January 10, 2011

Taking Authority

In her book Reframing Hope: Vital Ministry in a New Generation, Carol Howard Merritt discusses the "diffusion of authority," the empowerment of the fringes, and the "celebration of noncelebrity" in her chapter on Redistributing Authority.

As I read those words, I began to feel a strange sense of validation for what I am doing.  I have a voice.  I have the ability to write.  I have a conversation that I want to start.  I want to participate.  But I don't want to do it alone.

This whole blogging adventure has been, fundamentally, about maintaining the connections with colleagues and schools of thought that have fed my theological and ecclesiastical development.  It is about hanging on tightly to those threads of tradition that have sustained my faith.  It is about picking up pieces scrapped by others, deemed unworthy, and trying to figure out what we need to hear about God from them.

And at times, it seems silly. 

At times, I find myself floundering around, trying to make sense of the world around me.

At times, I'm wrestling by myself with questions that have no real answers.

At times, I feel a little overwhelmed by the system and all of the things that I am supposed to do, all of the details of ministry.

At times, I really do not have the time to be a part of this kind of time intensive dialogue.

At times, I don't have the energy to fight the man and to call out the parts of our tradition and practice that trouble me.

And at times, I really really really want to share something and it's not appropriate to do so yet.  Not enough time and space has passed to allow the insights of a particular experience to be shared.

So I give up here and there.  I flounder.  I don't claim the authority I do have.  I feel that what I'm doing here is not really very important.

But then, today, I find myself surrounded by colleagues in ministry at an orders event and suddenly my name is called out for all to hear.  Someone has pointed to my blog as a place where vital theological reflection by United Methodists is being done.

And I feel humbled.

And a little embarassed.

And more than a little encouraged to keep doing what I am doing.

To take authority.

To keep writing.

To keep thinking.

To continue the conversation.

To accept that although I may be a young pastor, a small town pastor, someone on the fringe, someone who hasn't yet put in my years, that I still have something worthy to say.

To give myself space and permission to keep writing. 


  1. I enjoyed sitting and visiting with you all yesterday afternoon. A rare chance to "just be" and learn. You are a good theologian, worthy of reading and the thoughtful process that follows. I have had this blog as a side blog on mine for some time.

  2. Thanks, Dave! I hadn't realized that you were blogging also. I love the story behind the picture of Denali that you share =)