Saturday, September 05, 2009

The New Christians: Tony Jones

Reading Tony Jone's book "The New Christians: dispatches for the emergent frontier" makes me feel like I do when I'm reading someone else's screen on an airplane; I should not be reading this because I do not belong to this club who "gets it" and have taken the "red pill". Jones powerfully articulates the genuine disillusionment with stagnated denominational and institutionally encrusted Christianity.
Why do I feel like an interloper? Because Jones several times mentions "unlikely" friends like Brian McClaren and Scot McKnight who are clearly older Christians. Does the emergent community carry about within it a nascent ageism? Should older bald guys (and greying women) stay away? I am compelled by Jone's description of friendship being a more binding agent than certitude, but it seems to have age limits to it. What about senior care? Where do adolescents find a home? How inclusive is this community?
I recall, while reading this book, another occasion years ago. I met and became a loose friend to Doug Pagitt. Doug just had a new book published and he invited me to the Solomon's Porch book party. What an honor! I had a formal event that day, so I showed up in the wrong uniform: dark suit, white shirt and dark tie. Everyone there got the memo about dress code but me. As I walked through the halls, conversation stopped, eyes scanned me with curiosity. Clearly I was in the wrong place, and nobody spoke.
The values of the emergent community are noteworthy and attractive to me. It's the translation into life on the streets and among the other churches that will tell over time.


At 11:08 AM , Blogger ed said...

This is hard stuff for many Christians to accept given the economic climate threatening the very physical existence of some churches while having to deal with indifference to the claims of the Gospel. It does not bode well for the church's future. I believe that the Church, (capital "c") however, is not threatened. Frankly, it is the church's (small "c") fault for becoming increasingly a business while cozying up to one another in elite social clubs that seem to come undone when challenged by claimants espousing anything but the current church's identity. It is very difficult to interest youth in an organization that has had such annoying visibility in the media and has so profoundly impacted our culture that freedom from its constraints is welcomed and a fresh look at New Testament Christianity is sought. I, as a senior adult, find that I am often embarrassed by the image of riches and success that many religious organizations need, promote and model for their followers who are drawn in by the core message but often find the practice of it disillusioning. The message of Jesus is crystal clear but we have muddied the waters of salvation with the accoutrements of success and grandeur through self-promoting religious personages and buildings of massive irrelevance.


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