Monday, June 14, 2010

Shifting Gears

I can always remember living in two worlds. One was in my head and the other was in the world. The outlet of one was exploration and adventure in my sprawling farmyard growing up and the other was careful and cautious navigation of relational expectations. As I grew older and became drawn to more abstract theory I felt the conviction that such pursuit (adventure as I saw it) was useless and so for much of my adult life I lived in contexts where I felt forced to make decisions in in relation to my thinking where other environments would not have made such demands (I am thinking here of the social conditions of some urban centres where one is faced directly with larger societal choices). In time, for work, I have moved away from such contexts. In this most recent process I have responded to any internal/external convictions about theory with the notion that I am embodied theory, there is no distinction between theory and practice. Theory is a practice. I still believe this but I am coming to realize that I may not be currently theorizing well.

I am experiencing a greater disconnect between my theoretical and theological pursuits and my professional role. I wonder why I have not written and reflected more directly on my actual professional roles? Why I have sought to maintain a certain divide in this area? I would like to write more about my profession as a pastor but I do not. I have an uneasiness. I have not integrated my intellectual world and my professional world. This can be noted in the maintenance of my online handle (IndieFaith) and the recent relatively consistent addition of dcl_driedger. I am uneasy that people who know me directly in my professional life will begin to get to know me in my intellectual life (which is somewhat represented in this space). What is the uneasiness? At one point I simply felt it was too difficult, too many bridges to build in order to communicate what I was reading with what I was doing . . . but that is laziness. I have also felt that I would be dismissed and criticized for producing work that was neither of a very high academic caliber nor of a very relevant or accessible form. In some ways I felt that an interested 'lay' response was the most the devastating critique. This is stupid . . . Yes, yes it is.
The situation is not quite as difficult in preaching. The translation is performed more easily in preaching where I can draw allusions and illustrations from various sources that have inspired or illuminated my thinking without actually needing to outline and clarify all the nuances of the person being cited. However, what I am thinking of is the class of youth exploring baptism. Our church's muddled concept of communion. My own dissatisfaction with the practice of pastoral care. The need to navigate and understand church systems and politics. The church's desire to be a blessing in the world. Christian identity as such.
In many of these expressions I find myself grasping for resources I do not have readily at hand. I still believe that I am informed by my intellectual pursuits but I am afraid that what ends up happening is an implicit appeal to older 'theories' of church because I cannot theorize 'on my feet' in some specific contexts. This results in a professional expression that I am not pleased with and where I feel that I done justice neither to my intellect nor to my faith. And so I hope to remedy this perceived lack. Here are a few concrete expressions I hope to pursue in the near future.
1. Soren Kierkegaard's Works of Love as a source, critique and inspiration for pastoral care.
2. An exploration of communion in conversation with Yoder, Ward, Marion, Cavanaugh, and Pound.
3. The epistemological implications of the Body of Christ. What I am thinking here is modes of discourse. I have been challenged by recent conversations over at AUFS but have not been satisfied with the notion of acceptable discourse practices advocated there. I wonder if Paul's explication of the Body and the unity and diversity of spiritual gifts speaks to a more varied epistemology which embraces the critical discourse but also accepts equally other modes in manner that does not 'hedge' knowledge in self-legitimating ideology.
4. The ecclesiological implications of the book of Revelation. I just love Revelation right now and hope to post more on it. Perhaps this will be a more critical expository thread with engagement in the Greek text.
This may be ambitious but I wanted to lay it down for my own accountability. I need to be making a shift here and I hope these topics can provide me with a more nuanced and thoughtful approach to my professional role.


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