Narative

Progress, Emergence, Christianity, and the Church

I’m on a search to find my place in our current landscape and to tell a certain story about how I believe I have found my self in this moment and place.    In doing so I’m finding that there are many ways to tell the story of our current “crisis”.  I feel though that in the wake of the skepticism in the late 20th century of the meta-narrative, we still are seeking that story to which we will all no matter where we are from will accept, retell and in turn interpret our particular narratives accordingly.

“Progress” as a singular self-evident moral movement into the future is one of those meta-narratives (described in President Obama’s SOTU as the wheel of progress.).  It seems to me that the mythology of progress as grand narrative is at the moment being reworked into the our understanding of “Emergence”, or the Great Emergence.  This continued invention of the meta-narrative that we all must give our allegiance just feels odd to me.

It’s not  that the story doesn’t make sense or even have persuasive power. I do think that things can change or even change for the better, and Phyllis Tickle  in her book The Great Emergence, does a grand job of briefly making sense of a large amount of historical territory.  Rather, it is the singularity of these narratives and the metaphysics of history that underlie them that troubles me because they disallow other ways of accounting for these phenomena, the expect us all to tell the same story in the end.

But in the end to talk about progress and to talk about meaning of change and movement through history whether in the particularities of particular technologies (Such as trains and vinyl records discussed in this blog post.) or in grand sweep of religion and human nature, one should only talk about progress in terms of aim or goal.  The the longer the arc we wish to trace it seems the more metaphysical and the more we leave out in such a trace.

And I’ll admit in this skepticism towards meta-narratives I’m inconsistent, since I do give myself over to the meta-narrative of Christianity, salvation history, Heiligegeschichte.  And to some extent in this blog I’m seeking to write my narrative along the lines of the meta-narrative of the Church (though I’m finding it difficult to find a singular all encompassing story, or up and until now, I’ve been unwilling to give myself over to one of the competing meta-narratives of the church) .

Movement, change, even innovation all happen.  But how we evaluate them and what story we tell about those changes depends on where you are coming from what you desire and the goal towards which you are moving.  How to interpret change movement and process through time aren’t self-evident

In a sense I think I’m saying that we shouldn’t seek a disinterested universal account of history or change through time, rather how we answer questions around progress and the meaning of our current “hinge-moment” (if it really is one?) is based upon our commitments, desires, and goals.  These will differ especially in a pluralist society.  Shoot these differ between me and a vast number of people who call themselves Christians.