...what the illusion was!
the great disappointment is an interesting post/reflection on emergent in the US and the comments are definitely worth a read. i added this one...
i was helped once when i heard a talk on john the baptist and disillusionment. the point was if you are disillusioned you better ask what the illusion was. it sounds like some great hopes have been placed on a few people to solve the massive shifts taking place in culture and church life. was that ever going to happen?! it’s a much longer trajectory we are in and i suspect we’re still quite early in the process. i liked the way emergent blew open a conversation in the US and gave permission for questions. to be honest it was a conversation we’d been having in the uk for about 1o years before but it was always about networking, practice at the grassroots, and working out what it meant to follow in the way of christ in your (postmodern or whatever) locale. if you are disappointed fair enough. but get some people together and live some stuff out and connect with some others doing the same thing - that’s it!
re people making money - maybe the US is different but there’s no money in christian books or blogs in the uk trust me. if there is it’s small change. it’s a cheap shot at bloggers. i’ve never made a penny - it’s about the love!
i blogged a while back saying that this whole thing has only just begun . that may not be a popular view right now but i am in this mission in culture thing for the rest of my life. i see plenty of places that have a long way to go. ok so emergent may have made some wrong moves but haven’t we all? i hope that what you are doing proves hopeful and wish emergent the best as they seek to reconfigure for what’s next…
Interesting reading, Jonny. I'm sure there are times when a bit of extra cash would be handy for you as it would be for most of us, but in the end I'm glad it is about the love. I was actually citing you as an example the other day of someone who is tremendously generous of spirit in the way you share and spread good ideas. This blog is a remarkably effective hub for lots of things that are going on and ideas...as an average 'Jo' with no agenda to speak of, I can say that I've learned a lot here. Thanks for keeping the conversation going.
Posted by: Carole | June 04, 2009 at 01:17 PM
Jonny - thank you for your generosity.
It is massively different in the US in that pre-financial crash, we had this commercial Christian (c) empire replete with publishing deals, conferences, and other goodies where select author/speakers (mostly white males catering to the largely evangelical crowd - using the US not UK interpretation of the term "evangelical") could make a small fortune peddling their wares. In the wake of this crash, perhaps some sanity can ensue. Think about it - do you really need author X's third book in two years? Force those of us who write to stop churning out so much material by being selective in what you buy. While this crash is very rough on many of us financially, I'm finding that being forced to slow down the publishing pace is a major blessing in many ways. I'm able to see and reflect on things I missed when I was on some very tight deadlines.
And yes, at least in the US, there are blogs hosted by publishers and paid bloggers. I find that as these blogs tend to more concerned with building up stats, the authors by nature post material that's designed to generate a buzz rather than build up community. (That's why I chose to sell articles because there I am paid a flat fee so there isn't that temptation to be provocative to make money.) The only cure for this is for folks to stop frequenting such blogs and as you said, focus on building up community. Also, stop buying certain books, attending select conferences, hopping on board every time a given author goes on tour and the like because you want to be part of the cool crowd - instead, go where you find genuine community. What I found I had to do was turn down the volume generated by the latest, greatest religious roadshow/pub tour and then go out in search of people trying to follow the Way. And I'm finding these folks in spades.
Posted by: becky | June 04, 2009 at 03:17 PM
Posted by: Dan Wilt | June 04, 2009 at 11:10 PM
Way back in 94/95 I attended a 'conference' in York. It was perhaps the first Alternative Worship Conference - you remember? Alt Worship was what Emergent used to be called - we had no names really because it was diverse and disparate - a fall out reaction largely to the consumerisation of the evangelical charismatic dominance in the UK. Mostly 25 to 30 somethings rejecting the superficial worship and lack of spirituality they had grown up with in their heady teens within the church. The two catalytic inspirations for the 'conference' were the Shefield based Nine O'Clock Service and the Dave Tomlinson book Post Evangelical - this was reflected in the two main speakers being Dave Tomlinmson and Matthew Fox (imagine those two in the same room anywhere else in the world today!) What am I getting at? Well, at that conference I had an epiphany - I realised that the future of the Church/Christianity would depend on our ability to grapple theologically with some of the core creedal statements about what we say we believe in a post modern world - not least our Christology - I hoped that something would emerge from Alt Worship that would give us courage to do the necessary theological work needed to engage with a Brave New World (ironic). So far it hasn't really done that (imho) - with perhaps the exception of Pete Rollins. I also remember attending a 'conference' where Pete was speaking at Moot around 2003/2004 (my memory for dates is fallible) - whilst I felt stirred by Pete's contribution I didn't sense that amongst those present there had really been anything more than cosmetic changes to the mindset. I don't mean to sound harsh but I actually stopped blogging and commenting around the emergent scene shortly after that Moot gathering. I was sad that Alt Worship/Emergent had been hijacked by the friendly face of charismatic evangelical American luminaries. I don't wish to be a prophet of doom but I did say years ago that our cousins across the pond would consumerise the whole thing - same old same old with new clothes (harsh, sorry). We live in a global village - no turning back from the reality of being a pluralistic family and as such none of the brothers and sisters in that family can claim to hold the absolute truth. The world changes and with so must our theological understanding of it. The true emergent will still need to do more than just engage with the cultural diversities of media, communication and art etc. (candles, icons, and video installations). It has to do more than play around with being new wave Abbots or Guerrilla Evangelists or curators of the mystic avant garde (all of which have their merit). It will have to gather to do some deep thinking and some radical theology around concepts that the post-post-modern world cannot begin to compute - imagine Paul with a MacBook? Or Jesus in a Trauma Clinic? This has been a long post - sorry Jonny, it's been a while - feel free to delete it - and keep up the good work of love that has always inspired me - if you get out to Oz again sometime soon we should have a coffee ;0) I'd love to write a best seller called Re-illusioning the post emergent church one day.
Posted by: Hadge | June 05, 2009 at 12:41 AM
hadge - love the title of the imagined book... in a funny way that's not too far off dave tomlinson's latest stuff which is around a second innocence/naive faith - recovering your first love post deconstruction or something. i hear you... (but i do think it's harsh in places!) i worry about phrases like the 'true emergent' - isn't that exactly the problem. we've got to stop believing any of us are anywhere near that... we're just bumbling along trying to trust and follow christ in our own part of the planet. i didn't realise you were in york that time - we go back further than i remembered.
Posted by: jonny | June 05, 2009 at 08:49 AM
Jonny. Well said.
Posted by: Matt Stone | June 06, 2009 at 10:24 AM