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#21 Persona

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Posted 15 May 2010 - 08:22 PM

Arrrgh. The virgin birth (which I do believe in) is about a heck of a lot more than so-called inerrancy (which I don't believe in). Miniscule, it ain't.

OK! Peter and I are just about one and the same on this one. Bell is wise to regret his choice of illustrative issue. Wonder what Plan B might have been.

Maybe I'm not wording it well enough. I think you are both missing the point. Considering the entire context, it is several pages long or I would type it out here.

Anyway, that's what the poll was referring to.

#22 NBooth

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Posted 16 May 2010 - 09:03 AM

93 / 120

Extremely High CHQ. Congratulations! You are a grade A, Sufjan-caliber Christian hipster! You probably like Thomas Merton, hookah, and lectio divina. You're not above self-critique and meta theory, and thus should definitely read Hipster Christianity.


Hmm. No? I mean, I like what little I've read of Merton, and really dig meta theory, but that's more a function of being a low-grade philosophy nerd than anything else. Then I read the description of the "bookish intellectual":

Usually a grad student and/or hardcore lifetime learner, [...] Thoroughly conversant in all manner of mid-century Christian existentialism (Tillich, Bultmann, etc), the Bookish Intellectual is a frequent user of such words as "Other," "problematize," "ecclesiology," and "historicity." [...] Is there a theology of corned beef and cabbage? Probably not, but the idea excites the Bookish Intellectual. They live and breathe implications... whether it be the cadence of words in their Anglican church's liturgy, a feminist reading of McGee and Me, or the eschatological significance of the rise of Twitter. It's all worthy of inquiry.


[sigh]. This isn't hipsterdom--it's being legitimately curious and interested in the world. And Tillich is very helpful as long as he's not talking about God. And a feminist reading of McGee and Me would be awesome. And I've stopped helping my case. :P

Edited by NBooth, 16 May 2010 - 09:04 AM.


#23 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 16 May 2010 - 10:03 AM

Brett has posted a follow-up at Dreher's blog, explaining a bit more about what the book and the quiz etc. are about.

#24 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 16 May 2010 - 03:09 PM

OK, so let the oldfart neo-traditionalist catch up here. Seems as if these two new threads are really about the same thing. I'm so anchored in how I now worship that I thought old school stodgy up tempo (anybody have a problem with such an oxymoron? How do you do swing-from-the-chandeliers worship and remain stodgy?) and emergent worship differed pretty much along the lines of who is doing the worshipping. And also the stodgy element was doing traditional evangelical theology/teaching, whereas the new guys were more freeform in the theology area.

What McCracken is saying at Dreher's blog is that the new guys are going traditional in their worship? So why the stilted answers to the Catholic question (#12). I'd have appreciated a, "Dude, I'm more than halfway there already!", which is exactly where I am and, I suppose, where the hipsters are if they pick Anglican over Presbyterian churches at which to worship. Sheesh, like with the present SNL cast, I don't get it. If some of the new guys are not at traditional churches, and I've known for some time now that churches like mine are attractive to a certain class of emergent, how do the emergent churches worship? Persona? 'splain please how Bell runs a service. Anybody else? I REALLY need to know. I've been disinterestedly curious about worship form like forever.

Edited by Rich Kennedy, 16 May 2010 - 03:52 PM.


#25 Holy Moly!

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 12:32 PM

I went to Mars Hill Seattle's downtown branch (to see Mark Driscoll via Satellite from Ballard and enjoy some free coffee). The worship band sounded exactly like Death Cab For Cutie, with less introspection. There was really nothing visually that connected it to the christian tradition. The coffee was bad so i didn't stick around long.

#26 M. Leary

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 02:14 PM

Brett has posted a follow-up at Dreher's blog, explaining a bit more about what the book and the quiz etc. are about.


I can't lay my finger on what bugs me about current descriptions of the book, which somehow manifests itself in how odd and jilted this quiz has turned out to be.

