Friday, May 20, 2005


I'm interested to know.... is emergent a movement that is partly trying to respond to the American problem of consumerism? Is it a movement that is trying to offer a counter cultural expression of how to be a follower of Jesus Christ?

One might think so if one sits in a learning session such as "Scripture" with Brian McLaren and Brian Walsh and hear Walsh boldly say- the Christian Church is a political culture that is not tied to political parties but to God through Jesus. Or when Brian Walsh read his adaptive poetic reflection on Colossians and indicted empire.

One might even think with a group of Emerging Christian participants hanging together under the heading of "Christians and Consumerism" that this movment is counter to consumer culture.


As I was walking toward the web lounge I pass a table with brochures for the US Army National Reserve. My mind asked me, "Hey Jonathon, why is Jesus holding that M16 asking Emergent Christians to 'Follow Me'? "

Then I remembered and told my mind, "Mind, that's not Jesus, that's American Consumer Jesus." My mind was at rest with that answer but I was troubled that American Consumer Jesus came to Emergent.

Then I walked into the Book Store/Web Lounge area. I saw books from various authors and the many emerging hands that were thumbing through the pages, the wallets that were opened and the transactions that were being made at the registers. Somewhere Mr. and Mrs. Zondervan are so happy that we're having this convention (or the board of directors, at least).

My mind began speaking to me again, "Jonathon, is it me or in some ways does this seem like a big ole' week long commercial?"

I reassured my mind that althoughs that can be one "hermenuetic" of this event, I don't think it's the "Meta-Hermenuetic".

So no I'm asking myself, what is the future of emergent? Is it a "few" who have some good words to say that "a lot" hear but in the end- we simply leave having consumed some words, consumed some books- made Zondervan extremely happy and maybe have supplied the State with a couple more guys to go and coopt the Gospel for an M16?

I have no answers but I have a few ideas, and a whole lot of dreams.



Andrew Northern said...

I agree with you about a concern that emergent will simply be co-opted as another money-making Christian group. Today, I was in a Family Christian Store and was saddened by the demand that the company is supplying. Honestly, I do give FCS credit for stepping up to meet the desire. I'd rather people have access to information than not. But it is disheartening how adept we, as American Christians (if such a term is accurate), have become at packaging and selling our faith. Doug Pagitt did a wonderful job of expressing this dynamic tension in his introduction in "Reimagining Spiritual Formation". Going to be interesting to watch. God help us.

gavin richardson said...

agree totally with you and props on the graphic.

Levi said...

I'm with you that there are some consumeristic tendencies in everything good... (did you notice how many iPods and Birkenstocks have been visible this week?)
Interestingly, the Reserves are trying to recruit chaplains who most certainly won't be carrying m16s and will hopefull contribute to a more ?peaceful? military.

St.Phransus said...

I have to blatantly admit that my Christian faith has led me to be a pacifist with high ideal but not many answers.

But one thing that I do see as hopeful and as a symbol of God's kingdom are miltary chaplains- they are a sign of peace, reconcillation and healing in the midst of war and violence in a REAL way.

Also, reading Gavin's brother, Shawn's, blog. He is a real sign of hope for me.


postmodernegro said...


bro...I wish I was there chillin with you guys. I definitely gotta get Brian Walsh's book. It looks interesting.

peace and a bottle of hair grease,


John said...

I find it fascinating how many seminary students adopt the philosophy of pacifism. I wonder if I will be so impacted during my three years coming up soon.

the reverend mommy said...

Hmmm... I'm reading this, listening to my iPod, on my newer Mac (not the newest) wearing Birkenstocks and black jeans. I have a wifi detector and a jump drive on my huge keychain. I'm wearing a striped shirt. I identify myself as a pacifist and find the emergent church facinating and look forward to my (large) shipment from Amazon. Now I find out I'm a cliche. Sigh.

St.Phransus said...

what can we say, we do live in somewhat of a vacuum. it's hard to get outside of it, when our culture is based around it. but to point out the tension/absurdity we live in is to at least acknowledge it.

ps: i do indeed love my birkenstocks, and would have an ipod if i could adford one right now. so how's that for a plank?