Is Shane’s Sail Analogy A Good One?

 

Earlier today we put out a fantastic interview with Shane Hipps about the new book “Selling Water By The River”.Selling Shane

The interview is pretty fascinating and after about a half hour Shane and Tripp move on to talk about spiral dynamics, pastoral leadership and the difference between a menu and a meal. It will be a good listen.

That is not my concern today.

In the promo video for the book, Hipps uses an analogy of the wind & the sail. Watch the video here.

He says that it is a one way relationship. That a sail without the wind is just a limp flag. But the wind without a sail is still the wind.

I’m not sure about this analogy. Before I say why, I wanted to see what ya’all thought.

Is Shane’s sail analogy a good one? Watch the video and let me know what you think.

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11 comments
BoSanders
BoSanders moderator

Thank you every one for helping my think this through.  I might write on it next week ... because as Erin points out (at the bottom of this page)  there is something severely lacking for me.  -Bo 

Jesse Turri
Jesse Turri

If we consider that religion’s purpose is to help us “reconnect” (‘re’ + ‘ligare’), repairing the illusion of separation of being torn from the whole, I think all in all, the ship analogy works quite well.  It’s as good an analogy as I’ve heard anyway.

 

I've actually heard Shane describe it better than he does in this video--never heard him talk about the limp sail though! HA! I see where that can be problematic.

 

But in a real sense, religion is very much like a sail on a ship. Some are better constructed, some may work better than others. If you know how to use your sail you can actually have wonderful experiences with the wind, but also--and this is important--if you misuse your sail you can actually capsize, hurting yourself and others in the process.

kenalto9
kenalto9

I enjoyed the analogy of the clay pot holding diamonds he used in the podcast more than the wind and sail. This talk of sails and wind really reminded me of the buddhist parable about religion being the raft we use to take us across the river - once we get to the other side we seem to want to pick up the raft and keep using it on that other shore.

 

For my money, Hipps is on the right track when he fully connects this life to the 'eternal life' that religion often talks about. If that life is eternal: this life is part of that eternity. If our experiences of joy and hope are to be eternal, this life is part of that joy and hope.

 

The spiral dynamics talk is interesting, mainly when i take it back to the level of pastors attempting to find ways to serve each of the individuals that make up a congregation. Haven't paid enough attention to know just how blue or green I  might be. As someone who has a bit of experience with AA, let me just say that I don't always need more bible - when the bible is used to illustrate our potential for transformation and growth is when I want to get more of it.

 

Another reflection on AA: big part of deconstruction appears to me to be recognizing/acknowledging contexts - huge part of the 'sharing' in a 12 step program is talking about who you are and where you are at - that often seems to be enough to defuse tension, release pressure and try another day.

 

 

rps40
rps40

I find it unhelpful. Jesus' ministry is founded upon building relationships, and awakening a slumbering, or at least inward-focused, history to the event of life. To suggest that he could achieve that without any people (wind without a sail) would defy the entire way of engagement with God and people that is a model of prophecy. It would make the Great Commission pointless. Of course, I find the atomised idea of us all traveling by sailing ships a little unhelpful, too. It's more like we're a bunch of three-masted schooners full of lots of people trying to work our way about without colliding with other three-masted schooners yet maintaining dialogues with them.

 

Then, the analogy breaks down when he suggests that we just need to know where to look for the wind. Wind is everywhere - which might be what he's suggesting, but I don't see it as a clear connection. Onboard my schooner, we're trying to figure out which way the wind (can I call it ru-ah?) is blowing and there's a lively debate occurring about that. In fact, I'd be worried from that video that people will start going off onto hills to look for Jesus by themselves (akin to hopping into the life boats and rowing off alone), without going to form communities - as per the Great Commission. Jesus' message might be everywhere, but the Jesus event is located in a certain time in Palestine. We're trying to follow that Spirit now.

paulthom
paulthom

Good analogy (even for a process guy) with some verbal missteps. "One way" is a bad choice of words. The wind without the sail IS still the wind, but that doesn't mean the sail doesn't affect the course of the wind. It does. 

jb00m
jb00m

Funny, watched this earlier and didn't think about it much. Now as I'm reading the book I'm reading (A Vulnerable Communion by Thomas Reynolds), he's talking about problems with the liberal vision of the person and so, the quote that connects it "As portrayed by Kant...autonomy is a sail filled by the wind of reason." I have a better handle on why I find Kant's statement problematic, but it makes me feel a little more unsettled. I suppose both seem a little too narrow...though a two minute video is bound to be that way. Kant overprivileges reason, does Shane overprivilege Jesus? I don't know. Can't put my finger on it still.

wellis68
wellis68

I think that he's trying to express an ontological divide between Christ and the church (assuming that the church is essentially what he means by the term 'Christianity'). The church has no claim on Christ, only a witness to Christ, the church is not THE incarnation but a witness thereto. In other words, Christ is the same with or without Christianity. 

 

I think that the analogy works just fine if you don't mind affirming such an ontological divide - if there is a preserved independence of Christ from human responses thereto. However, I think it becomes problematic when you begin to explore the communion between Christ and the Church - the koinonia toward which Christ's work is actually headed. The kind of community into which Christ has chosen to enter with the Church (indeed with creation as a whole) is such that it implies a level of interdependence and reciprocity. Though I would affirm what Shane is saying from the start - Christ is free and independent, Christ precedes human response - I would also say that in that freedom, Christ has chosen a level of dependence and reciprocity with the church that makes the ontological divide a little bit more fuzzy than it was at first glance. 

 

So I guess I like the analogy (actually, more now than I did before). But as with all analogies, it has its limits. 

charis9
charis9

I was looking forward to an interesting conversation, but when the words "religious leader" were used twice in the first 10 minutes of the interview, I could not help but think they perhaps you are reading a different gospel than the one I am familiar with. Perhaps your "emergent evolutionary styled thinking" needs a little more thought... Charis

Erin Wyma
Erin Wyma

So, in conclusion, his analogy is well-meaning but flawed.

Erin Wyma
Erin Wyma

Watched the video. A sail is supposed to direct a boat. Where is the boat in his analogy? Also who directs the sail in his analogy since an unfettered sail with no ability to be steared just meanders meaninglessly. The wind forces along but any sailor, I imagine, will tell you that a course set up by the wind needs to be controlled or it could end up dashing a ship against rocks.

ReneeGoodwin
ReneeGoodwin

 @wellis68  I don't like affirming that ontological divide. The Church is the Body of Christ. I don't think you can separate the two.That having been said, I'm not sure you can say that every congregation that claims Jesus is actually part of the Body of Christ. "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." But that's a whole 'nother can of worms. I just don't think the analogy holds up.