I’ve been intrigued for a while now with the idea of an unconference. I mean, I really got conferenced-out through the 90’s… the 80’s were still fun, but by the time the calendar rolled over “00” I couldn’t be bothered. But The recent Allelon gathering to discuss the formation of a Missional Order looked different. I decided to give it a chance.
This week I’m at a retreat center in Seabeck, WA meeting with 40 or so pastors, writers, bloggers, leaders, and “laypeople” to discuss the creation of a Missional Order. Notables include Andrew Jones, Rick Meigs, Alan Roxburgh, Bill Kinnon, Pete Askew from Northumbria, Bob Roxburgh, Mark Priddy, Len Hjalmarson. I’m looking forward to meeting new friends and to seeing and catching up with others that I “know” online or have only met once or twice before. I also owe Andrew Jones a beer, despite the fact we’ve never met in person before… so hopefully I can pay up. The Internet has really changed social interaction — I’m flying out a day early to spend an evening with old college friends that I’d lost touch with for about twelve or fifteen years before renewing contact through Facebook.
Dale Allison Jr. speculates in The Luminous Dusk: Finding God in the Deep, Still Places on wonder, and the impact of its loss. He gets there by observing a shift over time in the way people interpret and respond to major events such as natural disasters or even human-inspired catastrophes. Where once people would assume some fault in their relationship with God or the gods, they now assume some fault in God himself, if he exists: “Before 1700, misfortune made people doubt firstly themselves, not God and the Christian faith. Obviously, much depends on our prior inclinations. My question then is, What accounts for prior inclinations? In particular, what accounts for the medieval tendency to believe, or for the modern tendency to disbelieve?” (p.6-7) Just so we don’t get sidetracked, let’s imagine he’s using “modern” in its non-technical form to mean “today” despite the apparent reference to pre-modernity or post-medieval times, and despite the later reference to “us moderns.” I don’t consider myself “a modern” but perhaps the ongoing shift is the appropriate context for these observations… but we’re not getting sidetracked. Allison notes there can be no one answer, and goes on to consider possibilities, beginning with the concept of wonder, which is what I want to major on here.