I really don’t have anything brilliant to say today, so feel free to stop reading now. Class was good this week. I really like studying about how culture has changed over time, and it is helpful for me to have a better idea where our country is coming from and where we are heading.  It is interesting that in modernity, we tried to make everything the same.  We could study a process and then try to reproduce it to get the maximum return. 

I think it is really funny that with the growth of the Emerging Church, people are trying to come up with the 5 steps to making an emerging church.  The emerging church is about rejecting modernity, structure and order. It is about letting things develop naturally, to flow from their structure, to evolve as things change.  And it definitely isn’t about being efficient.  Yet, many people’s first instinct, mine included, is to take it apart and study it so that I can reproduce the exact same thing in my community.  I guess that should just remind us that we are still dealing with modernity, and that modernity is still engrained in much of how we think and what we do.

How many of you have heard of postmodernity before (it doesn’t count if I’m the only one you’ve ever heard talk about it).  Well anyways, it’s this idea that in the past 20 or 30 years, people have changed.  We still get up and go to work everyday, but how we view the world is different.  We aren’t so concerned with facts, and we are drawn to stories about how God is moving in the world.  We don’t just learn by hearing somebody talk to us, but we like to experience life, to participate in the world, to belong to something, and through these activities we are changed. 

Now, I pretty much buy into the whole postmodern thing, obviously.  It fits me so well and I see it in other people my age.   But for some reason, in the circles I hang out with, “postmodernity” is seen as an evil thing.  Just the word makes people cringe.  If I start talking about something I’m excited about and then accidentally slip in the word postmodern, people stop listening and immediately dismiss me as radical and liberal.  Its like to them, the word postmodern = “I don’t love Jesus and I want to destroy the Church”. I don’t get it, and it frustrates me. 

In class last week, Ryan said something that I just think is hilarious.  Instead of saying “postmodern” he says “second-moderity” and people love his ideas.  Just by changing the word he uses, even though he is talking about the same thing, people are willing to listen to him and even adopt some of the changes he suggests. Wow. So from now on, I don’t believe in postmodernity, I believe in second-modernity. I’ll test it out and let you know if it helps my little revolution…

Last Thursday, Wess lectured on two of the books that we read for class, which was mildly helpful. I feel like I read those books so long ago, that I have already processed them and that they have already become a part of me, so talking about them this late in the quarter wasn’t extremely helpful.

But, I really liked the Quaries (sp?) that Wess lead us in at the beginning of the class.  We had a time of silent prayer and reflection, where Wess directed our thoughts by asking a number of questions. We then were told to just listen for God’s voice.  I really like the meditative / contemplative disciplines. I find life so hectic that it is hard to slow down enough and just be with Jesus.  I struggle with calming myself enough to listen to God, but I found the process of asking questions and listening for God’s voice to be very helpful.

In class today, Bolger told more stories about churches around the world. I want so much to be able to do church differently. To talk about Jesus in a way that means something to people. To be able to be a part of the culture and love people like Jesus did.  But I don’t really know how since I am so immersed in the Christian bubble.  This is very frustrating to me.  I want people to teach me to be like Jesus. who can show me a new way of doing church, but I don’t know anybody who is doing this kind of stuff.   

It occurred to me today that following Jesus is a really hard thing to do.  (surprise surprise) Yes, we are supposed to love people, but love takes sacrifice. We are supposed to stand up for the abused, but that means risking our own status.  We are supposed to forgive people, but forgiveness can be so hard.  Its easy to just tell people that this is what it means to follow Jesus, but it takes so much more work to actually do it. I think this is real Christianity.  Radical faith.  I wonder what it would look like to actually live this way. And how can I let people challenge me to do these things and help others as they also struggle to follow Jesus? 

“The cost of the cross is social non-conformity” – John Yoder

This week Fuller sponsored some lectures on Children at Risk. It was really interesting to hear about the different types of ministries people are doing to help disadvantaged children around the world.  So often the Church focus on providing for people spiritually, but then neglects their physical, emotional and social well-being. It was so encouraging to see groups working to heal the whole child, so that they can grow in fullness and joy in all aspects of their life.

I think we need to redefine what it means to be in community with each other.  In the Church, you have to believe the right things and act the right way in order to be a part of my group.  I can be friendly with you, think you’re a nice person and even hang out with you, but it will always be an “us” vs. “them” until you say The Prayer.  

I don’t like that.  Why can’t I be friends with somebody who doesn’t believe the same things that I do? Why can’t I move past casual acquaintance with a Jew or an atheist, and actually share my life with them? Why is believing such a huge part of who we are? 

I kind of think that it has to do with modernity. Ever since the Enlightenment, we believe that things can be proven.  We know what is right and what is wrong, and information rules our life.  I don’t think that everybody is like that.  Instead, I think we are much more communally oriented now.  Maybe instead of getting people to believe the right things, we should invite them to experience God in the world and in our lives.  maybe if we let people belong to us, to be apart of who we are, that they could know God in a real and tangible way. And then maybe, after they belong to us, they can come to believe.

