Oh, the bane and beauty of temp work! So, here I am at work waiting on others. If this was my permanent job I'd be expected to show some initiative and work on something else that would be in the purview of my job. But as a temp, my knowledge and responsibility and thus personal initiative are all limited to the one project I was hired to work on. So, I wait for others to get to the point where they can give me work to do. If I did not have the Internet and or a book to read this would be hell.
This waiting doesn't avail itself to extended thoughts but here are somethings that are on my mind, that I may or may not get to in more detail.
I am playing with the idea that all current concern for church growth is an inability to accept the inevitable demise and complete disappearance of Christendom in Western society and culture. That is I am coming to conclude that even those who claim to celebrate the end of Christendom in fact simply want a Christendom in their own image. And that our attempts to "grow churches" is a denial of the end of Christen because we don't want to admit that large numbers of people came to our churches because the culture told them that was where they belonged.
Christendom is that realm in which Christians have influence on society and power within the economic and political spheres.
If we are at the end of (at least in the "West") of this long period of cultural influence then we should not be surprised that few people make their way to church.
Christendom equals numbers faithfulness to Christ doesn't necessarily.
Christendom is neither something to rejoice in nor mourn when it passes. Both states are gifts and banes for the church.
All language of church growth assumes people will find church relevant this assumes Christendom. If there is no Christendom then Christianity is by definition irrelevant to the culture. People get use to it accept our irrelevance for the time being, we will be relevant again in time it may take centuries but really it matters little for the faith one way or the other.
Spong's whole project is based largely in his inability to understand that Christendom end means he as a bishop has little or no voice in society. So he attempts to remake Christianity in such away that it preserves Christendom but without the elements he finds objectionable, but will preserve influence, and allow bishops to speak and be heard.
Relevance is the property the church has when there is Christendom, or when the church simply becomes like the culture it inhabits, a sort of syncreticstic mirror image of Christendom.
We forget that until Constantine Christianity was a sect irrelevant to the Greco-Roman culture it inhabited without power or influence to change policy or advocate for the poor or anybody else. If there is no Christendom the church is irrelevant and stands outside as an alternative to what is, the church becomes a form of resistance.
I am deeply troubled by the way most Christians think about sex sexuality and gender. Most seem either to heavy handed or unwilling to admit that Christian faith has deep implications for our sexuality and even our gender expression.
I am no defender of the middle class conservative sensibilities in this area but I also am coming to think that while the middle class conservative sensibilities attempt to defend themselves via the christian tradition that the christian tradition in this area is entirely foreign to these sensibilities.
I don't think that the current thoughts on these things in the academy and the sciences are truly helpful nor do they tell us the ultimate truth about these things, they at best truly tell us how we are as fallen creatures, but they have no means of telling us who we are intended to be in these areas.
3) I am beginning to question democratic and egalitarian understandings of difference and particularity. I am coming to see that the egalitarian view of difference is to ultimately destroy any ability to discriminate. Truth if it survives at all is an amorphous and innocuous description of distinctions that can never matter. In this philosophical disposition truth can never be particular it must always be general and universal in a way that can never be determined. It seems to me that if difference and particularity matters some difference and particularities will be wrong or untrue, even things some people might hold dear or even wholly identify with. This possibility throws a monkey wrench into many attempts at trying to accept all difference no matter what. But such acceptance is uncritical or so it seems to me.
Well there are some of the things that have been on my mind today as I wait.