I think it has to do with the fact that contemporary hipsterdom is what people engage themselves in when they have no real historical consciousness of their own social/religious identity. The addiction of "hip" to retro fashion and culture is really just a shell game that tries to lend depth to a present trend by borrowing from the nostalgia or supposed authenticity of a past era. In this way, hipsters are like pop culture version of Benjamin's Angel of History*, or worse, like all those bugs in the forest that God designed specifically to recycle the corpses of fallen animals.

This quiz, which, for example, oddly suggests that Bultmann and Tillich are topics de rigueur for bookish hipsters, doesn't seem to have the necessary historical consciousness it would take to implement a fully-orbed critique of "hip." I like the question posed here, but am hoping the book will be more than just an update to the age-old contextualization debate that anyone familiar with Christian higher-ed has already beaten around the bush.



*"A Klee painting named ‘Angelus Novus’ shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing in from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. This storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress."

#27 Persona

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 03:43 PM

how do the emergent churches worship? Persona? 'splain please how Bell runs a service. Anybody else? I REALLY need to know. I've been disinterestedly curious about worship form like forever.

I've never heard Rob Bell or any leader at Mars Hill Grand Rapids use that word, and I don't think the services are "emergent" at all. Mars Hill is a totally unique worship service, not necessarily designed like that show in the other thread, yet drawing thousands upon thousands of people. It's hard to describe, especially in such a small city.

One thing that sets it apart, that I love and I've mentioned here before, is that the service is done in the round, the musicians in the center of everyone, in a sqaure facing each other (often around a cross). This automatically cuts out a good portion of the "show" element. Their backs are to us, but we can see all that's going on as they face each other. Lyrics are on a square above them, too, so that the musicians and the crowd can all see, and it is white letters on a black background, no power point. There are a *lot* of hymnns played, some fast, some slow, and the band finds a very nice groove for each kind. But they also have their own music, and every once in a while will throw in a Delirious song (or whatever).

There are no offering baskets passed. "Joy boxes" are located in the back of "the Shed," which is the sanctuary of a hollowed out mall that was given to the church years ago. There is nothing overly-spendy about the lights or the sound or really any of the rooms at Mars Hill -- although finally last year they did put in some softer lights in the ceiling of the Shed for reading and writing during the teaching.

And then there's Rob. Who, like I've said before, is an artist. And I'm certain that's why the church itself gets thrown into the "emergent" section by some. To look at his tours, his DVDs of the tours, his Noomas (11 minute DVDs which are basically teachings he's done in the church that the folks of GR have wanted to make known to the rest of the world in small film format), and his books, and the high level of artistic design that goes into all of it, one could easily make the assumption that the church is like this, too. And one could make the assumption that the church, because of Rob's artistic output, is "emergent." Gladly, it is not. I think there is a huge difference in the understanding between creating a piece of art, even in the teaching process, and the minimal needs of a large worship experience.

I didn't know about the books, the DVDs, the Noomas, the tours -- any of that, when I decided to move to Grand Rapids a few years ago. Finding all of that after I got there was a huge plus. We'd been listening to the Sunday teachings on mp3 online for a long time, and found them utterly healing. We simply decided that this was the teaching we needed, that it was finally the Christ as we understood him. We were in a spot in life where the teaching was so healing to us, every time we heard it. After years of always gnawing away at that itch in our brain where we said to ourselves, "This is Christianity?" (and remember, it might be harder for me, as I've experienced various forms of the faith in over twenty countries), we finally felt we found something that is authentic without power-tripping. The teaching was refreshing, enlightening, contextually considerate, culturally aware (even of its own limitations within American culture, for instance, it knows it has a problem only appealing to whites, and they have tried to take that on), and above all... filled with grace and healing. Which is what we needed.

