At a gathering of clergy last night, I mentioned my blog. A few minutes later, I heard people saying the phrase "broken hallelujah" and I was smugly satisfied that they were discussing my blog.
They were talking about the upcoming work by Chris Scharen, titled, yep, Broken Hallelujahs: Pop culture, Imagination and God. Disclaimer: I didn't know that's what he was working on. But now I feel smugly satisfied that I had even a wee bit of overlap with his work.
I could become something of a Scharen disciple. He is a Lutheran Pastor and Ethics Professor at Luther Seminary. And what he writes and the way he thinks just makes sense to me.
I first met Scharen through his book One Step Closer: Why U2 Matters to Those Seeking God. Much of the presentation I did at Prince of Peace last summer came from that book. Together, we led a U2-charist in 2005 (the first in DC, I think), and he led a provoking discussion on U2, music, God, really great rock concerts, Bono's work in AIDS relief. (By the way, I'm thrilled at the rumors that U2 will be touring again. I am determined to do what it takes to go).
I think I like Scharen's work for the same reason I like the song Hallelujah. Both strike me as sacramental. They understand that God is tied up with the most basic of things, (a pop song, a body, a piece of bread) and they blurr the lines between the sacred and the ordinary.
Rather than diminishing the sacred, this enhances the ordinary. God's power is boldly drawn, and it's not contained neatly inside the lines. A pop concert becomes genuine worship, a human body becomes a temple, bread becomes the body of Christ. Scharen understands that lines that separate the sacred and the ordinary are ultimately false. They limit God in a way that can make the church irrelevant. As for the gospel - well, if we take out the ordinary, it's something less than grace and it's certainly not for me.
Read about Broken Hallelujahs and this great theologian's thoughts on Scharen's blog. I think it's great reading. Maybe we can invite him to come out here and speak?