Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Emerging Left

The emergent conversation is full of honest and courageous conservative evangelicals who take the risk to say just what they are emerging from and why. When I talk with them or read things they write it is always refreshing to see such an honest and forward person reflecting and transforming their understanding of faith in light of their questions and journey. What has been less visible or audible in the conversation are those of us who are not emerging from the theological right, but the left. I think of myself as a member of the emerging left. Before entering the conversation you would have had trouble getting me to say much of anything with confidence theologically past Schleiermacher's 'Feeling of Absolute Dependence' or Tillich's 'Ground of Being or Being-Itself' or how like Borg I had seen Jesus again 'for the first time.' I still read and love those three (and I think Schleiermacher is more identifiably Christian than many enemies give him credit for). What I am going to attempt to do is articulate what it was like to theologically emerge from the left. Not that you can generalize my journey that is still in process for all the emerging left, but I am sure it will be easy enough to see how it differs and highlights different transformations than my sisters and brothers on the right.

Since the more progressive Christians are as diverse as the conservative ones it may be helpful for you to know that I am a progressive Baptist (yes we do exist), went to an ecumenical seminary, currently am employed at a Disciples of Christ church, have always lived in the Bible belt, am a preacher's kid, have been married 5.5 years to a wonderful female minister who grew up in a fundamentalist home, and have a kid arriving any day now. I guess you could say I am emerging left out of the south land. Well the first thing I am going to look at is the topic that creates the most tension in conversation with those emerging from the right, the Bible. I am thinking ofplayfully entitling it 'the Bible is not a salvage yard or a dead bunny.'


Chad said...

Are you describing a future blog post or something else? How about calling it "take the Bible out to dinner first before taking advantage of it."

Pete said...

I don't know where the hell i emerged from.

My last real church gig was 1994. It was a charismatic style baptist church. More vineyard than baptist.

When I quit that, my theological degree from baylor kicked into overdrive and I tried mainline liberalism. It bored me. if there is one thing that the right gets right, it is when they form radical friendships based on a common vision of proclaiming the good news.

In texas, where I am from, you are not allowed to mix the following in one recipe
1) bible as errant
2) but god still speaks, still heals, still transforms, and works in human history
3) gay is cool.
4) when you talk about how Jesus loves us, you start to tear up.

in texas, all my liberal friends do not go to church
and all my church friends think noah really went on a cruise during the worldwide flood.

i don't know why so much of american church is so far in both directions.

i don't see why it is strange to think the virgin birth *could* have heppened, the resurrection *did* happen, but to also think that only about 2000 jews ran across the reed sea as providentially the few feet of water was being blown away, which then stoppped and the fast shallow water knocked the egyptians out of their chariots to drown. god merely persuaded the wind that it was time to blow and time to stop. no divine invasion. divine persuastion.

I am emerging out of a mosaic.

bigdeac said...

First, Chad's comment made me spew milk from my nose. Second, when I was in undergrad one of my friends wrote a poem in which one line described a bear sculpture "whose tail looks like an emerging turd" and I've never been able to think of the emerging church without thinking of a bear with a steeple-like turd poking out its ass. That's my confession to you. Third, I'm really excited to read this as it...emerges? I'm struggling with a lot of the same stuff, trying to find something to say in a world in which dogmatism appears as the only way to have a solid voice. I find your insights refreshing and can't wait to hear more.