In Search of Church: A Journey, Not a Destination

Dead-Ends, Detours, and Desiderata

(Draft: March 27, 2003; Last Revision: May 1, 2003)

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Table of Contents

  1. Running On Empty: Being and Belonging
  2. Comfortably Numb: Disillusionment and the Downward Spiral
  3. Hope and Dreams: The Prodigal Homeward Bound
  4. Circle of Friends: Towards An Eclectic and Everyday Ecclesiology
  5. Walk On: Conversation Partners for the Journey
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For some time now, I've been hoping to set in writing some of my experiences of and reflections on church life. Because of my perfectionist and obsessive personality, I've never felt I had read enough, studied enough or prayed enough about the matter to feel comfortable in sharing this with anyone.

However, I realized that it would be arrogant of me to ever think that I could arrive at a point where I could be so sure of my viewpoints as to be irrefutable. So, here's a preliminary stab at it. Just keep in mind that this is a "work-in-progress" and that some of my ideas are still in a state of flux. In particular, those looking for a detailed exegetical and theological study will just have to wait or go elsewhere.

The reader will quickly see that I am indebted to a lot of others who have written on this subject, and I cannot claim much in the way of originality. Indeed, you will notice that I have a lot of hyperlinks to other sites and articles. I know it's overwhelming and time-consuming to click your way through all of these, but these links are an integral part of my narrative, which is why I chose to present my thoughts on the web. Some of you (outer-directed readers, to use David Riesman's term) may find the hypertext format frustrating:

These new and alien narratives seem to require readers to both immerse themselves in the narrative webs of possibility and to extricate themselves from it, in order to grasp at a sense of the narrative as a totality, as a structure of possible structures ... This dynamic of reading differs from conventional reading in that it seems to demand that readers physically engage in a game of interaction with the text as an author-constructed structure of links, paths, and yields and, at the same time, rely on their own, reader-centered judgments about meaning, significance, closure and, even, connections in the narrative. The demands particular to interactive narratives and to reading in any new environment lacking established reading and interpretive strategies seem to demand that we evolve into inner-directed readers, or readers who move beyond simply realizing an author's virtual text and resist authorial prescription to arrive at readings of our own.

J. Y. Douglas, Gaps, Maps and Perception: What Hypertext Readers (Don't) Do, Perforations 2:3.

I offer these brief reflections then, as a modest contribution to the dialogue. Above all, this is my story; yours will no doubt be much different. There is a feedback button at the end of this paper for readers to contribute their ideas. In keeping with the dynamic nature of the web, this paper will be updated from time to time as new ideas come to mind, or old ones get fine-tuned. Therefore, please come back and visit the site often!

Those who are impatient or too busy can skip directly to the main section.