If you hate Cloverfield (or don't even know what it is), then you probably loathe emerging Christians. If you like Cloverfield, you're likely to dig the emergent conversation. Both deliver on their grand promises in a novel way (that is decidedly not for everybody). But why does the film (and the emergent folks) inspire such antipathy? Why can't we appreciate the next generation's re-imagination of tired clich?s?

Movies offer a safe way to process our cultural anxiety. In monster movies we're presented with an opportunity to corral our fears. Zombies or UFOs or viruses wreak havoc for ninety minutes before order is inevitably restored. Cloverfield depicts a seemingly ordinary evening in New York City that is derailed by an unexpected and unexplained attack. Sound familiar? Cloverfield is a direct response to the fear unleashed by the collapse of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Eerie shots of panic in the streets remind us how vulnerable we felt. We follow shell-shocked New Yorkers crossing the Brooklyn Bridge in search of safety. The film doesn't offer any reasons for the monster's rampage. It is pure terror. Our way of life as we know it is vanishing, and nothing seems capable of stopping the assault.

For some, the emergent movement has become a monster to be dreaded and feared. Despite leaders' best efforts to explain their theology, rumors about the Emergent Village keep swirling in the blogosphere. A struggling, insecure church has identified emergent Christians as the new enemy. How a small band of smart, reasonably clean-cut ministers like Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt or Rob Bell could inspire so much fear is a tribute to the mania available on the Internet. To some evangelical watchdogs, public enemy number ...

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Christianity  |  Culture  |  Media  |  Teaching  |  Theology  |  Trends
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