Friday, July 20, 2007


I have been spending a lot of time doing housework, which is a thing I actually enjoy when I have time to do it. After three years of graduate school, there's a lot of housework to do. I am feeling particularly ruthless, which is exactly the right frame of mind for housecleaning, as it leads me to toss things for which I really have no use at all. Am happily scrubbing baseboards, vacuuming cobwebs, etc., etc. It is a good anchor, that and reading prayer twice per day.

Have been visiting an ECC congregation the last couple of weeks, and enjoying the people and their sense of commitment. Hung out with the Sarcastic Lutheran before service last week and with ECC folks afterward for lively discussions about church, roles, theology, what ordination means, and the like. These discussions are timely as emerging churches and emerging denominations are considering how to understand the role of pastor/spiritual leader. ECC is ordaining women, and also having to decide what constitutes an ordination call and process, and emerging churches, it seems from what little I know, are thinking deeply about what it means to be a leader--not an "authority figure" from on high who tells people what to think and do and believe, as the role of pastor has been cast by some, but something else... the questions that arise from the desire for leaders to be more transparent and embedded in community are important questions.

ECC I think faces some theological challenges, because it posits itself as "Catholic" without being rigorous as to its sources of authority--it is now focused on formation as a denomination and on openness. I think the healthiest thing ECC can do in this stage of its development is to build a set of values that allows for open, even heated, discussion of difference. Theological knottiness is down the road sooner or later for them, because what it means to be "Catholic" is not simple or straightforward for those who join. For some, it means remaining identical to the positions of Rome except for certain ones that are troublesome; for some, it means remaining identical to the ritual and rubric of Rome but with greater openness as far as membership and ordination; etc., etc. Eventually this will need sorted out, because "Catholic" is so multivalent that there will be definitions that are mutually incompatible, that will have to be discussed. A climate that can handle discussion in a healthy way will be their best tool to take forward IMHO. And trying to find positive distinctives, rather than defining themselves solely over against Rome.

Back to cleaning now.


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