Even in the past few weeks, these same teachings have felt very healing. Which is awesome, considering that El Wifebo and I are still trying to figure out whether we can make the marriage work after all the hurt, and the power-over forms of Christianity and addiction issues that have set us back. Way back. But I can honestly say that the church will be good for us either way. I hope one way more than the other (the reconciliation of our marriage), I don't know if it's "too little, too late" for that or not. But the church is a reminder of a Christ that wants to help us, speaking blessings now over curses in the past.

Wow, I don't know how I went down that road. I guess it just felt good today to say all that.

I don't think Mars Hill GR a good example of "emergent," but I know we're always grouped in with all the others who actually use the word. I think we'd rather not define it. "It is what it is," but it's a really beautiful thing happening in GR.*

* I am still living between both Chicago and Grand Rapids, for the record. I do not go to church when here on weekends in the Chicagoland area. I guess I go to movies here. I know that can't necessarily be good for me -- to not go to church -- but I went pretty much every week for decades on end. I think I know what happens there most of the time. (Hence my love for that recent vimeo thread.)

Edited by Persona, 17 May 2010 - 03:46 PM.


#28 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 03:45 PM

I think it has to do with the fact that contemporary hipsterdom is what people engage themselves in when they have no real historical consciousness of their own social/religious identity. The addiction of "hip" to retro fashion and culture is really just a shell game that tries to lend depth to a present trend by borrowing from the nostalgia or supposed authenticity of a past era. In this way, hipsters are like pop culture version of Benjamin's Angel of History*, or worse, like all those bugs in the forest that God designed specifically to recycle the corpses of fallen animals.

This quiz, which, for example, oddly suggests that Bultmann and Tillich are topics de rigueur for bookish hipsters, doesn't seem to have the necessary historical consciousness it would take to implement a fully-orbed critique of "hip." I like the question posed here, but am hoping the book will be more than just an update to the age-old contextualization debate that anyone familiar with Christian higher-ed has already beaten around the bush.



*"A Klee painting named ‘Angelus Novus’ shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing in from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. This storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress."

So then, how does a traditionalist respond to this? what do you suggest? My generation of hipsters (nicely portrayed in the Hippie Preacher documentary) was roundly rejected with any reason or justification one could find at a particular moment. It seems to me that various segments of evangelical Protestantism just ignore each other (the tradtion of mainline and evangelical ignoring each other goes back even longer). Is it worth it, if your POV is correct, to entice some of these hipsters to traditional worship on the assumption that enough scripture, liturgy, and heavy lyrics to the great classic hymns might soak through defenses in order for the Holy Spirit to work his wonders? Or will such worship just be a more elegant and arch form of entertainment (not that entertainment has NOT been at least tangential to worship since Luther at least)?

#29 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 04:02 PM

I didn't know about the books, the DVDs, the Noomas, the tours -- any of that, when I decided to move to Grand Rapids a few years ago. Finding all of that after I got there was a huge plus. We'd been listening to the Sunday teachings on mp3 online for a long time, and found them utterly healing. We simply decided that this was the teaching we needed, that it was finally the Christ as we understood him. We were in a spot in life where the teaching was so healing to us, every time we heard it. After years of always gnawing away at that itch in our brain where we said to ourselves, "This is Christianity?" (and remember, it might be harder for me, as I've experienced various forms of the faith in over twenty countries), we finally felt we found something that is authentic without power-tripping. The teaching was refreshing, enlightening, contextually considerate, culturally aware (even of its own limitations within American culture, for instance, it knows it has a problem only appealing to whites, and they have tried to take that on), and above all... filled with grace and healing. Which is what we needed.

WOW, thanks for sharing. It feels good to read it too. I must say that I recognize some of my own dryness and jadedness quenched by involvement at St. John's Detroit. The Babe has yet to be convinced, though she's free to go where she wants to. The itch for me was something other than teaching. I'm all teached out and had found more solace in theology classes, books, and scholarly and not so scholarly articles I've read than "teaching" I was getting at church. I was looking for worship without realizing it. Just so you know.

