...is posted here.
From Tony Jones, National Coordinator, Emergent Village
“You've probably checked out “The Porpoise Diving Life" website -- it's gotten a lot of attention in the past few months. The man behind it, Bill Dahl, is a creative thinker and writer. I asked him to interview himself, as though Emergent Village were interviewing him, for the E/C. So here's Bill's inner dialogue.
Emergent Question #1: Bill, what motivated you to write The Porpoise Diving Life and create a website by the same name?
Bill: To be perfectly honest, I was sitting at a writer’s conference in February 2005 and it just popped into my head. I lived in southern California at the time. I would go for walks on the beach and watch the Porpoise in utter amazement. When I got back from the conference, I started writing the manuscript.
Emergent Question #2: Isn’t The Porpoise Diving Life© really a tongue in cheek jab at the book by Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life.
Bill: When people hear the title, that’s typically their initial reaction. However, nothing could be further from the truth. I was blessed by Mr. Warren’s book. I have read it three times. If you haven’t read it, you should (a plug for Rick). However, God kept thumping my heart, telling me that “there’s another side to purpose-driven”….an inclusive rather than an exclusive side. That, of course, is “Porpoise Diving.” What I write has, believe me, absolutely nothing to do with some sort of a gimmicky reaction to Warren’s book and/or his writings or theology. It is solely based upon what God’s Spirit placed upon my heart and wouldn’t let up until I acted.
Jesus never promised us that our existence in this world and journey of faith with Him would be without pain, uncertainty, the unexpected, the incomprehensible and hardship. Perhaps there’s another dimension of truth to the Gospel message that people are yearning to hear that is outside the confines of a well-ordered, trouble-free, formula-based, prosperity laden, purpose-driven life. There is. It’s The Porpoise Diving Life ©. There is a flip-side to the “It’s not about you” theology from Warren that people are desperate to hear; “It’s all about us,” is the tag line for The Porpoise Diving Life © that appears to be terribly inviting to people, particularly when it’s coupled with the sub-title “Reality for the Rest of Us.” It’s about God, you and me. “It is time that we demand more of ourselves as Christians. We are the hands and feet of Jesus Christ, and if the world is going to see, feel, and touch him, it will have to be through us.” It’s all about us!
Life is filled with ups and downs, gasping for breath, playing on the surface and foraging for sustenance in the depths. People need to hear this truth from the Gospel through the life of Jesus that has practical application to their lives today, not conveyed as some sort of formula-based 40 day book that these people won’t even read. Jesus lived The Porpoise Diving Life©. Scripture proves that.
You can enjoy the rest of this interview in it’s entirety at http://theporpoisedivinglife.com/porpoise-diving-life.asp?pageID=138 and the rest Bill’s writing on his website(s) at http://billdahl.net/ and http://www.theporpoisedivinglife.com/.
Registration is now open and new offerings have been added:
Full list at registration.
Registration opened this week for the Institute and we added a few more offerings:
Host: Christians For Biblical Equality (CBE)
Offering Title: The Apostle Paul: Male Supremacist or Pioneering Feminist?
For centuries Christians have citied the apostle Paul as the biblical basis for excluding women from teaching and leadership positions in the Church. This offering will explore Paul’s spiritual journey from Pharisee to feminist, noting the radical vocation of Paul who worked beside women, slaves and other untouchables in building Christ’s kingdom.
Host: Mimi Haddad, President of Christians for Biblical Equality
Offering Title: A Feminist Critique of Christian Faith and the Historical Similarities to the Abolitionists Critique of Christian Faith
Over one century ago, Christian abolitionists sought to free the slaves and in doing so they leveled a valid critique of the theological support for slavery from the Church. Just as the abolitionists offered a thoughtful and biblical critique of proslavery Christian rhetoric, one of the greatest challenges to the Church today is the critique coming from radical and Christian feminists alike. This offering is a dialogue, in my home, where we explore the similarities between the abolitionist and feminist critique of Christian faith.
Host name: Jenell Williams Paris
Offering title: Homosexuality and emergent churches
Many denominations and individual congregations are in active conflict over the issue of homosexuality. How might we create fresh ways to move beyond the liberal – conservative impasse?
I will present themes and questions from queer theory that perhaps could inform Christian theology and church practice. Our session will mostly involve group discussion based on our local contexts and experiences, focused toward ways we can make a better future regarding sexuality, sexual orientation, and homosexuality in our faith communities.
I expect that participants will be of diverse theologies and practices regarding sexuality. I will encourage an ethos of hospitality in which all voices are welcomed and respected. The most important outcome of the session will be to cultivate friendships and a relational web of people in emerging churches who care about theology and practice regarding sexual identity.
I am a member of Solomon’s Porch. I am also an associate professor of anthropology at Bethel University in St. Paul, MN. Sex and gender is one of my research and writing interests.
Host Name: Mark Scandrette
Offering Title: EXPLORING AND INHABITING THE MESSAGE OF JESUS
It is often said that each generation must creatively engage with the gospel to discover why the gospel of Jesus is good news for our time. Many of us are asking, “What is the message of Jesus and how might we integrate the message into our lives in the here and now? As a trickster and provocateur, Jesus announced the availability of a new kind of life by declaring “The Time has Come. The Kingdom of God is at hand.” And he called for a visceral existential response: “Repent and Believe the Good News.” (Mark 1:15) If we are being invited into collaboration with God in the restoration of creation, which of our cultural assumptions and habits need subverted and dismantled to inhabit “The way?” How can we be awakened in our imaginations and animated in our bodies to live as seekers of God’s kingdom?
