Monday, November 29, 2004

Credibility

Here's a GREAT quote, chock-full of wisdom, from Britist blogger Maggi Dawn:
"I always encourage people to buy in thoroughly to whatever they are in to. It shows a serious lack of character, I think, to hover on the edge of something being cool and cynical and never getting your hands dirty - kind of belonging, but without ever getting committed. I'd much rather get involved in whatever I do, despite the risk of getting egg on my face."
I'm always inclined to listen more closely to practitioners than I do to theorists -- it's easy to critique and deconstruct, but not as easy to reconstruct, and those who are getting their hands dirty in actual ministry have greater credibility.

I value theorists, dreamers, and prophetic voices -- quite highly -- but if John Wimber is correct in saying "faith is spelled R-I-S-K", then there comes a time where cynicism, past hurts from church, and fear of others' opinions must give way to stepping out into the unknown.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Bride As Metaphor

My last post concerned the meaningfulness of new metaphors. My basic premise is that a metaphor that doesn't have the power to change -- at a deep, instinctive level -- the way that we view and approach life, isn't helpful to us. The example I gave was of a gas station attendant calling him/herself a "Petroleum Transfer Engineer"; it sounds more impressive but it doesn't change anything of consequence.

Wendy and I were looking at the metaphor of the "Bride" as we discussed the power (or lack of power) in adopting new metaphors. "The Bride of Christ" is a recurring metaphor found within the Bible itself, and while I'm not suggesting that this means it should trump all other metaphors, it's as good as place as any to start.
(It might be beneficial to note that if metaphors work mostly to make us comfortable and at ease, then they may be more self-serving than sanctifying.)
In our contemporary society, the Bride as metaphor would be interpreted that God is the Lover of our souls, the One who wooes us to Himself, who loves us to the ultimate act of self-sacrifice to re-establish relationship between Himself and His rebellious creation. Again, this interpretation of the Bride metaphor can certainly be found in Scripture and is helpful to us.

But as Wendy pointed out, a significant difference is that our contemporary society has made the wedding day and ceremony revolve around the Bride -- it's "the bride's day". To the original hearers/readers of Paul's letters, however, it was entirely the opposite:
  • the Groom came for the bride at an undisclosed time, so the bride had to make sure she was always ready (think of how well that would go over today!)
  • the Bride gave up all her rights
  • the Bride was completely dependent on the Groom
  • while contemporary marriages are a partnership of equals, this was not the case to the original hearers/readers of this metaphor
Personally, I like the egalitarian partnership of equals in my own marriage, but I would like to suggest that our interpretation of what it means to be the Bride of Christ should look more to the first-century understanding. For example, can we imagine the arrogance to think that the metaphor of "the Bride" meant that we were an egalitarian partnership of equals -- us and Jesus? If we look to the Bride as a metaphor for "the church", in the first century understanding, what does that imply? For a few things (certainly not an exhaustive list):
  • we give up our rights (as opposed to "I've accepted Jesus, but I haven't made Him Lord of my life" -- that kind of thinking is not only faulty, but dangerous)
  • we are completely dependent (as opposed to "Oh, God, would You add Your blessing to what we've done" added almost as an afterthought to all of our busywork)
  • we live by His timetable, not expecting Him to abide by ours (as opposed to "I really must get around to dealing with that area of my life...")
  • It really IS all about the Groom and His story (as opposed to expecting that we are the focal point, and we are simply adding Jesus to OUR story)
Well, whaddaya think? Any other input or suggestions on the implications of the Bride as a metaphor?

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Juicy Metaphors

I was talking to a friend recently about the power of new metaphors, which will make Len Hjalmarsson a happy camper (Len loves a good metaphor), and I came away from the conversation wondering if, for all of our talk of the necessity of new metaphors for leadership and being the church, if some people aren't simply rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Allow me to be more precise: metaphors that have no power to effect change in our inner paradigms are not going to get us where we need to go.

For example, in the working world, some people are given a new title (metaphor) in their line of work, but nothing changes about WHAT they do, only what they identify themselves as.

Trouble is, if you're still doing the exact same kind of dreary work, then it doesn't really matter what you use as a new metaphor -- nothing's changed. It's about as effective as the person who pumps gasoline at the local Esso station calling him/herself a "Petroleum Transfer Engineer". It might sound more impressive, but at the end of the day, the poor sod is still running out in the pouring rain or driving snow to pump gasoline for other people sitting in their warm, dry cars.

That would be an example of a meaningless metaphor, because calling yourself a Petroleum Engineer wouldn't, and couldn't, change the parametres of your "calling" as a gas jockey.

In the same way, if the new metaphors we employ regarding leadership and what it means to be the church don't in some way have the power to actually change the way we think about leadership and what it means to be the church, then we might as well stop looking for new metaphors.

If you really like the metaphor of church as a hospital, that SHOULD have strong implications on how you treat people, what values you would look for in those to lead, and what you would say yes or no to in ministry.

If you prefer the metaphor of the church as an army (and there's some already-existing scriptural examples that would go a long way in bolstering this metaphor), then that SHOULD have a profound impact on how you approach issues of justice, evangelism, and even your prayer ministry.

Some people have latched onto the metaphor of church as corporation, and that SHOULD have (and has had) serious implications for how the church is led, what gifts are valued within the church, and the strategies that the church will use to reach their goals.

You may not like these three examples of metaphors (I don't), which is fine because that's not really the main focus of this entry. I'm just becoming more aware that if we're going to use new metaphors for leadership, what it means to be the church etc., those metaphors MUST have the power to affect a deep change in our paradigms, or we're only putting a band-aid on a patch of leprous skin.

Tuesday, November 9, 2004

Apology & Update

...to those who have been visiting my blog, hoping to get an update on what's happening with my health, and noticing that I haven't updated for what seems like forever! (Thanks, Sue & Harv Peters, for phoning to check on me and chastise my blogging habits!)

The tests on October 27 went well (meaning they didn't stop me half-way through and set off alarms of some kind) but I won't have the results until November 18. Which I interpret to mean that I'm not on death's door just yet. My mother gave me some great tips on dealing with hypoglycemia, which was the initial diagnosis until some later tests shows "something we'd like to check on...". 

My mom has hypoglycemia as well, and I've been treating myself as if that is indeed what I have, and I seem to be fairly healthy since then. The tests will either prove that initial diagnosis, or they'll show if there's something else wrong and we'll go from there. I'm still on beta-blockers to slow my heart rate down, blood-thinners, and I'm still carrying around the nitroglycerin until they tell me to stop (thankfully, there's been no need to use it!).

In the meantime, I'm doing life as normal, except that I've been off coffee since mid-October and have had one (1) beer during that interim (suffering, yes). I've been to Ottawa, London, and Toronto on speaking engagements, and I'm teaching next week on "Postmodernism & the Emerging Church" at Tyndale Seminary in Toronto, before heading to Peterborough for the following weekend to speak there.

So, keeping busy with my new job, trying to stay healthy in my diet and sleep habits, and waiting on test results in a few weeks. And, yes, if you look below this entry, you'll find a new post -- I'm back on the blogging wagon!

Thanks, everyone, for your concern and prayers.



Update

Tests came back negative. That means the situation -- while real -- is stress-related but not genetic. (Still have to be careful.)