Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Back from Glorietta, New Mexico

Some of the tangible and intangible highlights from my time in New Mexico for the Emergent Gathering (not a comprehensive list), a gathering of a group of friends and ministry partners (along with some new interested parties) for fellowship, discussions and general trouble-making...

1. I finally spent time with Uber-blogger Will Samson and will excitedly move him to my "comrades and cohorts" section of the blogroll. We are most definitely kindred spirits and I have a hunch we will continue to be fellow journiers for a long time. His understanding of justice issues from a real world Christian perspective is refreshing and quite similar to mine. He comes brings a fascinating background to issues of the emerging church, community, justice and poverty (an ex-Republican operative). He also understands from the inside the deeply seeded problems of the mix of Christianity and Right-Wing politics.

2. Andrew Jones brought some tasty beverages from his home in Scotland. We shared a common cup in tasting what is considered the best beverages in the world. I have to agree. Andrew, among the earliest and greatest bloggers is an amazing man with a wonderful wife and 5 beautiful kids. It was nice to see him back in the USA after a long time abroad.

3. Burnt offerings were sacrificed to our Lord by many old and new friends. I brought sacrifices from the Fuente family in Tampa (connected to the fam in the DR) was honored to share them with the group.

4. Open night at Evangelo's Bar in downtown Santa Fe was a rousing success with old friends Ryan Sharp and Troy Bronsink sharing 4 songs each. Both are not only theologians and church planters, but quite good acoustic singer-songwriters. In fact, Ryan's project, The Cobalt Season, is among the better albums I have heard this year (I will review it later), in the vein of Iron and Wine, Derek Webb and Bright Eyes. If you like intelligent, acoustic, spiritually insightful music with cuss words, you need to buy this project.

5. Doug Pagitt gave me a copy of his latest book, Body Prayer: The Posture of Intimacy With God, which should be a must for any church planter, music or youth minister (good corporate prayers), house church or Christian devoted to holistic prayer.

6. Other highlights included hearing Brian McLaren share a paper on why we should move from a discussion on postmodernity to postcolonialism (It should create quite a stir and is exactly where we need to continue to move); hanging with good friend Laci Scott and being reminded how much easier life is with people looking out for you; meeting Jason from Christian Century and rooming with Tim Conder, who I still want to work with on a church staff; eating breakfast burritos, mijas and lemon ricotta pancakes at the greatest breakfast restaurant in the world, Harry's Roadside Cafe, and many new friends. I am sure there is much more, but this is a beginning.


Linda McG said...

Hey Rick, I've got a question.

It seems to me that emergent thought is very Machiavellian. Do you agree with that? Has anyone else that you know of approached the topic? If you do agree with that, what's your opinion?

I'll give you more details, but what's your outright response?

Rick said...


my initial response would be "no." But, this is a movement I have been part of since 98. These are close friends and I trust a lot of these guys. So, an outsider perspective would be appreciated.

From all I know about the people and what they (we)are attempting to do, I would say it is very much against anything smacking of Machiavellian behavior or agenda.

I would say it is the opposite from the inside.

Tell me more.

Linda McG said...

okay. forgive me for compartmentalizing in my question. I made the mistake of throwing out a name without defining it. The specific Machiavellian tenet I'm questioning is the ends justifying the means. and perhaps also something about unchangeable human nature and the importance of observation, but mostly the ends justifying the means. I should have just said that instead of assuming all the self-interest and competetiveness and power seeking that comes along with Machiavelli philosophy. Just to be clear, I don't see any of that in emergent thought.

The specific strand of thought that made me think this was a conversation with some sojo kids about tax cuts, and how loving Jesus should cause me to oppose them (that's a whole other conversation we can have when you get bored of this one, but for now I'm just using it as an example), and I was coming at it from a Libertarian perspective and saying lets take all this passion, which is biblically sound and much needed, and vitally important and thrilling, and funnel it around government instead of through it. And what somebody said to me was: "you [or we] need to get to the point where you are so passionate about the cause, and the affected people, you don't care who is implementing it"

As a sidenote I would like to think that if government intervention in social justice issues was effective I would certainly support it, but I'm not convinced it is, and thus it has nothing to do with the means as it does the simple lack of outcome and abundance of inefficiency. And also much of social conservatism could be defended by that arguement, and I disagree with it's use on that front. But I digress.

So that was kind of point one, and then I just started thinking about other strands of thought in that light, and it seemed that in most emergent circles, the emphasis was largely on the outcome or goal.

Another example would be if a church has the goal of serving their community, and they are really pumped up about it and go out of their way to use all of the resources they can, and align themselves with as many groups and individuals and sports teams and schools and whatever to achomplish their goal of serving everyone in their vicinity. Even if these groups don't uphold their doctrine or care for their beliefs, they will still pull them along side in their mission.

I don't neccesarily see this as a bad thing, actually in the above example I think it's smart and Jesus-like. But it is Machiavellian, and it is a break from most traditional churches that are very concerned with the who and what and where, and the image, as much so as they are the outcome. And it could possibly, in some situations, a while down the road, be seen as dishonest. Or be seen as agenda holding. Or be a cause for misunderstanding from the other side.

So I say that emergent thought is Machiavellian, but not in a negative sense, merely in a shift of focus.

But then if we're just defining it as "being goal focused" or "using all resources neccesary to achieve a goal", that's not very Machiavellian in nature. In fact by that definition Jesus would be a Machiavelli disciple. And since the means in emergent circles aren't 'bad', they're mostly neutral, it's not quite a strong arguement. So I may have just torn myself apart, but it's okay because I'm not trying to be right, just wondering.

I still hold to my original question in small doses though. Do you see where I'm coming from?

Is there a classical philosopher you would attribute more accurate credit to? (even if it's not recognized or celebrated, I think the credit is still there)

btw don't be so hard on the cards, they may pull through in the end (I mean look at this 9th inning); you shouldn't have under-estimated the houston pitchers though.

steven said...

Hey! Back online and back to reading blogs - great to hear a report from the gathering... had a great time last year. Two things: 1) Being on a church staff with Tim isn't all it's cracked up to be. :) Actually, it's better. 2) I'd better get moved up the list before Samson! :) You'll also be happy to know that ESPN Europe shows MLB baseball playoffs in Africa, so you can watch the Cards when you come visit!