Sunday, March 02, 2008

Tony Jones Honorable Mention? Holy Laughter!?

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.


Beth said...

LOL, Phil. I guess I missed that workshop. (I read chapter one online, and if it makes you feel any better, there's a mention of Anglicans there that made me feel just as frustrated). But I'm sure he speaks to so many different flavors of folks that grasping the nuances is too much to ask, really.

Adam Gonnerman said...

Aaron Chambers with The Christian Standard blogged on liking Jesus and hating the church a while back. He goes off on a rant of Bible verses rather than taking seriously the reasons why people might feel that way. Here's a tiny url to his post: Talk about missing the point.

g13 said...

i have enjoyed the divergent narratives within the book so far and am glad that tony has offered readers an enticing opportunity to taste the potluck that is emergent.

however, i noticed the quip about holy laughter right away and when i told pastor phil about it this morning i promised him that if holy laughter breaks out at the gathering i'll be beating feet down to the front street coffee house.

i admit that stranger things than holy laughter have taken place at gathering related events (such as, hmmm, say, the exorcism that took place after bible study at my house last week!), but we do have a fairly orderly, if unique, little community.

Pastor Phil said...

Hi Beth,

I'm not sure when the Holy Laughter workshop thing happened either. I think Tony must have arranged it with Jay Bakker down at the pub. Nothing like God and brew to bring out a good holy belly laugh.

Pastor Phil said...

Hey Adam,

Thanks for the link I posted a comment myself.

Pastor Phil said...

Hey Jeff,

I think that I am more concerned about unholy laughter with our crew, and I'll be the one beating feet for Salem Beerworks.

Kieran Conroy said...

*Chuckles* I'm still bummed I missed the Thursday exorcism. Someone needs to fill me in on that, if it wasn't a private thing. :)

Definitely look forward to reading those emergent links.

I don't know much about holy laughter (or anything pentecostal till I showed up at the door!). But I've definitely been enjoying a way to express my more spiritual and spontaneous side, not to mention noticing stirrings I'm not used to getting OR acting on so frequently in church. Not that I never get a sense of the Divine in other churches, but a place that is attentive and welcomes its use in worship is really beautiful and new to me. Perhaps the Spirit works with us as we let Her out. :)

No bets what I'll break out next time we sing, but I'll try and keep from scaring anyone. :P

Anonymous said...

that's funny! I didn't personally hear any holy laughter at the conference but I could've missed it I guess.

mmm yes. I think Pentecostal/Charismatic and Emergent/Intellectual expressions of faith compliment each other very well.

Pastor Phil said...

Ah heck Kieran get scary. It'll just be part o' the fun.

Pastor Phil said...


You didn't hear it because you too involved with that Dancing in the Spirit, the Holy Ghost Goosebumps, and getting Slain in the Spirit to remember it. ;-)

Really now! No more drinking the Spirit before 9am bro. You'll look like Acts 2, and we wouldn't want that would we?

Anonymous said...

I think y'all might be having a little too much fun with this. One might accuse you of practicing Holy Horseplay or something. ;)

-- Jarred.

Pastor Phil said...

Hey Jarred,

Perhaps you can start a new Pentecostal liturgy for us, and start a Holy Horseplay group. I'm sure we could get few people interested.

Pam Hogeweide said...


(don't mind me. I'm just having a fit of holy laughter reading this post!)

LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOOLOLOLOLOL(hiccup, oops, guess i got a case of holy hiccups now...hiccup, hiccup, hallelujah...)

Pastor Phil said...


Your post gave me holy smiles. My face is stuck in Holy Ghost Grin now.

Steve Hayes said...

So who is this Tony Jones?

I'm reminded that there is a whole web site dedicated to the premiss that journalists just don't "get" religion, and perhaps he was just tossing a good helping of holy stereotypes into the brew -- these guysd are Pentecostals -- that means they must bray like asses and laugh like hyenas, even if I never actually saw them do it.

We had a journalist come to one of our services once, and he described people "kissing the ground" -- presumably because he'd seen newspaper pictures of Roman Pope John Paul II doing that when getting off aeroplanes.

Pastor Phil said...

Hey Steve,

Tony is one the leader of, and has been to our church during a conference. So he is not a irreligious journalist, but a theological writer and thinker. So, one would think he does understand.