As I Was Saying

I think I left off here:

[Again, entirely unauthorized pontificating follows. And I’s sure that Soularize is wonderful, I was just grabbing the name, Jordon, since I knew it was a big get-together.]

For the second, I would put little emphasis on the formal status of leadership and more on how leadership is carried. To indulge in a pop-cultural figure, I wouldn’t in the least mind having Aragorn as my king — much less, indeed, than I mind having Bush as my duly-elected President. By the same token, I would pay less attention to whether a pastor be ordained, or elected, or dragged off the street on Saturday evening, than on whether such a leader exercises her or his authority so as to shore up his/her own standing, or (alternatively) to cultivate the maximum strength and leadership among other participants in community life. You can do that as an appointed rector, or as an elected elder. You can grasp for power in indirect ways in an “emergent” setting, and you can disperse power in an apparently hierarchical setting.

So the formal structure of a congregation — whether it be constituted as a top-down magisterium or a bottom-up populist forum — can imply a certain distribution of power, but the formal structure can also mask the way power operates. “Emergence,” as I understand it, has less to do with the way corporate legislation gets passed than with the ways that a community would arrive at a sense of what might be possible, plausible, the right thing to do — before any formal decision gets made. (As my colleague John Dreibelbis often says, “If you have to appeal to the canons, you’re already in trouble.”)

3 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Pingback: Tensegrities
  2. akma, i’m surprised you don’t have 20 comments on this post.
    this is an interesting thought–that the way someone carries or embodies the leadership says more about its status as emergent than the way the power is formally structured in the community. this is so simple, yet makes total sense in a deep way. it also highlights why the power trip abounds no matter how “flat” the structure is. very interesting, and thank you for sharing.

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