Category Archives: Emerging

Converging Idealistically vs. Converging Realistically

So Convergence is coming up this weekend.¬† I’m excited and want to get going!¬† And I’m tired and want to crawl in bed!¬† It’s hard being a hormonal female, isn’t it?¬† πŸ™‚

At times like these I always do battle with my idealistic dreams versus the realistic expectations.  When dreaming about this gathering a couple of months ago, it sounded so easy and simple:  provide space for women to gather and share.  No speakers to schedule:  our stories and passions will be the main topic.  No conference center issues:  just provide registration online and leave booking of rooms up to individuals.

But then came the questions.¬† Which came faster than I can idealistically respond to.¬† Somehow the demands of being a wife and mother of a whirling dervish, a.k.a. my toddler, and facilitating a bible study and dealing with the whole “ten weeks of holidays” (I swear it starts before Halloween) encroached in my time to calmly and rationally be proactive in helping plan the event.

And then came the details with registration:¬† folks who couldn’t get the registration to work, folks who needed to cancel, funky technical issues, not being able to transfer money from the Paypal account to the real bank account (somehow virtual money doesn’t get you far in this world).¬† Details:¬† nitty gritty details.¬† Not idealistic planning and dreaming and saying, “Make this happen” – but actually having to make it happen.¬† That makes me all squirmy.

Just recently we found out about more details.  In our initial talks with the hosts of the place where we are gathering, we figured out a (what we felt) very reasonable registration cost Рtrying to keep it as low as possible so that folks from all walks would be able to attend.  But details:  oh, details.  Like additional costs for using equipment.  Food prices fluctuating.  The most recent:  a lovely, not-previously-mentioned, decent-sized gratuity percentage tacked onto the food costs.  Oy.

Everything’s still a go.¬† But it’s tight:¬† like having-finished-Thanksgiving-dinner-and-forgetting-to-wear-your-stretchy-pants tight.¬† In light of that, we’ve created a way for folks to make a donation online:¬† even a small contribution would give us some more elastic, helping the facilitators focus more on the events of the weekend rather than the monetary elements.

I know once I get there and everything’s in full swing, I’ll really be digging it.¬† I’m *really* excited for that time.¬† Until then, you’ll find me in the stretch jeans isle, muttering things about gratuity might be given more gratefully if known about ahead of time and does this *really* fall under the whole “God loves a cheerful giver” umbrella? . . . πŸ™‚

Converge!

Last February I was lucky enough to get to participate in the Emergent Theological Conversation on the East Coast.  During that time I connected with a number of fantastic women who had some amazing stories to tell:  stories that were exciting (about how God was moving in their community) and stories that were, frankly, sad (about how people were not supportive of their compassions and callings).  But it was a quick conference, with little time to figure out where to go from there Рhow are we called to support each other as women in ministry?

I connected with a few women from my area, and we’ve been meeting regularly to plan a space, a space to Converge – with our stories, our journeys, our leadings, our art, our talent, our dreams, our worship.¬† And so January 26th-28th a group of women will be gathering at Edgefield Manor in Troutdale, OR to do just that.¬† It’s called Convergence because we hope that the women will bring elements of their selves to the time, rather than simply consuming a message from a speaker.¬† (And, no, Convergent Quakers, I had nothing to do with the name, although I did giggle a lot when it was decided upon).

You wanna come?¬† I’m going:¬† you know you wanna.¬† It’s affordable; it’s at a supercool location; it’s with rockin’ women; it’s time and space to converse and reflect – sweet!
Some folks might say, “But I’m not a member of an emerging church!”¬† Well, neither am I.¬† But some of the ways I feel called towards moving in ministry don’t necessarily fit into the typical traditional church box.

Others might say, “But I’m not a leader!”¬† Enh:¬† I don’t buy that.¬† We all lead in our own spheres of influence, and no matter if it’s on a national level or a superduper local level, it’s leading all the same.¬† It might not look like a pastor/teacher, but you know what?¬† There’s a couple of other job descriptions that the Bible lists out, and leading is going to look different in each realm.
And then there’s the “But I don’t have anything to offer!”¬† Have you lived life?¬† Do you have a life story to tell?¬† Do you interact with people?¬† Do you want to worship God in your current place in life?¬† Do you want to follow Christ?¬† You have something to offer.

