Sunday, March 04, 2007

Communion and Consensus Part II

"We're not out for consensus here. We're out for communication. And sometimes we get consensus. And that's thrilling. . . .

I'm in charge of a community that I need desperately and that needs me just as badly. That's where the joy lies, in the shared experience. Anyone in that community can help me or hurt me. For this reason, it's vital to have . . . . people who can challenge you to work at your best, not in hostility but in a search for the truth. Sure, I can pull rank if a disagreement becomes unresolvable, but that's only a last resort. It's also a great relief. But the joy is in the give-and-take."

This comes not from a pastor or a theologian. This is from a book called Making Movies by Sydney Lumet (director of Network, Serpico, 12 Angry Men) which I haven't been able to put down this weekend.

This really fits well with how I think we are supposed to look at the Church. Certainly to be the Church in the first place there needs to be consensus on who Jesus is. But even then the Church can enfold a lot of people who aren't sure yet. People who haven't quite worked out the ramifications of Jesus yet. Certainly different stages on that journey will lead to different levels of involvement in leadership. But what unites us? What is communion?

Way too many of us are just looking for consensus, or for those of similar age or taste, or worse yet the same "target group" as if we are all just consumers to churchianity. Our unity is in the redemption story centered on Christ and told so poignantly through the Scriptures. (Notice I didn't say by the Scriptures because I believe the Spirit speaks through it, it does not speak on its own). Certainly there is truth. But we don't arrive at it by committee and then have unity. We have community in the Father, Son, and Spirit and then we disover the truth, discover the story that we are striving to live, the community we were made to be. (This is all in step quite nicely with the book of the year I was recommending a couple posts ago by the way)

What Sydney Lumet says about making one of his movies is similar to the joy I get sometimes in working and worshipping in church:
The joy is in talking to Tony Walton, the production designer on Prince of the City, about the theme of the movie and then seeing him come up with his expression on that theme. Hiring sycophants and servants is selling the picture and myself short. Yes, Al Pacino challenges you. But only to make you more honest, to make you probe deeper. You're a better director for having worked with him.
Heaven knows we have plenty of churches mimicing the business world today. I think there are probably things to glean there but think we overdo it big time. I don't want to just mimic the art world on a one-to-one basis, but it might not hurt to have a bit of that correction for a while. There are some good things we can learn from Lumet and Pacino here.

1 comment:

matthew a. wilkinson said...

Hey Jon,

I love that you used Sidney Lumet's work in the film industry as an example for unity in the church.

I've pretty much walked away from the church; but when I read your last few posts they made me look over my shoulder to see what I might be missing.

I love how willing you are to embrace complexity in your ideal for the church.

Lumet said,

"Hiring sycophants and servants is selling the picture and myself short."

I love that.

I think for too long that is exactly what the church has been doing: selling itself short by only ever listening to the Yes Men.