Nevertheless, I'm curious as to what "goes on" there and elsewhere. BTW, noodling around the site containing the quiz that started this thread, I found something called "Top 10 hipster christian cities". GR is high on the list. McCracken gives GR credit for Calvin College alone, but mentions Rob Bell flatteringly and attributes the publishing industry there as well.

That's another thing. Emergent seems to have a lot of dissident Reformed influence as well, no?

#30 MattPage

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 04:30 PM

Thanks for that Stef - an interesting insight.

Though I got to say it seems to me that one of the true signs of being "emergent" or emerging or whatever is that they refuse to call themselves that (and who can blame them/us it's an awful nam,e). I know that's a bit "only the true Messiah would deny his divinity" but still.

BTW how do those black words appear in the black box? OHP?

Matt

#31 Persona

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 06:08 PM

White words, black background, as in White Hunter, Black Heart.

:"only the true Messiah would deny his divinity"

LOL. Part of the problem is also that Mars Hill was probably launched before heavy use of the word. MH is 11 years old.

#32 MattPage

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 04:11 AM

: White words, black background

? Defo PowerPoint then, just plain and simple (we use that too sometimes).


: Part of the problem is also that Mars Hill was probably launched before heavy use of the word. MH is 11 years old.

Yeah my church is about 17, never uses the description, and is actually a bit put off by much of the perceived navel gazing of "emerging" churches, but we probably are still one anyway as well.

FWIW I would have thought MH is one of the churches that sets the trend rather than follows it. I imagine for example that few emerging churches have not used a Nooma video at some point.


Sorry, I'm being kind of annoying aren't I? You know MH far better than I do. I'll shut up now.


Matt

#33 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 04:35 AM

Don't shut up yet. Guys, we use the human voice and an organ. What is a Nooma Video?

#34 Andy Whitman

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 08:06 AM


how do the emergent churches worship? Persona? 'splain please how Bell runs a service. Anybody else? I REALLY need to know. I've been disinterestedly curious about worship form like forever.

I've never heard Rob Bell or any leader at Mars Hill Grand Rapids use that word, and I don't think the services are "emergent" at all. Mars Hill is a totally unique worship service, not necessarily designed like that show in the other thread, yet drawing thousands upon thousands of people. It's hard to describe, especially in such a small city.

One thing that sets it apart, that I love and I've mentioned here before, is that the service is done in the round, the musicians in the center of everyone, in a sqaure facing each other (often around a cross). This automatically cuts out a good portion of the "show" element. Their backs are to us, but we can see all that's going on as they face each other. Lyrics are on a square above them, too, so that the musicians and the crowd can all see, and it is white letters on a black background, no power point. There are a *lot* of hymnns played, some fast, some slow, and the band finds a very nice groove for each kind. But they also have their own music, and every once in a while will throw in a Delirious song (or whatever).

There are no offering baskets passed. "Joy boxes" are located in the back of "the Shed," which is the sanctuary of a hollowed out mall that was given to the church years ago. There is nothing overly-spendy about the lights or the sound or really any of the rooms at Mars Hill -- although finally last year they did put in some softer lights in the ceiling of the Shed for reading and writing during the teaching.

And then there's Rob. Who, like I've said before, is an artist. And I'm certain that's why the church itself gets thrown into the "emergent" section by some. To look at his tours, his DVDs of the tours, his Noomas (11 minute DVDs which are basically teachings he's done in the church that the folks of GR have wanted to make known to the rest of the world in small film format), and his books, and the high level of artistic design that goes into all of it, one could easily make the assumption that the church is like this, too. And one could make the assumption that the church, because of Rob's artistic output, is "emergent." Gladly, it is not. I think there is a huge difference in the understanding between creating a piece of art, even in the teaching process, and the minimal needs of a large worship experience.

