Monday, April 19, 2010

Emerging church from the weight of modernity

The Anglican Communion is in crisis. This crisis itself is part of the unfolding crisis for Christianity in the 20th and 21st centuries as the full weight of modernity crushes the churches of the West, if not of the East also. What will emerge from the pressure? Something or nothing? In respect of the Communion, will the Global South Encounter 4 in Singapore this week give the Communion a steer as to where the emergent Anglican future is heading?

I am going to take a break from blogging for a few days, but looking forward to having something to say after the Global South Encounter is completed at the end of this week.

Meantime some things of interest to read include:

(A) Walter Russell Mead on where mainline churches in the USA have gone wrong, mutatis mutandis, here in NZ also, I suggest:

"Why is churchgoing so important to you that you will not only go there no matter what — but that you will do everything in your power to encourage your friends and neighbors to join you? Why is church the daily bread you must have, not a lovely garnish on an already full plate?

A sustainable religion must have answers to these questions. Otherwise it will slowly fade away.

The mainline churches don’t have to give the same answers to these questions that Billy Sunday gave. But they must answer them; at the moment, too often, they don’t even try. I do not say that it’s a simple thing to answer these questions under contemporary conditions — but I do say that the failure to keep this in focus as the most essential thing that a church must do is a key to the spiritual weakness and, therefore, the broader crisis of the mainline church." (Whole essay here).

In my new role I am visiting different churches each Sunday for a season. One thing which has struck me with fresh force is the importance today of preaching a compelling message. What is the compelling message of Christianity in the amazing world of well fed, well housed, well empowered - generally speaking - Western society? I hasten to add that I have heard some compelling sermons! But this essay by Mead is, I think, critical reading for a church seeking to emerge from under the crushing weight of modernity.

(B) Quite different tack, but Andrew Goddard is engaged in e-publishing a serious, detailed history of Integrity, the key forum/lobby for change on homosexuality in TEC.

(C) Fulcrum (that well known open [label - people prefer not to use labels] organisation in England) has published a paper by Donald Allister, Bishop of Peterborough, on Doctrine and the Bible.

(D) A salutary riposte from Benjamin Guyer on the self-destructive tendency in Anglicanism to play out our criticisms in public media such as the internet. He is talking about bishops so I must be exempt :)

(E) But, perhaps this week, more importantly, it is possible to keep in touch with Global South Encounter as it unfolds in Singapore, mercifully free of the ash cloud over Europe! The official Global South site is here. I have also found this useful round up of Global South resources. It is possible that this GS Singapore site will carry actual news releases if and when made.

Cheers. Blogging break begins ...


Anonymous said...

A very interesting and telling phrase: "the weight of modernity".

Real living-breathing-feeling human culture has been all but eliminated by the Spirit-and-body-crushing "weight of modernity".

Modernity is essentially the "culture" created in the image of scientism and its drive for total power and control over everything.

It began at the time of the Renaissance when the focus of European culture shifted from the contemplation of the Christian "God"-idea to that of focusing on the latent potentials of merely mortal meat-body man (in and of himself).

God was essentially eliminated from the cultural landscape of Europe.

And eventually the entire world--such being the current world-wide situation.

Its "god" was, and is, the "god" of the machine and unbridled technological power. Lewis Mumford described the origins and development of this power drive in The Pentagon of Power.

At its root it was, and IS, really a "culture" of death--even industrial scale mega-death.

Its most powerful form and manifestation is the USA military-industrial-"entertainment" complex. The largest and most powerful death-machine that the world has ever seen.

Mead is a full time propaganda hack for this death-machine--in essence a benighted ghoul.

And yet he has the chutzpah to talk and write about "faith gone wrong".

Plus the story (told and boosted by Mead) also tells us that the this "culture" of death, that now rules the USA (and by extension the entire world)is the most "advanced" form of human culture ever seen on this planet.

Adam said...

I just wanted to let you know that I enjoy reading your posts and I recently launched a new blog myself titled Faith.Life.Media. that has to do with bridging the gap between the church and modern culture. if you are interested in checking it out!

Bill said...

I could not find a "contact" button so I am leaving my comments here if that is okay.

I saw your blog linked on Bishop Kelvin Wright's blog which I read, so that's how I found you!!

I realize you are probably busy but if you have time do you think you could review my new book A 30 Day Retreat: A Personal Guide to Spiritual Renewal (May 2010, Paulist Press)? It is a collection of 30 pastoral/practical reflections on the gospels and epistles, it is easy to read and is geared towards personal devotion and small group discussion.

Let me know if you are interested and I can have Paulist send you a copy ASAP.

You can learn more about me at my website

Pax Christi
Father William Mills

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks for your timely comment, Anonymous.

Thanks for alerting me to your blog, Adam. Best wishes for it!

Thanks William Mills for alerting me to your book. I am sorry but I need to decline to review it as I have a stack of other projects on the go.

Anonymous said...

Interesting the GS Singapore site you give the link for has only about 10 comments - two from Rosemary, one from Bryden Black, both from your diocese, and some replies to them. Is anyone actually interested in all this? You say you get about 50 visitors and, as you point out in today's post when it gets to anything more complex than agreeing about homosexuality (the David "Virtue"/Standing Firm "discussion" currently) there certainly is no unity. That is also the substance of Rosemary's comments on GS Singapore Site.

אף אחד לא

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Anonymous
I cannot actually find where those comments are made - looking in the wrong page no doubt ... can you give me the link?