Thursday, June 03, 2010

Who needs 5 rummage sales when you can have 6 drinks (and 1 red pill) instead?

Teaching church history through the lens of the Five Rummage Sales of Phyllis Tickle's "The Great Emergence" has inspired me to compare different grids/outlines/lenses through which to view history or Christian history.

Of course all breakdowns break down somewhere. "Concepts create idols," as Gregory of Nyssa quipped, "..only wonder understands." But I have encountered some helpful grids/metaphors.

I love Cahill, for example. Even though it was announced long ago that his "Hinges of History" series..of five volumes so far was to be seven volumes, I can't find anywhere what the other two proposed hinges are. (help, somebody!) Maybe he'll hit a rummage sale...or a drink.

A drink?

That segues into today's book plug, and connected question.
Here's a review of a new (to me) book:

" Historians, understandably, devote most of their attention to war, politics and, not least, money. But history can also be seen through the prism of the commodities that money buys. In A History of the World in Six Glasses, Tom Standage argues that beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea and cola have each, in their own way, helped to shape the course of history.--Matthew Rees, The Wall Street Journal
How can I not love a book of which it has been said:

  • "History, along with a bit of technology, etymology, chemistry and bibulous entertainment. Bottoms up!" Kirkus Reviews'
  • "There aren't many books this entertaining that also provide a cogent crash course in ancient, classical and modern history."--Wendy Smith, Los Angeles Times
  • "For Tom Standage, each drink is a kind of technology; a catalyst for advancing culture by which he demonstrates the intricate interplay of different civilizations. You may never look at your favorite drink the same way again." -Powells
Summary/reviews of the book are here and here.
Amazon page here.
My full review coming as soon as I read it.
But for now, it's a launching point..

Of course, Christianity is most connected historically with wine, and we can thank Muslims for coffee. What I don't think Standage pursues is the radical re-emergence of coffee...and coffee as technology in our day, and in church culture. (St. Arbucks, etc)...which was on no one's radar a few decades ago. And noting that in "in-between" times such as ours (modernity/postmodernity in a Venn), there is great potential for quantum leaps. Punctuated equilibrium, if you will.

If we live in key/hinge times, what drink might be birthing the new thing?
Could it be coffee 2.o? Len Sweet has a great volume, "The Gospel According to Starbucks," and connects Starbucks with our EPIC (see the acronym here) times. In class, we have been considering the timeline of history as helical (a quick googling suggests others have helixed-it) could it be that for the second time in history (as a helix would have it) coffee is kickstarting us into the future?

Frank Viola:

We are in a season of church history where we face a small window of time for real and lasting change. A window for revolution in the modern Christian mindset and in the traditional practices of the modern church. A window that Christians 1,000 years from now (should Jesus tarry, of course) can turn their heads back to and behold the beginning of a drastic paradigm shift from an old leaking wineskin to a new wineskin hand-crafted by the Spirit of God. But note … that window will eventually close. And it will close soon..

If that is so, what is our response (after coffee, of course!) Prophetic teacher Graham Cooke has tweaked a quote from Ecologist Rudolf Buhro suggesting that if we are indeed catalysts in this current reformation, we had better be radical bit also radically humble this time around---

-"lovers in a dangerous time," as Bruce Cockburn would have it,
--"going low," as Brian Dood would have it;
---"having the same attitude as Christ Jesus," as Paul would have it,
-----"sneaky as snakes but docile as doves," as Christ would have it (Matt. 10:16)?


"When the forms of an old culture are dying, the new culture is created by a few people who are not afraid to be insecure


"When the old wineskin is dying, the new wineskin is created by people who are not afraid to be vulnerable. "

And what specifically should we be insecure/vulnerable/low (but not slow) in dealing with, overthrowing?
If we are to pick our battles, and temper our temple tantrums..
what is the temple tantrum of today to be about?

Viola continues where we left him off:

… that window will eventually close. And it will close soon..

The emerging church phenomenon has wonderfully articulated some of the major flaws of the modern church, yet like all of its predecessors, it has failed to identify and take dead aim at one of the chief roots of most of its ills.
I firmly believe that the taproot of most of the problems that plague the church in modernity is the clergy system. To put a finer point on it, Protestant Christians are addicted to the modern pastoral office. The pastor is the all-purpose religious professional in the modern Protestant church, both evangelical and mainline.

Wolfgang Simson:

In rediscovering the gospel of salvation by faith and grace alone, Luther started to reform the Church through a reformation of theology. In the 18th century through movements like the Moravians there was a recovery of a new intimacy with God, which led to a reformation of spirituality, the Second Reformation. Now God is touching the wineskins themselves, initiating a Third Reformation, a reformation of structure. ...

The local church is not led by a Pastor, but fathered by an Elder, a local person of wisdom and reality. The local house-churches are then networked into a movement by the combination of elders and members of the so-called five-fold ministries (Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Evangelists and Teachers) circulating "from house to house," whereby there is a special foundational role to play for the apostolic and prophetic ministries (Eph. 2:20, and 4:11.12). A Pastor (shepherd) is a very necessary part of the whole team, but he cannot fulfill more than a part of the whole task of "equipping the saints for the ministry," and has to be complemented synergistically by the other four ministries in order to function properly.
No expression of a New Testament church is ever led by just one professional "holy man" doing the business of communicating with God and then feeding some relatively passive religious consumers Moses-style. Christianity has adopted this method from pagan religions, or at best from the Old Testament. The heavy professionalisation of the church since Constantine has now been a pervasive influence long enough, dividing the people of God artificially into laity and clergy.. God seems to be in the business of delivering His Church from a Babylonian captivity of religious bureaucrats and controlling spirits into the public domain, the hands of ordinary people made extraordinary by God, who, like in the old days, may still smell of fish, perfume and revolution
..The image of much of contemporary Christianity can be summarized, a bit euphemistically, as holy people coming regularly to a holy place at a holy day at a holy hour to participate in a holy ritual lead by a holy man dressed in holy clothes against a holy fee.
-link this current Reformation/Rummage Sale/EPIC time/Hinge/Holy Helix... let's drink (literally) to the gently violent overthrow of pastor-centered Christianity.
This can only be done most fundamentally by we pastors in our pastor-centered system. Such is a matrix of our own making, and thus it is inevitable that "you can feel it when you go to church."

We must be nonviolently violent this time, for as Tickle has well-argued, each previous hinge and turned ugly.
(See "Rummage Sale Ethics :No Violence or Credit Cards This Time Around").

Pastors may be forced to do
Judo in a suit this time.

God forgive us, and bring me my 6th glass...
and the red pill, please.

Many...historians of the future.. are already wondering (wonder-ing, is good. Recall Gregory of Nyssa) what the next Rummage Sale/Hinge will be about, if there is one.

If so, what is your guess (SpyScott?) and what the prophetic drink of choice will be in 5oo years?(:

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Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!