Baptist minister Chris Seay is one of those spicy young(ish) emerging church pastors who warms the cockles of my heart.

seay and mclaren

I first became aware of Chris Seay when someone pointed me to a Web site where he makes videos for his church. The Web site is extensive, with a lot of video and audio, most of it networked through YouTube and subscribable via iTunes. It looks like he is someone plugged into culture and interested in being engaged rather than withdrawn. Any doubt about this was eliminated when I read the reviews of his book, which argues that the Holy Spirit is at work in the HBO series the Sopranos, revealing Christianity’s deepest and most profound truths.

I love what he says in this Christianity Today interview about a Christian’s relationship to culture:

I still think one of the great fallacies of Christian thinking is this kind of garbage in/garbage out mentality…. Daniel was educated by sorcerers, magicians, pagan priests, and astrologers. It says at the end of chapter one that he became ten times wiser in those things than the people that taught him. And yet, clearly, he wasn’t a pagan priest or a sorcerer. Scripture was his guide through all of the mess of his own pagan culture that I find to be very similar to our culture.

And later he describes how culture spaces can be where Christians meet people and engage their spiritual questions:

I’ve found it as a place where people are longing and asking spiritual questions. In music and movies, you see all of these deep spiritual questions. And the people that are supposed to engage those questions have removed themselves. We pull away from culture to the point where we can no longer affect it. Somewhere right in the middle is a really healthy place, but it’s a difficult one to find.

I realize I don’t have a clear idea of what the Mennonite disposition toward culture is. I have a vague idea that this has historically been an ambivalent relationship, but where are Mennonite churches moving today in relation to culture? What’s the deep Anabaptist theological thinking on this? It’s something I plan to investigate for a while.