Tuesday, July 18, 2006

variation on a theme*

i really don’t know how to talk about this, nor do i have a clever introduction to the theme. so i suppose i’ll just spit it out: i suspect that it is time for me to apply the practices of deconstruction to my personal life. for the past three and a half years i have been blessed with the opportunity to be a part of a community that is constantly seeking to be an incarnation of Christ’s compassion and expression of God’s Kingdom in the world, while also committed to reassessing our unique ecclesiological backgrounds and the ee-vangelical culture of which many of us were once a part. i think both of these emphases of our community are healthy and necessary. however, i also fear that the latter deconstructive emphasis has occasionally led me into a form of (for lack of a better term) analysis paralysis in which i have spent far more time assessing the structure and mission of the church than i have actually practicing the way of Jesus.

i suppose a simpler way of saying that would be to admit that lately i have not invested a whole hell of a lot of energy in prayer, reflection, solitude and so have neglected – shit, i can’t believe i am going to say this - my relationship with Jesus.

i’m beginning to realize that i need to recover the evangelical practices** of personal devotion so that i have the ability to effectively serve as a part of God’s incarnational mission to the world. when i was younger, my practice of spiritual disciplines and personal devotion were focused on my pursuit of emotional happiness and spiritual health. of course, i now realize that such ends were inadequate at best and patently wrong at worst. but just because my sights are now set on God’s Kingdom and i fully understand that grace isn’t all about my personal freedom, doesn’t mean that these practices are unimportant.

i hope that you can untangle my tortured sentences enough to understand what i’m saying and wonder my experiences are unique or shared by a number of you who have stumbled down the deconstruction road.***

shit. i didn’t know how to start this thing and now i don’t know how to conclude it. how about this…a number of years ago i read an interview with rich mullins in some long forgotten ee-vangelical rag. in the midst of the article, the interviewer asks rich what he thinks the key to spiritual growth really is and rich immediately replies, undoubtedly with a bit of a smirk on his face, that the key is to “read your Bible, pray every day and you’ll grow, grow, grow!” if you know anything about rich you realize that his participation in God’s mission often led him far beyond the boundaries of ee-vangelical Christendom. but apparently, if we take him at his word****, as he taught music to indian children, re-imagined the life of st. frank and even started to make his way towards rome sweet home he found that the devotional practices of ee-vangelicalism still provided him with bread for the journey.

in the end, i’m incredibly glad for the incarnational, Kingdom obsessed, “emergenty” road God has led me down. but in the midst of my journey i’m realizing that if i ignore the practices and practical wisdom of my ee-vangelical and eh-vangelical forbears along the way, i will be all the poorer for it.

*which has nothing to do, unfortunately, with being kicked in the nuts. but if you want to see the second episode of this youtube instant classic, click here.

**yes, i realize that the roots of these practices run deeper than the thin evangelical soil. however, part of this post is an admission that i need to emphasize the strengths of my own tradition at least as adequately as i point out its weaknesses.

***this is about as close as i come to begging for comments. please forgive me.

****and for the record, i do.

1 comment:

Landis said...

I can't add much to your tortured comments, but I am so with you, man...I'm with you.