This workshop will explore the message of Jesus and the task of connecting the goodnews of the kingdom to the details of our lives in the present by:
EMBRACING OUR LIVES AND OUR TIMES AS A GIFT AND SACRED TRUST
PURSUING THE RESTORATION OF CREATION
SURRENDERING TO IMAGINE A NEW WAY OF LIFE.
ACTING WITH INTENTION TO PURSUE LIFE UNDER THE RULE AND REIGN OF GOD
Hosts Names: Christopher Baker and Luke Hillestad
Offering Title: Art in Christian Community
Christopher is currently pursuing a graduate degree in interactive arts at the University of Minnesota. His research and artistic explorations reside at the intersection of media arts, technology and community. Luke is a freelance painter and an Art Director for Solomon's Porch. He is currently finishing a degree in Visual Art and Music Composition at the U of Mn.
Offering Description: Our discussions will examine the contemporary and historical roles of art in christian community. We will discuss the process of artistic creation, community collaboration and strategies for forming meaningful relationships with artists outside of the local church community. We will discuss the artistic expressions present in the Solomon's Porch community, review relevant secular artistic currents and invite participants to share their own ideas and community practices. On Thursday evening after the discussion we invite your to join us for dinner and a free trip to the www.walkerart.org
From Tony Jones, National Coordinator, Emergent-U.S.
Yes, we have been inundated with requests for our statement of faith in Emergent, but some of us had an inclination that to formulate something would take us down a road that we don't want to trod. So, imagine our joy when a leading theologian joined our ranks and said that such a statement would be disastrous. That's what happened when we started talking to LeRon Shults, late of Bethel Seminary and now heading off to a university post in Norway. LeRon is the author of many books, all of which you should read, and now the author a piece to guide us regarding statements of faith and doctrine. Read on...
From LeRon Shults:
The coordinators of Emergent have often been asked (usually by their critics) to proffer a doctrinal statement that lays out clearly what they believe. I am merely a participant in the conversation who delights in the ongoing reformation that occurs as we bring the Gospel into engagement with culture in ever new ways. But I have been asked to respond to this ongoing demand for clarity and closure. I believe there are several reasons why Emergent should not have a "statement of faith" to which its members are asked (or required) to subscribe. Such a move would be unnecessary, inappropriate and disastrous.
Why is such a move unnecessary? Jesus did not have a "statement of faith." He called others into faithful relation to God through life in the Spirit. As with the prophets of the Hebrew Bible, he was not concerned primarily with whether individuals gave cognitive assent to abstract propositions but with calling persons into trustworthy community through embodied and concrete acts of faithfulness. The writers of the New Testament were not obsessed with finding a final set of propositions the assent to which marks off true believers. Paul, Luke and John all talked much more about the mission to which we should commit ourselves than they did about the propositions to which we should assent. The very idea of a "statement of faith" is mired in modernist assumptions and driven by modernist anxieties – and this brings us to the next point.
Such a move would be inappropriate. Various communities throughout church history have often developed new creeds and confessions in order to express the Gospel in their cultural context, but the early modern use of linguistic formulations as "statements" that allegedly capture the truth about God with certainty for all cultures and contexts is deeply problematic for at least two reasons. First, such an approach presupposes a (Platonic or Cartesian) representationalist view of language, which has been undermined in late modernity by a variety of disciplines across the social and physical sciences (e.g., sociolinguistics and paleo-biology). Why would Emergent want to force the new wine of the Spirit’s powerful transformation of communities into old modernist wineskins? Second, and more importantly from a theological perspective, this fixation with propositions can easily lead to the attempt to use the finite tool of language on an absolute Presence that transcends and embraces all finite reality. Languages are culturally constructed symbol systems that enable humans to communicate by designating one finite reality in distinction from another. The truly infinite God of Christian faith is beyond all our linguistic grasping, as all the great theologians from Irenaeus to Calvin have insisted, and so the struggle to capture God in our finite propositional structures is nothing short of linguistic idolatry.
Why would it be disastrous? Emergent aims to facilitate a conversation among persons committed to living out faithfully the call to participate in the reconciling mission of the biblical God. Whether it appears in the by-laws of a congregation or in the catalog of an educational institution, a "statement of faith" tends to stop conversation. Such statements can also easily become tools for manipulating or excluding people from the community. Too often they create an environment in which real conversation is avoided out of fear that critical reflection on one or more of the sacred propositions will lead to excommunication from the community. Emergent seeks to provide a milieu in which others are welcomed to join in the pursuit of life "in" the One who is true (1 John 5:20). Giving into the pressure to petrify the conversation in a "statement" would make Emergent easier to control; its critics could dissect it and then place it in a theological museum alongside other dead conceptual specimens the curators find opprobrious. But living, moving things do not belong in museums. Whatever else Emergent may be, it is a movement committed to encouraging the lively pursuit of God and to inviting others into a delightfully terrifying conversation along the way.
This does not mean, as some critics will assume, that Emergent does not care about belief or that there is no role at all for propositions. Any good conversation includes propositions, but they should serve the process of inquiry rather than shut it down. Emergent is dynamic rather than static, which means that its ongoing intentionality is (and may it ever be) shaped less by an anxiety about finalizing state-ments than it is by an eager attention to the dynamism of the Spirit’s disturbing and comforting presence, which is always reforming us by calling us into an ever-intensifying participation in the Son’s welcoming of others into the faithful embrace of God.
[UPDATE: LeRon's thoughts have already provoked some great discussion. Look here for some thoughts from Jamie Smith.]
Posted on May 04, 2006 at 07:35 AM | Permalink