Tony Jones new book New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier includes a reference to our conference last May: "God for People Who Hate Church." In the forward of the book he says that he visited some extremes in respect to his Emergent church experiences while writing the book. We are listed as one extreme.
The fact that we practice dream interpretation believing that God still speaks to people in their dreams today like He did throughout the scriptures, and that we are from Pentecostal origins are the reason for this mention.
Here's the quote: ""As I was working on this manuscript, I was also on the road, speaking about this content to a variety of groups. In May 2007, I visited these five events in a whirlwind of travel..."
"A Pentecostal church in Massachusetts, where I participated in a conference titled 'God for People Who Hate Church' and shared the stage with witches and druids as they reflected on how they've been treated by Christians.
The National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., where I spoke about the challenge that emergent Christianity poses to the Episcopal Church at a conference called 'Church in the Twenty-First Century'"
"Within a week, I'd gone from sitting with Pentecostals who interpret one another's dreams and break out in 'Holy Spirit laughter' to addressing collared Episcopal priests in the second largest cathedral on the continent. That's theological whiplash."
So we get the honorable mention in the forward. Or was it honorable? Maybe it was just a mention, but here's my response: Holy Laughter!? What's up with that? There may have been a few people at the conference who were into that, but as a church The Gathering does not practice that, and never has.
I suppose on one hand we are considered to be on the Frontiers of church life. That's cool. I want to live on the front edge of Christian experience as it pertains to touching our needy world, but I'd like to be accurately defined. Laughter - good. Learning to laugh in a holy manner - even better. Holy Laughter as practiced and defined by some Pentecostal Revivalists - uhm, a bit weird for me.
So Tony - Thanks for the mention, but we'll be expecting a minor retraction in the second printing bro. ;-)
Some of you will remember that I specifically asked Tony how the Emergent Conversation could better embrace the Charismatics and Pentecostals who were identifying with its values. You may also remember that I thought his answer was fair, but insufficient. Does this Holy Laughter comment perhaps hint why? Perhaps there is an assumption that all Pentecostals are whacked, and practice Holy Laughter? Perhaps there is fear of embracing emotional forms of worship expression? But wouldn't Pentecostal emotional expression be a positive move away from the post-enlightenment reliance in a solely intellectual pursuit of God? Just a thought which quite frankly I owe to some of Jeff Gentry's thoughts in his sermon today at The Gathering.