Welcome to the first guest blogger of the new year. Over the next several weeks you’ll get to meet a new group of my friends, theologians, philosophers, artists, and bloggers. I hope you enjoy interacting!
This week we meet Derek Koehl. A scribbler of verses, words, and random thoughts, Derek Koehl is also a master educator in the public school system. He has spent many years teaching young Unheard Voices to find their voice, first in Brownsville, Texas and now in Atlanta, Georgia. Derek is also committed to working actively for social justice at the local level through organizations such as Neighbors Abbey in the inner city neighborhoods where he lives in southwest Atlanta.
Why Emergent Must Never Have Anything to Say
I’m very much a visual thinker and a visual communicator. The other night when I was discussing this idea with my friend, Troy, I found that the best method of expressing it was to draw it out as a collection of circles and squares. So if you’re like me and like to draw things out, feel free to sketch on a piece paper as I take us 3D. Why? Because I can; imagination is a wonderful thing.
Take a deep breath. Close your eyes. Now walk with me out into the mind space. The air is grey yet shimmering with energy. Immense spheres float suspended in the space. Moving near, we see words inscribed on their surface. On one, “Arts”, on another “Politics”, still another “Theology”, and another “Religion”, and so on. We approach the Arts sphere and push through the surface boundary into its interior domain.
Within the sphere, the space filled with similar but smaller spheres, “Realism”, “Modernism”, “Classicism,” “Surrealism”, “Postmodernism”, and many others. Hundreds of lines of vibrating with energy and sound emanate from each sphere. Some lines from different spheres entwine together; more often they collide, sparking in dissonance and misunderstanding. In the midst of the cacophony of ideas and perspectives, we come across a vast area that is neither sphere nor energy, concept or position. It is a vast rectangle, and like the city square or the university quad, its value lies entirely in its emptiness, its open space.
Within that open space of conversation, we observe that the various lines enter and begin to shift in their vibrations. Perceptions emerge. Intersections form. Understandings take shape. This is the Village Green, the best of what Emergent Village has been for years now. This is the purpose of Emergent. This is its worth. Emergent is that empty and open framework into which people can step with their various ideologies, doctrines, and beliefs and find common conversational ground with others.
Should Emergent turn from that empty openness, should it begin to embody content and perspectives due to a perceived need that it must have something to say, it will abdicate its place as that space of conversation. It will become yet another sphere among spheres, and those of us who have no interest in such things will have to fashion a new empty space of conversation. It is my hope that we will continue to maintain Emergent as that framework of openness where collaborative interactions between various communities of faith—such as the 8th Day Art Project—can continue to take shape.
Peace in non-happiness,