Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Talking About Some Other Generation

Well, our rector is about to go off on a sabbatical to explore the emerging church. This has become the current hot thing, as attested to by Christianity Today; its proponents love a certain style of cultural-commentary jargon, and say "postmodern" a lot.

Now, I think talking about "generations" is a bunch of hooey. I'm looking at some of the websites of these places-- and they are "cutting-edge" in the annoying way of not using a normal name for anything and using a lot of Flash animations-- and I'm noticing a consistent pattern about the leaders of these places: they're all about my age or a little older. I'm guessing that their kids are all middle-to-high school age because, like me, they waited until they were almost thirty to have them. And I'll bet their kids don't think their parents are cool, because there is nothing less "cool" than parents who try to be their children.

Me? When I came home from high school, I called up the local Episcopal parish to find out what time services were. (I went to the 11:15 service-- the only time fit for old ladies and college students.) By the time the founders of Cedar Ridge Community Church were getting organized, I was singing in the choir. Not too long after, I was going to a different parish which was shortly packed with young families. Cool? No! It was a by-the-book Rite II BCP sung eucharist sort of place, with standard hymns which we sang in parts.

One thing one sees around the net is that everyone has a program for saving The Church by changing how we do church. There are plenty of arch-traditionalists out there, for example, who want to pick some ideal liturgical praxis and stay there. This can work in a limited fashion but it inevitably runs up against the problem that, being reactionary, it is too much dictated by what it believes the current culture to be.

It's the progressive movements, though, that age worse. The leaders of the emerging churches are going to grow old, and they are going to lose touch with the "current". Another ten years, and their churches are going to be the churches of the old fuddy-duddies. Indeed, I'm looking at the emerging church materials and seeing merely the latest reinvention of the American evangelical style-- a style that is based in amnesis, not anamnesis, and which to me seems of the world, not in it.

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