Postcolonialism in the Emergent Village: Recipe for Change or Ingredients for Indigestion?

(Somewhat “live” reports form Daniel Fan)

Emergents:  Jeans & flip-flop wearing neo-beatnik-hipster extremist-layabout philosopher-dreamers who drink fair trade coffee…or…influential, cutting-edge socially-minded post-evangelical Christian theologians, who drink fair trade coffee (and wear jeans and flip-flops)?

A compelling question, no doubt, and one which can only be answered by traveling to the heart of their village gathering nestled deep in the wilds of midtown Atlanta.  My journey will be fraught with perils such as: being roughed up by TSA, voracious Georgian mosquitoes, blistering 77 degree weather, and the ever-present danger of having my registration papers lost.

My visit to the Emergent Village will coincide with their yearly gathering (Nov 1-3), where chiefs and chiefesses from around the region come to discuss topics of relevance to all.   This year’s theme is “Postcolonialism and the Missional Future of the Church.”  Honored guests include African theologian Musa Dube and the seemingly omnipresent, but probably not omniscient, Richard Twiss.

I am particularly interested to see how this gathering will approach this topic of “postcolonialism” in the Church.  As many of you know, fellow traveler Soong-Chan Rah’s comments in his tome The Next Evangelicalism concerning the homogeneity and white cultural captivity of Emergents were not well received this mostly white/Anglo collective.  Despite this missed opportunity for much-needed self examination, Emergents maintain a reputation for being open-minded and socially progressive.  I hope they are able to embrace postcolonialism (in the “anti” as opposed to the “beyond” sense). The American church could certainly benefit from the exorcism of colonialism from its doctrine and practices, and Emergents seem to be a likely group to embrace this essential step towards a non-Western-centric Christianity.

To prepare for my visit to the village I have been perusing Musa Dube’s A Postcolonial Feminist Interpretation of the Bible.  A third speaker, Colin Greene will also be attending. Unfortunately I was was not able to obtain his book, Metavista, and therefore, couldn’t do all of the suggested readings.  In my defense, I tried multiple vendors and one bookseller even flaked on me–taking my money, then telling me they didn’t have the one copy in stock they thought they did.  At this point, it appears as though I have no choice but to go to Greene’s sessions freshman style, making up for not doing the readings by “listening real hard.”

My hope is to provide you, the blog readers, with a report of each day’s goings-on.  I hope to take photos too, but the transmission of both will depend on the reliability of my wireless electronic carrier pigeons.  Unfortunately for the readers, concerted studies in human nature have left my technical skills somewhat lacking.  However, I will endeavor to do my utmost in this regard.

Most Cordially,

Daniel Fan

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One Response to Postcolonialism in the Emergent Village: Recipe for Change or Ingredients for Indigestion?

  1. Daniel Lowe says:


    I’m interested in your reporting on the event. It should be interesting to see who is on stage, who is presenting, who is running the show, etc. Some of my family members have been to two major missions conferences in the past six to eight months, only to return home disappointed at the lack of integrated diversity in the planning and execution of these events. Maybe this conference you’ll be attending will be different.

    Dan Lowe

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