Emergent is a friendship.
Last night, I felt all of the things I’ve always admired about emergent.
This whole conference has been about discovering a popular theology. It’s about undoing the divide between the ivory tower and the every person living in the glow of a screen. It’s about developing a conversation between the so-called elites and those who are virtually unknown and only known virtually. It’s about realizing that theology is embodied in local contexts. It’s about finding new ways to build relationships and to do theology in a digital age.
And last night, relationships were formed and deepened over cornhole, beer, and cigars. These people who I have so long and so often followed and respected on the internet made space for me in their circle. People asked with genuine concern who I was, what I was doing, and what I thought. It dawned on me that this emergent thing really is a conversation and a generative friendship. Its unfortunate that certain people at certain times become pigeonholed as celebrities or spokespersons. We’re stuck in a world where book deals, podcast appearances, and press in the blogosphere equates with legitimacy and power. And that world needs to be deconstructed. My friend Callid (who I am so glad I got to finally meet) said to me last night that podcasts need to feature people who aren’t writing books but are living out their theologies.
These are not celebrities or spokespersons. They certainly don’t speak for me, though I learn so much from what they say, believe, and live. These are my friends. And I hope to God that not only those who are “on the top” begin to look for those outside their spheres of influence, but that those “on the ground” would begin to see the value in their hearts, in their minds, and in their faiths.