SpiritFarmer


Strengths and Weaknesses: redux
January 25, 2007, 8:39 am
Filed under: uncategorized

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post about my lovely personality profile as “pessimistic, cynical jerk,” I thought I’d project my faults onto others for a moment. Would you like to join me? I thought so . . . aaaand off we go.

My cynicism toward the powers that be – especially the powers in the church of the Western world (I won’t bring the rest of the world in just yet) – is largely an attitude I share with many people in the so-called emerging church scene. As I said yesterday, in some ways, this is a good thing, because it helps me (us) see through a lot of the broken rhetoric, hypocritical power plays in denominations, screwed up understandings of church structure, and self-serving/consumeristic teaching . . . much of which masquerades as “theology.” But, again, much of it not so good, because of the bad attitude that goes with it. As a further indictment, I am often guilty of talking a good game about all that’s wrong with this institution or that, but not living out the kind of change I want to see in the world (as Gandhi might say).

This has brought to mind a memory that goes back ten to fifteen years ago – back in the day when I used to listen to (and largely buy into) conservative talk radio. One of the labels that the hosts of said shows used to use when talking about their political opponents was “the liberal elite.” I don’t think I ever pondered that description much. I think what they were trying to get at was a description of intellectually gifted, highly educated, well to do, idealistic people who argued on behalf of the rights of the poor, downcast, etc. but never cared enough to get their hands dirty.

So now I’m wondering if my cynicism has put me into that kind of territory where matters of church and faith are concerned. I’m intellectually inclined (perhaps not “gifted,” but I think a lot), well educated, financially comfortable, and idealistic . . . and I regularly take mental and/or verbal pot shots at “the establishment.” I do so with good intentions most of the time – saying things I fancy as prophetic calls for change. But so much of the time, my talk is as far as it goes. I fail to get my hands dirty – at least dirty enough.

Scot McKnight’s recent article, which is getting linked a lot around the blogosphere (for good reason) references the reactionary nature of one of the streams of the emerging church. To those in this stream, I’d ask, “How dirty are your hands?” In many cases, I’m happy to say that I’ve seen some filthy dirty, muddy up to the armpits hands. In many many others, though, I’ve seen hands that look like they just spent quality time under the care of the local manicurist.

I’m ready to turn my prophetic calls back on the emerging church and try to get more people to really do the stuff we all like talking about.

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