If you have any questions, feel free to drop me an email.¬† Or better yet, just register, and then we can chat sometime.¬† You know you wanna.¬† πŸ™‚

You Mean You’re a Real Person?

It’s afternoon-time:¬† my little Mover & Shaker is down for a nap, and while I’d like to avoid working on my Yearly Meeting workshops by reading a Fluff Book or watching the E! True Hollywood Story on Desperate Housewives, I couldn’t handle the restless tension anymore – must. sit. think. write. prepare.¬† (underlying motivation:¬† must. not. look. like. boob. when. facilitating. workshop.).

And while I feel somewhat saturated with thoughts and experiences, of both mine and others, the white canvas of NeoOffice seemed very threatening and overwhelming.¬† Sometimes I just need a little distraction, so while compiling notecards (just like my 11A teacher taught me to do when working on a project:¬† she’d be so proud:¬† I’m such an English geek), I listened to an Emergent podcast of Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt (who has a few blogs:¬† what is it my dad says?¬† Gross excess is only half enough?¬† πŸ™‚ ) sitting at Chipotle talking about Emergent ‘stuff’.¬† I’m not so surprised about the location:¬† I mean, how can one talk about our response to God’s callings in present day culture without a quality amount of guac present?¬† πŸ™‚

At two points Tony and Doug talk about their experience as authors:¬† as folks receive the writings, many have looked beyond the words to the authors, somewhat ‘dehumanizing’ them to be a concept or an idea rather than a person.¬† It reminded me of my weekend.

This weekend I had the chance to meet some a) fellow Quakers and 2) fellow bloggers.¬† A little over a year ago I began a ‘real blog’ – a place to share non-Mama thoughts (or at least not go into the graphic details of how much my infant son yarfed that day) and to connect with other Quakers.¬† And honestly, at that time, I was thinking solely of Christ-centered, evangelical Quakers:¬† you know, people just like me!

And I did connect with people like me, but they didn’t look how I expected.¬† In fact, the folks I’ve engaged in the best discussions with on how to respond to the calling of the Spirit have been folks coming from non-evangelical Quaker backgrounds.¬† It’s so easy to group people:¬† folks from FGC are like this, folks from EFI are like this.¬† And yet, that’s so truly dehumanizing.¬† Only when we come into true relationship and conversation with each other can we see each other as God intended:¬† God’s blessed creations.


So thanks, convergent f/Friends for sharing of yourselves.¬† I’m so glad to have met *you*:¬† not an idea or a thought or a generalization of you, but the real you.¬† Blessings to you all in the continued journey.

Ps.¬† Gregg, while you blogged your picture sooner than I did, Jason had this one up on Flickr that evening.¬† I think I win:¬† you decide the prize (one year without being called out during service?¬† A Judah-free night?¬† Sugar-free Moose Tracks ice cream?¬† All-expenses paid trip to the next ETC?¬† I’m easy).¬† πŸ˜€

The Simple Act of Trying to Follow Christ

“No one who has not tried it would believe how many difficulties are cleared out of a man’s road by the simple act of trying to follow Christ.”¬† ~Alexander Maclaren

I have a calendar in My Room (i.e. the room I pretend I do work in, but in reality I sit at the kitchen table because certain individuals/creatures all like to come into My Room and take it apart while I’m working):¬† I inherited it from my mom when I took her job at Fox.¬† She inherited it from Gregg’s mom when she took her position at Fox.¬† Oh, the little community we live in.

At any rate, the calendar is one of those inspirational calendars where you flip a page a day and it has a verse and a quote:¬† reusable because it doesn’t have the day of the week or the year.¬† Most mornings I casually flip it, more because the anal side of me wants to be on the correct day rather than to glean its wisdom.¬† This morning, though, the above quote caught my eye, particularly the phrase “simple act of trying to follow Christ.”
Is following Christ a simple act?¬† Then why is it so hard sometimes?¬† I guess ‘simple’ and ‘easy’ don’t always go hand in hand, eh?

And am I truly trying to follow Christ?  Or am I trying to follow people who I think are trying to follow Christ?  George Fox, Brian McLaren, Andrew Jones, Graham Cooke, my parents?  Myself? . . .