I hate the Church’s process of evangelism.  I think it is horrible that we go out, meet people who don’t go to church, and the start doing everything we can to get them to say “the prayer” and start doing the kinds of things that Good Christians are supposed to do. I don’t think that is our job at all. 

I think we are supposed to care for people. To make friends with people because we like being around them, because we like spending time with them.  And we are supposed to love them in incredible ways.  To care for them, to bless them, to be a part of their life and let them be a part of our lives.  And maybe how we live our lives, how we love them, will help people see how much God loves them.   

My only problem with this whole process is that I don’t know anybody that doesn’t already belong to a church.  I am in such a Christian bubble.  Everybody I know either attends my church, goes to school to learn more about God or is in my Bible study.  I don’t know how to meet people who aren’t Christian.  Anybody have any ideas?

The Social Movements Reader: Cases and Concepts
Jeff Goodwin and James M. Jasper, eds
Blackwell Publishing: 2006 

Jeff Goodwin is a professor of Sociology at New York University. Both Goodwin, and James Jasper have written a number of books on varying social movements, seeking to understand the process of revolution in a new way.  

Goodwin and Jasper attempt to provide a systematic study of the development, operation and impact of social movements.  Very little research and documentation has been done on social movements, and the editors try to bring together a number of articles and book chapters in order to study movements in an academic setting.   

Until recently social movements have been seen in a negative light, as rebellious affronts to the system. It is only in the past decades that social movements are no longer being seen as a threat to society, but rather a needed corrective to the world.  Goodwin and Jasper seek to answer the questions “why do social movements form,” “who joins them,” “how are the organized” and “what effect do they have on society.”  In order to do this, they draw on articles from a number of different social movements, including feminism, gay rights, environmentalism and the civil rights movement.  Throughout their research, Goodwin and Jasper found a number of characteristics of social movements.   

First, a social movement is more than just an isolated protest or discontent with society. It is an organized, prolonged attack on a governmental or societal structure.  It desires to change things, and to bring about a particular result. Second, in order for a social movement to grow, it must first see itself as a movement, and then utilize social networks in order to recruit more people to the movement.  Finally, social movements must retain their members and continue working towards a unified goal in order to succeed.  The social movements that have been the most successful, such as the civil rights movement, must be able to adapt their tactics to their environment, and to be flexible in how they obtain their goal.  In contrast, movements that loose their unified goal or that develop ridged plans of action tend to loose their effectiveness, similar to what occurred during the end of the feminism movement.    

The Social Movement Reader was filled with articles and stories about cultural transformation, providing me with very practical information on how to transform powers.  Some of the articles were inspiring, while others just reminded me how much further we have to go, but it did provide me with a plethora of information on the development and continuation of social movements. 

At the same time, while the reader enlightened me academically, as a leader, I don’t feel any more equipped to lead a movement than before I read this book.  If so much of the civil rights movement was driven by particular events, I cannot create similar events to fuel my own revolution.  I was moved by the power of emotions in social movements, but I fear the abuse that comes with this knowledge.  Yes, emotions are integral to human action, but how, as a leaders, do I walk the line between motivating people to care and abusing their emotions in order to produce the result I desire?  Naomi Klein reported on many stories of protest where emotions seemed worked up in order to gain the public eye.  Is this appropriate use of emotions? And, as many articles pointed out, media is a strong tool in social movements, but is often abused by opponents of the movement, as well as by the movement itself.  How do we, as Kalle Lasn suggests, promote true freedom of speech, without using media to manipulate people?   

While I feel like this book gave me many new pieces of information about social movements, I do not feel like it gave me the tools to put this knowledge into practice.  What good is it to study other movements and look at where the went wrong, if we don’t take the time to explore how we can do it better next time, coming up with practical tools for the leaders of the coming social movements?

 In class this week, we’ve been looking at the things Jesus did throughout his life and how he interacted with culture.  Once we started to talk about the Jewish culture of the day, I was amazed at how revolutionary Jesus really was.  He didn’t just tell stories, but he told stories where the little guy came out on top and where the rejected in the world were treated the same as the most respected.  He honored the poor, the crippled, the homeless and the rejected. And then he told us to do the same.   

I just watched this documentary on Mother Teresa and I was amazed at how loving she was, towards everybody. She would greet nuns and dying men in the same way. She was able to bless people just with her presence and her touch.  I was physically repulsed by some of the people she was serving. It was hard for me to identify with them, because they looked so different than me and lived in a world that I don’t know anything about.  But somehow Mother Teresa loved these people who are rejected by the world, boldly following Jesus’ commandment to love all people.  I want to learn how to do this. To follow Jesus without holding anything back.