Monday, December 9, 2013

‘The Last Stop: Understanding the Emerging Church Movement’ Interview with Gladys Ganiel and Gerardo Marti Published in Bearings

‘The Last Stop: Understanding the Emerging Church Movement’ Interview with Gladys Ganiel and Gerardo Marti Published in Bearings

Bearings5CoverAn interview with Gerardo Marti and me, ‘The Last Stop: Understanding the Emerging Church Movement,’ has been published in the Collegeville Institute’s Bearings magazine.

The interview begins on page nine and is based in large part on our forthcoming book, The Deconstructed Church: Understanding Emerging Christianity, and includes questions such as:
  • How do you introduce the Emerging Church to those who are unfamiliar with the movement?
  • What does the Emerging Church Movement tell us about the contemporary religious landscape? What is its significance as a modern religious movement?
  • Do you think the Emerging Church Movement will play a role in Christianity’s historical development?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Deconstructed Church: A Quick Update

My co-author Gladys Ganiel and I have been working diligently to craft the final contours of our forthcoming book The Deconstructed Church — a book oriented toward describing the identity and practices of "Emerging Christians." While the draft is not complete, it looks like we're on target to turn in the manuscript this summer.

A lot of writing exists (and much more since we received the contract with Oxford University Press) about the Emerging Church Movement—mostly a mixture of suppositions, speculations, and various spokespeople representing their visions for the movement. But sociologists of religion have been reluctant to pay much attention to this group of network-dependent, loosely-affiliated, and largely marginalized "Christians." There are insiders and critics who are sick to death of hearing about emerging/emergent Christians, while there are plenty of outsiders who are still discovering it, intrigued by the orientation, and struggling to figure it out.

And there are a few scholars of religion who have found enough permanence among these groups (existing since the late 1990s, with and without the label) that one esteemed colleague said to me that she's heard of several people who are trying to stake some kind of scholarly "claim" to understanding the movement.

Like a lot of researchers, I follow my nose: meaning, I have a set of questions that intrigue me, a set of observations that coalesce at various times, and moments of opportunity to investigate things that serve to highlight important aspects about identity, social change, and the often surprising dynamics that govern our lives.

I have zero interest in staking any exclusive claim to understanding the Emerging Church Movement. I've spoken about it at academic conferences and written about it. Occasionally, I've been interviewed by a reporter. But there are others. Gladys certainly has her expertise. Other social scientists have recently published some insightful analyses (James Bielo's Emerging Evangelicals and Josh Packard's The Emerging Church come to mind). What I am interested in doing is taking a fairly extensive data set that combines my interviews/observations with Gladys', and supplementing those with data gathered originally by Tony Jones for his dissertation in Practical Theology at Princeton (you can find it on Amazon).  Although Tony has published his thoughts, I have avoided reading this work closely as Gladys and my goal has been to systematically analyze the whole of the data and inductively assess the patterns that (ahem) "emerge."

I'm very pleased with our work so far. I think our book holds some surprises—even for those who are long time observers and insiders. We bring our own conceptual lenses to bear to what has become an impossibly ambitious task: How do we frame the workings of a diffuse religious orientation against the backdrop of the changed society that makes it possible? The Emerging Church Movement would not have existed 100 years ago, even 50 years ago.  It is a manifestation of shifting ground for what it means to be religious today, and what the possibilities for congregational life are in the near future.

As a book-length analysis, it strains a blog post to summarize our findings. You'll forgive me that I won't even try. But I am excited enough to say "Stay Tuned," this book will be worth the wait. Expected sometime Fall 2014.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

How to Index Your Book Manuscript

Although I paid about $750 to have my first book A Mosaic of Believers indexed, I didn't end up liking the job. Although not every reader uses a book's index, I came to see it as an opportunity to promote ideas and concepts and to show how my book speaks to those. So I indexed my next two books. 

Here's a quick how-to: 

Get a stack of index cards. Go through proof sheets of your book marking names, places, organizations (those are easy), and also ideas, concepts, theoretical items (which may not be addressed directly by actual name or label). Put the names/labels on the header line of an index card, a separate card per header. List page numbers relevant for each header. As your stack of cards grow, place headers in alphabetical order using a little card filing box. 

As you go through the proof sheets, you'll see your index cards grow, and you'll also have more ideas. You might create new index cards and re-think how to group together other pages that correspond to these new ideas.

When you finish going through the proofs, sort your index cards. Perhaps some (most?) can become sub-ideas, or sub-themes, and those will be placed under cards you now assign as main headings. You can create cross-reference headings if you have related ideas (see xyz…) .  

It took me about 4-5 days (not full time, amidst all else) to work through proofs, creating cards, and getting it done. 

Then I had a student type up my headings followed by page numbers, and put sub-headings underneath also with page numbers. All headings are in alphabetical order.

Proof read your final sheet of indexed terms and page numbers. Send to publisher!