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III. QUESTIONS FOR CLERGY

Today, we witness the end of a faith that "simply thinks," that forms from mere passive assent, that fades day by day with the dying gasps of the unempowered. In its place, a new faith moves with powerful and determined expectation. It acts with the perfect knowledge that absent things are present.

It projects a world.

And this new faith requires metaphor. Metaphor reflects more than a poetic world, it frames a world. It’s more than a creation, it is a creating. It doesn’t simply happen "in" history, it "is" history. It doesn’t simply "predict" the future, it fathers the future

To the clergy, I say I’m grateful for your successful "programs." I’m impressed with your intellectual prowess and rhetorical passion. And I appreciate the importance of your administrative process. But all these attainments easily take place without a "manifest presence"—without spiritual empowerment.

So I have some questions for you. But first, a reminder...

METAPHORS . . .

. . . require a conscious lifestyle of serious make-believe. They demand new ways of thinking and new spiritual skills.

. . . are inspired dialogue. They are bidirectional—give and take, to-and-fro movements between "here" and "there." They are never-ending, always deepening cycles—started by God and completed by God with us in the middle.

. . . "do" something; and in that "doing," we "do" something too. In metaphor—as in faith—we give form to the "substance," "evidence" and "proof" of things we do not see. In the same way, metaphors remain the prototype of all creativity.

. . . are not an invention of natural skill nor an expression of subjectivity. Neither do they suffer the mediation of man’s doctrines.

. . . do not limit themselves to "special occasions"or time-appointed moments. Instead, they move in everything we do.

. . . project a world. They describe what is coming to be. Unlike our modern words which merely "supervene" in life—that is, they only "add to" life—metaphors "intervene" in life—they "change life."

. . . provide the truth to "end times." Metaphors represent our participation in the "end times"—the doing of "end times," anticipating and giving form to a future, real world that God is bringing to pass.

. . . will prove our only advantage in a future world run by computer intelligence. For Power incarnates Power.

Now, the questions for clergy:

Is your worship service "figured out," invented by professional skill, and subject to the mediation of doctrine, or do you allow a more transcendent source?

Do you wait for "special occasions," time-appointed moments, or "the talented" to bring inspiration, or do you pursue it in the least of all events—in the "announcements," for example? Put another way, Scripture asks if you "extract the precious from the worthless"?

In place of "studied performances," have you ever felt "carried along," as in a great river?

How often do you move and speak "intuitively? How often do new revelations come out of seemingly "nowhere"?

Could your congregation describe you—even occasionally—as an artist? . . . a poet? . . . a prophet?

Is repetition your only governing rule, or do you allow Otherness and Newness in any and every moment?

How often do you give form—not simply talk—to the "substance," "evidence" and "proof" of "things unseen"?

In addition to speaking "about" God and "to" God, do you allow God to speak too?

How often do you "call those things that be not as though they were"?

Where have you seen "the Word made flesh"?

Are you "the" anointed person in your church, or can anyone, anything, anywhere, and anytime be filled with prophetic power?

Have events happened during worship that, at first, you did not understand?

Do you "speak" more than you "listen," or "listen" more than you "speak"?

Do you discover things, and then realize later they existed before you discovered them?

Do you avoid all risk, or do you accept risk as a precondition for "manifest presence"?

For more on this subject, see "Questions for Clergy," Parts I and II.

© 2010 Thomas Hohstadt




Future Church Administrator