cultural Relativity vs. Ethical Relativity (Contextualization)
• Interpreting Christ (incarnation)
• Missional as the Defragmentation of Missions
The Biblical Learning Blog Has complied a list of the Top 50 Ecumenical Blogs, and for some reason they stuck me on it in the “Emergence Outreach” category. My crony Bill Kinnon, who slotted in under the “Reaching Out” category. Meanwhile, I’m reading Sarah Bessey’s excellent post In which [she has] discovered that [she doesn’t] care about the emerging church anymore and wondering if they might take away the latest designation for my wall if I’m not as emerging as I once was.
Well, I started out with some prognostication, and then I got distracted, and got back on track regarding my thoughts on The Decade Ahead for the Emerging Church. As I set up my thoughts and predictions (scary word) in that post, I asked three pairs of questions, the last of which was, “where is the world outside the church in all of this? Do they benefit at all, or are they worse off?” And then I pretty much didn’t answer that one, just the other two. This set of questions is fundamentally different because they have to do with the church’s interaction with the world, and are therefore the most important (certainly to the missional crowd, at least). For these reasons, I felt a separate post was warranted.
Well, I started out with some prognostication, and then I got distracted. It’s easy to get lost when you’re talking about the future, which is inherently hard to see anyway. But let’s get back on track nonetheless. As I was saying, the emerging church was set to become more mainstream, and it has done so in the past couple of years. This is not to say that the self-fashioned heresy-hunters are happy, but that’s not something that’s about to happen anyway. (Not ever, that’s their schtick.) Evangelicalism, however, has become more comfortable with certain forms and contributions from the emerging church. For those who followed along in the past year, you might think this is convenient, because evangelicalism is dead as well as the emerging church, or they’re at least on side-by-side deathbeds. What a pretty pair they make, gasping for breath to tell you that rumours of their demise have been greatly exaggerated. The precise meaning of the word “greatly” in this instance is still in some dispute.
Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
Some movies yield many memorable lines.
Crash, Eddie: Were you killed?
Buck: Sadly, yes. — But I lived!
Sometimes I start to wonder if we even know what we’re saying anymore.
But let’s clarify.
I think Andrew meant unorthodox as in unusual or breaking with convention, rather than unorthodox as in a doctrine at variance with the officially recognized position. But I could be wrong. I do know that we’re losing our grip on the meaning of the word “marriage” — not for talk of extending it (or not) to gay and lesbian unions, but for talk of whether it represents a spiritual or a legal union and whether it’s a contract or a covenant and what technicalities facilitate their binding constitution or allowable dissolution.
Now how’s that for a nearly-random image? My Random Acts of Linkage posts have been fairly popular over the last 134 installments. Maybe part of that was because it always gave people something to read on Saturday mornings. Over the last many months they’ve dropped off from being every Saturday to being more well, random in their frequency. So here we are with installment #135 of my Random Acts of Linkage, now with added randomness! I just wanted to give people more of what they like. Who says I don’t respond to the demands of my readers?
Note: there has been some further dust-up in the discussion between the Joneses. I want to comment on that, and I want to say something about what I think the future holds for the church on the brink of a new decade. But before I get to those items in my next post(s), I’ve decided to publish the following one, which I wrote and left in draft form after Tony Jones posted his rebuttal and before Andrew Jones posted his response to Tony. And if you’re not following that thread, just ignore this preamble and pay attention to what follows.
It’s become tradition for me to end the year with a look back at some favorite posts from the preceding year, and the end of 2009 should be no exception. Not only does it allow me to highlight some good content that others may have missed, it lets me reflect on the year just passed to outline some of the pertinent topics of conversation and what may (or may not) have changed over the last twelve months.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer spent Christmas of 1943 in prison where he’d been since April of that year. Most of you know the story — a German Lutheran pastor, theologian, member of the German Resistance movement against Nazism, and a founding member of the Confessing Church. Bonhoeffer had been arrested for his involvement in plans by members of the Abwehr (the German Military Intelligence Office) to assassinate Adolf Hitler. As Christmas approached in 1943, he wrote the following in a letter to his parents:
A few things crossed my path this week, in the wake of Copenhagen perhaps, where I was embarrassed by the title of “Colossal Fossil” that was bestowed upon my country. And then a friend of mine said he “got grumpy” and made up his own Christmas greeting card, which I thought was worth sharing.
Then there was this video about climate change, “The Big Ask”.
According to the video, it’s not all that complicated, but still on MSNBC this week there was this yahoo claiming that global warming was not man-made and was not a serious problem on which we need to act.