Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Removing the High Places

Thank you for the anniversary wishes! We had a nice dinner at the new local Olive Garden. Sadly, they were out of tiramisu for the evening.
kristine, it's nice to meet you.
robby, you've got mail.
lovely, yes I was very, very young when we got married. :)

Today, I just want to share a few things that are encouraging and inspiring to me. One is a newer post I read recently. The other is an older post that still resonates with me.

Roy McClung, in his excellent post From Temples to Tents had this to say:

"How do we survive the transition from Temple to Tent, from the center to the margins? How do we become a people free from addiction to the Temple culture, out on the open range, a people comfortable with the insecurity of freedom?

Change will not come from the Temple priesthood, who have a vested interest in maintaining the life of the Temple.

We need leaders who will sacrifice their personal advancement to inspire the risk and sacrifice necessary to bring change. These are people unafraid to risk moving against the tide, who aren't tempted by the rewards offered by the Temple life. We need dreamers and visionaries who understand how dangerous a dream can be. We need people who are comfortable with the margins, with smallness, with ambiguity, and with obscurity."

And along the same lines, a post called A Towering Failure at Fluid Faith:

"With the reliability and permanence that only brick and mortar can provide, they construct a fortress against obscurity and marginalization. What they build practically shouts, “We’re important! We matter!” No one could ever deny their importance or declare them irrelevant. Their carefully designed structures would forever stand as a testimony to their values, their place, their contribution to the world.

In response God decides to scatter them. A God who defeats such ambitions. A God who tears down structures like these. A God who constantly declares that brick and mortar cannot bear the weight of bearing witness to the God of Creation; only flesh and blood can carry such a load.

So God would deconstruct all they had planned and raise up instead a diverse, uncertain, even confusing world of cascading voices and clashing cultures. A world in which God could call forth a unique people out of the obscurity and marginalization feared by those who build towering empires, who resist the scattering, who despise new languages."

In order to do this, we need to take an honest look at what it we we are protecting. What are the things we are invested in that may actually be hindering our ability to move freely? Where are our dependancies on the established structures?

Dependence on the institutional structure causes an instinctive self-preservation. This dependence is difficult to acknowledge. It is easily justified and difficult to see, but often we sense the nagging tyranny to preserve and protect ourselves.

Our addiction to the temple culture may include several things. For the professional minister of course there is the salary. Not that this is necessarily wrong, but all of us are vulnerable to threats to our livelihood. This influences a person's ability to respond freely. For others, the dependence may be in areas of power, influence, or social position.

Many of the people I have met in the emerging conversation are those, who for whatever reason, have become people with very little to lose. They have been freed of their attachments to the temple culture.


bobbie said...

freed from the temple culture - wow, that verbalizes exactly what we have been feeling since august.

i really like that mindset - we are heading to the tents, and will probably be tentmaking to support ourselves to we can create a third space community.

it's terrifying, but so very exciting.

thanks for this post - liam will find resonance within it's words too.

fr'nklin said...

Another gem...that's getting to be the norm for you;). I really needed to hear this...the timing was good. There are times when I look at the Temple and wonder why I chose NOT to be one of her High Priests. I know why, but I had so much to gain...but so much more to lose.

At times I wonder what is wrong with me. Why is it that no matter where I am...I always find a way to ask the "wrong" questions and find my way to the margins.

And so...here I go...away from the Temple...and to the tents...and yes, I'm afraid, but it's inevitable, and it's the path I have chosen.

I'm glad I'm getting to know others who are in the tents as well. Your post was "good news" to me today. Thank you.

Cindy said...

Grace, I enjoyed reading your thoughts. Since I've spent so much time thinking about how Israel lost her home/temple/land etc through disobedience, my first thought was how the move from temple to tents for Israel wasn't voluntary. They got to the tents because they were forced out of the temple. Maybe we can learn the lessons voluntarily without having to be forcibly removed by God. If so, then just maybe we have learned something from the past.

Roy said...


Thanks for the kind words about my article. I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one leaving the safety, security, and predictability of the Temple religion for the adventure, risk, and journey of the tent community!

grace said...

bobbie, fr'nklin, cindy, and roy,
Thanks for your comments.

I wish I could explain better why this article impacted me so.

Once in a while I come across something, that makes me want to shout, "yes, that's it!"

Yet before I've finished shouting, the question in my mind is, "but then what?"

see-through faith said...


fr'nklin said...

Merry Christmas. I just read your post to my wife...and she said, "that describes us". We've just returned from the Christmas Eve Service (1600 people in attendance...2 services)...and by twist of fate, I was put in charge of the service to which no one came. So, I sat there w/ me and my family...watching a video screen...and hearing your post echo in my mind.

I watched as someone stood where I once stood...on the video screen...the person they've hired to do what I turned down (succesor). I admit it was painful...but in the end, it was a joyful occasion. I sat on the margins...in the tents...w/ my family and rejoiced that Jesus was with us (all of us).

grace said...

Merry Christmas Fr'nklin,
Are you leaving your pastor position? You don't have to answer that here. My thoughts are with you and your wife.

To step away from a leadership position is very painful. If that is what you are doing, I feel for you. There is nothing that can prepare you for the void you will feel.

Even knowing it was the right thing to do, we were stunned with the emptiness we felt, the lack of purpose and identity and respect.

However, I also trust in your desire to follow God, whatever the cost. May He be near you wherever this journey takes you.

My thoughts and prayers are sincerely with you both.