Tag Archives: Emerging

Review: the Sacred echo

[Sidenote:  a number of folks have passed on the following information, one noting it was a bit ironic that it came out the same day as my last post:  “Like you said,  ‘I don’t want to deal with all of this.  Let’s just sweep it under the rug [counter] and move on.'”  Hmm . . . ]

A few years ago when I started off on my quest of “why don’t any of my friends go to church anymore?  I know they’re spiritual people; where did they go?” and it meshed with “heavens, how does one maintain sanity when one has a demanding newborn and I can’t get out of my townhouse because it’s naptime or feeding time or I can’t find a clean pair of pants?  Hurrah for the internet!”, I discovered blogging and the emerging church.  I crept around different places like delicious and technorati and bloglines to try and assess who was worth reading and what they were talking about in the first place.

One day I noticed that my name was mentioned on a site that I considered to be well-emersed in the current pioneering spiritual scene; the post was calling for recommendations of emerging women bloggers.  “Well, that’s odd,” I thought, not that my name was mentioned  because I *am* a girl (and honestly, I was totally flattered), but that there was a request for such a thing at all.  Aren’t there a lot of emerging women bloggers?  Aren’t they getting equal screen time?  Because sexism doesn’t seem to be a value of post-modernity. . . .

That may be true, but the female voice is still lacking, which I find really interesting considering that I find women to be online moreso than men, at least in the searching-for-info, shopping, social-networking areas.  At any rate, one day I was reading the list of speakers for some hip, emerging-type conference:  boy, boy, boy, boy, boy, boy, girl, boy, boy.  Wait, girl?!!  Who is this person?  Her name was Margaret Feinberg.  And she was a writer.  !!!!  Be still, my little womanly writer’s heart.  I immediately went to her website, subscribed to her blog, and pine over her description of adventures in Colorado and Alaska because deep down inside I wish I were that cool to romp around in the wilderness.

One day Margaret posted that her new book was coming out, and her publishers were sending copies to blog readers who would post a review.  And y’all know how I feel about reviewing books.  Oooh!  Oooh!  Me!  Me!  I requested a book.  Alas, too late:  the copies had already been given out (I recieved a personal email from Margaret letting me know:  hello!  Personal touch!).  But then, one day, walking to the mailbox, key in my slot, open the package door:  hurrah!  Book package for Aj:  rock on.

And it made it to my pile of “books to review” where it sat for what I thought wasn’t all that long but apparently her publishers did because I got a polite yet inquisitive, “Did you get the book?  Have you posted a review?” email.  Apparently they don’t function on Aj Time which is generally “wearing two-week contacts for six months is okay, and regular bathing for the children means throwing them in the tub before they’re going to be seen by the public, and did I tell you about the time that I drove around with unregistered car tags for about nine months because I kept forgetting to go into the DMV but my father-in-law would see my car and shake his head and comment that next time he’d be visiting me in jail?”  So thank you for the reminder that The World does not function on Aj Time (phew).

So, my review of the Sacred echo:  Hearing God’s Voice in Every Area of Your Life (I’m spelling it like this because this is how the title is printed on the book, all post-modern “we don’t have to follow capitalization rules” and such – rebel rebel).  Honestly, at first, I was a bit skeptical.  Having read some pretty heavy hitters lately, I’m finding myself looking at every book wanting it to be a major spiritually-formational revelation, and this did not strike me as that.  This book is about prayer:  would she as detailed as Richard Foster?  This book is about life as a post-modern:  would she be as hip at Rob Bell?   This book is about listening:  would she be as prophetic as Shane Claibourne?

No, because she is Margaret Feinberg, and she brought her self to these pages, in clear words with questions and ponderings and proddings and God-infused words of hope and love.  She shares stories, her stories, of folks that she prays for.  Through these journeys she questions, “Why *do* we pray?  Is it worth it?”  I know of a number of books that tackle such a topic, and I don’t know that she brings anything necessarily new, but she brings things that are *real*, that shed light on the picture, that model what a life spent listening to God looks like.

