Chemical Reactions of the Written Word

Some books are like chemicals. You need to be careful when reading them in close proximity with each other. The problem is that you can rarely see this coming beforehand, and only recognize the danger in the weeks ensuing, when the alkalines of well-articulated, carefully crafted ideas mix in dangerous and potent ways. Suddenly you’re looking backward at the smoking ruins of your previous mind, and looking forward with sheer terror at what these new ideas might force upon you.

Ominous enough of an intro?

I’m reading too many books right now, and they’re falling all over each other.

An Hour on Sunday” by Nancy Beach
Worship Evangelism” by Sally Morgenthaler
The Present Future” by Reggie McNeal
A Generous Orthodoxy” by Brian McLaren
The Church in God’s Program” by Robert L. Saucy

I blame this on two factors: first, I’m in the midst of finishing a Master’s degree in something (I forget), and that just takes a lot of reading. Secondly, I have two good friends, Bryan and Aly, who think it’s fun to make me read challenging books and then argue with them over what they say. The problem is that they’re much more articulate (and stylish!) than I am, so I think the only reason they do it is to laugh at me later. I sort of feel like the bear in the cage that keeps getting poked with a sharp stick.

In case you’re new to the conversation, here’s the lay of the land. Traditional church (think 1950s, hymns, robes, suit and tie) failed to adapt to the new cultural values of the 1960s. A new cultural movement erupted of earnest spiritual seekers who were very interested in Jesus, but not very interested in the culture of the church that had been carry forth his message (some might ask how well they were actually doing this, but I’m not that cynical). The Jesus People thing happened.

Then in the 70′s, the evangelical thing happened.
Then in the 80′s, the mega-church thing happened.
Then in the 90′s, the seeker/purpose driven thing happened.

So where are we now? A new cultural movement of earnest spiritual seekers are very interested in Jesus, but not very interested in the culture of the church that has been carrying forth his message (some might ask how well it’s actually doing this, but I’m not nearly that cynical).

Something new is happening. I’m not sure yet what it looks like, or what it means, or how I might have to adapt my mode of thinking to make sense of the conversation, but the chemical reaction has started. The ideas have percolated.

I may be very, very uncomfortable with the results.

One thought on “Chemical Reactions of the Written Word

  1. Aly

    For the record, the sharp stick I insist on using is recognition of the obvious: you are more equipped intellectually to actually do something about all of the stuff about which I’ve been thinking. (Translation: You’re smarter than I am, so maybe I can change the world vicariously through you.) Don’t be such a whiner. Smart people who complain about the burden of their brains are just annoying.

    Side note: Do you think we could get “poking with a sharp stick” added to the gifts list in Romans? I think I feel an anointing…

Comments are closed.