Monday, August 21, 2006

Categories

O.k., so in a post last week, I mentioned that it might be helpful for Emergent, or the emerging church to have more of the "conservative" voices out, front and center in this conversation in order to demonstrate that it's not just a new version of "liberal theology."  I said that I find those categories unhelpful and troubling.

I believe that categories are suspicious for a few reasons.  First, especially these days, they're very often terribly inaccurate.  There are a good lot of people that would look back over the past few years of this blog and slap a "liberal" label on me, and probably the same number of people that would slap a "conservative" label on me.  Who gets to decide who's right?  Add to this the complicating factor that much of what looks to some like "liberal" is actually extreme conservatism.  Example?  How 'bout ecclesiology.  Many in the emerging church scene (another category that I admit to overusing, which is also unhelpful and trobling) are accused of hating the church.  All the critiques, all the cage rattling.  Well, what if all the critiques were not in fact demonstrating a hatred of the church, but a deep deep love for the church?  A strong, prophetic love often comes out sounding critical . . . and yes, at times, tinged with some anger.  Read your Old Testament prophetic books if you're looking for some biblical references here.  Sometimes what looks like a liberal view of the church just means that the person holding that view has a deeper conviction of what the church was meant to be, and isn't afraid to call it out.

Another reason categories are suspicious is that they're too often used to marginalize.  If we disagree with someone, we can push them off into that mental frame of "those people."  We can broadbrush them and quit listening to them if we can label them.  It's lazy and unloving.

Categorizing and marginalizing people is far too often about control.  If I can name you and put you into my own little mental box, I gain power over you.  I'm the one who decides whether your words and deeds are important.  I'm the one who decides whether you're worth paying attention to.

With all that said, I'm obligated to admit that I am a categorizer.  I have as many labels for people as most.  I've tried at times to work on this, starting first with just recognizing it.  The process of "working on this" isn't some elaborate deconstruction of my thinking, though.  That would be too easy - too intellectual.  Instead, I need to operate from a center of love.  Just love people.  If my thoughts are consumed with selflessly wanting their best, I'll not be so concerned with controlling them or tattooing some label on their forehead.

I heard a statement a while back that resonates here: "There are only two kinds of people in the world.  Those who categorize others, and those who don't."  The latter group is small indeed.

posted by Steve at 6:16 AM
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1 Comments:

Anonymous Existential Punk commented at 12:07 AM~  

Steve, some really great thoughts to wrestle with and chew on. Thanks! Adele

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spirit farmer data

I'm Steve Lewis. This used to be my blogging home. My online home is now at SpiritFarmer.com. When this blog was my active online home, I lived in Seattle. Now I live in London, UK. I follow Jesus (poorly most of the time), worship simply, read a lot, watch culture, go to school, listen to music, write, enjoy art, and drink a lot of coffee.
e-mail me: spiritfarmer@gmail.com
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seattle spots

victrola coffee
zoka coffee
university of washington
church of the apostles
quest church
sanctuary church
shoreline vineyard


sites i visit

off the map
theooze
next-wave
metacritic
nt wright



a few of the blogs in the feedreader

tallskinnykiwi
jason evans
joe boyd
kevin rains
alan creech
chris marshall
bill bean
eugene cho
jordon cooper
dwight friesen
john chandler
amy palmer
ryan bolger
rudy carrasco
ryan sharp
sings in the sunshine
rick bennett
scot mcknight
karen ward
alan hirsch
dan kimball
petey crowder



i'm reading it

colossians remixed
africa unchained



i finished reading it - 2007

generation me
jesus and the restoration of israel
god's continent
glocalization
globalizing theology
gustavo gutierrez: essential writings
jesus and the eyewitnesses
garlands of grace
twenty poems to nourish your soul
the black swan
dancing in the streets
made to stick
signs in contemporary culture
hit the bullseye
revolution
the politics of jesus
readings in christian ethics
toward old testament ethics
the kite runner
principles of conduct
velvet elvis
the irresistable revolution
they like jesus, but not the church
the great omission
ishmael
charisma: the gift of grace, and how it has been taken from us
the starfish and the spider
a perfect mess
the world cafe
the new faces of christianity
leaving church
journeying in faith
the creed
creators
transforming mission
metaphors we live by
foolishness to the greeks
personal knowledge



states i've spent time: 2007

washington
texas
british columbia
oregon
california
georgia
oh yeah, denmark, too



i wrote it

managing conflict in the 'new world'
music review: over the rhine
film review: bonhoeffer
music review: fighting jacks
film review: the passion of the christ
how reality tv changes lives
the best tv article you've ever read
corks & caps: a wine lover's story of change
america's idols
random, disorganized thoughts about life after the katrina disaster
missional . . . plain and simple
on becoming post-gnostic



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