A personal e-mail yesterday from a blog reader, RJS, suggested another idea for this series on zealotry. What is the impact of a high fences or thick fences? That is, what happens when one is accustomed to dwell in the security and safety of a fence (what I’m calling a beyond the Bible immunity) and then learns, after all, that such a fence is wrong? It’s happened you know.
The stories here, of course, are legion. It is not unusual for some young adults who grew up in a family or church with lots of tall and thick fences to wander off to the university, discover the thrill of some freedom beyond one of those fences, and then feel the entire fence collapse along with everything connected to it. I’ve seen some kids nearly lose their faith because they thought it was impossible to be a Christian and enjoy a beer on a Friday night. (I simplify.)
The emerging church movement’s focusing on authentic relationships and fellowship is sometimes discovered by some who grew up with a strict “go to church every Sunday morning for SS class and worship at 10am or else.” Some of those, when they’ve discovered that “church can happen” on other than 11am Sunday morning begin to wonder if “church” (as they learned it) is of any value. You get the idea.
If a family or church focuses on a fence or attributes high significance to a fence, then when that fence collapses everything significant attributed to that fence might also collapse. E.g., if a given praxis is vested with more significance than it should (and it nearly always is), then along with the collapse of the fence goes the more significant ideas that are buttressed or protected by that fence.
The danger of fences is not as Robert Frost said. He said “good fences make good neighbors.” What do “good fences” make for us?