This is my personal blog. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the congregations or presbytery I serve.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Emerging Church Conference, Albuquerque. II.

The second speaker was Brian McLaren.  He began with a short video of two groups of people tossing basketballs to each other, one in black t-shirts and the other in white.  We were instructed to count how many times the ball changed hands in each group.  After the video the audience reported how many exchanges they counted.  McLaren then asked “How many of you saw the gorilla?”  It turns out that in the middle of the film a person in a gorilla suit walked through the ball-tossers... but only a small fraction of the audience noticed.  We were all too busy concentrating on counting the ball tossings.  McLaren’s point being that we don’t see what we are not looking for.  What you focus on determined what you miss.

Christian traditions have tended to focus on this or that view of Jesus... but missed other very obvious aspects.  Some of these have been opened up and brought into view by recent Jesus research.  Emerging Christianity will use an comprehensive and inclusive understanding of Jesus.

In an informal poll, McLaren asked people who the most Christlike people they could think of were.  Names like Gandhi and the Dalai Lama topped the list.  Then came Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, and Desmond Tutu.  But when he asked about famous Christians, the list began with Jerry Falwell and deteriorated from there.  Clearly the separation in people’s minds between Jesus and Christians is a major problem.  McLaren has even suggested elsewhere that we might benefit from using a different name.

I will finish this tomorrow.  I am running out of gas.



John Edward Harris said...

Fascinating reporting. Do you either you or Susan consider the churches you pastor as "Emerging"?

Paul Rack said...

Susan says what happened is that some people started accusing her church of being "emerging" so she had to figure out what that is. Her church using a model based on Church of the Savior, and has many "emerging" characteristics.

I am serving as an interim in a pretty standard church that has very little to do with any emerging categories.