Tonight I chatted to Anthony Smith (postmodern negro) and it was just flat out energizing. We are both involved in the emergent conversation and so we were talking about random conversations we have gotten in with interested onlookers trying to figure it out and came to two general things that need to be either more emphasized or brought into the conversation. Emergent leader types are so concerned about keeping everyone happy at being in the conversation that sometimes you can’t tell what they think or mean at all. Now I am down with letting anyone who wants to join in do so, but someone’s presence isn’t an excuse for being dishonest or avoiding being truly clear. I have talked to multiple conservative people about the emergent church and basically felt like I was being witnessed to by a representative from true Christianity. Then if I am honest about some random topic (if they are scared of emergent types it is usually God letting too many sinners into heaven, not having enough confidence in Truth to use it as a sword on others, being too loving to the homosexual community, advocating too much feeding of mouths and not sin sick hearts, and being too honest about how the majority of the institutional church in America is not identifiably Christian…now that is an excursus) the conversation ends and it becomes an attack on some straw figure version of my own theological opinion they learned at an apologetics conference. That isn’t a conversation. I vote that people involved in the emergent conversation, when pressed on something, say exactly what they think and then let the other share too. If being in a room with a Jesus follower who thinks that the war in Iraq is a disgusting sin that requires repentance or that believing in truth does not mean a human can know it absolutely, makes the conversation partner unable to keep conversing then so be it. I know not everyone in the conversation agrees on issues, but we should on the value of conversing and that requires honesty. If getting everyone to be honest means some people don’t want in that is their choice. We should always provide room for any voice and be as articulate and honest as those who seek us out to save our theology. Being honest will be perceived by the ‘modern’ conservatives (and liberals) as emergent finally letting their true sub-Christian –insert their favorite category used to label people you demonize and ignore – selves be known. I bet that when, perhaps a smaller group of people get honest about becoming a gospel people in our contemporary setting others will come and join because we will have effectively separated ourselves from being associated with the groups who left the gospel to be the Empire’s chaplain and publicist. (an aside: this may sound political and it is, but not partisan. when we screw the two-thirds world again with our farm bill and subsidize American crops and facilitate the growing debt and starvation of sisters and brothers around the world it will have happened with a democrat congress)
The second thing is the need for real conversation about the American churches role in colonialism. That is another conversation, but it might step on too many toes (including my own) and the upcoming Emergent Manifesto might not sell as many copies to fundies who think our souls can still be saved….then again we might get cult status at Bob Jones and their missions class might buy it.
Well Anthony and I’s conversation was really good and this rambling does not reflect anything other than me being up late and responding to what we talked about. I do think it’s cool that this suspect movement leads to a 24 year old white Baptist dude in Winston Salem becoming friends with an African-American father who is a reformed Pentecostal in Charlotte.