[[image:1570627401.jpg::right:0]]I have been reading a book called “A Brief History of Everything” by an American philosopher named Ken Wilber. I would have never stumbled upon this book on my own. I picked it up after a friend recommended it to me. This may be an understatement but this book has blown my mind. In short, in this book Wilber attempts to identify the course of the evolution of our universe as an unfolding manifestation of Spirit. Its a surprisingly accessible look into a universe of sex, soul, and spirit, especially how it pertains to men and women and the human experience. The structure of the book is put into a conversational context, like a q. and a. written entirely by Wilber. It sounds kind of weird but it works really well. After all, this is some complicated stuff that a caveman lawyer like myself shouldnt be able to pull together, so big ups to Wilber for putting this together in a way any simpleton can understand. (in other words, read the damn book)
As I read the first few chapters of the book, I started thinking about a few of my friends who are involved in the emerging church. Now, for the record, I dont really proclaim to be a member in this conversation within the emergent church, as they like to call it. But I do think there are some great people doing some worthwhile thinking and musing about what is to come and how we should approach what lies ahead. In my gut I feel that all churches are emerging at some pace, whether they would like to admit it or not. Whether the destination is better or worse really remains to be seen and will surely vary from community to community.
Anyway, the reason these good people Ive come to know have popped into my mind is because Wilber writes in this book about a course in which evolution, or emerging seems to take when applied to all things. One of the main themes that Wilber uses to describe this evolutionary impulse is the idea that if any object is to evolve to a new form it needs to transcend AND include its current state in order for the object to progress or move forward to a newer, more complex state. The simplest example he uses is the example of cellular structure. A cell transcends-or goes beyond-its molecular components, but also includes them. Molecules transcend and include atoms, which transcend and include particles .and so on. Additionally, in order for a cell to be a whole it NEEDS its molecular components to be, to exist, to serve its purpose. If a cell loses the molecules that are vital to its being, it ceases to exist. This theory doesnt just apply to physical objects such as cells but it can also be applied to the progression of all things that can be found in our known universe, whether its biological, social, spiritual, and cultural. Another example is this: Without what weve learned, good and bad, from the modern worldview, we could not emerge or evolve to a post-modern worldview. If we are to literally deny and discredit everything from Modernity, then to arrive at a post-modern worldview is simply impossible. (my head hurts)
One of the things that has made me weary of the Emergent Church is the idea that in order to progress and come to a newer way of seeking God, there needs to be an abandon ship attitude when it comes to the current Church culture that is heavily dominated by the Modern worldview. Not all those involved in the emerging church conversation feel this way, but there are some fairly loud voices in the conversation that have the life jacket on tight, ready to walk off the plank into some choppy post modern waters, and the storm could very well get worse, who knows?
I think a lot of us can agree that there is something new in the air. Its exciting, daunting, scary, uncertain .but there is something small sitting on our shoulders that is singing a quiet and new melody, its great right? So in a sense I identify with those who are actively trying to learn this new tune. Maybe the new tune needs a better chorus or a really great bridge with better harmonies in my profession its called pre-production. We are a ways away from hitting the big red record button and maybe we never will but at least till then we can still sing along if we want. Important too, is that we are not the songwriter, were here to tap our foot and maybe pick up a six-string and play along if we are lucky. My main point with this illustration is that I am glad that boundaries are being expanded to include new possibilities and anyone who is chasing this tune they hear ever so slightly is a partner, a brother, a sister in this process of moving forward.
But where I scratch my head is where some of those who are seeking this new song out are saying we have to ditch the late greats, the oldies. Of course, some of these old rockers died choking on their own puke and of heroin overdoses, but it doesnt mean they didnt contribute to something great. I mean if it werent for some of the songs they played, we wouldnt be able to hear this new tune. We most likely wouldnt even be listening. It would sound like some weird noise that we are doing our best to ignore while we are in the express line at Wal-mart waiting to pay for some tube socks that were made by some eight year old in a sweatshop, but they were a great buy though….
Ok, maybe Ive beaten this analogy like a dead horse, but all this to say, we need to include our current Church culture in order to transcend into a new way of seeking God in this community of spiritual risk takers in the Christian Church. Yes, many people have been burned by the current culture. And Jimmy Page probably hasnt signed all those autographs of those fans that waited outside the club for hours. But if we are honest, we need to face the reality that whether we like it or not, those who are wholly dedicated to the emerging church culture are all products, directly or indirectly, of this modern era of the Christian tradition. We have to accept that this modern tradition has done great things for the Kingdom of God and also has caused severe damage as well, just like any future Christian tradition will do as well, let’s be honest.
So how can we begin to emerge to a newer way and then slam the door on those who are emerging a bit slower than we are? Some in the emerging church claim their modern way of practicing their faith is broken and irreparable while they forget that they themselves used the exact same rung in the ladder of the Christian experience to get too where they are now. If we are to be welcoming to all brothers and sisters to join in the discussion of what lies ahead, we cant start by torching their current tradition. Its simply not nice and more importanly, it discredits those who are ready and eager to “emerge”.
In order transcend or emerge to better understanding of who God is and what he wants for our lives, we need to include not only those who still hang on a bit tighter to the modern tradition, but we have to give their tradition some credit for arriving at this new door that has been slightly cracked open. After all, even though we are emerging to something new, we are products of this Modern culture in which we are moving away from. The Modern worldview by itself may not be applicable anymore but much of what it has taught us will be alive in a newer, more complex, and hopefully more complete way of seeking out who God is and what he means to us and us to him.
Wilber identifies this idea of the including and transcending of all things in the process of emerging forward as Spirit-in-Motion. Hopefully as this new age awaits us, it will be more clearly revealed to us how we are to take part in this Spirit in Motion and do it with inclusive and humble hearts. Maybe I am being unfair or off base. Maybe Ive misunderstood some of my brothers and sisters who are part of the emerging church. If so, speak up and correct my misperception. Much love and respect to all, emergent or not, who are singing along to this new tune.