Using insight from architecture, advertising, and modern painting, Barry Taylor explores the differences between a “grid mentality” and an “organic mentality” in the terms of theology. He looks into our preoccupation with nostalgia, and focus on tradition and asks “how do we prevent our past experiences from limiting how we think in the future?” He encourages us to find our own authentic voice rather than just being an echo of what has come before.
A Limp of Faith
In a question and answer session with Tripp Fuller, Barry Talyor considers the roll of darkness and unknowing in faith. Too often, says Barry, when we are in a period of unknowing we are tempted to move quickly back to the familiar instead of waiting to see what might emerge if we waited. Pointing to Paul’s own period of blindness en route to Damascus, Barry asks if there are ways in which we are trying to go back to what we have known instead of going forward where we might meet God in a new way.
We are a Fiction
Pete Rollins challenges us create communities not centered around a claim to complete knowledge and the exclusion of scapegoats, but a community in which brokenness is embraced and accepted. Rather than thinking our beliefs make us who we are, Pete asks us to consider if our beliefs might actually be holding us back from expereincing what is coming to be. We think, says Pete, that what we want is a certain life, a certain car, a certain spouse, a certain faith, but in reality what we truly want is wanting. A longing for something that has yet to come. Moving forward means understanding that The Good News isn’t that you can know all the answers, but that we are broken and when we give up trying to reach a certain perfection and accept the present as powerful we enter into the possibility of transformation now.
The Questions for All Your Answers
Starting from Eden and ending up talking about magic tricks, Pete Rollins encourages us to consider that Christianity is not about belief, but about a mode of practice. He asks us to think about Christianity as if profundity and depth is possible in everything rather than just in certain places and certain times. He claims that our religious vocabulary doesn’t just help us interpret our religious experience, it helps to create it. That means that making claims about God produces one kind of experience, and asking questions about God yields something else… and Pete wants us to explore a Christianity that isn’t afraid of the something else.
Rob Bell shares how he feels that Christian experience rarely fits well in a nice neat script. How people the stories we tell about how God “should” be don’t always map well onto our experiences of how God actually shows up. He recounts a powerful story about a traffic accident that he witnessed and how in the most unlikely of places there was a moment of opportunity for transformation. In our drive for accomplishment, financial success, and intelligence we get moving at such a speed that we sometimes miss an encounter with Jesus, and Rob asks us to take a moment and slow down to hear God in the moment. To know that there can be a calm and abiding sense of peace in the midst of change and the messiness of life, confident that God is there waiting to be experienced… even in the middle of a street after a car accident.
Out of Hand(s)
Rob Bell talks about his experience of burn out and darkness. About the shift in his thinking when Christian Leadership went from a model where the pastor’s role was to make people act and do something to a model where the role is just about the giving of the powerful gift of the Good News without any expectation or demand that people change. He sees this giving up of demanding results as part of the possible end of the “profession” of being a pastor and the ways in which we may all be being called into service and transformation in the church.