emergent manifesto of hope is the first in a new publishing line from bakerbooks. edited by tony jones and doug pagitt in consists of 24 chapters of around 3000 words by different authors from north america. these chapters are by some people who have been around the emergent scene in the us for a long time (brian maclaren, mark scandrette, doug, tony, dan kimball etc) and some people who are newer voices in the conversation. brian maclaren suggests that the book will work for 4 groups of people - participants in the conversation already, people looking for an intro to the conversation, critics looking for ammunition, and those round the world interested in seeing what's going on in the us corner of the emerging church. that's a pretty fair summary i think.
the strength of the book is the range of issues touched upon and the diversity of people engaging in the conversation. it will be surprising if there isn't a chapter on something you are interested in. my favourite chapter is by sally morgenthaler - i think it's a stunning piece on flattened leadership. sally has been an inspiration for years so it's great to bump into her work again. i may like it because i seem to have read a very similar selection of books and share similar concerns about leadership. she very poignantly isues a challenge to patriarchal hierarchical leadership structures pointing out that they are as alive and well in twenty and thirty something church circles as they are in the older ones. she suggests that the changing world we live in presents unprecedented opportunities and challenges becuase the rules of engagement have changed and for a number of reasons women's instincts and approach sits well in the emerging culture. i also really liked the challenge about diversity presented by samir selmanovic in the chapter 'the sweet problem of inclusiveness' and anthony smith in 'practicing pentecost' - this is a challenge that seems to be faced by the emerging church everywhere. we have got a long way to go in the uk.
my impression from across the pond is that when emergent grew out of a network of young leaders in the us it was located in baptist/vineyard/evangelical circles - those were naturally the friendships that existed. so it's good to see the conversation moving beyond the original edges - and being picked up in mainline denominations (with chapters discussing the need for loyal radicals in the presbyterian church for example) and across the church spectrum in the us. i hope this continues and hope this book nudges it in that direction. it's a time for maturity and generosity.
the weakness of the book is that it's spread thin. the chapters are short and whilst the book is woven together in sections the chapters don't really join up much - i didn't find it cohered. they are stand alone essays. so you get a taster which is what makes it a great intro if you are not new to the conversation. but if you have been around a while i suspect you'll skim a lot of familiar territory. i realise i'm stating the obvious and this is the first in a new line of books so i'm sure the depth is yet to come - kester's book is next up which i am delighted is gettign a us release. the title is also a misnomer - it really isn't a manifesto, at least i can't work out how it is though it is hopeful. and of course this is a collection of us voices - so many of the contextual issues play out very differently in the uk or eslewhere in the world.
overall well worth getting, and finding the chapters that connect with where you are at. you've got to admire the way the emergent crew remain on focused on getting this conversation out in the public domain through publishing. i have several friends i have got to know over the years who have conributed to the book, so it's great to see them getting published, especially those for whom this is their first step into print...
sounds like your trying to put a positive spin on a not very good book to me...
I also share Steve taylors concern about the pretence of the book being an international conversation whereas in reality all we get are mainy white US voices.
Maybe emergent need to wake up and smell the coffee as it seems it a pretty evanglical, north american conversation - and at the end of the day there is nothing wrong with that. Better than trying to make out its something else.
Posted by: gareth | April 17, 2007 at 02:53 PM
Just out of curiosity, how many of the voices are female? Any voices from those of color?
Gareth - sometimes an introduction is necessary. I'm doing a book of interviews with UK and US worship leaders (most emerging, a few not - 32 subjects 6 of whom are from the UK and 14 women [including two women of color]) exploring ways to reach those for whom church is not in their vocabulary. This is being published by Church Publishing (the dudes that put out the book of common prayer here in the US) and my intended audience are those working in US mainline churches = at best most of these people picked up a book by Brian McLaren.
