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The Perfect Storm
April 09, 2008
Today was a perfect storm. I spent Monday and Tuesday in Grand Rapids to meet with a client out there and got home yesterday evening. I came home to find Michaela (who is a month away from turning two…can you believe that?) just starting to show some signs of illness. Sure enough she spent the night doing her utmost to keep the rest of us awake while dealing with the inevitable consequences of some kind of stomach virus. This is, by my records, the 437th time a member of the Challies family has been sick this winter/spring. We can’t figure out why this is!
Anyways, I had great plans for writing book reviews today, and perhaps posting an article entitled “Don’t Let the Redneck Choose the Restaurant” (based on experience gained in Grand Rapids) but those plans have gone by the by. I’ve long since learned not to try to write anything profound (or humorous) while existing on far to little sleep. Michaela’s sickness combined with my trip left me unable to do any good writing. I did manage to update Discerning Reader and you may like to catch up on reviews over there. We’ve also got the scoop there on a long list of forthcoming titles by your favorite authors (check September, for example, to see what the next books will be from Mark Driscoll, John Piper and C.J. Mahaney). So check out DR and see what’s happened there since you last visited.
I’ll leave you with a couple more quotes from David Well’s forthcoming The Courage to be Protestant. In the book he focuses a lot of attention on two segments of the church: the emergents and the church growth advocates. Here are a couple of snippets where he discusses emergents. Next time I’ll share some of his thoughts on the church growth movement.
Emergents—at least those who read theology—seem to have stumbled on the postliberals, and this is what is now driving this new understanding of the function of Scripture. They have taken up this fad as if it were the most current, cutting-edge expression in contemporary thought, though in the academic world it has already disappeared.
Plain language and clear communication are not in vogue in postmodern circles. They reveal the speaker as being too much of a realist, too obviously rational, too modern, too unchic. No, we can’t have that! The required alternative speech is subtle parody, contradiction, being indeterminate, being ironic, being playful. This, however, is not as easy to do as it seems and many postmoderns, lacking the skills, settle simply for being obscure.
There are tricks to this. A plain speaker might write of someone else’s “view.” A “view”? How flat-footed and prosaic! How about that person’s “voice” or, better yet, their different “vocality”? And prefixes are a treasure trove for those in search of depths beyond the grasp of the reader, prefixes such as pre-, hyper-, post-, de-, ex-, and counter- - as in words like de-confusing and re-constructing. These all open up new possibilities as do a new constellation of suffixes to go with them. We today, you see, are living in a moment when the multivocalities of post-colonial others are entering our intra/post/spacialities and are exposing the anti-sociality concealed in the hegemony of our discourse and sensibilities.
Listen to the emergent church and this kind of empty obfuscation is what we hear all too often, though usually without this kind of veneer of intellectual sophistication. In its place (and usually on the internet), we hear the confidence of those who have a sense of being on the edge of What-is-Happening-Now but who, for that very reason, are diffident, unsure, tentative and, more often than not, simply confused.
I guess you’d have to agree that Wells cannot be accused of using obfuscating language of his own. He says it as clearly as you could hope.