Wednesday, August 27, 2008


You've probably heard about the ability of an opera singer to hit a high note, and have the crystal glasses shatter. That might not be so wonderful for your collection of crystal, but the concept is a wonderful way of illustrating how thought processes grow in intensity. Let me elaborate...

Over the past months (years, actually), I have been recognizing the need to grow in my understanding of the shifts happening in our culture. I can see that we are in a different world, but don't necessarily understand all that is going on.
So, I start my journey. Trying to listen to the world around me. Trying to learn the language. To read the signs. To somehow begin to get in the groove (to steal imagery from another time).
I hear a word like postmodern that certainly points to a new paradigm, but doesn't exactly explain itself.
At times it feels like I am alone in this journey. So much of the church (and other large segments of society) seems to carry along merrily in the same boat we have been in for years. Trying to fish with the same bait, speaking the same language, seeing through the same pair of sunglasses (to mix metaphors).
So, I'm wondering if there really is a culture shift going on. Then I read a book or two that seem to not only confirm my awareness of change, but begin to reveal what this change looks like. (Check out my Shelfari page for what I have been reading lately.) People who are either explaining a bit of what Gen X or Y, or postmodern is, or demonstrating it in everyday life. How some people are actually breaking out of the patterns we have walked in for years.
It's not that they are trying to change the system. They know the system is changing, and they are operating under the new rules. They aren't advocating change, they are advocating understanding of the change that is occurring.
Time goes on, and I dare to read more of the stuff being written. Some people love it, it speaks in their language, it points with hope to new roads that journey to the same place we are all desiring to reach. Others fear it, negate it, pretend it doesn't exist. They keep reinforcing the traditional methods.
(Let me get a bit more concrete, more specific, more 'Christian'. Some of the new writings are slaughtering sacred cows that are considered to be as absolute as gravity. The titles give it away: 'The End of Religion', 'Repenting of Religion' to name a couple. I can understand the fear: “These guys are destroying the authority of scripture, they are heretics, they are false prophets.” But somehow, there is a lot of truth that resonates in my spirit as I read and learn. The call is to separate truth from practice, to recognize that no one has a total understanding of truth. There is always a place to re-think and grow.)

So this brings me to the concept of resonance.
I read a book. I have a conversation. Something vibrating in the heart and spirit of the person I am reading matches the vibrations in my own heart. Something that has touched my friend's heart has already been touching mine. The vibrations grow in intensity. Iron sharpens iron. Their journey comes alongside my journey, and together we are brought into an alignment. There may be slight variations, but the conversation allows both of us to see things through new eyes and come to a deeper understanding.
For me, this has been happening in a number of areas, all of which seem to be threads of the same cord.
Threads of understanding postmodernism.
Understanding some of the sub- and counter-cultures that swirl around me.
Being incarnational and missional in my faith.
Recognizing the need for re-inventing the way the Church sees itself, and how it impacts society.

The past couple weeks have been quite insightful. As I have hung out for a few days with fellow staff of the Christian Mission I serve with (Youth With A Mission), and as I have talked with friends and family 'back home' I realize that God is nudging many of us in the same direction.
One of the ways I sense and confirm what God is saying in my heart is by listening to see if others are hearing the same thing. I am convinced that it is so. God is allowing us and challenging us to move. To seriously seek to understand our own faith, and not necessarily accept what we now believe as ultimate truth. (No, I'm not questioning things like the deity of Christ, or the atonement, but I am endeavoring to be more open to think about things like style and method in my presentation of the things that matter.)
I see many of my cohorts finding ways to be incarnational and missional—living out their faith and following the example of Christ within their communities. I see many people considering new ways of expressing themselves within a community of faith (the Church, if you will). I see people willing to rock the boat in order to stay afloat. (Now, there's an interesting image!)
I feel the Spirit's wind blowing. I am excited to continue my efforts at understanding the cultures around me, and to be intentionally involved. This has already been a great 10 days, and I still have another week to find even more confirmation, to vibrate even stronger with the resonance of the wind of the Spirit.
You better hide your crystal, this fat lady is about to sing! (I just couldn't resist the opportunity to end that way!)

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