Monday, June 25, 2007

Deep Shift

I was looking for something interesting to read on the web and decided to check out Brian McLaren's website. On it, he is promoting the Everything Must Change Tour '08. The organization behind it is called Deep Shift. This is what they're about:

A time of transition
and re-envisioning

A time for asking new questions
and seeking answers
that are both new and old
fresh and seasoned
surprising and familiar

What does it mean, in today’s world, to be a follower of God in the way of Jesus?
What does it mean to be a faith community engaged in the holistic, integral mission of God in our world today?
How do we, as individuals and faith communities, respond faithfully to the crises facing our world?
What is our duty to God, ourselves, our families, our neighbors, our enemies, and our planet in light of Jesus’ radical message of the kingdom of God?
How can we engage in personal formation and theological reformulation for global transformation?

Living in deep shift can be exhilarating and energizing, but it can also be disorienting and frightening.

Sounds great. Then, I checked out who is sponsoring the tour:

Emergent Village

Sojourners: Faith and Justice Churches

Sierra Club

Please check out the websites I've linked above. I really would like to hear opinions from all sides on this movement. Presently, I am forming an opinion which I hope will be centered on the Gospel. In fact, my hope is that at the center of this movement, started by Mr. McLaren, we will find the heart of the Gospel. Will we? I'm not sure; maybe.

One question that comes up is, at what point does activism, to the Right or the Left, become counterproductive to sharing the Gospel? Check out Sojourners and Sierra Club (both with activist leanings, the latter not a Christian organization). We've seen the damage the Right can do; are we swinging the other way now in response? In a world where relativism is king and absolutes are questioned (or dare I say, reversed), where does this movement fall?

If anyone is interested, let me know what you think.


Anonymous said...

Actually, it sounds like the Summer of Love (1967):

We are here to make a better world.
No amount of rationalization or blaming can preempt the moment of choice each of us brings to our situation here on this planet. The lesson of the 60's is that people who cared enough to do right could change history.
We didn't end racism but we ended legal segregation.
We ended the idea that you could send half-a-million soldiers around the world to fight a war that people do not support.
We ended the idea that women are second-class citizens.
We made the environment an issue that couldn't be avoided.
The big battles that we won cannot be reversed. We were young, self-righteous, reckless, hypocritical, brave, silly, headstrong and scared half to death.
And we were right.

—Abbie Hoffman


If you're going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you're going to San Francisco
You're gonna meet some gentle people there

For those who come to San Francisco
Summertime will be a love-in there
In the streets of San Francisco
Gentle people with flowers in their hair

All across the nation such a strange vibration
People in motion
There's a whole generation with a new explanation
People in motion people in motion

For those who come to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you come to San Francisco
Summertime will be a love-in there

If you come to San Francisco
Summertime will be a love-in there

— Scott McKenzie

Mclaren has actually come up with a flower to wear in our hair (his own version of TULIP, pp. 195-197 of Generous Orthodoxy).

"Mc-kenzie, Mc-laren" hmmmm.....

See you at the Haight.

(by the way 40th anniversary! 1967—2007)

Marquito said...

Yep. I get the same groovy vibe from the whole thing; the vibe doesn't feel right, either.

Don't get your TULIP reference, but I guess that's just your way of letting me know who posted the comment.

Anonymous said...

No really. Mclaren has made up his own version of TULIP.

Anonymous said...

For real… Mclaren made up his own version of TULIP.

Marquito said...

hmmm... I'll have to check it out.

Laura said...

Hi Marquito- I'm just entering the blog-o-sphere and I've enjoyed reading your blog lately. I actually have some thoughts on this subject, so I thought I'd post my two cents...

I, for one, really think that the emergent movement is going to help bring about a return to the true meaning of what Jesus meant when he told us to follow him. Sure, there are theological issues and all kinds of ethical things to debate among christains, but really what does it matter? In the end, it will not matter what I thought about predestination...what matters is that I rely solely on the work of Jesus and the love and mercy of God to get me into heaven...and to get me through each and every day on earth, honestly. I feel like the emergent leaders have some great ideas and are practicing their faith in ways that challenge (and scare) some christians. Mark Scandrette's community has recently done such radical things as taking a critical look at what they own and sacrifically gave away things in order to give money to those who are in greater need in our world. They also have shared all of their financial information with one another- salary, debt, budgets, the whole deal- in order to look critically at how they use the money God has given them. I know these are simple things, but they are things that really make a difference in how individuals live out their faith in the world; it makes a difference to have people that you are that "naked" around. To let people in your business and let them really challenge you to think about how your faith applies to everything in your life.

