fun with metaphors
on march 7th the gathering gang is leading a breakout session on the topic of worship at the brian mclaren/everything must change conference that the episcopal diocese is hosting.
as i've been preparing for this discussion, i've started thinking about the liturgy at the gathering as a "mashup." i'm a bit of a technological idiot, but as far as i can tell a mashup is an artistic piece that is a creative combination of two or more divergent video or audio sources.
for example a cursory search on youtube yielded this mashup of office space and the trailer for xmen 3 and that brilliant mashup of christian bale's latest profane tirade.*
at the gathering, we often offer up a new mashup every week. last week's mashup might be pentecostal worship whipped with a evangelical "big idea" sermon, while next week's mashup might be classic hymns of the reformation intertwined with lectio divina and a zwinglian framed communion. sometimes these mashups are inspiring and provocative and sometimes the juxtapositions are cumbersome and distracting. however, since we are a diverse community each member has to trust that the elements that do not connect with them speak directly to someone else in the congregation, while another element which does speak to them might not connect with the other at all.
i'm not going to lie, sometimes i wish our worship had the cohesion of a catholic mass or the plodding regularity of a presbyterian order. but i love our quirky community and believe that the mashup is the best fit for our diverse congregation.
one side note: while reading the most recent modern reformation david wells states that "emergents" have rejected the niche marketed vacuity of the megachurch and have instead embraced "casual blending of different belief systems in their churchly experimenting-a bit of Catholicism here, a bit of Greek Orthodoxy there, a hip rendition somewhere else-has also come about because of a rejection of traditional ideas of authority and because the self is exercising its autonomy to shape its spiritual context the way in which it wants."
i think that his former assertion is right on, but i don't believe that the tendency of the participants in the emergent conversation to drink deeply from multiple streams of christian tradition and to weave the strands of that tradition** into their worship is, necessarily, a rejection of "traditional ideas of authority" or a narcissistic pastiche. rather, i think that many of the participants in the emergent conversation are trying to respect and practice their received tradition of the christian faith while also exploring and utilizing the untold riches of resources that have been discovered by christians throughout the centuries. although i'm a evangelical protestant by birth i think it would be foolish for me to ignore the valuable practice of lectio or lenten fasting just because my immediate forbears did not embrace these practices. i'm proud of my christian church/church of christ tradition, but my forefathers and foremothers are many, and i don't think i am dishonoring alexander campbell - neal windham for that matter! - or rejecting their "authority," by listening to the words and being shaped by the practices of st. francis of assisi, martin luther king jr. or henri nouwen.
second side note: feel free to share mashups that you love. i've just started to explore this art form and would love to receive your recommendations.
* this clip is inappropriate for children and those who are easily offended. consider yourself warned.
** talk about your mixed metaphors.