Thursday, January 24, 2013

EC13 - What does Pikachu have to do with Emergence?

Looking over the schedule for EC13 I encountered a term I've seen a couple of times before but never really knew what it meant or for that matter how to pronounce it. It was called Pecha Kucha and, being southern, in my mouth that sounds a whole lot like Pikachu. So the Pikachu presentations they became.

I had a horrific headache by the afternoon of day one, I hadn't slept well the night before, pre-conference excitement, and so when the first set of Pecha Kucha presentations began, I was dozing in the lobby and missed many of them. I woke when I heard my friend Jay Bakker's voice as he started to give his and moved quickly into the cathedral to support him as he spoke and see what he had to say. I can't capture it any better than this blogger did but I will say that the tight format of 20 slides, 20 seconds each worked beautifully. We are hoping to explore this method in the Mississippi River Outlaw Preachers group soon. Anyway, I was awake to hear Jay, Doug and one more which I have now blanked and then to see several of the presentations the second day. I'm hopeful that they will somehow be collected and share either via youTube or somewhere.

In a lot of ways I think the Pecha Kucha is an ideal medium for the message of emergence. We are, to some degree, a product of the digital age and either early adopters or natives of the digital world. Our attention spans aren't quite what they probably should be and if you don't grab our attention quickly you've lost us. 20 slides, 20 seconds each, total talk time 6 minutes and 40 seconds. Its a sermon for the twitterverse...not that that is a bad thing. The beauty of these little gems is that they do lend themselves so easily to our internet world. Also they require us to keep the main thing the main thing. If you only have 6 minutes and 40 seconds there isn't a lot of time for rabbit trails.

Distilling the messages of Emergence: Inclusion, Hospitality, Love, Compassion...into those not quite 7 minutes requires thoughtfulness and focus in order to be done well. Like the 140 character twitter limit requires conciseness of thought in order to communicate effectively. Is it surprising that these are the mediums we find carrying the message of Emergence out into the digital universe?

If nothing else, Emergence Christianity has a higher than usual number of creatives and geeks among its ranks and these Pecha Kucha things appeal to both sets. I got more of a boots on the ground vision of what was going on in the Emergence world through the "Pikachu" presentations than probably anything else the weekend of EC13. The focused passion of the presenters stood out to me. I think we might need to see more of that kind of thing in the future.

Monday, January 21, 2013

EC13 - Beginning to Process

It's been ten days since EC13 and I think I am ready to begin unpacking the event. Having spent much of that time in bed recovering from gastroenteritis I haven't been able to do much other than think about it and read what others were saying about it and marvel yet again how when you put four people together in a room you'll get at least four different versions of what took place in that room. Now multiply those people by 100 and imagine the variations of experience that took place at EC13.

I worked behind the scenes. Sometimes that vantage point is a bit like being behind the curtain with the "great and powerful OZ" and seeing that the wizard isn't all he's cracked up to be. Heck, most of the time that's what the behind the scenes vantage point is to be honest. None of us, not even the wise and wonderful Phyllis Tickle, are without our broken places and blind spots. It is part and parcel of being human. That said, I've been somewhat baffled by the brouhaha regarding the final session. I think many of us are in danger of hearing through our own baggage and perhaps over-reacting to what we think we heard.

Yes, Phyllis did say that birth control radically changed our society in a way that was detrimental to the sola scriptura role of women as the keepers at home. Can we honestly deny that? We know that at some visceral level or we wouldn't be so outraged at the rhetoric coming out of the Tea Party and their ilk as they try with all their might to undo the progress we have made as women by usurping control of our reproductive rights. Whether you liked what she had to say or not it is truth that the advent of legal birth control and later of legal abortion brought about historical change in our society so significant that we are still fighting in 2013 to keep it.

Perhaps if Phyllis had left it at that, if she hadn't tied it into the raising of children and the transmission of the faith, we wouldn't be having this conversation. Something I have noticed though is that a lot of us are ok with women having the right to do whatever we long as what we want doesn't include being a full-time wife and mother. What the Bible called a keeper-at-home. Somehow when that role is the one that is chosen it is seen as colluding with the enemy. For Phyllis to hold up that role as one that perhaps we threw out prematurely in this 500 year rummage sale was tantamount in many circles to raising a red flag in front of a bull.

I am a woman who has chosen the role of keeper-at-home, at least for this season of my life, and I never cease to be amazed at those who say that by doing so I am "wasting my degree", among the kinder of the accusations I have had leveled at me in the last decade and a half when I left the career world to come home and raise and homeschool my daughter. I've had to develop a really thick skin over the past 15 years just to be true to who I am supposed to be at this season in my life. For ME what Phyllis had to say was life-affirming. In a world culture that tells me daily that I am wasting my talents, indeed robbing the world of something it seems to believe it is owed from me, hearing that there is still value in the work of keeping a home and transmitting the faith to one's family was water in a desert place.

So perhaps that part of Phyllis's message was not for the greater Emergent conversation. Perhaps that part was for me and for other women like me that were present in the cathedral that day. Perhaps not. I only know how I received it. That does not make what anyone else received from it wrong. Let us continue to converse and consider this issue with grace for one another, grace for Phyllis who was very ill and grace for this thing we call Emergence that is really still in its infancy and will continue to suffer growing pains as it finds is identity apart from those who have "parented" it thus far. Emergence isn't Phyllis...or Brian, or Jay, or Nadia, or Doug, or is both bigger and smaller than the individuals who have been identified as its leaders thus far and while it figures out what that is lets be patient and gentle with each other. If a message doesn't speak to your reality feel free to let it pass, someone else, a desert rose perhaps, may need it more than you know.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Un-Con Blog - Year 5 Begins: Where do we go from here

When I began this blog 5 years ago I'm not sure I had a direction in mind. I wanted it to be organic. I still do. I just think that like an organic garden needs constant attention not to revert to a field of weeds this blog is going to benefit from some more regular attention. So it is my intent to blog here weekly this year and see what happens.

Early in the history of this blog I wrote in a post titled  "I Have Found My Tribe" about a group of folks called the Outlaw the time I barely knew any of them other than my friend Connie...since that December gathering in 2010 they have become my family. We gather weekly for a community meal, we've had other gatherings of our own and partnered in gatherings with others (the most recent being the Emergence Christianity Conference this past weekend in Memphis which I will be blogging about in another post very soon) and we've bonded to one another as we've shared joys and sorrows together. We've celebrated births and mourned deaths. What I quoted in 2010 has become even more true, we are "a family bound by having walked through hell together and being willing to continue to walk through hell together." 

Consider this my disclaimer though...the views here are not necessarily the views of the Outlaw Preachers (I don't think there is such thing as an official OP point of view actually) as a group. They remain, as always, my own contemplations and ramblings, just hopefully on a more regular and intentional schedule.