Sunday, October 11, 2009

When we talk about the future of the church I want some specifics.

Ok, so I know that's not entirely possible.

HOWEVER...Diana Butler Bass spoke yesterday (perhaps my favorite, I think I might be a church history nerd) and pointed out that in psychology they say that the greatest predictor of future action is how people have behaved in the past. There fore, if we want a glimpse into our future then we need to examine which part of our church history to which we are most similar. When, where, who had similar issues, similar people, etc...

Diana Butler Bass then gave us a few suggestions as to what people are currently saying about that (she offered the examples and I'm offering some issues/people/way of life):
  • Early Rome--pre-Christendom, multiple faiths living together, a government that rules with violence and proclaims it's leader the son of god, wealth belongs to a very small few and most people struggle just to get enough to eat.
  • Reformation--a time of great change in which many are frustrated by the Church and some of its practices, the Church seeks to eliminate those voices which are different, the Church is nervous about losing its power.
  • Middle Ages--this was Diana Butler Bass' suggestion, she didn't go any further than to say she sees some similarities with our time and theirs. I really want to know more of her thoughts on this...do you know if this is any of her latest book?
  • 18th century/John Wesley--another suggestion by DDB in which I would have liked to have heard more. It excited me because of the Wesley thing. I see the similarities as far as there are lots of small groups of people who are frustrated with the church and these folks are meeting on their own, some having this be their church while some do both their formal church and their small group. These folks are concerned with living out their faith and not having it be a head-game so to speak.

What do you think? I'd really like to discuss and hear your thoughts.

On a personal note, I think I'm falling in love with church history because it reminds us that we are just a speck, another blip on the screen. We've lived through this and thrived before and we will again. DDB said that "history is the basis for wholeness." I think she's onto something with this.

DDB quoted John Meechum (please forgive me if I'm off on the spelling), "History is to a country what memory is to an individual." She asked us to insert church for country: history is to church what memory is to an individual. This applies to both Church and church. Then she went on to talk about what happens when an individual loses their memory, she reminded us about Alzheimer's and how painful and scary it is for both the person and for their loved ones. She goes on to say : Loss of memory is not funny, it is fatal. When you lose your memory you lose your sense of self. You lose your family. You lose your community. You lose your body’s ability to even function.

As a person who watched a loved one suffer with Alzheimer's for approx. 15 years, I know what she's talking about. I also know what it's like being on the side, the worry, the sadness, the hopelessness.

We can't afford to lose our memory--that is what will keep us going, growing, and thriving (ps. I'm not talking numbers here, I'm referring to spiritual growth).

So where do you think we're going? Returning?

1 comment:

God_Guurrlll said...

Hey RevHipChick,

love DBB, just love her. I've always been a church history geek, so much so I was a TA for church history in my last year of seminary. People thought I was crazy for referring to Augustine and Aquinas as my boys. My partner thinks I'm nuts cuz I think "Confessions" and the writings of Philo to be good beach reading.

Anyhoo, I believe we need to know our history or we will be destined to repeat it. Since the beginning of Christianity, we've always been one generation away from it's extinction. The only exception being the 1950's but that had more to do with the amount of children in our population at that time than any kind of religious fervor.

I believe that we are at an exciting time in our church. That because we are "post-christendom" we have a great opportunity to go back to our roots of being a radical group working towards building the kingdom of God as Jesus saw it and not how the dominant culture sees it.

Peace and love,