I borrowed some CD's off Jonny yesterday of four talks by David Tacey. Tacey is a psychologist and theologian who lectures and writes on contemporary spirituality. I've listened to the first two and my mind is buzzing with thoughts and ideas - I woke up at 5 am this morning with my mind still making connections.
The area I am drawn to particularly is his thinking about the high rates of suicide in young people. To understand this tragic phenomena further he spoke with some aboriginal tribal elders about why they thought there were high levels of suicide. Their response was that they perceived a lack of 'rites of passage' within contemporary society and therefore people were unable to transition from childhood to adulthood. In tribal communities it is often the case that there is a significant right of passage that people go through when passing from childhood to adulthood. During this time they become an adult, childhoods dies and adult life is born. It's a time of liminality where communitas is created for a temporary time period. The aboriginal response to the problem of suicide in contemporary society is that people don't know how to transition to adulthood because there are no longer any rights of passage. Rites of passage create space for the child to die and the adult to be born. If the child is not allowed to die there is a danger that it can kill the latent adult.
I am wondering whether emerging churches need to find rites of passage that allow them to grow into adulthood. It maybe that there is a high rate of suicide in emerging churches (such as Vaux) because there are no rights of passage into adulthood. Childhood is exciting, creative, new and dynamic stage but it is a stage which needs to transition into adulthood for its own survival. This is not a criticism but just an observation that rites of passage enable sustainability and that perhaps corporate rites of passage are missing within the emerging church.
Steve Collins was speaking this morning on the blah...tour about Grace. He was saying that in the past Grace didn't know whether they'd still be functioning in a few weeks time, it was a very fragile community. Now they feel as though there is a level of sustainability - they've got their name on the church notice board! and the future is something that they now engage with in a hopeful way, perhaps a move to adulthood has taken place?
I had an interesting on-line conversation with steve taylor about whether the emerging church should be community rather than communitas. Communitas is essentially a period of transition and of liminality, i wonder whether emerging churches are not even in a time of liminality as liminality suggests transition to adulthood...