I didn't know about the books, the DVDs, the Noomas, the tours -- any of that, when I decided to move to Grand Rapids a few years ago. Finding all of that after I got there was a huge plus. We'd been listening to the Sunday teachings on mp3 online for a long time, and found them utterly healing. We simply decided that this was the teaching we needed, that it was finally the Christ as we understood him. We were in a spot in life where the teaching was so healing to us, every time we heard it. After years of always gnawing away at that itch in our brain where we said to ourselves, "This is Christianity?" (and remember, it might be harder for me, as I've experienced various forms of the faith in over twenty countries), we finally felt we found something that is authentic without power-tripping. The teaching was refreshing, enlightening, contextually considerate, culturally aware (even of its own limitations within American culture, for instance, it knows it has a problem only appealing to whites, and they have tried to take that on), and above all... filled with grace and healing. Which is what we needed.

Even in the past few weeks, these same teachings have felt very healing. Which is awesome, considering that El Wifebo and I are still trying to figure out whether we can make the marriage work after all the hurt, and the power-over forms of Christianity and addiction issues that have set us back. Way back. But I can honestly say that the church will be good for us either way. I hope one way more than the other (the reconciliation of our marriage), I don't know if it's "too little, too late" for that or not. But the church is a reminder of a Christ that wants to help us, speaking blessings now over curses in the past.

Wow, I don't know how I went down that road. I guess it just felt good today to say all that.

I don't think Mars Hill GR a good example of "emergent," but I know we're always grouped in with all the others who actually use the word. I think we'd rather not define it. "It is what it is," but it's a really beautiful thing happening in GR.*

* I am still living between both Chicago and Grand Rapids, for the record. I do not go to church when here on weekends in the Chicagoland area. I guess I go to movies here. I know that can't necessarily be good for me -- to not go to church -- but I went pretty much every week for decades on end. I think I know what happens there most of the time. (Hence my love for that recent vimeo thread.)

Thanks for that, Stef.

The thing that I find most distasteful about the whole "Christian hipster" angle, whether it is presented seriously, or somewhat flippantly, as in that quiz, is that it ignores the fact that there are broken human beings out there who desperately want to be made whole by God, and who have tried the traditional models of Christianity over and over again, and found them, and themselves, wanting. What do you do, and where do you go, when you can't embrace Catholicism or Orthodoxy for various theological and/or cultural reasons, when mainline Protestant denominations have imploded upon themselves in never-ending infighting that has entirely lost the storyline, and when Evangelicalism seems more and more alien, dominated by political discourse and bizarre cultural demarcations that have less and less to do with following Jesus every year?

I'm sure there is some element of homogeneity in these emergent/hip churches, or whatever other people want to call them, just as there is in any church or denomination. And maybe that looks like a bunch of pasty white beardos sitting around listening to Sufjan Stevens. But I also know that it's not about being "hip," or any other commodification and branding of the Christian faith. It's about a lifeline, and it's about life. I cordially hate the labels because they utterly miss the point.

#35 M. Leary

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 08:37 AM

So then, how does a traditionalist respond to this? what do you suggest? My generation of hipsters (nicely portrayed in the Hippie Preacher documentary) was roundly rejected with any reason or justification one could find at a particular moment. It seems to me that various segments of evangelical Protestantism just ignore each other (the tradtion of mainline and evangelical ignoring each other goes back even longer). Is it worth it, if your POV is correct, to entice some of these hipsters to traditional worship on the assumption that enough scripture, liturgy, and heavy lyrics to the great classic hymns might soak through defenses in order for the Holy Spirit to work his wonders? Or will such worship just be a more elegant and arch form of entertainment (not that entertainment has NOT been at least tangential to worship since Luther at least)?


I am not sure that we can invite a "hipster" to church, as it is more of a marketing concept or a costume than the designation for an actual human being that has a deeply felt need to seek authenticity or community in such visible forms. I think this is what happens when we start constructing our church practice in response to specific contemporary trends - we end up inviting concepts to church rather than people.

