Friday, April 21, 2006
alt.worship and australian fiction
Just finished The Submerged Cathedral by Charlotte Wood. It’s fiction, a beautifully written tale of love set in Australia. It was a read for pleasure but it got me thinking again about contextualisation.
Part of the book is set in a monastery and portrays the naive sterility and rigid patterns that are monastic life. The monastery fails, a European transplant that finds no root in Australian soil.
The monastery is brought by a woman seeking love and redemption. She builds a garden, creatively using Australian plants to transform the hollowed hull of the monastery. It’s ceaseless and heart-breakingly hard work. But in the process of contextualisation, of clearing Australian clay, she finds love, meaning and redemption.
It was for me a reminder that contextualisation is at the heart of missiology. Our talk of missional church is not the transplanting of alien forms but the slow crafting of unique life among the existing contours. And for the Antipodes, it must be earthy, creative and indigenous.
This for me is what attracted me to alt.worship. It is contextualisation. It is faith, creatively expressed in the linga franca of video loops. It is the finding of a submerged cathedral in pop culture. I know it has it’s critics among the emerging missional church. It’s a criticism I struggle to understand, because surely taking missiology seriously demands the slow crafting and indigenous life i.e. contextualisation.
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