Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Final Journey- Or Emergent Burnout

I am reading The Poet of Tolstoy Park by Sonny Brewer. It describes a man with a year to live in his life. He surprises everyone by leaving his home in Idaho and moving to Fairhope, Alabama. Forgive me if for the next few days I share some of his journey and mine as well.

This book has already caused me to re-read some of A.N. Wilson's biography of Leo Tolstoy. I am reading the chapter titled The Holy Man, the story of Tolstoy's spiritual struggles as a enters the ending phase of his life. Perhaps Tolstoy's story is our own as well. At least that is something to think about.


Alan Creech's recent blog on emergent burnout has stirred some tiny questions in my mind. What validities is he really talking of? Sure, we all tire of some things, particularly those things in which our vision is incomplete.

For instance, the form of the emergent church is both its strength and weakness. At its best its a group of spiritual intact bloggers scattered across the world tackling the spiritual needs and nuiances of their own lives. At worse it has no apparent organization, no church buildings, scattered leaders --Jordon Cooper, Talkskinnykiwi, and the Spencer Burke's of the world --and worthy critics questioning its very existence. No wonder there is confusion and discouragement among the troups.

So, what has this to do with Tolstoy? Everything! It is where life ends or begins, with the struggle to understand the beginnings, an important point of each of our own lives. And then to convert our lives into a purity of intent worthy for the master's use. And yes, along the way, we may cry out with Solomon, "it is the pursuit of the wind." And that is precisely IT ! But it does have meaning, right? And distance and life and struggle that will be worthwhile.

What do you think? Is not this rather the starting point not the ending point?


At 3:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ever hear of a cicada? Here in the NE U.S. we have “17 Year Cicadas.” Every 17 years millions upon millions of these lovely critters emerge from their 17 year sojourn underground (happily sucking on the juices of tree roots) to fly, mate, and well, mate some more in a very short lifespan above ground.

In its underground life it is a grub. In its emergent state, it resembles a beetle. Emerging from the ground it climbs up the nearest tree and then splits its beetle-skin and emerges yet again as a winged flying creature with bright red eyes.

During the last cycle (2004) I saw the sad plight of many emerging cicadas. Some struggled to break free from their own beetle-skins only to find that at the very point when they should've been flying free from their former earthbound selves (grub and beetlestates) they lacked the strength to struggle out of their own skins and died, sticking half-way out of their old skins. A tragic end to a 17 year life!

I fear a similar fate for Emergents, struggling to emerge from evangelical Protestantism, into the possiblity of newness, only to lose this possiblity because of their inability to get out of their own skins.

The things that they are sampling and trying to assimilate from the Orthodox and Roman Catholics are much bigger than can fit into their newfangled Emerging/Emergent, though still thoroughly Protestant skins.

They stay in their own skins and like the poor cicadas, are stopped in the process of truly emerging.

At 4:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

STARTING OR ENDING?......Good question. I feel only that it, the emerging church, is an expression of people and various needs at this time. There seems to be a real hunger for the experience of prayer not just a sermon about draw near to God not simply to be told that you really ought to be drawing near. In the emergent church, as I see it, there is much more freedom for the Spirit's direction and influence. Surely He is not prescribing the very same 'medications' for all the people, all of the time. This sacred freedom is to be encouraged as I see it. Maybe I am really off base on this but, in my heart, I think God is pleased that so many people are seeking Him, traditionaly or non traditionaly. Too bad we can't wake up Merton and ask his opinion. 'Lord, how shall we know the way? Be Thou with us everyday. We lean not upon ourselves, but upon YOU.'

At 8:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


and so, be our Guide -
o good Shepherd of the flock;
with You, we are home.

At 8:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


we looked for our Lord -
in his care, we knew we were;
we found Him watching.

At 8:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


and so He is kind -
Saviour, full of mercy love;
so in Him we rest.

At 6:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The emerging church is somewhat like many para church alternatives. They are so much dependent upon a leader. The leader becomes the focus. Not sure how you could change this. The Church has one leader Jesus Christ. And, that is what ultimately drives the Church. If emerging church could find a way for Christ to be Head, the days ahead could be long!! There are many good elements in the emerging church, but that is true with almost every movement. The EnD!!! wayne, from Alabama

At 8:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


delight in His will -
He surely is over all;
find peace in His ways.

At 4:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

BRO DAN.......very good expression: '...convert our lives into a purity of heart...' That is a daily task for me...clean up the house, for the Lord is coming...clear out the old worthless things...cleanse the heart and ask that, by the power of Christ and Calvary, nothing will be in my heart that is not pleasing to Him.

At 8:37 PM, Blogger Christopher said...

reminds me of gilead.

At 10:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

AND SO WE ARE HERE NOW........In the history of man, there have been so many ways of seeing God, seeking God, serving God. Before us, there were Christians who saw it in a little differnt way than we....after us, there will be believers who see it differently than we. It is GOD that matters. The more we focus on Him and His will for us at this time the better off we will be. One will feel this way, another that...maybe we would please God most in accepting all these differences as the various ways that souls hear God and respond to His call. The sheep are not all clones.

At 7:58 PM, Blogger Joy said...


Interestingly enough, I became aware of "emereging movement" about the same time I discovered you. I am not part of this movement, but this is what this movement has given me... My voice!

I was so beaten down and I was feeling incredibly useless and valueless. Reading emerging blogs and books has helped me to remember that God really does love me! My hope is back. My desire to please God is back.

I don't agree with everything that flows from the conversation, but I can sure tell you that much of what foams out of the (bully) pulpit isn't truth either.

My hope is that the we can have a True Body. I know we cannot do a lot about those things that are all about 'churchianity', but by being the True Body, we can recall our First and True Love.

I have prayed for you and for Janet.


Post a Comment

<< Home