And as a corollary to this, we then end up inviting people into a new culture rather than a new life. So I think your latter suggestion is right, that any traditional format can end up becoming a "more elegant and arch form of entertainment" if the missional impulse of a church isn't savvy to the way marketing tropes hold sway over the way we construct personal identity.

#36 Cunningham

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 08:40 AM



how do the emergent churches worship? Persona? 'splain please how Bell runs a service. Anybody else? I REALLY need to know. I've been disinterestedly curious about worship form like forever.

I've never heard Rob Bell or any leader at Mars Hill Grand Rapids use that word, and I don't think the services are "emergent" at all. Mars Hill is a totally unique worship service, not necessarily designed like that show in the other thread, yet drawing thousands upon thousands of people. It's hard to describe, especially in such a small city.

One thing that sets it apart, that I love and I've mentioned here before, is that the service is done in the round, the musicians in the center of everyone, in a sqaure facing each other (often around a cross). This automatically cuts out a good portion of the "show" element. Their backs are to us, but we can see all that's going on as they face each other. Lyrics are on a square above them, too, so that the musicians and the crowd can all see, and it is white letters on a black background, no power point. There are a *lot* of hymnns played, some fast, some slow, and the band finds a very nice groove for each kind. But they also have their own music, and every once in a while will throw in a Delirious song (or whatever).

There are no offering baskets passed. "Joy boxes" are located in the back of "the Shed," which is the sanctuary of a hollowed out mall that was given to the church years ago. There is nothing overly-spendy about the lights or the sound or really any of the rooms at Mars Hill -- although finally last year they did put in some softer lights in the ceiling of the Shed for reading and writing during the teaching.

And then there's Rob. Who, like I've said before, is an artist. And I'm certain that's why the church itself gets thrown into the "emergent" section by some. To look at his tours, his DVDs of the tours, his Noomas (11 minute DVDs which are basically teachings he's done in the church that the folks of GR have wanted to make known to the rest of the world in small film format), and his books, and the high level of artistic design that goes into all of it, one could easily make the assumption that the church is like this, too. And one could make the assumption that the church, because of Rob's artistic output, is "emergent." Gladly, it is not. I think there is a huge difference in the understanding between creating a piece of art, even in the teaching process, and the minimal needs of a large worship experience.

I didn't know about the books, the DVDs, the Noomas, the tours -- any of that, when I decided to move to Grand Rapids a few years ago. Finding all of that after I got there was a huge plus. We'd been listening to the Sunday teachings on mp3 online for a long time, and found them utterly healing. We simply decided that this was the teaching we needed, that it was finally the Christ as we understood him. We were in a spot in life where the teaching was so healing to us, every time we heard it. After years of always gnawing away at that itch in our brain where we said to ourselves, "This is Christianity?" (and remember, it might be harder for me, as I've experienced various forms of the faith in over twenty countries), we finally felt we found something that is authentic without power-tripping. The teaching was refreshing, enlightening, contextually considerate, culturally aware (even of its own limitations within American culture, for instance, it knows it has a problem only appealing to whites, and they have tried to take that on), and above all... filled with grace and healing. Which is what we needed.

Even in the past few weeks, these same teachings have felt very healing. Which is awesome, considering that El Wifebo and I are still trying to figure out whether we can make the marriage work after all the hurt, and the power-over forms of Christianity and addiction issues that have set us back. Way back. But I can honestly say that the church will be good for us either way. I hope one way more than the other (the reconciliation of our marriage), I don't know if it's "too little, too late" for that or not. But the church is a reminder of a Christ that wants to help us, speaking blessings now over curses in the past.

Wow, I don't know how I went down that road. I guess it just felt good today to say all that.

