So, the lecture yesterday morning. It was great!! There were lots of people I know there, some of whom I don't see often, so I had a good time talking with them. But more than that, Luke Johnson is a very engaging speaker, and he knows what he is talking about. There were three major points of his talk that struck me: First, his discussions of the language around possessions: rich vs. poor, being vs. having (he credits Gabriel Marcel here, see this link and mystery vs. problem; second, the importance of the intentional community, along with its role (for lack of a better word here); and third, his definition of idolatry and discussions around that term. I'm getting a cd of the talk, and I'm sure all of these ideas are discussed thoroughly in his books, but I want to expand on the third point here, mostly so I don't forget it. He talked about how we are born longing to center on something. It is when we center on something other than God (or "our Higher Power", in 12-step language) that we begin to have a "deep disordering of freedom" -- idolatry -- and it when we center on God (or H.P.) that we have faith. Both begin at the same place, he says: our experience of our own closeness to death at every moment. In response to a comment during the Q & A at the end of the talk, he suggested that we "spend our lives oscillating between idolatry and faith."
The talk was both affirming and challenging, and made me realize again that I am not alone in my conviction that Christianity and the Christian community must be countercultural in some very fundamental ways.