Monday, July 12, 2004

Where my modernity and emergence meet

Sometimes I feel like a walking ball of confusion. Part of me is grounded firmly in modernity, while part of me is caught up in the attitudes of emerging culture. I offer this as an example: I am a teaching pastor in a small church. The services are forever evolving (the pastor believes change should be constant). My duties are simple. I preach twice a month, and fill the pulpit as necessary for the pastor. The church is mostly tradional; the pastor is mostly fundamentalist, and I find myself teaching a church body that, while early in life as a congregation, has been together for years in a previous congregation. My "audience" (for lack of a better word) expects tradional types of sermons (3 points and a poem as we say in baptist life). However, my heart is not that of a traditional preacher. I believe in the power of narrative. I teach in simile and metaphor, and I fill my messasages/lessons with illustrations; yet I find myself ending with propositional thought. No matter how hard I try to minimize the propositional aspects of my teaching, there it is. The modern subverting the emerging thought process.

How can I see the dangers of propositional preaching in emerging culture, and still preach propositionally? It's like a curse. I've been programmed to break down everything to its basic elements and then reconstruct it. How can I become more holistic in my views? How do I get beyond the mental ascent to a narrative, holistic theology, to the practice of a narrative, holistic theology? How do I stop talking about a social gospel and start living a social gospel? How do I, as a soon to be seminary student at a school that has high church tendencies, find my way into a street church mentality and life? To be honest, I don't know and it scares me. All I know is that I feel compelled by God to faithfully follow Him down a road that is dark, and where He's only shining a light a few cobbles ahead. All I know is that I must step into that darkness.


Blogger Brad said...

Wow, Toby ... if I've gotten to be "Barometer Boy," perhaps you've ended up as "Conundrum Man"! I totally get it about the perplexity of paradox, the irritation of irony, and the chaos of complexity. (And there's a pomo-friendly three-pointer for yuh! Yup-yup...)

Unsolicited advice (but then again, offering blog comments transmogrifies this into solicited advice, eh?) from a veteran of this internal war: Even if you feel immersed in melancholy as you wrestle with the jars and jags between your position and your condition, stick with it, and don't get caught for too long in the inevitable whirlpools of emotional ambiguity, cognitive dissonance, and difficulty in making decisions. I think you'll find that perseverance in living in between the questions brings a sense of holistic satisfaction in the long run, more than we'll find peace in a propositional approach to knowing the standard answers. It's stretching, but brings a kind of tensile flexibility and strength that serves better in a world of change than being hard but brittle.

Anyway, it's helped me survive in wrestling with similar questions for probably as long as you are old ... yeah, I'm that old ... hey!? Does that mean I'm automatically ancient-future for being post-pomo and almost fifty?! Oh wow! Now I know who I am! :-)

8:15 AM  

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