Posted by: becky garrison | April 17, 2007 at 03:17 PM
you'd better read it to make up your own mind gareth... i've tried to be honest and yes positive. i like the guys i know involved. and i loved the chapters i pointed out and found others interesting and others covering stuff that wasn't new to me.
i thought it was pretty obvious it was an american book for an american audience so can't see why steve or anyone else has a beef with that... in the same way that alternative worship was a uk movement and book it's still of interest to people elsewhere.
the diversity - i'm sure the us team are doing their best to diversify. it's easy to make that criticism. i get it all the time and rightly so relating to emerging church here. we're doing no better. so i welcome that there are chapters opening up that conversation and askign the hard questions. and yes there's a long way to go for all of us...
becky i don't actually know the colour/ethnicity of the authors but it looks like one black, one native american, and there are 7 women who contribute - it's not half but it's a good move i think. and a woman wrote the best chapter (imho)!
we're on the same side
Posted by: jonny | April 17, 2007 at 08:01 PM
Thanks - I'm still waiting for my copy so I was just wondering about the breakdown.
I brought up my book as I am sure it will get the same criticisms. Yes, this may sound like rehashing material to those who have been in the trenches for years but almost all of this material is totally new to those within the mainline churces.
I would encourage anyone though who has read this book to then read the other Baker book - Kester Brewin's Signs of Emergence.
Posted by: becky garrison | April 17, 2007 at 08:23 PM
I meant "churches" - my brain is a bit fried. Sorry 'bout that.
Posted by: becky garrison | April 17, 2007 at 08:25 PM
we are on the same side. good reminder jonny.
and don't forget the token englishman (barry taylor) and aussie (me!)...doing our best as foreign missionaries in candyland.
Posted by: geoff | April 17, 2007 at 09:29 PM
yes i enjoyed your chapters too - sorry i didn't mention them - to be honest it was hasty review while getting breakfast for my lads before hedaing out the door to the office this morning. that's the way blogging tends to work for me!
Posted by: jonny | April 17, 2007 at 09:50 PM
my post wasn't much of a criticism - more of a plee for honesty.
I get a little bit irked when we feel guilty about not being multicultural enough, or not global enough in our discourse - I think we just need to acknowledge that some of the conversation will be mainly internal to us in our context. Just like alt.worship in the UK was mainly that although it did contribute wider but in different ways.
I think emergent could easily get hooked on being a global conversation - or at least trying to make out that it is whereas in reality it is a mainly evangelical, white, north american conversation. by saying that I am not denying its worth, or that it communicates important points to a wider community than north america - its just clearly not a global conversation nor do I think it ever will be.
Posted by: gareth | April 18, 2007 at 12:14 AM
yeah, so i'm jumping in. white, female, mainline US alt pastor... out of the Christian Church (DOC). and yeah, i hear jonny loud and clear. i think sally has the best chapter and there was thread weaving its way through the book; and hey, i'm feeling very alone in mainline-land--with a diverse church of fringed peoples just waiting to feel like we aren't an island out in the dallas area. my connections in the emergent tradition are let's be honest, all evangelicals... so i am trying to find others who struggle with the mainline walk in emergent churches and find the whole journey completely chaotic and wonderful.
thanks for keeping the conversation fresh and inspired...all.
Posted by: suzanne | April 18, 2007 at 04:13 AM
suzanene hi! one of the huge differences in the uk and us is that a lot of the emerging stuff has happened in and around the edges of the main denominations - particularly the c of e. it has a bit of a different feel that the us episcopal church for a number of reasons i think. a few of these might be...
youth ministry - the c of e invested in youth ministry in a big way and that has been the back dorr for renewal (a lot of the emerging people began in youth ministry and realised the problems there were actualy to do with wider issues in the church)
charismatic renewal - whilst several new independent churches were set up in the seventies and eighties by evangelicals fed up with the denominations' rigidity, many stayed and were loyal radicals. this meant that charsimatic worship and renewal has had a big influence on worship in anglican churches albeit in polite anglican ways. so rather than evangelicals haveing to leave to get the worshipa dn church they wanted, they simply got the right vicar and did it in the c of e churches.
permission giving bishops - for whatever reason the c of e has ended up with a number of people in leadership who see the need for new forms of church - and with teh report mission shaped church and a number of other things have sought to encourage and create space for things to happen as part of the c of e rather than pushing them out.
