Lion on a Kite String: The Untamed Power of Open-Source Communities

29 03 2008

Today was a dramatic turn of events for the AGMergent blog. I awoke this morning to an e-mail from a new friend, who tipped me off on our brief introduction at Emergent Village. Once confirming it for myself, I clicked back over to the hit stats and found it had already begun to skyrocket: by the end of the day we reached over 200 hits for a blog that had seen an average of 8 hits per day leading up to the posting at EV.

One interesting ripple effect of this announcement of hybrid emergent groups is the reaction of Andrew Jones at Tall Skinny Kiwi. He expressed some despair over the hyper-use of “the ‘e’ word,” likely fearing that once everything becomes emergent, nothing will be. I can understand and do agree with the argument, but also feel at the same time a need to re-state the reason I want to contribute to this conversation, even though I arrived to the dance about 15 years after the first song began to play (I haven’t even made the pilgrimage to NM… for shame).

In my mind, Emergent is a placeholder for the space between the modern church and whatever it’s becoming in a postmodern world. “E” is not the only placeholder, but a significant one in that there are actual networks in place for conversations to grow and develop. I imagine that for people who have worked very hard to carve out a tangible reality out of the broad concepts spun out of the Leadership Network, it would seem presumptuous for outsiders to claim the same flag and stand on the shoulders of giants from out of nowhere.

The fact that more people are getting turned on to emergent should stand as a testament to its’ reforming influence in the pre-existing church. Maybe these hybrid forms are post-emergent in the same way I’ve often heard people describe postmodern as “not anti-modern, but a new outcropping from the soil of modernism.” Hybridization should come as no surprise to philosophers who prize so highly the open-source nature of postmodern faith. To borrow from the heavily-appealed-to Matrix film, the tangible outcome of philosophical assertions (such as what we call things) are the spoon, and we can bend it because “there is no spoon.”

There is an inherent danger, like a lion on a kite string, to open-source communities: everybody’s an architect, and everybody is also a construction worker. There is very little holding the movement back from becoming what it will become, because embedded in the DNA of such an egalitarian experiment is the idea that people are always invited – not just to watch, but to add rooms and windows and doors as well, even if those embellishments were never part of the deal in the original blueprints.

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2 responses

29 03 2008
andrew jones

funny how it happens. i actually didnt the EV post until steve knight told me about it. what i saw was a post on methomergent in my RSS feed that was probably caused by the EV post. after posting mine and seeing EV – i saw 2 more that i did not have and this blog was one of them

i actually expected my friend earl creps to be behind it but its good to see there are others out there

peace

29 03 2008
Steve K.

John,

This is a great word. I think you’re overstating things a bit when you say “stand on the shoulders of giants” (that kind of made me chuckle actually), but still thanks for this response. I’m not sure there were any such “original blueprints” either, but I get the spirit of what you’re saying — and (as I posted in the comments over on Andrew’s blog) I’m personally hopeful because of what I see happening in all these various streams. Thanks for stepping out among the Pentecostal tribe to be a voice and creating this space as a rallying point for others.

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