Wednesday, August 31, 2005

How (refreshingly) fragile we are

Once again, we’ve discovered how fragile we are. A levee that was deemed “impenetrable” collapsed. The “superdome” is stripped of it’s glory.” The world class communication systems of cell phones and internet are quickly rendered impotent. In one quick moment, a city (the crown jewel of human creativity and ingenuity) becomes a primitive cesspool of desperation. Water, food, shelter… we suddenly remember how life-essential these things are. The dialysis machine that we’ve come to take for granted, the clinical emergency room we’ve assumed to be our safety net, the rescue squads we thought were omnipotent – all are now luxuries that fistfuls of money cannot buy.

Watching the coverage in these last few days, I’ve been overwhelmed at the total powerlessness of governments, media, armies, and engineers. No evacuation plan, no army, no presidential declaration has been able to reach the thousands of people stranded on their rooftops. The fanciest communication systems in the world can’t give people the ability to inform their families that they are alive. The best police and military forces in the world can’t stop basic thievery and civil unrest. The fact is, the blunt force of reality, a reality we’ve kept hidden with our fancy systems and structures, is coming to harsh light of day. WE AREN’T BULLETPROOF. The best of our human endeavors have reached a limit we never imagined. We’ve finally encountered a problem that we cannot solve with the wave of our modernistic wand.

Isn’t this want we “post-moderns” have been saying all along? That our “modern”systems and logical structures and “experts” aren’t really the saviors we believed them to be. September 11, the muddy war in Iraq with no end in sight, and now this… who can now stand and declare any real faith in human intelligence. Who can now stand and believe that science and technology will guarantee “progress.” The best of what we can do ultimately fails. Our confidence in our own abilities has been proven unfounded.

As Brian McLaren, the guru of the Christian post-modernism, says it this way. “We have lost our modern sense of control, power, and certainty in this transition. But since the fruits of control, power, and certainty (from paving over wetlands -- because we were sure that parking lots were better than swamps, to ethnic cleansings -- since we were sure that our people were better than theirs) haven't been entirely salutary, maybe there's something better than control, power, and certainty out there. Maybe that something is love, stewardship, faith.”

Listen up church! Our programs, our buildings, our strategic plans, our creeds, our policies and by-laws, our hierarchies, our denominational systems, our orderly services… these are human creations! And we have placed an inordinate amount of faith in them. Why do we think that these will NOT fail when human failure parades itself across our TV screens daily? It’s time to be the church where Jesus Christ rules. A church born not out of a democratic strategy meeting, but out of an unexplainable, barely describable visitation of the Holy Spirit (i.e. Acts 2).

It’s time to move our “logical” systems out of the way make space for spirituality, something that we can’t pin down but can only be amazed in its presence. It’s time to lay aside our orderly world of “cause and effect” and embrace mystery, a God who cannot be explained with creeds and three step sermons. It’s time to get real, to drink deeply again, and to embrace a second reformation of the church.

One more McLaren quote: “If we people of faith in Christ would arouse ourselves at this critical moment, and engage ourselves for the next hundred years with rare passion and purpose during this time of transition, the world of 3,000 AD could be a vastly different and better place than it will be otherwise. But if we people of faith sleep on, calling this transition a minor phase, failing to rouse ourselves at this hingepoint in history ... I fear for our descendants, and I know we will have to apologize to the Lord for our ostrich- like indolence.”

Well said.

My first blog (too tired to get creative!)

If you had told me a year ago that one day I'd be posting a blog, I'd have been at a loss for words in one of the first times in my life. A blog? I must have heard that word 20 times before I figured out what it was. Even in context, the word "blog" makes no sense. Google (I don't need to explain that word do I?) tells me that "blog" is a shortened form of "weblog." Melt down all the fluff, and you basically have a public diary for one's random or not-so-random thoughts.

So far, this is what I'm thinking....

First... my blogs will be much less organized and structured than my normal "articles" I write. I pour over my articles, stress over the words I use, and make sure they are absolutely relevant to what's going on in the church or the culture. I will use this blog to just throw out my thoughts. They won't be on a schedule. Just when a thought strikes.

Second... I don't really expect anyone to read them, and I DON'T really want anyone critiquing them for "propriety." I realize that as a minister, people want their ministers to be "larger than life" and to live "above the people." I've worked hard to do that in my public roll. But the fact is, I do have feelings, I do have thoughts rambling around in my brain, and I do like expressing them... as they are. So... as I continue to do my best to maintian propriety in my public work, I will reserve my more candid side for this blog. So, if you don't want to see the "real" side of me, don't read any further.

Third... I'll be using this blog to help me personally "connect" with the emerging culture. What does that mean? Well, there are several things that describe the culture emerging around us. Authenticity... Purpose... Deep reflection... Community... I want to spend more time being immersed in this world. I'm attracted to this world. Unlike many of my colleagues, I don't fear or lament the emerging culture. I think it's ripe for all things spiritual, especially Christ centered spirituality. I long not just to know more about it, but to be a part of it. So, will a blog really make me "emerge?" Not entirely. But it's a good start!