Posts Tagged emergent church

What We Talk About When We Talk About Rob Bell

Rob Bell has a new book coming out, titled, What We Talk About When We Talk About God. From what I gather from the marketing thus far, he’s getting dangerously close to parodying himself.

First, there was a “behind the scenes” trailer, in which we learn that all those disruptive paragraph breaks are not so strategic after all. Can’t find inspiration? A third grader’s science fair note cards will suffice. Just throw in a boom box and some (extra?) monkeys.

Now, there’s a new trailer.

Notecard 1: Church is like a Passion Pit concert. Are you invited?

Notecard 2: What if the God who made the world made chicken dumplings and we’re missing everything if we fail to ask what came first? theWORLDortheDUMPLING?

Notecard 3: Fruit bats are reading Pilgrim’s Progress in a Brooklyn deli.

Notecard 4: You’ve always thought God is an Oldsmobile. But. SMART CARS.

I guess I’d go with #4, too:

I have no deep theological ponderings or critiques to offer, as the book has yet to be released and these confusing metaphors are, well, confusing enough. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Other Inauguration Prayer: Channeling My Inner Postmodern Pastor

Over at Juicy Ecumenism, I give way to my inner poetic, Emergent Church pastor, offering an alternate benediction for the upcoming inauguration, should Luis Leon be pressured out (it happens):

We lay the fears of American Arrogance before you. The first of the flock. The high, not the Lost. Now the meek and the weak, we seek to relish and embellish at your feet. Not like the carrots that Cain once cast down – fake, artificial, genetically modified — but soft as a lamb, tender and cute as I AM.

But not of the Precious-Moments cast, filled with capitalistic crass. We embrace, instead, your ancient Word. Of the ancient hills. Of an ancient world. We enter now into an eternal forest—a sanctuary of trees and stardust, tigers and badgers, bugs and bungalows.

We twinkle ever on. Illuminating. Booming with a flurry of angelic echoes. We pray that you trap the fury of this earthbound crater in the chains of its own creation.

Whisper it. Speak it. Sing a song.

Now, today, we rejoice not in some man. Some idol to our own power and self-gratification. Some President Barack Obama.

No. We pray not to the Fast Brood Nation, instead orphaning our co-dependent thumbs from the revolver of the remote control. No. We now point ourselves toward the One True Jeopardy Host. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hipster Christianity: The Quest for Authentic Christian Cool

Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool CollideWhen I first picked up Brett McCracken’s new book, I was expecting a simple, cheeky romp through the various fads and frivolities within modern Christianity. The title itself, Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide, sounded an awful lot like the pretentiously reflective, light-and-trite nonfiction that Christian twentysomethings flock to nowadays.

But McCracken takes hip seriously, and he has a strong message for Christians who don’t.

“[W]e have to think harder,” says McCracken. “…even with something that might seem trivial, like ideas of “hip” and “cool,” Christians need to think long and hard about what it all means for our objective on this planet.”

McCracken certainly has a lighter side, and anyone who has read his blog or his movie reviews will know that he has a great ability to write wittily and pithily on all things art and culture. But although he enjoys cracking church-culture jokes as much as the rest of us, McCracken is largely on a mission to find an answer.

The question, as McCracken sees it, is this:

Is Christianity cool in today’s culture? And I mean naturally cool? As in — are people attracted to and desirous of it on its own accord? Or must it be cool in the marketed, presentational sense? … perhaps Christianity is hopelessly unhip, maybe even the anticool. What if it turns out that Christianity’s endurance comes from the fact that it is, has been, and continues to be the antithesis and antidote to the intoxicating and exhausting drive in our human nature for cool (for independence, for survival, for leadership, for hipness)?

Before answering this question directly, McCracken uses the first part of the book to offer an extensive history of hip, beginning in the Renaissance and proceeding all the way up to the modern church. Moving from Rousseau’s anti-aristocrat pose to Brummel’s eighteenth-century dandyism and bohemianism, McCracken eventually hangs the hat of hipsterdom on the birth of America, a country that McCracken describes as Read the rest of this entry »

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Laxy Praxy: Doing vs. Learning in Liberation Theology

Given that I recently reviewed Anthony Bradley’s Liberating Black Theology, I thought this video would be a valuable follow-up to the discussion. Although Bradley’s book focuses specifically on black liberation theology, this is only one manifestation of a larger theological trend among oppressed minorities.

In the video, Acton Institute’s Michael Miller interviews other Acton thinkers (Samuel Gregg, Anielka Munkel, and Jordan Ballor) on the history of liberation theology, as well as its recent resurgence among evangelicals.

You can watch the video here:

What I find most noteworthy is the overarching discussion about liberation theology’s emphasis on doing vs. learning.

As Gregg puts it:

One of the things that liberation theologians talked about was this idea of praxis — you have to act, you have to do things — to which the response of people like John Paul II or then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was, “Yes, action is important, but it has to be informed by correct thought.” In other words, orthodoxy, which means right thought, has to inform orthopraxy. Orthopraxis in itself would not give you a coherent reason for doing what it is you’re doing. So theologically, and even just in terms of its own logic, I think liberation theology was always destined to fall apart.

As far as where exactly liberation theology is resurfacing, Ballor provides some Read the rest of this entry »

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Is the Emerging Church Dead (or Dying)?

Emerging church leader Rob Bell recently said his church is exhibiting more and more "traditional" traits.

Is the emerging church coming to an end?

The conversation seems to be picking up across the Web.

In a recent article in WORLD Magazine, Anthony Bradley provides a good summation of some of the indications of decline, including this post by Andrew Jones and Rob Bell’s recent admission that his once cutting-edge church has begun to “mimic” many of the things the movement set out to counter.

I do think Bradley is a bit off on some of his analysis and predictions. For instance, he claims that postmodernism is dead and Christians are simply moving on to confront other more prevalent philosophies.

I wholeheartedly disagree that postmodernism is dying off, but it seems as though Christians never really confronted postmodernism in the first place (at least not effectively). When I survey the emerging church movement in particular, it seems like it was far more successful at incorporating postmodernism than it was at confronting it.

That’s not always a bad thing. It all comes down to whether we are tailoring the message to the culture or reconstructing the message for the culture.

Many emerging church leaders have been able to successfully integrate postmodernistic thought and language with the Gospel, but so many others have floundered and gone off course in their efforts to be “relevant.” Plenty of emerging church leaders seem lost in their own Read the rest of this entry »

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