Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Next Gas - 420 Miles

Continuing apologies on not producing commentary on the Emerging Church.

I have noticed in myself that I feel a powerful ambivalence about the EC, and such strong attractions and repulsions are always interesting. An understanding of this is gradually taking shape.

In one of the Piers Anthony Xanth books, Grundy the Golem works for the Good Magician Humphrey for a year in order to receive the answer to one question: Do I have a soul? Humphrey provides the answer in a form that not only answers the question but gives the reason: “Only those who have a soul care about the question.” We had a similar question from Ben when he was younger. He was haunted by the idea that he might not be saved. We tried various bits of reasoning, reassurance, deflection, Bible quotes, definitions, and whatever else we could think of. It was clear to us that he had enough abstract thinking ability to sense that the question was not simple, but was still too young to endure the type of ambivalent lifetime questions needed for the task. In sixth grade he was presented with the words of Augustine on the subject. “If you desire to be, you probably are.” That was the key that turned the lock for him. That was good enough. He didn’t need another repetition of formulaic salvationism, he needed a reason that made sense to him. In hindsight, Humphrey’s and Augustine’s are obvious answers, the kind an Assistant Village Idiot could see. But they are not always obvious until pointed out.

Those are the sort of answers I hope to find on any subject. I don’t want to merely give you a report card that says “Emerging Church, B+ for creativity and enthusiasm, C- for clarity, A- for…” I want to pass on insights that will keep on illuminating as new information is added over the years. I’m not the person who is able to notice the elephant in the room – that would be the Village Idiot’s specialty, and I’m stilling learning – but I’m pretty good at smaller creatures. “Hey! There’s a wombat in the room! What’s that doing here?” Why there might be a wombat and why the EC is ignoring it and what it means would be puzzles I could offer tentative explanations for, but others could answer better.

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