Here’s a progression of “Haze-related” pictures from yesterday morning, to yesterday evening, to this morning which is much clearer and better 🙂 Both Gareth and I are feeling much better too … he still with a slight cough, my headaches gone and no longer sneezing …
Perhaps I could relate this a little to my reading of some “stirrings” that surround the writings of Brian McLaren, especially when i read some blogs or comments even by more “heavy weight” Christian personalities. Again and again I found it strange that why is it that I don’t see what they see especially at some point a claim that Brian has “abandoned the Gospel”? Ok .. perhaps I’m biased, or I could be blinded … but then, if we are honest .. maybe just maybe he’s really being misunderstood …
So, that’s why I appreciated Brian’s Becoming Convergent Series Part 1, part 2 and part 3 (here’s all thre combined pdf form). Hopefully, it gives most people who may have not read his writings in full (especially his earlier two excellent books on church, and finding faith), or bits and pieces here (usually without sufficient context), or just what they get online (in article form) to get a “clearer” picture as opposed to a “fictional” or “straw man” character from our imagination or others. Of course, some may still hold on to their conclusions and/or opinions. That’s just reality.
I’ve been very slow to be drawn into this matter. This is partly to avoid abusive comments – I must admit I got shocked and tired by what went on the emergent-us blog. I further didn’t want to be sucked into tiring debates which I see little relevance for us here. And this is definately not about whether one agrees with all the details of his writings … and not whether one agrees with his critics in total … which nowadays has become quite a “hazy” situation.
As far as I’m concerned, I’ll just echo Scot McKNight’s Thank You Brian –> “All I want to say is this. Brian, I am grateful for what you have done to me and for Evangelicalism. I see your work to be rhetorical wake-up for Evangelicals to start thinking about how to become a missional community for the world in which we live. Even when I disagree with you, I am glad you have brought up the issues you raise.” and John Fyre’s Getting to Know Brian McLaren –> “I am grateful that Brian McLaren took the time to tell his story. I consider Brian a pastoral artist; a creative, story-telling evangelist who is passionate about the “good news” of Jesus Christ truly sounding like good news to the ever-increasing postmodern West.”.
I think at least in Malaysia we can learn from someone like Brian and I would also add learn from people like Scott and John (in their generous responses). Of course, we can learn from those who disagree with them or us. Too often, we are tempted to operate with a “guilt by association” mentality which makes situations even more “hazy”. And this is the case not just about Brian McLaren or whatever that’s linked with “emergent” (which for me is very much still a “conversation” first and foremost!) … we need to move beyond face-less (often devoid of relationships) kind of engagements. In short, are we growing up as Christians in the way we handle theological conversations/investigations or more immediately pastoral or ministry situations as a group of post-colonial Malaysian Christians?
In addition to the above, we still wrestle with “uncritically” jumping on the latest “trendy bandwagon” whether it’s so called church growth or revival-promised movement or we usually in fear or combate mode (depending) retreat into a “fortress” mentality with our so called perceived “safety modes” (or “defensive” postures) and miss the beautiful scenary and open possibilities of doing our own contextual, creative and constructive work of thinking, being and doing. Is there risk involved? Sure! Are there dangers? No doubt about it. What about the opportunities? Just open your eyes to see, and ears to hear … but all our endeavour aren’t just individual exercises – there’s more to just our individual questioning or search.
I prayed for rain and wind during these past few hazy days – especially when it became hazardous. Yesterday morning it rained a little – I jumped for joy, then paused when it stopped raining. Later, I could feel the wind blow gently and took some photos of trees swaying a little … there was hope. I’m reminded of two signicant metaphors for the Spirit in Scriptures – rain and wind. Perhaps in days like this … we can have a greater confidence and trust in the work of the Spirit guiding us in community through immersing ourselves in God’s story in scripture (and understanding ourselves backward in history) – to live forward increasingly clearer day by day in our present day context – surely for the benefit of our worlds and the world. That’s my prayer especially for those of us here in Malaysian church and of course, beyond.