I’m in Part II of what has become my semi-annual read of Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I came across this quote:
…to tear down a factory or to revolt against a government or to avoid repair of a motorcycle because it is a system is to attack effects rather than causes; and as long as the attack is upon effects only, no change is possible. The true system, the real system, is our present construction of systematic thought itself, rationality itself, and if a factory is torn down but the rationality which produced it is left standing, then that rationality will simply produce another factory.
I could not help but think about this concept in the context of our current mega-church environment of The West. The problems we have- problems of money, community, inward vs. outward, bible teaching and the expectations of being fed- are products of the rationality we began with. This is why it’s important for people to get to the root of the problems, to address it on a fundamentally philosophical level, because it’s the only way to get to the root of the rationality producing these issues.
The proverbial tearing down of the factory has been done over and again in the church. The Emerging Church is particularly good at this, creating alternative after alternative, but the rationality we grew up with has remained, and so the same problems exist in our emerging Churches. We have no problem seeing the problems, but we have a very difficult time addressing the initial rationale which has eventually produced these aforementioned problems.
But this is also why the Emerging Church is so important today. Being filled with people unafraid to speak out, to challenge and get to the roots. Thusly, it is incorrect to think of the Emerging Church as the destination itself, but rather as a crucial, deal-breaking stepping stone toward a whole expression of community in Christ. Philosophy, in this case, has become an element of Christian thought of more modern importance. For the Christian mind, it is the only route toward the destination of wholeness as a body.
Philosophy itself has never been a destination except to the insane. Philosophy can solve nothing in itself, but often is the only vehicle capable of traversing the rough terrain between failure and success- the vehicle is of no import in itself, but is crucial to effective progress.