I don't think Mars Hill GR a good example of "emergent," but I know we're always grouped in with all the others who actually use the word. I think we'd rather not define it. "It is what it is," but it's a really beautiful thing happening in GR.*

* I am still living between both Chicago and Grand Rapids, for the record. I do not go to church when here on weekends in the Chicagoland area. I guess I go to movies here. I know that can't necessarily be good for me -- to not go to church -- but I went pretty much every week for decades on end. I think I know what happens there most of the time. (Hence my love for that recent vimeo thread.)

Thanks for that, Stef.

The thing that I find most distasteful about the whole "Christian hipster" angle, whether it is presented seriously, or somewhat flippantly, as in that quiz, is that it ignores the fact that there are broken human beings out there who desperately want to be made whole by God, and who have tried the traditional models of Christianity over and over again, and found them, and themselves, wanting. What do you do, and where do you go, when you can't embrace Catholicism or Orthodoxy for various theological and/or cultural reasons, when mainline Protestant denominations have imploded upon themselves in never-ending infighting that has entirely lost the storyline, and when Evangelicalism seems more and more alien, dominated by political discourse and bizarre cultural demarcations that have less and less to do with following Jesus every year?

I'm sure there is some element of homogeneity in these emergent/hip churches, or whatever other people want to call them, just as there is in any church or denomination. And maybe that looks like a bunch of pasty white beardos sitting around listening to Sufjan Stevens. But I also know that it's not about being "hip," or any other commodification and branding of the Christian faith. It's about a lifeline, and it's about life. I cordially hate the labels because they utterly miss the point.

I think both exist - the people who "desperately want to be made whole by God, and who have tried the traditional models of Christianity over and over again, and found them, and themselves, wanting" and also the people who are just too cool for school and are mainly looking for a way to differentiate themselves from the "establishment" (or "the man" if you prefer) without actually being apostate. I can mainly claim that because that was me for several years, and now that I'm over my desperate need to be different and special I've found that being a part of a "traditional" evangelical church, when it remembers that it's not all about us, but about Him, can still provide excellent opportunities to serve and be served. But I have known, and respect, several individuals who also belong to the category you describe.

This whole thing is actually not unlike the "indie" posturing in music. You've got the people who really are offended and unsatisfied by the top 40 dreck, and also the type who can read Hipster Runoff without engaging their irony circuits.

Edited by Cunningham, 18 May 2010 - 08:42 AM.


#37 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 09:40 AM

M. Leary wrote:
: I think this is what happens when we start constructing our church practice in response to specific contemporary trends - we end up inviting concepts to church rather than people.

Excellent point.

: And as a corollary to this, we then end up inviting people into a new culture rather than a new life.

This, however, I'm not so sure is necessarily all that problematic. Life -- especially corporate, as opposed to individualistic, life -- is lived within some sort of culture.

Perhaps it's easier for me to say that nowadays because I'm Orthodox; accepting the cultural aspects of Orthodoxy was, admittedly, something of a hurdle for me at one point, since in my Mennonite days (of all things), I used to say that Christianity was unique in being a faith without a culture. At the time, I based my claim on the fact that the early Church included both Jews and Gentiles, but the more I think about that and read about that, the more it seems to me that the early Church did emphasize a shared culture between Jew and Gentile even as it allowed for some differences between the two.

Perhaps it would make more sense to say that I, too, am leery of inviting people "into a new culture", but I don't mind inviting them into an OLD culture. :)

As one who began attending liturgical churches (first Anglican, then Orthodox) several years ago, it was a little strange to come across an evangelical Mennonite church a few years later that had begun holding "liturgical" services in its gymnasium (while the regular worship-band services took place in the sanctuary). As you say, it came across as "marketing" -- as an attempt to give people whatever the current trend was -- and it didn't have the sense of rootedness that you find in traditional liturgical churches. I'd rather BE liturgical, and let the church teach me something through its liturgy, than PLAY at liturgy and remain in control of it, if you know what I mean.

#38 M. Leary

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 10:10 AM

: And as a corollary to this, we then end up inviting people into a new culture rather than a new life.

