In Uncategorized on November 2, 2005 at 5:14 pm

listening to, and learning from, a different creed

dr. james and i were interviewed this morning by a film crew that is developing a documentary on salem. (side note: this crew is also responsible for the discovery channel’s firehouse usa. if you’ve watched the latter show, let me know what you think). the director was intrigued by the confession booth and wanted to know what we thought about the inflammatory preaching and preachers that often foul our fair city during this time, how christians and wiccans co-exist in this supernaturally charged environment and whether we prefer beer that tastes great or beer that is less filling.

anyway, in the midst my artificial interview i began to think about what the church can learn from people who profess to be “spiritual, but not religious.” i know that the latter statement is quickly becoming cliché, but i still think that it communicates something important about many people’s approach to spirituality. we might even be able to call it their creed.

i’ve heard a fair number of christians (including myself) speak about this creed negatively, suggesting that people who say this are often superficial, anti-authoritarian individuals who only want their MTV and their salad bar spirituality. conversely, i’ve heard others speak about it in a more positive way, by discussing how we can create ministries, churches and other spaces in which these individuals can feel welcome (as miah recently noted, many churches have created spaces that have more in common with panera bread than a congregational sanctuary. the feel of these places is not accidental), hear and dialogue with others about the Christian faith and hopefully be catechized, assimilated into the body and sent out to share the gospel (which, in this context, usually means: our sins + jesus blood = salvation/eternal life. the gospel is such a contextual concept. when writing, teaching or talking about the gospel i think we should always provide a contextual definition, explanation, analogy or some other way of unloading this most loaded concept).

so back to the interview. somewhere in the midst of discussing the current political landscape of salem (which i know precious little about by the way. but it is t.v., so i guess informed discussion and ideational nuance isn’t all that important), i began to wonder why we often do not allow our christian practice and mission to be at least partially shaped and informed by this postmodern creed. what if, instead of condemning this a-institutional creed or accommodating it by transforming it into a hook for our churches/communities/institutions, we listened more carefully to and learned from this creed and her confessors?

would such listening and learning lead us to provide more careful spiritual formation for the individual instead of the minimal catechization that many churches (i include s & s in this group) currently provide? in the midst of the formation process would we go to greater lengths to help the individual integrate into the community rather than simply throwing them into a generational, interest oriented or educational box? would they teach us how to move beyond focusing either wholly on the individual or wholly on the community by learning how to focus on individuals-in-community?

what else could the confessors of this creed teach us? what role do these postmodern confessors and their creed have to play in the formation of our communities and our personal spiritual formation? i can’t help but wonder.

your input is welcome.


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