Thursday, November 30, 2006

Reflection for past week and a half (Tues. week 9 and Tues. week 10)

I wasn't in class on Tues. Nov. 28th because I wasn't feeling well, and I forgot to do my reflection for last Tuesday's class before Thanksgiving (go figure), so I probably won't be getting credit for those two posts, but whatever... I was reading other people's blogs and it seemed like on Tues. the lecture continued about postmodernity (second modernity as we have called it). An interesting thing that I came across was the fact that the mega church is the McDonalidized church. I had never thought about that before, even though I am familiar with both, but it all makes perfect sense now. The church influenced by modernity, obviously fell into the rational, bureaucratized way of doing things characteristic of modern thought. But is this the best way to do things? Is it the point to mass-save people to the point of dehumanizing relationships? Is McDonald's really the model that we want to follow in our churches? I think not... But how do we change? I guess that is the point of this class, and the point of trying to be the people of God in the "in-between."

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Thursday Reflection for Week 8

We discussed Lasn and Linthicum (again) in class on Thursday. In my group one thing that really struck me was that without God, all of this transformational stuff is utterly groundless. Where is hope without some sense that this reality is not all that there is? Hope is lost without God, and so it is sad to think that people like Lasn are striving for nothing, really. They are just blowing smoke in light of the bigger picture. Those like Lasn need to come into dialogue with people embodying kingdom principles in order to make their activism complete, and we could learn much from those like Adbusters. I wonder what it would be like to get Claiborne and Lasn together in the same room...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Tuesday Reflection for Week 8

Ryan said Tuesday, "The barriers of people coming to faith are sociological, rather than theological" (emphases added). That statement really hit me hard, because that means then that we are getting in the way of the Gospel. By insisting that church be done in a certain fashion, or trying to copy someone else's model of church in a totally different context we are missing the point. We are asking the wrong questions. I think that we are much too concerned with the forms rather than trying to embody the Gospel within a particular context: What does it mean to follow Christ in this culture? At least one thing that is hopeful is that we are much less secular than the UK, but if we do not make that shift from being missional as opposed to attractional, we are not that far behind. I hope it doesn't take 100 years like Van Engen said it would, but if somehow we can embody the Gospel in my college ministry in my stay there, then it will be all the more worth it...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Thursday Reflection for Week 7

I went the both Missology lectures on Thursday. I was especially moved by Susan Greener's presentation particularly because she brought up the point that Jesus had to come as a baby in order to redeem all of humanity, at every stage of development. This was especially enlightening for me because we focus so much on Jesus as a man, that we forget that he was also once a baby, and also once a child (with the exception of Christmas time). And it is this mentality that has been a part of the problem in the church when it comes to the mission of God amongst children at risk. We have marginalized children as secondary to the "main" mission of God, as the salvation of adult souls. As per Julie Gorman's eloquent exhortation, we belong to one another because of the cross, and it is this attitude that we should take in dealing with those within the church and those outside of the church, which includes all people--children of course included within that. And if we are to take seriously the Kingdom of God, we must have that understanding that, sure, society and its structures need to be transformed, but also we must be transformed in the process. Our sense of the mission of God needs to broaden if we are to fully realize what God has in store for the world, and how he wants to redeem every aspect of it. Not just adults. Not just children. Everyone and Everything...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Tuesday Reflection for Week 7

Can the gospel be imposed upon others? Well according to what was talked about on Tuesday, I would say that it can. In talking about evangelism and witness Ryan was saying that our witness is to live like Jesus in the world. Therefore he said that our goal is not to get as many people to Christ, but to join in what the Holy Spirit is doing and to see that the Kingdom of God can come anywhere and not just in the church. We are to live out the Kingdom of God. Wow... It seems so simple and yet some churches (none that I know of...) would scream out against this position. What's going on here? What are we trying to do as the church? Build up the Kingdom, or our own kingdoms?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Thursday Reflection for Week 6

Ryan was away, and we discussed Claiborne and Klein in class after a few more presentations. But immediately after those presentations we had an interesting discussion about salvation and how that played into Jesus' teachings about who is in or out. I think it was Wess that mentioned that if we are trying to whittle down the person as to whether they are saved or not we are really devaluing them. And I would agree. I think it is just another way for us to draw the lines between "us" and "them" which is not what Jesus did. In fact, he did just the opposite, including those within the people of God which those in power did not include. God, please save us from this modernist fallacy...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Book Review: Jeff Goodwin, and James M. Jasper, Eds. "The Social Movements Reader" (Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 2003)

The Authors/Editors
Jeff Goodwin is Associate Professor of Sociology at NYU. His other books include No Other Way Out (2001) and Passionate Politics (2001) (author and co-editor, respectively).

James M. Jasper’s books include The Art of Moral Protest (1997), and Restless Nation (2000) and The Animal Rights Crusade (1992) (co-author) (taken from back of book).

What It's About
The main purpose of this book is to contribute to the ongoing study of social movements: “collective, organized, sustained, and noninstitutional challenge[s] to authorities, powerholders, or cultural beliefs and practices” (3).

This book (or textbook, really) is a collection of essays put together to explore nine major questions concerning social movements that “scholars and activists have themselves asked” (7): How and when do social movements form? Who joins and supports them? Who stays in them and who drops out? What kinds of things do participants think, want, and feel? How are movements organized? What do they do? How are they affected by media and elites? How do they end? And what changes do they bring? (7).

So throughout the course of this volume, these essays explore not only the historical, economic, political, macro-level factors associated with social movements, but also the emotions, symbols, morals, and other micro-level factors which help to determine what they are. For instance, along side essays on the rise of the civil rights movement or the women’s movement are essays concerning the ideas and emotions behind those same movements (see Jasper’s essay, “The Emotions of Protest” for example). This book tries for a complete, or holistic view of social movements based upon contemporary trends in studying these movements, but without neglecting historical development. Also important to note is that this book deals solely with the major movements within the United States, so for information on movements in different countries one must look elsewhere.

Graduating with a degree in Sociology from USC, this reader did not conjure up good memories of classes in social theory. However, it was interesting to read once again just how important these movements have been, and are still, for the shaping of cultures and societies, at every level. But as with most sociological research the underlying spiritual dimensions of these movements fail to receive mention. For instance, in Blumberg’s essay “The Civil Rights Movement” not much is said about religion’s role within the rise of the movement except for the fact that churches helped to provide a place for African Americans to gather collectively (17). The fact that faith has been overlooked or dismissed when studying social movements has been my critique of sociological study for a while now. It has been my experience that a separate category—i.e. the “sociology of religion”—has been created to deal with religion and its effects on society, but I hardly think that faith can be divided out of the equation. Nevertheless I think that this book, in terms of the nine questions it asks of social movements can be helpful for our purposes: if we see Christianity as a social movement that has ultimately affected the ways in which we view the world, and our impact upon and within it.