Babbling On
June 26th, 2008 by Sonja

There are some blogs I simply read.  I don’t have the words to engage there, so I just read.  The other day I read the following:

In passing it is worth noting that one important reason why we should be suspicious of hierarchical top-down notion of leadership is because we know from history and from human nature that institutional systems confer social power and concentrates it at the top. The problem is precisely because of human nature that we should be very wary of such power in human hands. It almost always corrupts and damages the relational fabric that constitutes the church.

Alan Hirsch wrote those words on his post “field of dreams, part iv.”  The whole post is about nature of power and hierarchy within church structures.  As is usual with Alan, it’s quite good.  He’s published books and all, so of course, it’s good.

As I read those words, and as I continue to read them, I keep getting this picture in my head:

Tower of BabelThe Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9)

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech.  As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar  and settled there.

They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building.  The LORD said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.  Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

  So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel —because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

So, I was talking to my friend, Doug, on the phone the other day and mentioned this to him.  Because I think that Babel is (among many things) a metaphor for how we ought not to be concentrating power in tiny little hierarchies in churches.  Sometimes when I get odd ideas like this I run them past Doug because he’ll tell me when I’m nuts.  He is kind and gracious about it, but he’ll tell me the truth.  He’s smart too, so I can’t slip very much past him.

He got excited, in a very “doug” kind of way.  And we talked about the first four sins of the Bible.  There was the rupture of relationship between humans and God (in the Garden).  There was the rupture of relationship between humans and humans (Cain and Abel).  There was the rupture of relationship between humans and creation (the Flood).  And last there was this rupture of relationship between humans and the systems they love.

So all of that is to say, I think I’m going to study these and look the metaphors more deeply in the coming weeks and how they play out for us today.  I might even write about them here.  But I’m not promising anything.  Every time I promise something that looks like a series, I get overwhelmed and run away from myself.  This creates all sorts of havoc with my cellular structure.  I wanted to write this much so that I’d remember and see what happens from here.

2 Responses  
  • Doug Jones writes:
    June 26th, 20088:55 amat

    “in a very “doug” kind of way”

    I resemble that remark!



  • Adam G. writes:
    June 26th, 20082:55 pmat

    I had never thought about the “first four sins” before, at least not that I remember.

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