Instead of forcing her stories down the readers’ throats, giving an air of “this is how your life of prayer should look”, she acts more as a midwife, encouraging the reader with queries and thoughts that allow the reader to find these echoes in their personal lives.  When my name was added to the list of emerging women bloggers, the commenter stated that they didn’t even know I was a female until many posts down the road:  I took that as a compliment, that my words were relatable to either gender.  I somewhat feel the same about this book – the words speak truth and can be applied to folks from a range of experiences.

the Sacred echo:  do I listen for the repeated phrases and words of God in my life?  What is God saying?  How do I respond?  Thank you, Margaret, for being a voice that questions, for sharing when prayer is answered in the ways that we want and the ways that we don’t, for being transparent.  And thanks for the being a voice present in the boy-dominated world of the emerging church:  if you ever need a side-kick, feel free to let me know.  🙂

Pardon Me: I’m in Training to Be Not Grumpy

When I was pregnant with Abel, my dad gave me a chapter out of a Merlin Carother’s book titled “Good-bye Grumblings” which dealt with praising God for all things that God allows to come into our lives.  I told Dad that it was a fairly bold move to give such a chapter to a very pregnant woman with a highly active toddler (me, grumble?).  🙂

The author talked about how God is all omni (knowing, present, powerful); everything that comes into our lives is allowed by God (as we are cupped in the palm of His hand, it passes through His fingers) and is for our good.  The object/experience might not necessarily be a good thing, but if we accept it (without grumblings – oy, the hard part), God uses it to transform us more into the image of Christ for the sake of others.  Graham Cooke says it another way, that “God allows in His wisdom what he could easily prevent by His power.”  My head acknowledges this, but the heart is another thing . . .

What a beautiful picture seeing someone live this out!  But the true beauty and value only comes as you know the journey . . . the hardship . . . the suffering that has been experience.  I never watch The Office:  it’s funny, but it’s SO awkward that I squirm before getting to the humor.  Same with viewing someone who’s living out a normal (i.e. not normal) Christian life:  it’s beautiful, but it’s so costly.  Can I hold my gaze long enough to be transformed, or will I become to embarrassed or ashamed and avert my eyes?

Brother Yun shares:

We have also come to understand that the past thirty years of suffering, persecution and torture for the house churches in China were all part of God’s training for us.  The Lord has perfectly fitted us to go as missionaries to the Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu worlds.

Once I spoke in the West and a Christian told me, “I’ve been praying for years that the Communist government in China will collapse, so Christians can live in freedom.”  This is not what we pray!  We never pray against our government or call down curses on them.  Instead, we have learned that God is in control of both our own lives and the government we live under.  Isaiah prophesied about Jesus, “The government will be on his shoulders.” Isaiah 9:6

God has used China’s government for his own purposes, moulding and shaping his children as he sees fit.  Instead of focusing our prayers against any political system, we pray that regardless of what happens to us, we will be pleasing to God.

Don’t pray for the persecution to stop!  We shouldn’t pray for a lighter load to carry, but a stronger back to endure!  Then the world will see that God is with us, empowering us to live ina way that reflects his love and power.

This is true freedom! (287)

When I share about how I see the current state of the church – Quaker, Emerging, or otherwise – I grumble.  I complain, I accuse, I judge.  But what if I started practicing – training – to see how God is using the state of my world to shape me?  To shape my faith community?  To shape the larger church?  Conforming it more into the image of Christ for the sake of others?

During this political season, what if we took Brother Yun’s stance?  That would be radical, eh?

So how do we train?  He only mentioned it casually, but I think Brother Yun hit right at the heart:

When believers focus on serving the Lord and reaching the lost, God blesses them and the church remains sharp.  When we become self-centered and critical of each other, Satan has won already and the church will become a blunt, useless instrument. (289)

A praising, sharp instrument, or a grumbling, blunt object.  Hmmm . . .

How are you being trained?