it can still be very frustrating at times but when i visit other places i see how good a situation we have found ourselves in. grace, the church i am part of is a congregation of the local c of e church and they are more than happy with that, as is the bishop and so on. and that's not unusual...
i do (and cms are actively encouraging) think we also need stuff that is outside of those structures - post church, people meeting in houses, way out on the edge etc. renewal and change flows that way as well and in fact if it comes from both directions it is likely to be stronger. at leats that's me experience.
having said that i am increasingly meeting episcopal, lutheran, presbyterian, methodist and so on people in the us excited by mission in the emerging culture but wanting to improvise out of their denominational setting rather than feeling you have to rubbish the tradition in order to do the new thing. this is where emergent it seems to me from the outside is shifting and changing with openness and encouragement to that even though it's not the roots it grew out of. i may be wrong but that's my sense of it. that's partly the reason i said it's a time for generosity and maturity because for some people who have not been part of mainline denominations they have sort of set up identity almost in opposition (that's what happened in the seventies here) so it takes some humility to realise that god is at work in those places as well when you left them because it didn't seem like he was. i hope i'm making sense here - i'm not feeling that articulate.
Posted by: jonny | April 18, 2007 at 08:54 AM
i have added a bit more to the comment above and posted it as another post - you got me going suzanne!
Posted by: jonny | April 18, 2007 at 09:16 AM
Hey Jonny, thanks for the thoughts on the book.
And for just being you.
I would like to make a couple of comments, one Emergent is really not just evangelicals: A few examples from just the last two months: We had conference just for mainline churches a month ago with 300 people and it was great. I spent this last weekend with Episcopal in Houston, Texas.
I just returned from a Theological conversation with two post-modern deconstructionist Catholic philosophers after-which we had a meeting with the Mennonites.
The book includes Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Catholics, Methodist, Congregationalists.
Not to mention that there are dozens of cohorts around the country with many non-evangelicals.
So, I know that everyone has their own take and experience, but from my vantage point it is really not an evangelical thing. I know that I rarely get accused of being one anyway.
One thought on the Americanness of the book. We made a decision that the US expression of Emergent would be under the banner of Emergent Village and international expressions would take place under Amahoro. We have no intention of making Emergent Village a global thing, but rather see the US based EV in relationships with people from all over the world. That is being expressed in a partnership in Uganda in May, and a number of traveling across Europe, Central America and Australia.
And Amahoro is quite thriving. But the publishing partnership is from the Emergent Village publishing relationship (with Baker, Josey-Bass and Abingdon (by the way the last two would not be accused of being evangelicals by most people anyway).
So, good things to all of you on that side of the pond.
Posted by: Doug Pagitt | April 19, 2007 at 03:09 AM
thanks doug - helpful clarification. and i see the book and the directyion emergent is going as opening up from evangelcial roots for many who started it. i agree the direction it has gone in recent months and is going is great in that respect. i wasn't meaning to say otherwise.
and i think emergent village being us focused and publishing etc is also great - but we had a big discussion about that in my kitchen a few years back i remember! you must pass through for another some time...
i am finding the conversation in the comments on this and the next post really helpful in clarifying a few thoughts in my own mind. so thanks for dropping by.
keep on keeping on...
Posted by: jonny | April 19, 2007 at 07:58 AM
doug, a further thought...
we face the same challenge with emerging church in the uk - though the word evangelical is perhaps a bit softer edged here. it's a real challenge to get people to understand that emerging church and within the anglican set up fresh expressions (their name for it) is not just an evangelical thing. i am encouraged to see for example the beginnings of a network of people in cathoilc or anglo catholic circles doing stuff - e.g. http://blahonline.wetpaint.com/page/blah...+learning+days . but it is hard to shake off that perception that it's evangelical because a lot of people ivolved (myself included) have come from evangelical and charismatic backgrounds. the stories in the back of ryan and eddie's book make that clear on both sides of the pond really...
Posted by: jonny | April 19, 2007 at 08:46 AM