After a week that had a lot more turns in it than I expected, I return to this silly little place for more rants, commentary, links, and whatever else.
What I've been thinking about the past week is probably more appropriate to circles of non-cybercolleagues, not really for any privacy reasons or anything like that, but because there is something gained there that the blogosphere and online fora and chatrooms and listserves don't really offer. So you won't get much on why I took my little leave of absence. Instead, I offer one little story that really turned out to be the catalyst for this whole thing. You can do with it what you will.
I sat in my office last week, punching in hymns for the month of July on my handy Excel spreadsheet. On one of the Sundays, I plugged in 'There Is A Balm In Gilead,' a sweet traditional favorite that I honestly don't remember us ever singing since I accepted the call here. It was about two seconds after I typed in the hymn when I sat back and thought, 'Who is going to connect with this song? Will a visitor walk in here and be blown away by the imagery? Will they know what a balm is? Do they know what or where Gilead is?' It was this series of questions that got my brain going about some things that really had been building for weeks, and which convicted me that I needed to spend some time with those thoughts lest they spill out inappropriately all over my screen instead.
My week had a bit of a detour, though. Very early Tuesday morning, I woke up with an angry stomach and, without divulging all the messy unnecessary details, I spent the rest of the night on the bathroom floor. The rest of the day was pretty much lost, and the next day was a hangover from the previous day. Fortunately, a loving wife, sips of Gatorade, the TV remote, and one cat who just felt like hanging around the whole time helped me through. Two funny things have come out of this episode: First, I learned yesterday that both my parents also had some nasty intestinal episodes this week (we all went to lunch together on Sunday). I really wonder if it was food poisoning, though, considering that there was such a long time between eating and puking, AND usually when you have food poisoning, you stop throwing up after the food comes back up (not in my case). Still, it's an interesting coincidence. Second, I can't bear myself to look at or even consider eating again the food that made up my Tuesday evening dinner. And it was some of my favorite stuff! I wonder if that'll wear off.
I also read most of Emerging Churches by Eddie Gibbs this week, despite everything else. I say 'most of' because I didn't finish it. This is a book detailing some of the marks of emerging churches in the U.S. and U.K., and a lot less ink could have been used here. Some good themes run through this book: kingdom of God, community, egalitarianism, 'living the kingdom' vs. 'playing church,' etc. But it gets to a point where the authors beat it to death, seemingly in the name of getting quotes in from every person they interviewed. Halfway through each chapter, I'm thinking, 'Okay, I get it. Let's move on.' One observation that I made while reading is that, while I can't speak for U.K. geography, every emerging church from the U.S. used for this study are in places like Columbus, Seattle, St. Louis, Santa Monica, Minneapolis. So, where are the emerging churches in South Dakota, or rural Iowa, or Appalachia? The book details all the wonderful arty things that these churches can do and are doing in these major cosmopolitan centers in the name of 'responding to the culture,' but how are (or can) emerging churches address these other cultural settings? Is the emerging church a metropolitan phenomenon?
So that's what I did this week.