eMo 2006.9: And What Have You Been Reading?

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Funny thing is this was the first time we’ve met at a Starbucks for an emergent Malaysia open meeting (eMo for short) . I think it’s also a first for using Sunday as well. It was a small group of 9 of us this round (would have been 10 if I didn’t miss seeing an SMS sent to me earlier) but good to have those who were missing for quite a while make their return.

As usual Alwyn is the fastest blogger to “craft” a post out to reflectively report our meeting yesterday afternoon here: And What Have You Been Reading?
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Stepped for the first time into Bangsar Village. New mini-mall: low ceilings, cool clean ambience, perfect for family shopping, a date, a comfortable meal and catching up with friends.

Met up with Sivin, Alpha, Reuben, Don, Kia Meng, Yew Khuen, Joanne and Jade at the Bangsar Village Starbucks. Kinda interesting how books led the (informal) agenda.

Got a copy of Stanley Grenz’s Renewing the Center, generously bought for me by Sivin (can’t wait to take that with me to the train-station!) Flipped through it and one of the first sub-sections I saw was Rethinking Calvinism. Ahh. Like I said, can’t wait.

Jade talked a little about her latest N.T. Wright book, Simply Christian. She contrasted it with C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, noting how MC had a more rationally oriented bent compared to SC which used worship as a launching pad for thinking about Christian coherence, spirituality, mission from both individual and communcal perspectives.

She highlighted Wright’s triple perspectives on the integration between ‘heaven’ and ‘earth’, the first being pantheistic (where nature is worshipped as God), second the deistic view (where God is absent) and finally the (presumably) Christian view with God being the creator yet suffering for His creation and creatures. (Note: Wright also talks a lot about the dualistic view – where nature is ignored or degraded – in his other books and how the Gospel is meant as a subversive challenge to both pantheism and dualism – deism is more of an Englightenment add-on to these two ancient worldviews).

Simply Christian is out in paperback, at least in the UK. May it make it’s way safe to our local bookshops, if it hasn’t already.

Then Yew Khuen and Joanne told us how their cell-group was studying Philip Yancey’s (who’s actually a proto-Emergent, in someone’s colourful phraseology) What’s So Amazing About Grace?, particularly their delight at how their cell members began pouring out their stories bit by bit. Yancey, like many good authors, gently carves out a pathway in our hearts for further questions, deeper authenticity and awe from the “scandal” of grace and overall more sensitivity to the world and God’s heart for it. [Disclaimer: These aren’t their exact words, but I hope I won’t be seen as just making things up! *grin*]

Somewhere between 3.30 and 5 o’clock we re-celebrated Alpha’s wonderful quote about nurturing the hunger for God – surely one of the best gifts we could offer to seekers, to struggling disciples, to the younger generation.

Reuben then told us a little about SoulAction. He also shared about how Raj, pastor of CLGC, announced to the church a scientifically proven method for selecting a cell-group: Go to the buletin board, take a look at the faces of the cell leaders, and choose your cell! This was part of a discussion about how there is a “hierarchy” (often unspoken, at times oft-spoken) that a Christian must progress along in his life of discipleship, and about how there is a lot of suppressed pressure and anxiety by many Christians about ‘moving up’ the ladder.

(Urgent: We also need to stop right now and pray for Pastor Raj’s little boy who’s suffering from dehydration of sorts and as at this afternoon was warded. His condition is stable but let’s ask the Spirit to heal him and be with Raj’s family.)

We then more or less rounded with Alpha and Kia Meng briefly mentioning their leafing through M. Scott Peck’s People of the Lie and James KA Smith’s Who’s Afraid of PostModernism? respectively. I was intrigued by both. I haven’t read a word of Peck (except in a few of those motivation books), only know him for The Road Less Travelled and didn’t even know he passed away last year.

As for Smith’s book, Kia Meng briefly touched on Smith’s selective dealing with aspects of Derrida (“There is nothing outside the Text” – everything has to be seen in context, not that there is no meaning or objective reality outside language), Foucault (discipline isn’t always a ‘bad’ thing and in fact breeds true freedom, especially in a community like the church) and Lyotard (we needn’t be concerned about Christianity being a meta-narrative because it isn’t one[!], hence the possibility of full-blown declaration and proclamation of the Gospel). For an on-going and very scholarly conducted discussion of Smith’s book go to Church & PostModern Culture: Conversation.

Two hours. Half a dozen books and more than a dozen conversations. Loads of laughter, learning and comraderie. What more could one ask for?

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