The Wabi Sabi of The Global Emerging Church.
By Andrew Jones
November 12, 2002
In Tennesee, people are cleaning up after the tornados. In California, Christians are exploring the decency breaking boundaries of Eminem’s new movie “8 Mile”. In Texas, Baptists are voting on whether to adopt the proposal of a new mission structure called the World Mission Network. Jessica, my PA is there. Manning a booth for the Emerging Church Network.
Why is she not here in Prague, helping me?
In Finland a girl (lady?) named Eva is awaiting a reply from Tall Skinny Kiwi. She asked him in an email sent yesterday, if he has written a book. He, I mean “I”, have not written a book, and was going to tell her that yesterday. However, having slept on the mattress, ah . . . matter, I have decided to tell her that I am INDEED writing a book. Right now. I hope it will be written in two weeks, printed a week after that, and be ready within the month. Tall order, perhaps. But worth a shot. Because after two weeks, I probably wont feel like writing a book. And Eva will give up waiting for my reply.
I am going to write a book. Quickly, with freshness, without the paralysis of perfectionism that has hindered my previous attempts. Without the fear of not finishing. Without the worry of who will edit it to make me sound profound and competent. Without the worry of who will distribute it, market it, push it, sell it, read it.
I am going to write a book.
I have already started to write a book.
I am, in actual fact, writing the book, even as I write.
I feel wonderful, in a freed up, I-can-do-it, stuff-you-all kind of way.
In writing my book, I am aware of a number of taboos that I am breaking.
1. The ghost of Ray Steadman. “Don’t publish until you’re 40” cried the late Ray Steadman, pastor of a large church in Peninsular, Ca. Or was it Pennsylvania? These words have been haunting me for about 15 years, or at least as long as I have been planning to write a book. They haunt me now. I am not yet 40. Will I write something that I will regret later? Will I experience a mind-shattering paradigm shift in a few years that will make me wish I had not written a book at my immature age of 39. Will it put me on a mission to hunt down all my published books so I can remove them from the pubic eye – like John Macarthur Jr. did with his first (and prematurely) published book – thus reinforcing the wisdom of Ray Steadman?
2. The nice people at Zondervan Publishing, who took me out for a meal (and paid), told me that they would be glad to publish a book of mine if I ever got myself together enough to sit down and write one. I told them it was highly unlikely, given my advanced stages of ADD - Attention Deficit Syndrome – which I have not exactly been diagnosed for, neither do I know anything about, for the two pathetic reasons that :
a)I do not have time to go to the doctor and
b)I can not sit still long enough to read anything about ADD
Perhaps the Doctors who write ADD self-evaluation documents should consider making a multi-media version for people who get bored easily.
3. What was I saying?
4. Oh yes – Zondervan. I hope they are not upset at me for self publishing this book. Or the people at Youth Specialties/Emergent who also asked me for a book and me, in my benevolent state of mind, said “YES”, and even agreed to a submission date – next month – It is probable that one day I will write a more scholarly, well thought out, book of a mature nature - a book that could easily sit on the bookshelf of a Christian bookstore in Tulsa, Oklahoma, bringing glorious joy to the readers thereof, a book written in the current Christian dialect, and therefore not containing words like “Wabi Sabi”, but this is not THAT book. Still, I feel a little guilty for writing it while, in the cold of Grand Rapids, Paul (chief editor at Zondervan) sits at his desk every day, EVERY BLOODY DAY, and asks himself the same question that he asks himself everyday, that question being . . .”When will that Tall Skinny Kiwi write his book?”
Meanwhile, in an even more northerly and ungodly freezing climate, that of Minneapolis, Doug Pagitt, bearing the unnecessarily long and tedious title of Emergent’s “Book Acquisitions And Official Deal Cutting Person for Young Emerging Leaders Who Want To Write A Book About Christian Ministry In The Post-modern Context”, (BAAODCPFYELWWTWABACMITPC for short) is braving the biting winds that sweep snow blankets over the long hidden pathway leading underground to his mail box, his empty mailbox, cursing under his frozen breath that hangs in the sub-zero hell of a weird B-grade sci-fi flick gone haywire, a post-nuclear freak storm of quasi-Armageddon paranoia, cursing the fact that, 35 years ago, God (or maybe Satan) endowed him with feet that would grow to a ridiculous size 15, cursing, above all else, since here lies the cause of all these diabolic anomalies that plague humankind, at least in his suburb of Edina, that Tall Skinny Kiwi, that Tall Skinny SLACKER Kiwi, who said he would submit his book by the end of the year . . .
And he repeats mantra-fashion the precise Quote:
“I will submit my book by the end of the year”
Tall Skinny Kiwi, in a serious conversation with Doug Pagitt in St. Louis, Missouri, April, 2002.
. . .but Tall Skinny Kiwi
… has in fact
. . . not!
5. I am just now reminded of another disappointed publisher, who, upon receiving a peace offering of this book, soon to be published by myself, will probably punch me in the stomach … no! . . .she is German and will therefore slap my face with her leather gloves. She will slap me for two reasons:
a) Because I never submitted my book to her, and
b) Because I unfairly stereotyped Germans as 1940’s leather-glove-swinging face-slappers.
Kirsten Hack, of Down-To-Earth Publishing in Berlin, Germany, has been waiting for my book for over a year. Last year I emailed some quick thoughts that I had typed into my white I-Book while waiting for a plane in London Heathrow.
This, I thought, would be the beginning of a book.
Kirsten thought so also.
This is why she edited my thoughts.
This is why she made such helpful comments about what I had written.
This is why she suggested how to build those thoughts into a book. Into a few books, actually. I had so many different thoughts that she suggested I write a number of books for different audiences.
It was great advice.
I was delighted.
My life’s purpose came together for a brief moment.
We were drinking coffee at a funky Berlin café, in the cultural swirl of east-kissing-west post-communist chic. We were discussing my book. Or book(s). Books which might never happen. Or maybe what I am writing is one of those books but she will only publish the German version.
Assuming that the Germans will want to read this. Which I don’t because it is not organized in a very German way. In a ‘Modern German’ way, I mean, as opposed to the more ‘post-modern German’ way which one sees in watching Zwei music television, with its non-linear video progression, and certainly in the German DJ culture, where post modernity is reflected in the sampling, re-mixing, of the German club scene, itself a uber-cool post-modern icon.
How does one get the two little dots on top of the "u" on the word "uber". Someone help me out - or my book may not see the light of day.
Enough for today. I need to paint my studio. This has taken me one hour, plus 10 minutes to set up the web site. At this rate. I think I could actually write this book.