Reflection

Mochachino theology

Many times as I have observed our culture I have called some approaches to spirituality “cut-and-paste” religion, and indeed, that’s what it looks like.

Some pull a little Zen, a little evangelicalism, a little orthodoxy and top it off with a smidgen of yoga as though our spirituality can be approached like our specialized drinks at Starbucks. “Make it your drink” the new message boards at my favorite office suggest to the passerby(well, I don’t use the church office, and plus my “office” is one every other corner these days, so hey…), advertising how you can specialize your drink to your heart’s content.

At Starbucks recently, the lady in front of me ordered a tall latte with non-fat milk, espresso on the bottom (not upside down!) and regular foam. That requires the barista to steam two different kinds of milk to fill that order, and I daresay she probably hit every box on the side of the cup. A co-worker and I used to compete to see if we could order drinks that were specialized enough to get something written in all the boxes.

And this seems to be similar to the approach that people are taking in their religion. Anna, you might say, this isn’t new, why are you telling me this? Well, it struck me today, partly from a conversation with my brother and partly as further reflection on Brian McLaren’s seminar at the convention, that we’re doing the same thing as evangelicals only our “specialization” categories stay within the realm of what most call “Christian.”

We’ve got a nice bit of evangelicalism with dashes of orthodoxy, pieces of Catholicism, and topped off with a generous helping of postmodernity. Some churches might even be asking for “light” milk in their churches, with the regular foam on top so at first glance everything appears to be what is necessary but underneath, they’ve gone for the “lighter” approach to the gospel.

At Emergent Convention 2004 in San Diego, Brian McLaren was talking about the fragmentation of our culture regarding adherence to a religious belief. What I’m wondering is how much this fragmentation has affected our theology of church. Or do we really have a theology of church as we think about the emerging church? Do we know why we’re doing the things we’re doing or are we just doing them because they seemed “cool” or “trendy” or were the latest thing to come across the church.

Some have criticised the seeker-sensitive movement. How is the emerging church substantially different from the seeker-sensitive movement? Or is it the next “buzzword” to cross the face of evangelicalism? We’re reacting to a problem, but do we know what the problem is and what our reaction is founded on? Or are we just enjoying being able to do art projects while the service is going on? Someone help me out here…

Anna is God talking, beach walking, friend visiting, phone chatting, muscle exercising, theologizing, flower smelling, food cooking, coffee brewing, blog writing, any writing :-), book reading, wine tasting, director of the junior high ministry at a non-denominational church in Los Angeles.