Hats and grandchildren
This past weekend lots of us in Rhode Island attended our Diocesan Convocation. Our guest keynoter was Barry Taylor, former sound man for AC/DC and presently on the staff of All Saints’, Beverly Hills. Taylor speaks compellingly about the need to rethink the relationship of Christianity with our culture. He’s not talking about printing up the same-old same-old in a new font. He’s talking about big rethinking. He quoted Picasso, and that got my blogging friend, Mother Clare Fischer-Davies, thinking:
[Taylor reminded us that] Picasso said, “If you want to preserve tradition, don’t wear your grandfather’s hat, have grandchildren.”
That struck a chord with me – because as I had been looking around the room during the gathering, an awful lot of people clearly weren’t on board with what Taylor was saying about how technology has so profoundly changed how we interact with each other, in every dimension of our lives, changed how we process information and how we feel connected. His point was that if we’re preparing for change, for the future, we’re too late – the future is already here. And he gently remarked that churches were among the slowest institutions to embrace that reality.
That’s spot on. Taylor, Picasso, and Fischer-Davies. Paul didn’t tell us to do everything exactly the way he did them; he talked about handing on the tradition. To hand something on, you have to let go. If we take that seriously, it really messes with the dynamics in just about any congregation.
Imagine if I said, “I don’t want to hear how you did it 30 years ago. Let’s ask our newest members how they want to do things.” OK, I’ve actually said that. Sometimes it goes over well. Other times, not so much. But if we want to live the Christian faith — which is inherently transforming and transformed — we had all better be ready for things to change, and for the next generations to take over. Christianity is a living faith, not a museum.
I was going to end the post there, but I can already hear the wags talking about ancient theological tradition, and so on. Fine. I’m not saying everything has to change, but everything save the core of our faith should be open for conversation. There, I said it.
(The photo is from here. I don’t know anything about this company, but I thought it was the right illustration.)