doug pagitt interview, part deux

continued from yesterday …
Brian. What kind of feedback have you gotten on the book so far?
Doug: Really good response from people who are saying, “not only did I really like the natural, hopeful message of the book but I have a bunch of friends who think the way you do and have never been able to connect with Christianity”. And many responses like, “These are the kinds of thoughts I have had deeply hidden in my soul for a long time.”
And I am getting really negative response from the fringy, hard-core …

And I am getting really negative response from the fringy, hard-core Reformed folks. They are certain that my telling of the Good News is anything but. And they call me a heretic, which I guess to their way of thinking I am.
But most of the response has been very encouraging.
Brian: Tell me about the Church Basement tour. What should people expect?
Doug: Tony Jones, Mark Scandrette and I are taking our books on the road this summer in a 32 city tour.
We have put together a 90 minutes show called The Rollin’ Gospel Revival. In the show we each do material from our books, but we also embody the persona of our 1908 alter-ego-grandfathers, who were revivalists. The show is meant to be fun, and to have a bit of fun at our own expense, but it is also meant to couch the hope-filled gospel message of our books inside the genre of an old fashion revival with a twist.
So the show includes four characters (each of us and our alter-egos) who through the possibilities of quantum physics, spacetime continuum and multiple dimensions are on the same stage. We sing, we use video, we even have a snake-oil balm of Gilead for sale – that is good for the soul and great on your salad as a spicy vinaigrette (really, it is a spicy vinaigrette).
The show is only $10 and is hopefully a creative way to connect with people around the country who are part of the life of God in this amazing time to be alive.
Additional Comments from Brian:
1. If you haven’t checked out the promotional videos for the roadshow, they’re a hoot.
2. Doug mentions “hard-core Reformed folks.” One of the really important debates going on in American (and global) Christianity today – in my opinion – is about the meaning of “Reformed.” It seems to me that the legacy of John Calvin has at least two very different lineages.
One often hardens into a brittle, polemical, and combative elitism, while the other grapples to be an intellectually robust and comprehensive expression of faith in Jesus, taking seriously the Lordship of Christ over all dimensions of life. One is characterized by a kind of alpha-male pugilism, and the other by a strong commitment to equality and – in the best sense of the word – democracy. One tends to be backward looking, based on an apparent assumption that the best days of the Christian faith are behind us in the sixteenth or seventeenth century, and that all important questions have been definitively answered in the creeds and confessions from that era.
The other is hopeful and visionary, characterized by the motto “semper reformanda.” One tends to be exclusive and quick to use words like “heretic” and “apostate.” The other is far more irenic and eager to build bridges and create coalitions for the common good. One adheres strictly to the words of John Calvin, while the other follows the example of courageous innovation and bold exploration set by the young “emerging leader” who began pastoral ministry before the age of twenty and completed his magnum opus by the age of twenty-six.
It’s unfortunate that such different versions (to recall Doug’s previous use of that word) of Christian faith go under the same banner. The “hard-core” stream will, no doubt, grow more popular in times of rapid and profound change like ours, as all conservatisms tend to do. It’s no secret that my hopes lie with the “generous orthodoxy” shared by the more humble and magnanimous versions of Christian faith – whether they be Reformed, Anabaptist, Lutheran, Anglican, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Pentecostal, none of the above, or all of the above.
3. Doug’s right: it’s an amazing time to be alive. And what a great opportunity this summer to be a part of the Church Basement Roadshow!

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