The writings of early Quakers seem to communicate that they didn’t desire folks to follow them exactly, but rather to follow the truth behind their actions:¬† a response to ‘primitive Christianity’ – to Christ.¬† And primitive Christianity, well, it seems like when they weren’t following Christ, they got bogged down in labels (Hebrew versus Greek) and rituals (circumcised versus uncircumcised):¬† when they were truly following Christ, they were able to shake the government to its very core.
So, where does spending time analyzing and critiquing movements such as Quakerism and the Emerging church fall into that?  Does that help or detract from the simple act of trying to follow Christ?

If Old School Quakers Lived Today

“Um. .¬† . is this thing on?¬† Is anyone watching over this blog?¬† Hello?”¬† I wonder sometimes if that’s what folks think when they come to my site and see that it hasn’t been updated in foreverandeveramen.¬† And sometimes I wonder with my blabberings that are shot out into the great blogosphere if folks think, “Um . . . who let that kid have a blog?”¬† Similar to what happened this week as we took our 21 month old son to a wedding and amazingly enough he started to act up (shocking, I know:¬† a toddler not want to get dressed up and sit still and meet strangers after flying on an airplane and sleeping (well, dozing) in a hotel?!!?).¬† He was across the room being chased, and I started to joke, “Man, who was dumb enough to bring a toddler to a wedding?¬† What a non-non.”¬† Heh heh.¬† Okay, so I’m not that funny.¬† I’ll leave the stand-up comedy routine to Gregg (who this morning compared himself to a dog on a leash.¬† I’ll let him explain that one).

Thank you SO much for your comments.¬† Hearing other experiences and thoughts and ponderings is a true blessing, a gift. ¬† I hope to lead this workshop more as a facilitator than a “teacher” because the collective experiences are so much deeper than my singular experience.

Starla’s comment hit close to home:

I am facinated that the Friends are experiencing the decline of membership from the same demographic that is flocking to the emergent movement. I find it facinating, because Friends are more theologically similar to the emergent movement than almost any other denomination. . . . So, I can‚Δτt help but be personal about what I experienced. I know that I tired of the love affair Quakers have about beieng Quaker. I tired of reading Fox, Trueblood, etc. I tired of feeling like I need a personality make-over to be a good Quaker‚Δμhave you noticed the similarity in personality within the group? Similar mannerisms? I tired of silence-all the time. I wanted to mix it up and be loud from time to time. I tired of the tradition of not following tradition, as I see value in the liturgical movement.

I’ve been reading some Quaker history stuff:¬† pamphlets, books, etc.¬† I realized that I’m pretty saturated in emerging church and young adults, but not so much in Quakerism and young adults.¬† Since I’m facilitating two workshops, I figured I should probably know about both.¬† πŸ™‚

In my readings what truly struck me was how responsive the early Quakers were to the Spirit, no matter how abnormal it looked to their culture.¬† Yet, they didn’t behave simply to be counter-cultural:¬† they were following the call of the Spirit.¬† They sought “Primitive Christianity Revived” – hey, isn’t that what the emerging church movement desires as well?¬† Starla seems to resonate with that as well, and this has led her to attend an emerging church.

I don’t feel the call to leave my meeting (yet:¬† you never know), but I do understand her frustration with the “love affair with Quakerism” (I might call it “idolizing”).¬† Living in Northwest Quaker Mecca (i.e. our Yearly Meeting/Area Headquarters and George Fox University are here) I am saturated with Quaker culture, but it’s mixed:¬† some is contemporary, some is old school.¬† Yearly Meeting is interesting – a sort of “which Quaker are you?” experiment.¬† Do you talk about Jesus or Christ?¬† The Spirit or the Light?¬† Are you Board of Evangelism or Social Concerns?¬† Do you think that the Peace committee is making a difference or is a home for misplaced flower children?¬† I’ve heard so much reverence for Fox and Trueblood from folks that I haven’t necessarily seen living out anything radical or worthwhile that I stayed away from those writers until now.¬† And man:¬† I love this stuff!¬† So much truth – straight to the point.¬† But I think I’m in a place where I’m ready to receive their writings due to my experience with Emerging Church – it’s put the overall truths into a cultural context for me.

