Friday, 15 May 2009
Where to begin...
This is the first OFFICIAL Solace: church in a bar blog. How exciting. It was suggested to me by a few mates that I might have some interesting stuff to say in regard to the larks we get up to at Solace, so after fasting, praying and standing naked for 48 hours in the Taff while reciting Psalm 119 backwards 144,000 times, I discerned that God may be leading me to start blogging.
Praise the Lord.
But where to begin? Well I've got a few ideas, but why not kick off with something I've been thinking about recently...sadly it's deep.
Been reading one of St. Walter Brueggemann's efforts the last little while, The Word Militant: Preaching a Decentering Word (Minneapolis 2007). Cracking book. In it, Brueggemann outlines what he sees as the role of the preacher and preaching based on the example of the Old Testament prophet. Juicy.
One particularly sexy statement that left an impression on me is a definition he gives of preaching's role within an ecclesiological context:
"I understand preaching to be the chance to summon and nurture an alternative community with an alternative identity, vision, vocation, pre-occupied with praise and obedience toward the God we Christians know fully in Jesus of Nazareth." (p. 56)
However, here's my issue. What the hell does it mean to be an alternative community in a society that is defined by alternative communities? As Brueggemann points out, the great choice that the prophets set before the people of Israel in times when the comfortable call to hegemony loomed large was to make a decision: God or not God. Yahweh or Baal. Conform or subvert. But for post-modern British types, this doesn't seem to carry the same sense of urgency. There are a million and one different 'norms' that could be conformed to or subverted. One might decide that the plight of the Mexican spider monkey was such that an alternative lifestyle of always having one trouser leg rolled up as a mark of solidarity with those fluffly primates was a necessity. Fair dos to you. You go for it and no one will blink an eyelid.
What I'm getting at is this: when alternative is the new conformity, what makes our churches any different? Are we just one alternative amongst many; just another street hawker competing for the attention of would-be buyers? And if so, is that a bad thing?
Answers on a postcard please.
Oh, and i promise they won't all be this deep.