Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Deconstructing Starbucks

Well, it’s the Christmas season in the good ol’ U.S. of A., and here at Starbucks I’m cuddling up to my appropriately cross-cultural and yet seasonal Ethiopia Sidamo Komodo Dragon Eggnog Latté as I sit in on a conversation between staffers from the new emergent church and a local realtor.

One nice thing about the intersection of Faith and Culture is that there’s a Starbucks on every corner. It didn’t use to be that way. Back in the ’80s they were all McDonald’s.

But we’re not at one of those corner Starbucks. We’re at the one several doors down, inside the food court of one of the local megachurches, Arbor Stream Community Church, where the realtor is a member, all of which really peeves the emergent church staffers, especially my friend, Jean Plus de Tête, the Director of Missional Recontexualization, who just burned his finger on a Tazo tea-bag.

Realtor: “Gene, why don’t you just get over that for now?”

Jean: “‘Zhawn!’ My first name is pronounced ‘Zhawn.’ It’s French, like ‘Zhock’ Derrida.

Realtor: “My apologies. I have a hard time reading these new postmodern business cards.”

Me [thinking]: “What if Derrida had written Hamlet...?”

Realtor: “But my point is, there isn’t any land zoned for churches left in this neighborhood. The new mosque and Hindu temple took the last of it. Look—your church is really into artsy stuff, right? So why don’t you consider that parcel down by the corner of Faith and Aesthetics?”

Other staffer: “We don’t want to be confused with all the liturgical churches concentrated down there.”

Me [thinking]: “‘To be or not to be—binary opposites in which being oppresses non-being…’”

Jean: “Besides, we actually belong here at Faith and Culture. No offense, but churches like Arbor Stream are aberrations. They can’t speak to postmodern culture the way we can. Twenty years from now when all the Baby-Boomers are doing the Hustle in Depends undergarments they’ll be closing their doors faster than people dumping WorldCom stock.”

Realtor: “I see. So it’s a demographic thing. Then why don’t you consider a spot up by the intersection of Faith and Commerce?”

Other staffer: “Then people will think we’re a Word-Faith church!”

Me [thinking]: “Right. We can’t have them planting their ‘seeds of faith’ willy-nilly into the collection plates.”

Jean: “Look, I don’t expect a realtor to understand the complexities of recontextualizing the missio Dei for a post-Christian society.”

[There’s a brief, awkward pause, and then—]

Realtor: “My, uh, Th.M. thesis was on the application of postmodern intertextuality concepts to the urban evangelism passages in the book of Acts.”

[Jean’s face flushes slightly during another awkward pause.]

Me [thinking]: “Yeah! What’s he talkin’ bout, Willis? Two-thirds of the seminary grads in this town sell insurance, and the other half is in real estate!”

Jean [back-peddling as though he just saw his future flash in front of his eyes]: “What I meant to say was that there have been some new developments in recent years. We now know that a lot of people are interested in Jesus, but aren’t interested in the traditional church.”

Realtor: “Okay—enough with the news flashes. I’ve been trying to forget my hippie Jesus commune days for 30 years now.”

Me [sipping my latté and thinking]: “Yep! Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt!”

Realtor: “You guys know you can’t keep holding services right in the middle of the intersection every Sunday. The police are already beside themselves directing traffic in and out of our church’s parking lot, and it’s only going to get worse over the holidays. Your worship dancers knocked over the nativity scene the ACLU fought so hard to keep us from setting up on the corner. And your insurance rates have skyrocketed ever since
that fellow from Grace Reformed was hit by one of your SPAMD trucks. Face it: you need to move into a real church building soon.”

[Jean stares pensively into his tea, and then—]

Jean: “Look, we just want to bring the fruits of a scholarly approach to evangelism in the postmodern context.”

Realtor: “Then why, pray tell, don’t you consider that nice spot I showed you down by Faith and Reason?”

Jean: “The one by the Kingdom Hall?”

Realtor [nodding]: “You’ll only be a block away from Our Lady of Perpetual Motion on the corner of Faith and Law, which dovetails nicely with your emphasis on the New Perspective on Paul.”

Jean: “True.”

Me [thinking]: “Yeah, but there’s no Starbucks there...yet...”

Realtor: “And you know how you guys are really into those missional apologetic methodologies for Mormons?”

Other staffer [with a sudden burst of enthusiasm]: “That’s right!

Jean: “What?”

Other staffer: “We’ll be within eye-shot of the new Mormon temple!”

Jean: “Down on Faith and Fable?”

Realtor: “Right!”

Jean: “Wow!”


bishopdave said...

You wrote: Two-thirds of the seminary grads in this town sell insurance, and the other half is in real estate!”

That is hilarious! I had to read it twice to get it but... How long have people been disappointed in the traditional church? The realtor was 20 years ago; now the traditional church is the one we worked so hard to bring about. Now the emergents have decided the boomer models are traditional. I guess for every action there is a reaction.

Me said...

May Peace
Hope and Love
be with you
and Always

Merry Christmas!
The Surging Waves

Jacob Hantla said...

First blog laugh I've had in a while. :-)