Sitting in a room full of pastor/preacher types exposed again the necessity of variety. At a poignant moment in our conversations one astute observer reminded us all we were engaged in a hegemonic conversation. We were all white, relatively the same age – give or take a dozen years. With one exception we all hailed from the same denominational tribe. Even a casual observer would quickly deduce the potential narrowness of our conclusions.
Sure some could argue we came from different geographical locations, but when you all identify as “Southern Baptist” geography has little bearing on the discussion. Others would describe different experiences in education – some more, some less. We needed more voices. Not in number, but in ethnic and gender participation. Positionally we need more people to particapte. One of my friends finds categories of left and right helpful. Though I do not share the same perspective, I will agree these distinctions are real and press on to suggest we need to hear each other before pigeon-holing and dismissing. But, you noted I mentioned we are Southern Baptists.
With great erudition we eschew fadism but adopt them faster that the market rises and falls. We tend to lag others because many share an approved reading list – or at least approved publishers. The result is we must wait until the gatekeepers sense the critical mass of decline before granting permission to a preferred author to “baptize” the fad that is fading from the scene. We then trumpet the innovation as the way forward while the new trend to pay attention garners only a glance except by those of us who stand on the edge.
I could not help but think of these things while reading Scot McKnight’s post, “Bible Meastro.” Scripture may offer the unfolding story of God but it does so polyphonically. Poetry, narrative, history, apocalyptic, prophetic, Jew, Gentile, male, female. McKnight suggests a better way forward for American evangelicalism is to mirror such diversity by opening up the conversations beyond the normal hegemonic channels.
Another way to facilitate the potentiality for hearing the Gospel more is to read outside your normal cadre of authors. At our recent meeting we discussed keeping up with eachothers’ blogs/websites. We could chase down others to read by going to blogrolls on those sites. I thought about the diversity of my blog roll and thought, “Good.” And, it should be more diverse.
So, I have for some time contended “inclusive reading is better reading.” If we cannot be discerning AND open then we should be playing wii, watching NASCAR, or something other than reading.