“It is important, as our contemporary rediscovery proceeds, that we do not succumb to the temptation to idolize the earliest Quaker period.¬† The past cannot be repeated and ought not to be repeated even if it were possible.¬† What is important is that the vision of greatness demonstrated in an earlier time may help¬† men and women of this generation to know how to discover the secret of an equal vitality, with relevance to the contemporary situation.”¬† Trueblood

Starla said she thought Woolman would be jumping and yelling if he were around today, but would it be allowed?¬† What about Fox?¬† Would he be blogging and podcasting as a current means of spreading a message?¬† Would he be saying, “Does thee fare well today?” or “S’up?”¬† Would Elizabeth Fry be wearing gray, or would she be wearing environmentally-friendly, sweatshop-free made clothes, and then campaigning to eliminate the sweatshop environments?¬† Would William Penn have created a place like MySpace, venturing out into the new territory of the internet to create a community?
A lot of time is spent nailing down, “What kind of Quaker are you?”¬† I don’t know how much of the early Quakers did that;¬† it seems that they listened to their leaders, their community, the Scriptures, and the Light.¬† They wanted folks to be pointed, not towards them and their actions, but towards the Spirit:¬† to encounter Christ personally.¬† That’s the type of folks young adults are drawn to.¬† That’s a place where growth and expansion and radical transformation can happen.¬† That’s where I ache to be.
(And instead of riding naked into town on a donkey, do you think Naylor would’ve done a naked stunt on a reality show?¬† You gotta wonder. . . )¬† πŸ™‚

I’d Like to Hear From You

I’ve maintained this blog for almost a year now.¬† I discovered blogging as a new mama trapped mostly at home:¬† when I couldn’t leave the townhouse due to napping or feeding schedules, I could still connect with the “outside world” via these personal weblogs – total blessing.

At the same time I was struggling with the question of “where have all the young adults gone?” in regards to participation in my worship gathering.¬† My friends and I seemed to have a real experience of Christ in high school, and yet we all faded away come college and entrance into young adulthood.¬† I was recruited to facilitate a workshop at our Yearly Meeting (Annual Conference) regarding The Missing Generation.¬† In preparing, folks pointed me in the direction of postmodernism and the emerging church.¬† But as I threw my questions and experiences out into the grand blogosphere, God opened an unexpected door into connecting with those in my tradition (Quakers) from different branches.

As I said, it’s almost been a year which means that Yearly Meeting is coming up.¬† The workshop last year was a great time of questioning and conversing, and I’ve been asked to facilitate two workshops this year to continue the conversation:¬† one on Emerging and Young Adults, and the other on Quakerism and Young Adults (the titles are more snazzy than that, but I can’t remember them exactly – they’re that snazzy).¬† My mind is saturated with experiences, questions, ways folks are living out good stuff, ways folks aren’t doing so hot, places young adults are, and opportunities to connect.¬† But sometimes when one is *so* in something, it’s hard to know what would be the best stuff to tackle when we gather together.

SO:¬† I’d like to hear from you.¬† Really.¬† I’m not kidding.¬† I’m not asking out of politeness (which I could, having been raised in a proper Southern tradition).¬† You:¬† I wanna know.

  • Do these topics (young adults and emerging and/or Quakerism) sound relevant to your situation?
  • What assumptions do you have when you hear “young adults”?¬† “Emerging”?¬† “Quaker”?
  • Why would you attend such a gathering?
  • What would you hope to bring to this conversation?
  • What would you hope to take away?

A number of folks have told me, “I read your blog and wanted to leave a comment, but I don’t have anything to say.”¬† I think you do.¬† Others have told me, “I don’t have the time.”¬† Call me – on your way to work or the store or while you’re walking the puppy.¬† Some say, “I don’t feel comfortable sharing publically.”¬† Email me:¬† my contact info’s on the sidebar.¬† I have been so blessed by connecting with you all:¬† thank you for sharing with me.

Emerging Foodie

WARNING:¬† Foodie geek about to blather on.¬† But I promise there’s content more than “mmmm, grilled eggplant” and “mmmm, balsalmic strawberries” and “mmmm, grilled Moroccan meatballs.”¬† Really, I promise.

