yes, some still call it an emerging conversation (synchroblog)
December 9, 2009
Nic Paton invited a number of us for a day of conversation about the emerging church in South Africa. In spite of everyone who’s been slowly but surely shying away from the term “emerging”, this group of people embrace it, but are giving a South African swing to the conversation.
I was introduced to the term “emerging” by Tony Jones more than three years ago. And started my first blog within a few days from that point, called emergingsa. Two days after I started the blog, on 23 August 2006, I wrote the following post, which I quote again today. I think I can summarize much of the weekends conversation by saying that we are starting to move into a direction where I can say that I am part of a journey that is taking up the challenges that I thought was crucial way back when i first joined:
I have been thinking about this a lot in the last few years – The multi-racial South Africa.
The Dining Hall has been an area of quite interesting conversations in the past 4 years. And the last 2 hours got me thinking again. One of my friends started talking about some of his experiences in black communities, and especially with regard to faith issues. While listening to the stories he told me, I just realisedagain, there are other stories completely different from ours.
What is the conversation in South Africa really about? The emerging western church? Can we talk about an emerging church in South Africa along the same lines Europe and America are talking about the Emerging Church? I’m not sure that I can envision an emerging South African church that is not multi-racial? But will we be willing to have a dream of a multi-racial church in South Africa that doesn’t stick to Western ideas only?
Maybe part of postmodernism in South Africa will be to also listen to the worldviews of the rainbow of different cultures in our country. And this while I’m struggling just to understand other Afrikaans South Africans sometimes.
When Roger Saner started Emerging Africa he made the sub-title: “a safe place to talk about theology“. We talked about a safe place a lot. Although our conversations might not fit the typical academic theological setting, or church setting, the conversation is thoroughly theological. And a certain historical, critical and postmodern blend of theological. The names that surfaced constantly was among others: Brian McLaren, Karen Armstong, John Caputo, Peter Rollins. All of these is recognized as more radical theological voices, not all emerging. Those of us in the conversation need a safe place to talk about theology, to experience theology, to experiment with theology, to create theology, and to figure out how this can impact the world.
Yes, we still use emerging. But the conversations we have is being held under many different banners. Everywhere I go I hear more and more voices asking similar questions. This is a paradigm shift. We still talk about emerging, when we say this word, we know that we share certain values, although it might still be very vague. But more than that, we share a friendship, we share times of drumming, of eating together. We share a passion to see a society, a country, changed for the better. And we share the fact that we need a safe space, and are willing to create a safe space where anyone who want to ask questions and search for answers, are welcome.
This is part of a Synchroblog on reactions to the conversations we had. Others who took part:
Nic Paton wrote a summary of the weekend, and especially Saterday’s, conversation.