Thursday, March 02, 2006

CofC tag

We used to play tag out on the front lawn & steps of North Boulevard Church of Christ when I was a girl. It was the best part of church. This grown-up tag is a little less fun and not so cardiovascular, but it's good exercise anyway. Thanks, Chad.

Three reasons you stay in Churches of Christ:
1. It's "home." Beyond social networks, the comfortable feeling of being known, the family roots that stretch back, the missionary grandparents and the preacher dad, it's the church which nurtured me from Cradle Roll up. I owe a debt of gratitude to the women and men who taught me in the faith, and who have played their own parts in landing me where I am now. (Which I think is a good place...)
2. I like to think I have something to contribute.
3. There's nowhere else, yet, that I would rather be, when it comes right down to it.

You may notice these are all personal reasons, rather than doctrinal or theological. That's how it is.

Three reasons you would leave Churches of Christ:
1. If I should become so unwelcome that every word I speak/write is counterproductive, I would consider it a sign that my usefulness is all used up. Since I can't imagine (now) being a part of a church without expressing and discussing my theological convictions, it would be inevitable that I would end up elsewhere.
2. If I found myself in a situation where my husband or child was not accepted as fully belonging to God's people, I would go.
3. If it became--in some way I can't quite imagine--clear that there was necessary and astonishingly good work to be done elsewhere that I was uniquely fitted to do, I would go do it.

Three professors and/or courses who have influenced your thinking:
1. At Harding: Tom Eddins, John Fortner, and Pat Garner. I hope this humble mention doesn't get them all fired.
2. At ACU: Fred Aquino, Jeff Childers...really, who am I going to leave out here? Every single prof I ever took a class with, and even those I didn't.
3. AT PTS: my advisor, Wentzel van Huyssteen; Mark Taylor; Ellen Charry.

Three academic books which have shaped your thinking:
I find it difficult to define my own "personal canon," so to speak. So I'm going to just toss out some titles. Limiting this to three at this point in my academic endeavors makes this completely impossible, or nearly completely arbitrary. So I'm going with the latter.
1. Daniel Migliore, Faith Seeking Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Theology. This was my first taste of systematic theology; I found it addictive...
2. John Zizioulas, Being as Communion
3. Gustavo Gutierrez, A Theology of Liberation

Three CofC/Stone-Campbell books which have shaped your thinking:
1. Richard Hughes, Reviving the Ancient Faith and Myths America Lives By
2. Leonard Allen, Distant Voices
3. Jeff Childers, Doug Foster & Jack Reese, Crux of the Matter

Three hopes you have for the future of Churches of Christ:
1. That our daughters will be able to take for granted the freedom to serve Christ in any way they experience a call to.
2. That we will find a way to search scripture for guidance, wisdom, and truth without the assumption that getting it right means all others have gotten it wrong, and that this somehow is a "salvation issue." In fact, I hope the phrase "salvation issue" becomes so archaic among us that my kids won't even understand what it means.
3. That we will resist the temptation to withdraw into ourselves as a denomination, ignoring both the wider Christian church and the world we are called to serve.

Three fears you have for Churches of Christ:
That we continue to think in binary terms:
1. Regarding faith and politics: that our only options are nationalism or complete withdrawal.
2. Regarding worship: that our only options are "traditional" and "contemporary." (Liturgy, people! Liturgy!)
3. Regarding doctrine generally. How did we ever convince ourselves in the first place that anything Jesus said or Paul wrote is that simple? Read the parables!

Three challenges we will face in Churches of Christ in our generation:
Learning to read the Bible with an integrity that takes into account the testimony of human experience :
1. on the issues of gender & sexuality,
2. on the relationship of theology & science,
3. and in interfaith dialogue.