So today my son and I swung by the library a) because it’s Thursday and I thought we could see how long we could sit in storytime (the answer is half of a book and half of a song) and 2) because I had holds in (it’s so convenient to place holds online, but the librarians do sigh as they remove a shelf’s worth of items for me).¬† Today I was especially excited because three cookbooks came in, one of them being Jamie’s Dinners by Jamie Oliver, a.k.a. the Naked Chef.

This is his most recent publication, one that is near and dear to his heart:¬† he has been filming a documentary looking at the food being served in public schools in England, and what he’s discovered hasn’t been pretty.¬† So he decided to do something about it with his Feed Me Better campaign:

Jamie’s School Dinners is all about making radical changes to the school meals system and challenging the junk food culture by showing schools can serve fresh nutritious meals that kids enjoy eating.

What we eat affects everything. Mood, behaviour, health, growth, even our ability to concentrate. A lunch time school meal should provide a growing child with one third of their daily nutritional intake. But the processed junk foods served in most school dining halls these days don’t.

The father of two adorable girls (named Poppy Honey and Daisy Boo – I wonder if they’re friends with Apple Martin . . .), he’s been motivated to find create and share recipes that are healthy, tasty, and economical to make for the sake of his daughters’ generation and beyond.¬† His compassion extends to the meals eaten at home with families:¬† “All the major factors that are needed to make a good affordable school lunch also apply to a mindful, clever cook at home.”¬† Many of these recipes have been served at his restaurant Fifteen:¬† “The purpose of Fifteen is to inspire disadvataged young people to believe that they can create for themselves a career in the restaurant business.”¬† He trains people to be chefs and then helps them find employments – 37 people have completed this program, and round 4 is in the works.

Talk about taking your talents and gifts and putting them to work to better the world!¬† His passion and his compassion collided.¬† True, he does make quality money, but he doesn’t spend all of his time on his career as some chefs do.¬† He probably could have been much more of a Food Network personality, but he stepped back to focus on these works.¬† He didn’t have to have any special “social work/non-profit” type training:¬† just his knives and a desire for healthy, simple meals for all.¬† Now that’s a post-modern/emerging foodie if I ever saw one.

What skills and gifts have you been blessed with?  How are you called to use those in your daily life for the sake of others?  These are questions the whirl in my head on a daily basis, so maybe I can get some answers by hearing your experiences.

How Does Your Gathering Grow?

Is your church gathering growing?

Folks who are taking part in the emerging conversation seem to be part of worship gatherings that are multiplying; I’ve heard a number of folks compare qualities of those gatherings and that of Quaker meetings.

But Quaker churches aren’t growing that I know of . . .

If folks are attracted to those basic principles present with Friends, then why does it seem like Quaker gatherings are dwindling into the background?

What’s in a Name?

Today my husband and I made a trip out to Gresham to bid farewell to some relatives . . . and to get first dibs at their garage sale goods. On the way out there I kept plugging on through Emerging Churches. Jason asked how it was: “good.” “How is it compared to the other books you’ve read?” “Really good.” Helpful, eh? πŸ™‚

Driving back, I was thinking about emerging stuff. I find the book “really good” in that it articulates ideas and trends and noticings that I’ve sensed for some time but haven’t been able to communicate: it describes attributes of a holistic life – a life completely lived in the sacred where every moment is an opportunity for worship, forgiveness, community, giving.

But I could hear many folks in my mind saying, “This is nothing new. It might be said differently; it might be packaged differently; but this stuff has been around for centuries.” People offer up examples of historic figures who blazed the way changing lives and living out God’s love. While I appreciate looking to the past to recognize and honor these figures, I wonder how much good it’s really doing: it’s fairly easy to rest on our laurels of “well, this amazing person is part of my worship tradition” without actually doing anything they stood for. This is somewhat of a club mentality: we have “so and so” in our corner, so we’re secure. Somehow I don’t think it all works out this way.

When folks hear “emerging church,” there seems to be a variety of reactions – mainly “Huh? What is it?” to “OH: I’ve heard about it, and it’s New Age/going away from Christianity/Gen-X thing/not theologically sound.” A lot of that comes from folks in the emerging movement and folks in the traditional movement not conversing. But also I wonder if it comes from terminology.