I don't know about anyone else, but I've very rarely been truly challenged like that in a typical christian church. If the emergent movement is helping people know jesus more and love him more, and if it truly helps people to participate in moving God's kingdom to expand on earth, then what is wrong with it?

Marquito said...

Very good points Laura. I love what you said about Scandrette's church. PLease send me more information on that!

I fell in love with the Emergent movement upon first reading about it. I've even had opportunity to meet with some of the folks really working through the issues, most of which end up surrounding what you said, "I've very rarely been truly challenged like that in a typical christian church". In fact, I only go to websites and books where I think the writer has some good things to say; that's why I go to McLaren's site.

My only question really has to do with Christians becoming part of or forming a political movement. It is my opinion that while God may call individuals to political office, a group should not go in the name of Christ and become part of a movement. That just isn't who we are. In other words, we should not say "We Christians are united for/against X". Again, that's my opinion on the matter, and for many different reasons I won't get into here.

But DEFINITELY I appreciate what the Emergent movement has done to wake up the body of Christ. I just don't want to see another group try to justify political activism in scripture, because it's just not there. AND I'm afraid it could be just as damaging as any right-wing fundamentalist group getting political in the name of Christ.

Good to hear from you Laurita. We miss you guys in Miami.

Anonymous said...

Hey what's wrong with flowers in my hair? or my head for that matter? Even though McClaren might wear flowers in his hair... blah,blah,blah... he is very much on target regarding many issues the 'church' has not dealt with...& does not know how to either.
A very good 'therapist' friend of mine usually says:'Leave the old wine in the old wine skin'.
Soooo true... Let's get new wine & new wine skins... (Argentinian please)

HELLO Laura! Very proud of you... now you have joined the blog freaks!
- Y-O (Rick)

Marquito said...

What's with you and Argentinian wine?

Good point Y-O. Like I said, I like some of the things McLaren says. Any concerns over the political slant?

Anonymous said...

... for some reason I can't seem to read this right! ...It makes me think that the 'church' is in 'deep-shift' if it does not change!

Anonymous said...

Hey Y-O. I would rather hang out with the hippies (or ex-hippies) than with Mclaren. At least they would give a straight answer to questions. Please enlighten me—just one or two examples will suffice— of a question that Mclaren has raised about the Church that others have not.

From what I have seen Mclaren knows how to speak Clintonese ("It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is" — Bill Clinton).

Here's part of Mclaren's answer regarding the conservative view of hell:

"Well, you know, a couple people tell me they think I'm being evasive, they think I'm a coward, I'm afraid to say what I really think. But here's the interesting thing. I don't think I'd be saying what I'm saying if I was a coward. And what I'm actually saying is a little more difficult. I'm saying, when they're asking me to answer a certain question, I'm saying, "I don't think that's the right question. I think we should be asking another question." I'm not saying that because I'm afraid of saying what I believe. I'm saying that because I'm trying to be faithful to God, I'm trying to be faithful to the teaching and example of Jesus. So it's my fidelity to my understanding of the Christian message that makes me say sometimes, "We're asking the wrong question.

I think Jesus was in this situation a lot. People would come to him and ask him a question, and it just wasn't the right question."

Ironically, Jesus teaches on hell with perfect clarity.

By the way, the hippies might have some better questions about the contemporary church.

See you at the Haight

Anonymous said...

Another thing … doesn't it seem that Mclaren's manifestos or whatever end up as book (and now music) promotions? Here's snippets from one page on his website:

"You can pre-order the book …" "If you want to help boost sales, you can go into a store and buy a few copies in person …" "Sign up for my email update (see the right hand side of the screen) to learn about some ways to get an advanced copy." "As part of the tour, we'll be releasing a CD of original music - new music that will be used in each city, along with other liturgical elements that I hope you'll find useful in your faith community." "there's lots of other book-related news to share." "My first three books have been re-released …" "now available as two shorter books …" "The new softcover edition …"

I know... 'the guy has to live' 'how do you expect him to eat? … and feed the world'

See you at the Free clinic

Marquito said...

Okay. So I guess nobody has an opinion on a Christian movement sponsored by secular and politically motivated organizations.

Never Mind.

Anonymous said...

