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October 31, 2005



Great read, Special K...

Michael Kruse

I am not familiar enough with your work to know your perspective (though I am looking forward to learning more) but I want to come back at you on something. I am curious as to why Carver’s approach is Modernist? What I read you to say was that because it focuses on goals and outcomes that it is too corporate and too Modernist. What I think you may be describing is the J vs P dynamic of Meyers-Briggs. J’s want to bring things to a conclusion and bring order. P’s want to keep things more open ended and see what emerges. What I am reading (and very possibly reading into) is that having a drive for closure and order equates to being Modernist.

I am an INTJ, “Mastermind” (Also Enneagram 5, “Scientist”) I am by nature a strategist. Yet what I seem to read and sense in many Emergent circles is that because I tend toward strategy I am a modernist. (Even though the INTJ is the one most inclined to see reality as the pawn of ideas and seeing present cultural arrangements as arbitrary pragmatic structures.)

We are called to be a community but we are called into community for mission. Jesus has several statements about things like the tree that does not bear fruit will be thrown into the fire. We are to organically produce fruit. I have always loved Paul’s paradoxical statement in Philippians 2:12-13: “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Is it us doing the work or is it God? I think Paul’s answer would have been “Yes!”

Many who want to keep things open ended and undefined suggest that they want to wait on God to reveal to them what to do next. Dependency on God. I would suggest that one of the ways that God helps a body discern actions is by gifting some in the body with strategic understanding. God is giving direction but we have dismissed the messenger as a passé modernist (i.e., clarifies objectives, categorizes, etc.) It is like the old story of the guy on his roof in rising flood waters who is visited three times by rescuers. He rejects their assistance all three times saying he will trust in God. Finally, the waters take him and he drowns. When he gets to heaven, he asks God why he didn’t save him. God responds with “What do you mean? I sent you rescuers three times!”

I strongly agree that our church cultures are way over programmed and regimented. They are about control instead of empowerment. I believe that churches as we know them are contextual configurations that may no longer serve a purpose. I also think that Carver’s stuff can be taken to extremes. However, the basic philosophy of discerning mission and setting minimal boundaries accomplishes what Chesterton called, “Making room for good things to run wild.” I see this as anything but modernist. I think it strikes a healthy balance between focus and responsiveness.

Anyway, I hope I am not coming across negative. Just wanted to push back a little. I look forward to reading more.



Thanks for this Michael. Not negative at all!

Carver and modernism: was a quote from another commenter. Not sure I know enough about his work in depth to be able to state whether he is or not!

I think what you are saying is great actually. Nothing but balance between forces: no extreme is good, and you put that across well. I'm reminded of a quote by Eric Hoffer who said:

"When we invite people to do as they please, they usually imitate each other. A society which gives unlimited freedom to the individual, more often than not attains a disconcerting sameness. On the other hand, where communal discipline is strict but not ruthless... originality is likely to thrive."

Getting this balance right is one of the key tasks of leadership. And, going back to what I've covered in previous posts on this, what is key is that this task is a shared one.


Hmmm. Something about this thread makes me squirm. I guess I'd need a definition of communal discipline, but all this talk of personality types and roles feels a little corporate, even institutional. My immediate response is to tear it down. Wonder what personality type that makes me, LOL. I'm not well-versed in modernism vs. post-modernism, but I think there's a tendency to spend too much time defining and intellectualizing. I'd like to better understand the need for so much structure in communities.

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