Emerging Down Under taps into the current hunger for spirituality, the death pains of various obsolete church forms, and the rising tide of hope felt by many Christians. It suggests that the fragmented church needs to reconnect both with its roots and with the contemporary environment, providing practical examples of church that bring praying, eating, learning and hospitality together in one place.The book was first published as Church of Isles by Ray Simpson for a British audience. In collaboration with Australian church activist Brent Lyons Lee, the book has tapped into worldwide conversations about ’emerging church’ and ‘new monasticism’ and applied these ideas to a ‘down-under’ context.
Reviewed by Darren Cronshaw
Emerging Downunder arose out of conversation between Celtic writer Ray Simpson and local mission worker Brent Lyons-Lee. Simpson is an Anglican Priest who leads the global Community of Aidan and Hilda. Lyons-Lee is an advocate and educator with Urban Seed in Melbourne and pastor at Norlane Baptist Church. Part of the richness of the book is the insights they bring to spirituality, justice and church from their Celtic and Australian perspectives.
They discuss and critique the potential contribution of indigenous spirituality, David Tacey’s analysis of new spirituality trends, emerging churches, new monasticism, the prayer rhythms of their different communities and the strengths of Celtic spirituality. The Celts express a number of features that are especially relevant to us in Australia: an everyday approach to faith, environmental concern, celebration of women and men’s leadership, commitment to hospitality and an invitation to enjoy life.
For example, drawing on the values of their communities and appealing for a simpler lifetsyle, they comment: “We are not seeking a life of denial for we thoroughly rejoice in the good things God gives us. Our clothes and furniture should reflect God-given features of our personalities. There is a time to feast and celebrate as well as to fast. Our commitment is to openness. We stand against the influence of the god of mammom in our society by our life-style, by our hospitality, by our intercession, and by regular and generous giving.”
Ray has written dozens of books on Celtic spirituality. This is Brent’s debut as an author. The result of their conversation is easy to read but also thought-provoking and a real gift to the Australian church.
This review originally appeared in the Witness: The Voice of Victorian Baptists, Vol. 141, No. 6 (July), p.21.
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