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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Truth and the Prairie

Perhaps no word or idea captivates me as much as "truth." In my day-to-day life up here on the prairie we all sort of take truth for granted. Since we're not philosophers of the city (remember our whole state has less people than many cities in this country...I used to say when I first arrived up here that "North Dakota is the smallest city I've ever lived in.") we are philosphers of the land, and our ideas about truth tend to emanate from there...
So, we're far removed from thinkers who live in Paris, Princeton, or travel regularly to New York City or London for dinner and a show...Our ideas of truth tend to be mundane as in ("If we don't get some rain, the barley will be in tough shape," says one famer. "That's true," says the other.)
Truth often resides in that which we cannot avoid, that which we cannot control, that which we can do little about except suffer its consequences or celebrate its fecundity. Now, that defintion of truth flies in the face of our current considerations of "truth," expecially from the culturally critical folks on the right and the left who either a)posit truth in some ideal form; or b) wed truth to cultural and linguistic assumptions. There's nothing "ideal" about a drought or a prairie fire, nor do we find them important because we name them such--rather they "are," in the simplest sense possible. (We're all probably still closet Kantians, as the 19th century hasn't really made it up here yet! Although there are a few Romantics running around.)
So ministry up here sort of does an end-run around the questions of truth (What Cornel West called the "American Evasion of Philosophy"--and as he notes we are good at that) Whatever emerges from prairie table's ministry will no doubt be in the same boat. We will put relationships ahead of power, money, and prestige (we'll even put them ahead of truth); we'll be plodding, slow to change, and prickly conservative (although we're so slow to change that our conservatism can be seen as liberal sometimes--for example, most of us up here still belive in individual human rights, but not over and above the needs of the community--find that lived out somewhere near an ocean coastline!)
Prairie Table makes no bones about what it is and isn't. We're not a full-service church that offers education for children, entertainment for youth, or religious diversion for adults. Rather, we're just people who want to get together and talk about our lives, and what God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit may or may not be doing in them, and how we can love our neighbors. That might not seem like a lot when there are so many troubles and people in trouble in the world, but right now it's the only truth we have.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So is it the self-absorbed reality of meeting your own relationship needs that outweighs the call to be disciples in and of the world? What good is religion if it only serves your own purpose and not Gods? Is relationship and pleasing each other more important than being truthful? I find that statement odd.