more about this sight

"you're packing a suitcase for a place that you've never been...a place that has to be believed to be seen"...'Walk On' by U2

WATERSHED: A voice in the wilderness. DARYL UNDERWOOD.


The concept of Centerpoint Christianity briefly stated is:

Christianity from the centerpoint outward.

Christianity from the climax forward.

This blog constitutes concepts for a new view of Christianity that begins with what is foundational and moves forward from that point. It is based on the assumption that we are being pulled towards something unseen and pushed from a place that once was.

What Centerpoint Christianity attempts to do is bypass some of the constraints imposed by metanarratives by using the life of Christ and particularly the climactic actions of Christ as beginning points.

It supports the conviction that God is essentially timeless. From this beginning point we endeavor to move outward from the definitive moment of the parousia (visitation) of Christ and forward to the future which functions as a type of magnet to "what can be--and is coming".

When we begin at the life of Christ and move outward as from the centerpoint of a web, rather than in a linear timeline of history, another wide picture emerges.

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letters to home after a year

An open letter to my home town or "Why emerging in the church is so hard"

“And after it rains
There's a rainbow
And all of the colors are black

It's not that the colors aren't there
its just imagination they lack
Everything's the same
Back in my little town”—Paul Simon in “My Little Town”

In the song “My Little Town” Paul Simon laments the inability for his roots to change with the changing times. Across the wide spaces after the cleansing rain there is a rainbow most certainly signaling something of a treasure somewhere out there. But not here, not in my little town laments Simon. Here the colors turn black after the rain. Why is that? No imagination. Closed thinking. The townspeople lack the ability to wonder, to question, to seek, to move forward. They are quite satisfied with the way things are here.

And I come from a little town called Conservative Evangelicalism. I was born and raised there; it has its own way of thinking. I wouldn’t say or dare go so far as to sing that there is “nothing but the dead and dying back in my little town” of C.E. but it is definitely slow to move and a bit unaware of the rest of the world. Like most little towns they do like to keep things the same. As a result I was feeling a bit trapped there. I decided to move down the road and began to ask questions about other ways of doing things and some of the townsfolk wondered about me. I could hear the rumours.

“Does he think he is better than us? Why does he have to be so unsettled anyway, we have a great little town? Is he one of us anymore or one of them, those people out in the world?” and I lost some of my small town friends or we are just losing touch. When there is a certain way to do things and you wander outside that box or close to the edge they begin to worry about you.

To this town and their musings I want to be clear. I do not consider myself better in any way, I am not chasing cars or chasing other stars or simply not very grateful or appreciative of the small town virtues. No, none of the above is true. In fact some of the simplicity of the small town comfort me and ground me. I am not any smarter or modern, or seeking fame or fortune, or emerging while you are so stuck in a rut, and I most emphatically do not disdain my heritage; it is really quite rich.

But I sense the stares and whispers when I am near. And this from my family or townsfolk. The place where I began. My roots.

I still want to stay in the family of Christianity. You see, some of the problem with my little town is their reluctance to accept the way anyone thinks unless it lines up with their thinking. They think in terms of boxes, in and out, us and them. They say they love you, accept you, etc. but their actions don't back it up so well. If you are not evangelical or fundamental or family values or pro life or well any score of things you probably aren't "Christian" or so it seems.

But I needed to ask questions…and this was discouraged in the small town. And the questions became too loud to ignore. They spoke all the time and when I began to ask others, to talk about it, I found myself a bit tedious to them. They liked me, I grew up there, but they didn’t like what was happening to me. The questions lingered. It was time to move on before my questions alienated everyone in the small town.

But like any son I would like a blessing from my roots. Only time will tell if it will come. I suppose the people in small town Christianity don’t feel they owe me anything. 'We are right here in the town you came from and you know where to find us.' I understand they hear stories of what I am up to and there are mixed reviews, some hope I’ll get over it, others secretly hope I will fall flat on my face so that I realize the error or arrogance of my way. And a few may actually hope it works out. As for me, I just would like to come home to hang out with my family and friends without feeling like I am some kind of deserter or outsider or bad person. And the purse strings, well I know they stay in town. But I imagined it might be different.

In the end it wasn't.

At any rate, I wanted to spread my wings again. And honestly, I would like a blessing to do so. I am not the enemy. New always comes and can never stop happening. But it doesn’t mean the old wasn’t a place to build character. And we never forget our roots.

The diversity of the city

I am meeting a lot of very different thinkers out here. People like Jack Miles, Marcus Borg and Abraham Heschel. Some of these guys I was told to be wary of, they were in the small town dangerous with there liberal big city ideas and multiplicity of culture. Not so, what I found is that they are really great people that think differently. One is a Pulitzer prize winner, another marched in Selma with Dr. Martin Luther King and may be one of the most articulate folks I have ever met. The third was once labeled trouble but seems to have worked things out rather nicely which I can really respect--such honesty.

