Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A radical party

On pp. 82-83 of Frost and Hirsch's book ReJesus they talk about the meaning of the word "radical" and how it ought to apply to Christianity (in the chapter 'ReJesus for the Church and the Organization'). They write:
While many people use the term "radical" to mean a departure from the traditional, it refers to a return to the root cause of a thing. Webster defines "radical" as 'of or pertaining to the root or origin; reaching to the center, to the foundation, to the ultimate sources, to the principles, or the like; original; fundamental; thorough-going; unsparing; extreme; as in, 'radical evils': 'radical reform'; 'a radical party.'"

I like that... "a radical party." I think that's what Jesus' people ought to be about.

They go on to discuss a 'radical traditionalism'... good stuff. On 83 they say...
But we can also learn from educational psychology in this matter. Jean Piaget, the great education psychologist, conducted much of his early research on the streets of Geneva, interviewing children and observing how they played structured games together. He noted that very small children unquestioningly played games according to the inherited rules. They slavishly obeyed the traditional rules of, say marbles, because their older siblings or their parents had taught them how to play that way. Piaget then noted that at a certain stage in the development of the child he or she wanted to throw these rules away. A rule-less game of marbles on the streets of Geneva last century was exactly as you'd expect it to be - chaos! Later in childhood, these same children, fed up with chaotic games that were always won by bullies or the most crafty, rediscovered the original rules of the game. Piaget noted how much more powerfully these rules worked in the lives of the older children. They were the same rules they were taught as tiny children. But the difference now was that they had discovered these rules as an antidote to disorder. They felt these rules were THEIR rules...

What we are advocating is a radical traditionalism. The church needs to follow the same path as the children did with their games of marbles. ReJesus, the refounding of the church, means departing from a blind, slavish allegiance to religious rules inherited from our parents and forebears. It means walking into the turmoil of chaos and daring to trust that at the end of the path will be not bedlam but a rediscovery of the way of Jesus, a rediscovery of the original rules that we can own for ourselves with greater conviction and authenticity. Jesus, as our founder, is our guide on this path. His words and his example are the constants as we leave our old traditions and look to bring the church and the gospel into new contexts of traditional radicalism.

Oh, man... this, to me, is what I liked about the 'emerging church' stuff when it was in its hayday. Good, good stuff. Jesus Radicals.