30 June 2008

Next NoVA Cohort gathering: Monday, 7 July in Vienna

Hey y'all! You're invited!
Our next gathering is going to move out to Fairfax (since that is where everyone was from anyway). We'll meet near the Vienna Metro station at (walking distance):

Monday, July 7, 8 pm (Look for Cohort signs at the tables)
Glory Days Grill
3059 Nutley Street
Fairfax, VA 22031
Phone (703) 204-0900
Subscribe to the cohort's blog feed for all the latest news.

13 June 2008

Success is not an option

This is something I've been thinking a lot about for the past week or two. My thoughts are still quite preliminary, so maybe there will be more of them later.

The question on my mind is this:

Is failure - i.e., critical crisis; death with optional resurrection - a necessary and unavoidable step in authentic emergence - at least in the realm of human social institutions like the Church?

I'm not talking about setbacks - I'm talking about major, life-torpedoing failure that makes it blatantly obvious that if life can go on at all, it will go on in a radically different fashion than before. I wonder about this in the journey of the individual, but even more right now I wonder about it in the shared journey of a community.

My wondering has been shaped by a number of high-quality nodes, including some recent good stuff from Grace, but much more from conversations with genius friends like Dee, P3T3, and Amy, and reflection on the journey-stories of various people and communities I know (including my own). For some theoretical/practical reasons why I fear this might be the case when it comes to communities, see here: The Practices Must Support Each Other.

If this is true (and I have no way of knowing whether it is or not - but I have to tell ya, I have a strong intuition that it's at least mostly true) - if this is true, then several other questions follow, it seems to me:
  1. Are "emergent" books, conferences, etc. leading folks to believe that they can shortcut this process - this death and resurrection? That it's possible to read some books and say "Yeah, baby! That's where it's at!" and then just go thou and to likewise?
  2. If so, is that necessarily a bad thing? Or is that setting folks up for the failure which is, perhaps, a necessary stage in the journey?
  3. This, to me, is the biggie. Unlike the others, it's not the least bit rhetorical. To the contrary, it's extremely concrete and personal, and it's one that I sort of feel like every person who feels called to "emergence" needs to seriously wrestle with (like, don't walk away without a dislocated hip and a blessing):
If I feel that God is calling me and/or my community (present or future) to emerge into a radically different way of being and doing Church, what am I willing to lose?

08 June 2008

DC Cohort meeting this Tuesday

This just in from the DC Emergent Cohort:

The DC Emerging cohort is meeting next June 10 - 7pm at the Front Page in Dupont Circle.
We will be discussing emergent; who were are, where we are going and how we worship. We would love to hear your prespective, so come on out.

Indeed, come on out, if you're in the DC area!

07 June 2008

Two stories

My brother Sean is getting married this year, which I couldn't be more thrilled about. I'm not sure I could recommend either of these two remarkably similar, yet markedly different, methodologies for creating the guest list for the reception....

The modern story.

The ancient story.

Kinda makes you think a bit...about gifts and hospitality and reciprocity and relationships. Also about fashion - both in terms of "dressing appropriately" (toward the end of the second story) and "trends".

Further adventures in suburban gleaning

So around 10:30 this evening, I got a voice mail from our church's Dive Team Captain saying she was headed for the [ESTABLISHMENT NAME REDACTED] near us to see what's the what, dumpster-wise, and did we want to join the expedition?

So we said yea verily, and headed over to the [REDACTED] parking lot, consolidated into one vehicle, and dove. (Dived? Huh - apparently it depends on where you are.) There were two bags with what appeared to be worthwhile stuff in them: one with a variety, the other with just some oranges. We ended up with the oranges, some strawberries, figs, little pita breads, and a whole lot of hamburger rolls that we really didn't want, and thus returned to whence they came. ([REDACTED] throws out a lot of those this time of year.) All in all, pretty slim pickins. But we could tell the store employees were still restocking and de-stocking shelves in there, and there were a whole bunch of shopping carts full of who knows what sitting in the store near the entrance, so we figgered we'd stake it out for a while, hoping for the big dump.

We chatted for a while, and then the Captain stated that further waiting would require fuel, so we went to the nearby [FAST FOOD ESTABLISHMENT] and got a couple of shakes (and fries for Tina - OK, LARGE fries to share.) We were now in danger of having spent more on gas and junk food than we had saved through our paltry take.

We also noticed that there seemed to be someone sleeping on the front porch of the abandoned restaurant next door to [FAST FOOD JOINT].

We went back to [REDACTED] and waited a while. While we were waiting, someone got into the car we'd parked next to in the mostly-empty parking lot, drove down to the dumpster, put on the flashers, and futzed around a while there. We were pretty darn curious, I must say. Was this competition?? When he'd gone, we spun back down there and checked it out. Nope, turns out he was making a deposit, not a withdrawal: there was a new bag of garbage in there, and it wasn't [REDACTED] products. Used diapers and such. "Dude," we thought self-righteously, "that's illegal." ;-)

We gave it a little more time, but now it was midnight and we were turning into pumpkins. So we headed back toward the Captain's van, which took us by the abandoned restaurant where we'd seen someone sleeping out front. That person seemed to be awake now, so at the Captain's suggestion, we decided to go say "Hi" and see if he or she would like some food. She turned out to be a very nice lady who was camping out there where there was a bit of shelter. We introduced ourselves and explained where we'd gotten the food, and she seemed happy to accept all of it. We chatted a bit more about the weather and [REDACTED]'s food disposal habits, and then said farewell and headed home. She was cool. We'll definitely keep an eye our for her when we return.

This is fun. Y'all should do it. As I've offered before, if you email me, I'll be more upfront about details and esoteric dive-fu (though due to my relative lack of experience, your mileage may vary).

02 June 2008

Northern VA Emergent Cohort - TONIGHT!

Well, this is pretty late notice, but better late than never. A Northern Virginia Emergent Cohort is forming! If you live in NoVA and are free, why not join us? Here are the deets (plagiarized from the NoVA Cohort blog):

Everyone is invited to our first cohort gathering on:
Monday, June 2, 2008
@ 8 pm

Ri Ra Arlington
2915 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22201
(3 Blocks from the Clarendon Metro)

We'll be gathering for our first time to meet some folks and talk about what this cohort could look like. Hope you can make it and feel free to invite anyone you think may be interested in such a gathering where conversation about church, theology, friendship, philosophy, and culture are the order of the day.

Hope to see you there. Email me with any questions @