I suppose they are fascinating because they are from very different cultures and have helped me to see that this is a big world with many perspectives. I am having the time of my life. I am spreading out. One thing I cling to, that seems to never get old, is the centerpoint of my belief. I never tire of Jesus and somehow see him everywhere here in the city.

The city has a lot to offer for sure and it is fascinating. Unfortunately, it is not always all it is cracked up to be. There is crime in the streets, people are not all that friendly, and there are feuds, disagreements, cultural clash, sometimes tempers run high. But the colors have come back to me now. Because of the city even small town is different to me now. I am coming to realize that some of the stuff of small town was pretty good.

If I could just find a place in the middle. If I could have the best of both worlds. If I could just stay out of the extremes on the continuum. If I could have both/and instead of either/or. If I could be in the center somehow that would be so...good. But then I wouldn't have a place. No where to lay my head. Maybe that is the place to be. That's the place Jesus was found isn't it?

And so to the city I sing...


Just a song before I go,
To whom it may concern.
Travelling twice the speed of sound
It's easy to get burned.

When the shows were over
We had to get back home,

And so I am Homeward Bound. And I have learned something useful. Home isn't small town. Home isn't city...Home is where I am going...Home is not a place, not about liberal, conservative, my way/his way/the way according to me/us or we.

Home is a person. Home is somewhere over the rainbow.

I recently saw the film Australia. Three people so different, worlds apart come together. A woman, Lady Sarah Ashley, aristocratic to the heights, a man, Drover, as earthy as one could get, and a creamy, a child, Nullah, born in the Aboriginal mystique that teaches him to sing, come together to form a Home. Three as diverse as one can ever imagine become one.

It is a story that has been told before. It is a story unveiled in the Bible. The Man, the Woman, and the third mystical spirit form a fascinating impenetrable bond together. They become One, a love story for the ages. If we but see. The colors are there. 'I will sing you home Mrs. Boss', says Nullah in the end. And it is so.

Jacob Needlemann is his 'Little Book on Love' contemplates the need and desire for the other in our lives. He says, 'that is what love is for--to help the other person become whole. You can't make me whole but you can help me search and struggle in a way that I can become whole. We can help each other that way.'

What he is grasping is the meaning of being created 'in the image'. When God declares, 'I hate divorce' He is grieving about his frustrating, troubling, painful relationship with His beloved Israel. He is trying to find a way to make this relationship work. He has made covenant, stamped His own name on the certificate. He has promised. And He, by His own nature, must keep the Promise.

He does. So does she. We are born to love and be loved. God in the scripture models this with his relationship with Israel and ultimately Jesus who is Israel reconstituted.

They were always in love but we to whom this love story in unveiled didn't know that. They were always One, but we didn't get that, what, with our minds so small and our imagination so lacking.

It's not that the colors aren't there...

Home is where I find what I am looking for. Home is where the Lion and the Lamb live as One. Where I can lie down in peace amongst the multitudes without fear. A place where the colors run deep and the rainbow never fades. Home is where I am when I am with You. You are Home. You are what I long for.

Only You. And so 'I am home anywhere if You are there with me.' is what I am learning. Rich Mullins to whom I owe that thought, and those lyrics knew stuff. He knew that the story long ago and far away has drawn near to us. 'And the Holy King of Israel knows me America' is true. Time and space mean nothing to the story of eternity. All these years later the One still lives unbounded by space and time.

And so I know, or am convinced, that there are...

Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right, here I am,
Stuck in the middle with you...Gerry Raferty as recorded by "Stealers Wheel"

We have the liberal left, mainline, liberation theological leaning dwellers. We have the conservative right, fundamental, evangelical positioning folks, you know, the townsfolk.

But me...I want to be smack dap in the center 'stuck in the middle with Jesus'. Looking for him, listening to him, being offended by him, encouraged by him, and truly shaped by him. I know, I know, I know...I can-not, as in not able, be objective on this really. But I can be aware of my tendency towards skewed perspectives and subjectivity on these matters so that I have a thin, pliable heart...or as scripture declares a 'circumcised heart' towards other to the left of me and to the right of me. And frankly, it isn't about me anyway. It is about Us and Home.

Home. I'm going home. It is my destination. And so, I am packing a suitcase for a place that I've never been...a place that has to be believed to be seen'.

I believe.

Reader Comments (1)

I don't know if I'm townsfolk or a city dweller. I know I'm part of your community, and I want you to know I bless you. You wrote this six years ago, just as I was beginning to reenter "normal" life after caring for my mother, a two-year duration of turmoil which coincided closely with your own. Being stuck in the midst of the humanity to which Jesus came, I think, is a marvelous thing. Painful at times, yet offering an awareness of the tension you faithfully taught us we are in - between the now and not yet. Every town resists the inevitable change before it, but that tension between the being and becoming - as volatile as it may be - is the place of epiphany and vision. It's resplendent in its messiness. So, this is a very late response to an early post, but I am blessed by it and I bless you, my friend.'

December 2, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPat Draper

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