This past weekend was the The Great Emergence one-day seminar in Winnipeg with Phyllis Tickle, sponsored by FaithForum (and others). Clearly, the event centered around Ms. Tickle’s book, The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why. A few of us (Jamie Howison, Jamie Arpin-Ricci, Lesley Harrison, and yours truly) were invited to participate in a panel discussion and present a workshop, leaving two plenary sessions for Ms. Tickle, the last of which included a good Q&A session.
Update 7-Oct-08: If you’re arriving via the link from Kelly “Beefcake” Hughes’ weekly email update, welcome. And just so you know, cat blogging is *not* the norm around here. Poke around and see for yourself.
It’s gone so far now that we’re blogging about how we’re tired of talking about the topic we’re blogging about. Again. Oh, don’t worry — I’m no better. So here we go again, but this time it’s Scot McKnight posting on the latest bruhaha with some new info, or new perspective on old info. I bring this up not because we need to say it once again that there’s discussion about the continued use of the term “Emergent,” or for that matter, “emerging.”
I read Jamie Howison’s new book, Come to the Table on the weekend — or part of the weekend, as it’s only 76 pages. It actually began as a paper exploring the basis for the practice of “open table” at St. Benedict’s Table. Open table refers to the practice of serving communion to people who present themselves to receive the elements, regardless whether or not they have been baptized. Now, this is not a very Anglican thing to do, since strictly speaking, traditionally those who expect to receive communion should have been baptized and confirmed. None of this is really an issue in evangelical circles, but in others I understand it’s pretty much grounds for scandal. Indeed, “from my evangelical days, baptism is not viewed as inherently for regeneration,” so the question seems a little farfetched to some, but with a bit of thought to the subject, one realizes that the communion table has actually been the dividing line between many a denomination or church group.
Today is the Feast Day for St. Benedict of Nursia (c.480-547). An Italian Saint, Benedict was the founder of twelve monastic communities, the most well-known being his first at Monte Cassino in the mountains of southern Italy. He likely did not intend to found a religious order — the Order of St. Benedict originated much later as “a confederation of congregations into which the traditionally independent Benedictine abbeys have affiliated themselves for the purpose of representing their mutual interests, without [losing] any of their autonomy.” In dealing with the number of people coming to the monastery, he wrote a “Rule of Life” referred to as the Rule of St. Benedict, which “became one of the most influential religious rules in Western Christendom. For this reason Benedict is often called ‘the founder of western Christian monasticism.'” The Roman Catholic Church canonized him in 1220.
Last night I took in St. Ben’s “Theology by the Glass” — a name change from “Theology Pub” since, technically, it’s held in a restaurant rather than a pub. We were discussing a brief interview with Phyllis Tickle last year on “The Future of the Emerging Church,” so the conversations ran to some interesting spots. Up for discussion was the contention that the church has a major shift every 500 years (so we’re due) and the metaphor of a “vortex like a whirlpool” where various traditions are blending into the emerging church. Of course, there were many an additional topic that we hit as well, from third places to missional vs. emerging vs. Emergent to postmodernity, even the names of Lesslie Newbigin, N.T. Wright, Brian McLaren and Ray Oldenburg came up. Book recommendations were made and written down, and of course the subject of the Anglican contribution the mix was thrown in for good measure. I met some new people that were full with good resonating conversation, and I had this strange moment of being a recognition target. A fellow who I’ve met a few times before (the legendary WInnipeg used book sale, kids in the same school, and of course St. Ben’s) said “So that’s Brother Maynard!” when Jamie Howison “outed” me. Turns out he’s been reading my blog for a while now, so it’s an interesting connection point. (Hi, John!) The evening ended for the last three of us out on the pavement around midnight a little while after the waitress told us they were closed and it was time to leave. Yes, we got kicked out.
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks, off and on, singing with Jenny Moore-Koslowsky. Not in person, of course — Jenny is in London, studying with her husband Conrad. And when I say “singing with,” of course I mean quietly, along with a CD safely playing at a louder volume. In the interest of not creating an auditory nuisance under some local bylaw, I don’t really do so much actual singing.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me back up, as it helps to know a little something about this project.
A couple of days ago I mentioned a visit to St. Ben’s and thoughts from John 10. There have been some good bits of conversation around that, including Matt Thomas’ post as well as comments in the thread here. I noted today that Jamie Howison has posted part of his Homily from Sunday evening, including a great metaphor from Dr. Alf Bell about an old sheep. As it turns out, I had coffee with Jamie this afternoon — we made a point of finding an independent coffee house rather than the nearest place with a circular green logo. Both of us lean strongly toward the independent shops rather than the “big chain.” Interestingly, it seems that locally-owned coffee houses actually do better with a few Starbucks around, according to something called The Venti Effect. In addition to discussing a point or two about my continued Anglicanization and several themes around writing, Jamie tipped me off to a forthcoming CD release this weekend — I’m hoping to be able to post a review soon.
Advent is a season of waiting. My friend friend the priest (who also writes about Advent, including prayers for Advent) says that we need to be careful not to rush into Christmas too early — and he’s right, of course. As children, we have a waiting anticipation for the approach of Christmas. As adults, it always arrives too soon. We enter into a frenetic pace somewhere in mid-November. We let it creep up on us and slowly build until the week before Christmas when we’re frantically buying one more gift or somebody’s cousin’s aunt or weird-uncle-Hal’s girlfriend from Topeka who announced rather late that she’d be tagging along for the holidays. And the grocery store lineup, and an extra bottle of wine or two… and something a little stronger to help fortify yourself for the season. We know it’s coming, so we put on the Christmas carols about six weeks early. It wouldn’t be so bad if this practice didn’t actually tire us further instead of building anticipation like it did when we were kids wanting to make sure that we had cookies and milk put out for Santa Clause.
The catch line was more along the lines of, “So a priest and a rabbi walk into a used bookstore…” not just because it sounds like the lead-in to a good joke, but because it’s actually what happened. I’ve said before that I have trouble keeping up with podcasts. I don’t take the bus anywhere, and in front of a computer I tend to prefer to read instead, which means if I start the computer playing something I still end up reading while it plays, and I miss stuff from the podcast. I tried listening while washing dishes, but (a) dishes don’t take that long and (b) people keep talking to me in the kitchen. But I really wanted to listen to the podcast of an event I was sad to have missed, from the Idea Exchange series last season: Rabbi Larry Pinsker and Jamie Howison — “A Rabbi and a Priest in conversation on how we read the Old Testament.” Fortunately, I had a perfect opportunity while last month on the flight to Vancouver en route to Seabeck for the Allelon Missional Order conversations.