“Emerging: Newly formed or just coming into prominence.”

In the American consumeristic society, for something to be new means there has to be something that’s old: old is bad, useless, not needed (at least in the marketing world where ipods are only good for a couple of months before the next model comes out rendering the former antiquated and somewhat undesired). When folks in the traditional churches hear “emerging,” I sense as though the term is a sort of subtle slam: traditional is old and useless, i.e. the way you do church is old and useless. To say something like that can strike at the core of a person: look at history where wars have been fought for centuries over beliefs regarding religious differences.

To me, it seems like the term “emerging” gets folks’ hackles up. Plus, to say that these beliefs and ideas and revelations are something completely new seems pretty arrogant as though it took two thousand years and now our “enlightened” generation figured it out.

Is there a word or phrase that could embody how God is moving among us and how we are responding? Something that respects both the new and old practices, something that is more holistic, something that isn’t Christianese, something that makes sense?

  • Organic
  • Rooted
  • Core
  • Convergent (to borrow from a friend)
  • Incarnational
  • ?????

What does it look like to you? How do you see God moving, and what do you call is when you partner with God in what God’s already doing?

Emerging: Simple Folks Version

Language is a tricky thing. If I was talking with my former roommates and said μthe good entrance to the mall,ξ they would know I was talking about an entrance at Washington Square where one steps to the left into Starbucks* or to the right into Cinnabon or a step further to Jamba Juice**. On Sunday mornings we would pile into one of our cars, clad in sweatshirts and pajama pants and slippers, and drive thirty minutes to μthe good entranceξ to get food for the day: coffee, a cinnamon roll, and a smoothie (we were on a carbs-only diet – probably the reason Atkins was created). The reason my roommates would know what I mean when I say μthe good entranceξ is because weνve experienced it.

Same things happens when trying to understand the meaning of one word: generally I comprehend when itνs related to my own experience. In AP English my teacher taught us the word μcathartic,ξ but we didnνt really get it until after one of our classmates came in and yelled about how unfair some assignment was – she went into great detail about how it was too much work, how too many other classes were asking for the same stuff, and how life was just too crazy as a senior. When she slumped into her chair after her tirade, the teacher asked, μFeel better?ξ μYes.ξ μThen what youνre feeling in catharsis – you unloaded, and now you can move on.ξ

Scot McKnight has posted an article on the emerging church. Andrew Jones posted a quote from it. I thought it sounded good, and then I realized I didnνt really know what was being contrasted/what was different. I looked up words, but they all seemed to be related. So I asked some friends for a translation:

Okay, so here’s a definition of “emerging” . . . except I don’t get it. πŸ™‚ What’s the difference between eccelsiology and theology (in practical terms, pleaseandthankyou)?

And Gregg responded, cause heνs nice like that:

Eccelsiology is the study or practice of how we do church. What makes the church, “the church”? What’s its purpose, what are its practices, what does it do, etc. It’s technically a subset of theology, the study of everything
about God.

So in the case of the definition, I think it goes something like this:

The EM is a way of doing church that is shaped most by a missional focus, (an attempt for the church to do what God is doing in the world), that seeks to unite Christians for the sake of unleashing the gospel to change the world, rather than a set of particular beliefs about God that is designed to get people to believe certain things about God.

Thereyougoandyourwelcome.

I *love* people who get the BIG stuff and can translate it to me in terms that I can associate with an experience (because apparently thatνs how I process information). AND I donνt feel dumb. Thatνs always nice, too. But now, after thinking about “the good entrance,” I’m hungry. And my hubby’s got worship practice after work: stink.

*Did you know they just came out with a new drink? I must’ve sensed a tremor in the Javasphere, because during the ETC (one moment when I wasn’t theologically in tune), I wondered why they don’t call Caramel Macchiatos just “Macchiatos” because they had already twisted the original recipe so much and they didn’t have any other versions. But St. Arbucks knew: and they almost made me look like a fool . . . almost. After my wandering thoughts, I spent time trying to remember how to spell Macchiato – ah, mama of wee brain.

** Do you remember when it was Zuka Juice? My dad has cups with that logo on them – vintage, I tell you.