Helpful Tidbits for Organic Church Life                                              July 14, 2008
No Hierarchies
My Reflections
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Over the past several months I'd seen The Shack in the hands of some of my friends. Without exception, each of my friends said something like, "It's good. You should read it." That's nice, I thought to myself, but I simply don't have time for fiction right now...that is, until something really crazy happened.
I went to my parents house a few weekends ago and, wouldn't you know it, my mother said, "Trav, you should read The Shack." Ummm, that's interesting, I thought. Had mama got the inside scoop before me? Indeed she had. With my tail between my legs, I asked if I could borrow her copy.
The next day (Monday), still apprehensive about spending my time reading fiction, I placed the book along side my computer while at Panera, my favorite watering hole. Then, crazy moment No. 2 happened. A friend of mine walked by and said, "Good book." I had finally had enough. "Why should I care about this book?" I exclaimed. "Because our friend Wayne Jacobsen published it," he replied. "Ohhhh," I responded slowly, lips shaped in a perfect "O": because it was then that it all became clear. Keep reading.
THIS WEEK'S QUESTION/TOPIC: The Shack sells over a million copies...and counting
No Hierarchies
Excerpt from The Shack by William P. Young
   "Humans are so lost and damaged that to you it is almost incomprehensible that people could work or live together without someone being in charge."
   "But every human institution that I can think of, from political to business, even down to marriage, is governed by this kind of thinking; it is the web of our social fabric," Mack asserted.
   "Such a waste!" said [God], picking up the empty dish and heading for the kitchen.
   "It's one reason why experiencing true relationship is so difficult for you," Jesus added. "Once you have a hierarchy you need rules to protect and administer it, and then you need law and the enforcement of the rules, and you end up with some kind of chain of command or system of order that destroys relationship rather than promotes it. You rarely see or experience relationship apart from power. Hierarchy imposes laws and rules and you end up missing the wonder of relationship that we intended for you."
   "Well," said Mack sarcastically, sitting back in his chair. "We sure seem to have adapted pretty well to it."
   [The Holy Spirit] was quick to reply, "Don't confuse adaptation for intention, or seduction for reality" (2007:122).
My Reflections
The Shack fascinates me for at least two reasons. First, its sales have now topped one million copies. Now, it's one thing to sell a million copies when Zondervan is your publisher (which comes with a built-in advertising budget), but it's quite another to "self" publish a book with a whopping $300 for any incidentals.
Here's why this fascinates me. About a year or so ago I was with Wolfgang Simson, author of Houses That Change the World, and he said something to this effect: Funding for the work of the gospel will come from outside the church, from non-Christians. Although Wolfgang cited various biblical proof texts in support of his assertion, I secretly thought, that's unlikely. No, that doesn't mean I had put God in a box, it just means I couldn't yet wrap my mind around it. After all, and for most this won't be a news flash, one of the big questions swirling around out in the real world is this one: If we forego the "institutional" church, what happens to all those pastors who have depended on a pulpit to make their living? Having been with Wayne, a former "pastor" and regular contributor to Leadership Journal, I know he's grappled with this question. In the middle of the grappling, however, like many others who have decided to let go of the "walls," Wayne has chosen to trust in Jesus to meet his needs. At the moment, it appears Jesus has delivered.
One Thing LogoSecond, although the book does not explicitly focus on the ecclesia, the Trinity's dialogue with Mack is quite insightful. Borrowing from a "number of old dead guys," Young quips, much of the dialogue in the book is informed by the likes of Tozer, Lewis, and Kierkegaard. As such, I thoroughly appreciated Young's ability to take difficult concepts, say the affects of oppressive systems, and transform them into easy to understand dialogue.
Although the book takes plenty of theological "liberties," nothing in the book caused me to get out my trusty red flag. After all, the book is fiction. On the other hand, the book's depth derives from the truths it conveys.
Pictured L-R: William P. Young, Brad Cummings, Wayne Jacobsen
Hope this was of some benefit to you.

Traver Dougherty
The Banqueting Table