Three bloggers you tag:
1. Brent
2. em*
3. MOM

explanation: Maybe I broke the rules and tagged some innocent bystanders. But 1) it's high time Brent updated his blog, so take a hint, babe!!! and 2) I think the perspective of those who have "left" about why they stayed as long as they did, why they left, what our challenges are, etc., is just as valuable as that of those who stay. (For instance, these posts on Scribere Orare Est, or these on Hermit's Rock ). Part of our problem, as Chad's tag post points out, is that we do not engage in conversation with anyone but ourselves. So let those who are of us, but no longer a part of us (to parody John, heh heh) speak to us about something which they may, perhaps, have wrestled with much more deeply and intimately than we have yet ourselves. There is wisdom to be shared here. And then there are those who are still frankly searching for a place to be, who may identify as being "from" Churches of Christ in the sense of possessing that heritage, but not fully identifying with it. Also, there's a sort of liminal space which can be created and inhabited in which, perhaps, one may self-identify as CofC but would not necessarily be validated in that identification by some churches, perhaps even "mainstream" churches, in the CofC. I originally went to the mission field in search of something like that sort of interstitial existence, hoping to find the space to do ministry. (I didn't find it, but that may not always be the case for people.) And there's the liminal space of the community church, in which people may self-identify as being from one tradition or another and yet find their spiritual community in a church which does not. I think these perspectives are valuable, perhaps especially valuable, as they represent a desire to stay such that a third option between leaving and staying is carved out by sheer determination not to give up too fast. Perhaps one might also think of academia as such a liminal space for some...


JTB said...

Something Brent and I discussed was the poverty of the notion of self-identifying as the criterion for "belonging" to a church community. I just want to say upfront that I'm aware that this is a pretty sucky way to think about it, all by itself. But given that our institutional "structure" is such that congregations "belong" or "don't belong" on the basis of self-identification, it's inevitable that this is mirrored to some extent on an individual level. In some respects, one is Church of Christ for as long as one is willing to say one is. What that actually means or how meaningful it is is up for debate.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting a game of tag like this is going around. I've found it interesting that folks from the coC are constantly aware of their standing within the coC. It's something I, not coming from this tradition, don't relate to. Coincidentally, I did ask my husband (who is from this background) to do a blog about this. He entitled it "CoC-PTSD." If interested, you can find it here

TKP said...

Your mom is Jocelyn Wiebe? I never knew...

JTB said...

Oops. Pregnesia! Thanks.

jocelyn said...

I wish I was JTB's mom!

I recently found your blog and have enjoyed reading what you have to say. Thanks for being candid on so many important issues.


Jared Cramer said...

Good stuff, I'd especially (and obviously) echo that liturgy is the third option most churches have yet to consider.

As I'm sure you've experienced with your husband, leaving your roots is something that is painful, but also something that never really happens. I don't know Brent at all, but many of those I've talked to have expressed the fact that they left because of devotion to their roots, not rejection. So, I appreciate your reasons for staying as well.

Anonymous said...

yes, good thoughts. i hate that i don't have the time to "discuss" these with you...but i've got a conference presentation on a mexican nun for which i must get ready.

if the post is still around in 2 weeks, i'll be back as a post-lapsarian CoCer. :)

hermit greg said...

Don't let Jeremy fool you. He's always working on a presentation on a Mexican nun.

JTB said...

Sor Juana? Or some other Mexican nun? I mean, I'm sure there are several conference-worthy Mexican nuns out there, but Sor Juana is the only one I know about.

Jocelyn--I originally wanted to "tag" you, even though I've only met you once, just because I'd be interested in your response. So if you have the inclination, consider yourself tagged!

Thanks for the link r-liz!

Jared--I really appreciated the posts I linked to, especially the candor about simply wanting to find a place to be without a bunch of fanfare. And you're right to point out that "leaving" is not an absolute break with the past, but more like am alternative sort of continuity with the past.

Anonymous said...

yes, indeed, sor juana inés de la cruz and the political undertones of her sacramental dramas

JTB said...

Would you be willing to forgo "hermit" status for a friend of mine working on a Sor Juana dissertation? I don't know her exact thesis and this is a fairly recent switch in topic for her, so she may not either... But it might be helpful for her to forge a connection with a Sor Juana scholar.

Chad said...

JTB, thanks for playing!

Anonymous said...

I would just like to say that I am a fan of the... um... total of one member of the Church of Christ with whom I am friends (not by choice to avoid others, merely lack of exposure) and here's why. I am a hard-core Lutheran and what this speaker of the Rude Truth deals with is so far outside of my experience and battles that it's actually fun for me to hear about it. Learning all the ins and outs of the CofC world is sort of like a pleasant hobby. It's my field without the stress of having to take sides. I know that those of you who are in the middle of it and have to take sides don't have as much fun with it, but you can always unload on me, and I'll be happily impervious and luridly fascinated.

Now isn't that one heck of a backhanded compliment?!?!