Went to the co-op by my house today because I was in the area and wanted a few fresh things. While I was bagging I pulled out my copy of “An Emergent Manifesto” so it wouldn’t get wet from the water-y vegetables I was putting into my bag. The cashier asked me, “is that a good book?” I said that it was, but as the transaction was ending I didn’t get the chance to tell him it’s about a radical movement in Christianity.
I wonder what the conversation might’ve been like if I’d had more time to tell him what the book was about. I mean the word “manifesto” is certainly eye-catching. Suggests ideas that are a radical break from the norm. Christianity, however, tends to suggest the very opposite: conservative tradition, strict beliefs and a strong status quo. But in truth the two are not opposites, and if you ask me, Jesus and radicalism go very hand-in-hand.
Can a Christian use the term “manifesto” in earnest? I think we can. I think we should. I think those who might be inclined toward Christianity, but feel disgusted by the actions of the conservative right need to see there is a legitimate, orthodox and vital way to be involved. Also against the more “Liberal” who just love everyone and everything and just perpetuate shit-as-it-is. Those who have no interest or liking of the many churches/Church of Christianity ought to at least hear our side that is generous, tolerant, peaceful and when need arises radical. There are even anarchists in our pews.
I don’t know what may come or what to expect of living as a Christian among people who find it intolerable. I want to make it at least tolerable. I don’t want to “win souls.” God does that work. My best is to live as Christ-like as I can, flaws and all. I want others to see on TV the pundits who say “hurricanes are caused by homosexuals!” and think, “my Christian friend, ______, would never say such crazy bullshit.” Or in the words of St. Francis, “Preach the Gospel always, and when necessary use words.” My aspiration to never cut out, cast out, rally against, demean or persecute anyone, that’s my Gospel. That’s how Jesus lived.
I have a small handful of friends and family who are roughly my age and openly Christian. I have a large number who are bitterly against it. The latter is the fault of the Church. We haven’t been loud enough, or open enough, persistent enough, or caring enough. The Glory and Beauty of Christianity has been over-whelmed by the question of sexuality and questions of exclusion.
I don’t agree with all of what comes out of the Emerging Church, but that’s the beauty of it. No more factions, no more political sychophants or denominations (as necessary divisions) and no more useless hugging tradition. The eschatology of Christianity should forbid us from digging into traditions and nostalgia. God does not work in conservative ways; He constantly challenges us to new frontiers and deeper ways of living in the Word.