This, however, I'm not so sure is necessarily all that problematic. Life -- especially corporate, as opposed to individualistic, life -- is lived within some sort of culture.


I completely agree with your response, and could have been more specific with this corollary. The gospel does generate a culture of its own, and there is a sense in which the Christian life is the process of acculturation to the ethical and political presence of the resurrected Christ in the world via the church.

But, sometimes the cart gets put in front of the horse. In some circumstances, creating a local church designed to attract a certain demographic, or to make people with certain cultural proclivities comfortable, becomes an end in itself rather than a means to a more concretely historic, eschatological, or missional end.

So yes, we are inviting people to share in the culture of Christ. We are asking people to become assimilated to something new even in the strictest sociological sense of the term. But our invitation is built on a narrative that begins with terms like birth, creation, and adoption - and then moves to terms like family, church, and community. The gospel asks people to reboot their personal cultural development rather than simply swapping it for a pre-packaged one.

Edited by M. Leary, 18 May 2010 - 10:12 AM.


#39 M. Leary

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 02:04 PM

There were a number of threads I could have stuck this in today, but this seemed most appropriate. Link to a Huffington Post piece about where this generation's penchant for sarcasm comes from, which quotes Phil Vischer (yes that Phil Vischer) from a lecture at Yale:

"Some folks believe Vietnam was the source of America's modern cynicism. Others point to Watergate. But for me and for many others in my generation, the real root, I think, is much closer to home and much more personal. When we were very young, our parents broke their promises. Their promises to each other, and their promises to us. And millions of American kids in a very short period of time learned that the world isn't a safe place; that there isn't anyone who won't let you down; that their hearts were much too fragile to leave exposed. And sarcasm, as CS Lewis put it, "builds up around a man the finest armor-plating ... that I know."

I agree with Vischer. I think the sarcasm of my generation is rooted in anger and fear. It is a socially acceptable defense mechanism, a way to vent the mountain of anger and fear we feel in a dangerous world where even the structures ordained for our safety (family, church, government) have failed to keep their promises.

We are the first generation born after the passage of no-fault-divorce. We are the product of broken homes.

We are the first generation born after Vietnam and Watergate. We are the product of a broken government.

We are the first generation born in the age of consumer religion. We are the product of broken churches.

With nowhere to turn for safety, our fears ferment under the surface into anger. But this toxic brew cannot stay there. It must find a release. Some of us find very destructive ways to alleviate that pressure. The rest of us let it out by mocking things previous generations took seriously -- government, work, religion, family, relationships, leaders, and the future. We are a generation that believes nothing is sacred. And if nothing is sacred, everything becomes profane.



#40 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 03:51 PM

But, sometimes the cart gets put in front of the horse. In some circumstances, creating a local church designed to attract a certain demographic, or to make people with certain cultural proclivities comfortable, becomes an end in itself rather than a means to a more concretely historic, eschatological, or missional end.

OK, but this is not the intent of my inquiry. As my Rector has pointed out many times, "In a metropolitan area of 5,000,000 there must be some 1000 folks who appreciate traditional liturgy." My reason for this particular tangent is to explore whether or not a church like mine can appeal to such folk who are defensive about the shattering of what they have been lead to believe are protective institutions (heh, we stand foursquare against much of the "innovation", as we see it, that TEC has wreaked upon itself, and yet we aren't going anywhere away from TEC), who might find "Sunday Morning" and the churches it sends up as cheesey as some of us think they are. More a motivation along the lines of, "gahead, see if you like it. We certainly don't dress like you and folks probably won't change that for you."

As to another point above, "the first generation since consumer religion"? I don't think so. I'm not sure I'm of the first generation. I gotta think that Aimee Semple McPherson, Billy Sunday, Bp Fulton Sheen, Robert Shuller (he started out by renting a Drive-In theater for Sunday services) and Oral Roberts might have made some contributions to consumer religion.

Edited by Rich Kennedy, 18 May 2010 - 03:54 PM.