Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Streaming: Biblical Conversations from the Missional Frontier

My main exposure to Rochester College before I became a faculty member here was the Sermon Seminary they used to host every May, directed by my friend David Fleer. It was a first rate event, bringing together the best in the areas of biblical scholarship and preaching (homiletics). My favorite year was the year Walter Brueggemann and Paul Scott Wilson presented on preaching from the Psalms.

Well, in my duties as Director of the Resource Center for Missional Leadership, I have been asked to revive the May (16-18) seminar, though with a different focus. Instead of preaching, we will be bringing the best of biblical scholarship into dialogue with missional leadership. We are calling the event, Streaming: Biblical Conversations from the Missional Frontier.

Before I explain the name of the event, let me tell you who we've lined up thus far to be on the program. You have to start with Miroslav Volf. Volf is the Henry V. Wright professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School. He is without a doubt one of today's most important theological voices. His book, Exclusion and Embrace, is a profound theological reflection on human identity born out of his own experience with the Balkan conflicts. He will be presenting material from his forthcoming book on reading Scripture theologically.

We also have Scot McKnight coming. He teaches New Testament at North Park Seminary in Chicago and has become a widely read author on a number of important issues. He has been particularly involved in conversations related to the Emerging Church movement. His recent book on Scripture, The Blue Parakeet, is a delightful and accessible read. He will be presenting material from his forthcoming commentary on the Book of James.

We will have several others on the program, but we are particularly pleased to have Volf and McKnight kick off the renewal of our May seminar.

But what about this name?  Well, naming an event is no easy thing. And naming it with a participle is a bold move, if I say so myself. Streaming. But we have five things in mind that come together in one image.

First, streaming is a commonplace word in the world of digital communication. Events are "streamed" live across the internet. It gives us some cultural cache, if you will, and in a way that we like. It says live and dynamic. It says participatory and communicative. So, there's that.

Second, we want to use the term in an unconventional way to suggest the activity of navigating a stream. If we are in a new missional era, then we need images related to frontiers or adventure. So, we have in mind here a group of adventurers "streaming" through whitewater.

Third, we like the fact that stream is moving. You never step into the same steam twice. It comes from someplace and it is going somewhere. It is a temporal image, connoting both a past and a future. It's a nice way to think about the relationship between God, scripture, and the world.

Fourth, streams gifure fairly prominently in Scripture. You can hardly open your Bible without getting wet. And a stream in Scripture is a refreshing thing--life giving.

Fifth, streaming also evokes a picture of pilgrimage--a journey together toward sacred space, like the OT images of the nations streaming to Zion.

My friends have already pointed out to me less-than-helpful ways that streaming might be understood. My friends are philistines. And so we will limit our imaging to the five things I've listed above.

So, anyway, I'm thrilled about our new event and hope some of you will make plans to join us this coming May. Hopefully, we'll have a new webpage up soon with more detailed info on the event.

1 comment:

Richard Beck said...

Checking out plane tickets....