Sunday, September 26, 2010

St Francis, renewal and “romantic tosh"

I love the Classic St. Francis "Repair my church" story (3rd paragraph here)

Dick Bayard tells about receiving an impression that the Lord was saying, "I am rebuilding my church, from the bottom up, and the top down." He talks about telling that story publicly at a conference, and sensing the Lord strongly correcting him because he left out the "top down" part.

So here's a reminder that it is "equally valid to change something from the outside and the inside."
From an interview with the author of Chasing Francis :
Mike Morrell: What about Francis and the institutional church? One would think he would have abandoned it.
Ian Cron: One of the things that makes Francis very interesting compared to a lot of what we’re seeing in the Post Modern Emergent conversations is that he was not anti-institutional. He actually honored the institution of The Church even in it’s screwed up state. He critiqued it with his life, not his words, and he wasn’t leaving it. He really felt like you could change it from the inside out. I recently read something by Jonny Baker about this very thing. Did you read that article?
MM: Yeah – the one in response to Kester Brewin’s series on Has What Emerged Retreated?romantic tosh”. Jonny says the idea of leaving institutions is, in his British parlance, ““romantic tosh”.
IC: Heh – Yeah, he says it’s equally valid to change something from the outside and the inside. I agree..
IC: This raises a really interesting point, too. One problem I’ve seen in the postmodern/emergent church conversation is you tend to have one of two different kinds of things going on: one is the emphasis on social justice. That’s a great thing unless you over-privilege social action and have no contemplative life. Someone who over-privileges social justice runs the risk of becoming an angry, disillusioned and very often, a smug activist. On the other hand, there are people who ignore social justice and only care about the contemplative life and this leads to a sort of saccharine piety. They start watching EWTN and saying the Rosary without any interest in the fact that so much of the world is starving to death.
MM: Yeah, I spent about a decade in a church movement that was very contemplative, and I feel like a lot of times we did veer into that danger where we really, at the end of the day, didn’t give a rip about what was happening in the outside world. I transitioned from that into this sort of Anabaptist, Anarchist, hardcore social justice world, and it was like a breath of fresh air to see people who really cared about what’s happening around the world, but, I did begin to encounter sort of an intolerance and almost a mocking of sincere expressions of love for God or spirituality that didn’t into the plight of the Post Modern world and things like that.
IC: Yes, you need both in tension. The commitment to social Justice should correct the excesses of the contemplative life and vice versa. That balance is very Franciscan.
MM: I can see that – there’s the deep impatience of the prophetic tradition, but then there’s the sense of “all will be well” in the mystical tradition; I think you need both to fuel the other.
IC: That’s right. And this is the beautiful polarity that Francis embodies so well.

Full interview..Great job, Mike:

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Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!