February 4, 2009

Rohr & It's Just Emerging

If you are not already listening to the HomebrewedChristianity podcast, then you should subscribe today. These two guys, one a friend from my days as a Crusader at UMHB, interview on a regular basis important and wonderful Christian thinkers like Phyllis Tickle, Walter Brueggemann, John Dominic Crossan, Brian McLaren, Leron Shults, Richard Rohr, John Cobb, etc.

Recently, they interviewed Rohr on contemplation, activism and the emerging church. I enjoyed the interview and Rohr's articulation. There was one statement though that Rohr made that struck me wrong. In his reflection on the emerging church, he says:
"this mentality is emerging simultaneously, in many places...this tells me that this has to be the work of the Holy Spirit because there's no one angrily creating a reform or a schism or an attack, it's just emerging" (emphasis added).
The disconcerting tone here is the naivety Rohr interprets this movement of traditions being willing to listen and open up to one another to find truths within each one in the Christian tradition. The lack of a central authority or place does not equate into a inexplainable movement of the Spirit that just happend. Certainly we are struggling to articulate terms and concepts to understand the changes in our world: postmodern, globalization, etc, but there are sociological, philosophical, and economic predicates determining the human condition. His statements seem to create an unhealthy perspective that singles religious life separate from the culture and globalization.

Why harp on this? It's not because I do not like Rohr or the emerging church, but exactly the opposite. This all goes back to a post from a few weeks ago on the commoficiation of the church. With the fear that I too am going to be overly simplistic and narrow, I feel that the single strongest influences on the formation of our culture and thus spiritual communities/people are consumerism and commodity fetish. The results of this culture are both positive and negative. Much of the emerging church movement can be understood through these lenses of commidification.

I'll be following up on these ideas, but whatever the emerging church is, it can not simply be boiled down to a statement that it's just happening because of the Spirit.


Anonymous said...

Good word

Anonymous said...

Are you headed to Truett on the
16th to hear Volf?

JoeBumbulis said...

Unfortunately I cannot, I'm heading out of town for a retreat.