We probably generally agree with you on the politics trip. If you look at Paul's ministry in Ephesus — as one example— he impacted the whole city via his work with the local church. As people learned the truth and lived it the surrounding culture took notice. Interestingly, during the Ephesian riot over the images of Artemis the thing got resolved without Paul even having to show up — even the non Christians knew his position. (See esp. Acts 19:21ff.)

I do think Christians should inform themselves and develop an intelligent position on things.

Your question did make me think about Kennedy's efforts (the Coral Ridge Presbyterian one) on the political front. I've seen some of his pamphlets and they do provide helpful information. [I do not agree with using the Sunday morning pulpit to teach American History, however.]

Perhaps individual Christians could come up with political type organizations with biblical values without it representing an official function of the local church.

Need to think about this some mo'

But back to Mclaren ...

Anonymous said...

Who said 'Emergent Village' = a Christian movement?

If pressed, not sure that they would even consider themselves strictly Theistic. Don't you think they might include pantheists and panentheists under their umbrella ella ella eh eh eh???

Marquito said...

Regarding Kennedy, A CHURCH that becomes political will be just that, a church centered on politics. I'm not sure what role the worship of God has there (but, I've never been to Coral Ridge so I couldn't say).

As individuals and as citizens, I think we should get involved and be active participants in our community and nation, and that as God calls us to as Christians. But even as individuals, we are Christians first, called to love our God and love our neighbor, and I believe that's where it starts. It's that expression of love that can only come from God that is revolutionary. The world of politics and the secular vision of involvement and "caring" comes from a worldly perspective; one that focuses on the self in the end. Our love and perspective of caring comes from and flows back to God. That's where the difference lies, and where the danger of seeking involvement and sponsorship (which is cash and perspective) of secular and politically minded groups doesn't make sense to me.

Marquito said...

From the Emergent Village Website:

"Emergent Village is a growing, generative friendship among missional Christians seeking to love our world in the Spirit of Jesus Christ."

There may be some pantheists, wizards and warlocks who have snuck in the back door, but such is life. The "village" is Christian at the core.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anonymous good luck with hanging out with hippies and all of that… Say hello for me. If people have never read McClaren before, his series a New Kind of Christian is a good start, there he raises many good questions regarding the failures of the modern church, etc. – and to make things clear – McClaren is NOT, I repeat is NOT a theologian! He has never said he was to begin with, and anyone who categorizes him as one does not understand where he is coming from. If he was a theologian, he has the right to be wrong on certain issues just like me and anyone else. There is no perfect theology, no perfect seminary or perfect point of view even regarding the Bible itself. If any person believes he or she is perfect in their theology they have joined the world of the Pharisees.

I do agree with Anonymous though… sales of books, CDs etc. Christian-media/market has become all about that lately, not just McClaren. Everyone comes up with ‘worship’ CDs, re-makes of music that has been around for the past ten years already… it all sounds the same to me. McClaren is just following the steps of big shots like: Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, TD Jakes, etc. They’ve all made names for themselves, they’re household names for many. So whatever book, CD, etc. even if it’s crap! People will buy it as soon as it hits the stands.

Politics… Christian movement sponsored by secular and politically motivated organizations? I’ll have to tell you I totally hate churches that promote politics… I know one very well. Every Sunday they pray for ‘W’, I know for a fact if Clinton was president they would not pray for him from the pulpit. These are the type of churches that if you are not anglo, right wing, republican you would not fit in, and that is why these churches do not grow, especially in this city. Not even McClaren and the hippies would want to join a place like that. Finally: the pulpit is NOT for politics.

Emergent Village? McClaren is only one of the many. There are various theologians, seminary professors that have joined the movement as well. Many of them PhDs as well, they have written books and have very interesting things to say… most of them regarding the ‘post-modern’ movement, not just the ‘emerging church’. Let’s not categorize everyone outside the conservative/traditional church ‘emerging’.


Anonymous said...

Hey Y-O

First, I had heard about a difference between emerging and emergent — but got them mixed up. I found this article by Scot Mcknight which helped clear things up a bit.

"Five Streams of the Emerging Church
Key elements of the most controversial and misunderstood movement in the church today" by Scot Mcknight. Here's the link:

Most of what I have seen about emerging has come through interaction with Mclaren' s stuff. Although I don't agree totally with Mcknight his article really helps clear things up. [By the way, what's with these guy and the 'Mc' prefix?]

Second, your Clinton comment interesting. Made me think … what if you had 30 minutes to discuss Christianity with either Bush or Clinton (you could only pick one) — which would you choose and why?

Third, what do have against hippies?

See you at the Haight