THE PLC REVIEW
PSU: Core Curriculum SUMMER 73
RESURGENT TIMES 1. Since this course was last pulled together in the Continental
Council of 1969, society has changed; its internal conditions, future
possibilities and the self image of all men have been shifted into a
different context This necessitates an evaluation of life and significant engagement in the common life. In the past ten years, we
have experienced the collapse of dreaming
about solving problems in today's communities. ;1e have learned that material
goods and pre-packaged ideas to enable the environment are no answer to
human powerlessness and stagnation. As a reaction, a widespread attitude
is that of helplessness and surrender to despair in many of today's established
institutions because established methods have not offered effective care
for mankind. However, it is also seen that ways for changing society outside
the established structures of society outside are futile. The disestablishment
organizations of a few years ago originally sought to protest against
the establishment (e.g. Black Panther,. However, they now work within societies'
establishment. They have become active in local politics and other established
institutions such as schools, welfare organizations and the church. There
can be no change in the structure of society without change in its people,
who are that society and who live within its structures.
2. We see signs of a people willing to work within these established
institutions to build a new future, creating structures that will
enable adequate care for all men. The newly formed relationship
between the United States and China and
the end of the "Cold War" are indications of the broadening care.
We have been brought face to face with the knowledge that the creation
of the future and the total responsibility for it is in local man's hands.
We dread that burden, and yet we are fascinated by its new possibilities.
Embracing this reality is the responsible action for local man as the alternative
to social paralysis.
MOVEMENT'S ROLE 3. The change in the times and the signs today of resurgence in
society have affected the spirit movement in terms of its focus in
the PLC Course. Although, the prophet role of naming the judgment of God's will always is a dynamic in history, man's lucidity on that judgment has reached such a point that this role no longer needs to be the dominating one. The movement, through the PLC can image its new role as colleagues who can assist clergy in transforming their existing situations. The impact of this new role is seen as clergy view the movement as an enabling force in society concerned with creation of care structures for all of society, as well as enabling the church (the tra`1itior~al caring body) to recapture its vitality in the role of its "brother's keeper." The focus of the 1ocal Church Project is an example of this new role. The thrust of the project as seen through the eyes of colleagues is not the creation of one more program for the clergy to follow. but enabling a spirit breakloose in what is already in existence.
CLERGY'S ROLE 4. Clergymen have experienced a change in their own roles due to these times of resurgence. The breakloose of the Spirit has been experienced as the demand that each man be his own theologian. The outdated role of authoritarian rabbi and captain of the ship is no longer a valid one. What is necessary are "spirit enablers" and "journey guides" as well as "tactical scouts."
EXTERNAL SITUATION 5. The clergy has an
unenviable situation today. He finds that the structures of church collapsing
and most of the programs either in a state of collapse, or at the least,
sadly ineffective. The church is no longer giving direction. and membership
is dwindling. The only real vitality left seems to siphon off into the
Jesus freaks or other similar groups In the face of his loss of direction,
the clergyman realizes he has no clear role. Yet, in the midst of this
collapse, there appears in many congregations new signs of possibility
and a bubbling of resurgence. Individuals and groups are seeking to become
authentically engaged and are becoming involved in such spirit groups as
Key '73. Even with the churches that are affluent and have a numerically
stable membership, there remains the practical gap between the needs of
the world (requiring a radical image of mission) and the church's ineffectiveness.
INTERNAL CRISIS 6 Out of the collapsing of structures and the weaning away of spiritual laymen, the clergyman becomes more and more depressed and empty as he realizes that he is indeed losing direction. This leads to a deepening of his despair as he senses he has lost his calling Signs of resurgence now serve to intensify his interior collapse. He sees himself being betrayed by the church or having sold out his election. He becomes fearful of losing the direction of his life when nothing he tries really works. This growing selfdoubt as to what he should do or how he should do it elicits the depth cry, "My God' This is my life, what can I do with it?" Threatened as he is in his own deeps by developments beyond his control, he finds his depression in intensified even more. This interior response to his own question "What is going on?" leads to a feeling of "flabbiness" resulting in a subconscious decision to settle down and remain in a comfortable state of his collapse.
THE ESCAPES 7. In the face of this collapsed vocational significance, the clergy is experiencing deep fear, and he involves himself in many tasks and associations but without any serious commitment. His involvement becomes an escape from the pain and depression he feels in the loss of vocational significance. He hides in his busyness from any direct encounter with the vocational struggle he is in. He justifies his state of being, in the intensification of the collapse in which he selfconsciously chooses to remain secure. He stoically denies that there is any significant depth to his own life experience or that there is any spirit reality stirring in his being. The other side of the escape is paradoxically the increasing preoccupation with one's own individual spirit journey in this time of sociological resurgence. Finally, the clergyman who is threatened by the radical possibility and missional demands of the church, is afraid of losing direction over his congregation, and responds by tightening his hold on the guiding of that congregation, and by squelching creative involvement of the laity.
EXISTENTIAL QUESTION 8. Underneath even the most sophisticated escapes, every clergyman has haunting questions gnawing at the deeps of his being. The one who had, and has since lost, the buoyant enthusiasm of the call as a clergy to give his life for others still has the cry within him: "How can I help these people live their lives?" or "What can I do to help them come alive?" The one who tries to deny spirit activity within him still suspects that others are in touch with some thing he has lost touch with. He aches with the yearning to be excited in the spirit realities of life again. Similarly, submerged in his own private experiences he has a haunting suspicion that he is out of contact with the spirit that is birthing new passion in the lives of men and women today. He wrestles with "What would it take for me to come alive again?" Lastly, the one who has withdrawn into an authoritarian style sees colleagues released to work with more dynamic forms of ministry and he agonizes over the questions of his own defensiveness. He feels he is unnecessarily mistrustful, and wonders deeply if he should let go of useless fears and thereby not be destroyed.
RENEWED VISION 9. We see in this time a
yearning to pick up social responsibility in the midst of our collapsed
hopes. At the same time, we see within the movement an embracing and honoring
of the gifts of the historical church never before possible. These shifts
intensify the existential questions being asked in the lives of many clergymen.
Former justifications for dismissing their importance ("it doesn't
look like it's going to change things any," or "church has too
many problems of its own to make much difference in this world") have
been invalidated. The PLC, therefore, permits the clergyman to face these
questions, and through its pedagogues and methods demonstrates the authentic
and comprehensive style of the new clergyman.
CHANGING IMPACT 10. A new air of collegiality
and accessibility is seen as the major shift in the teaching of the PLC.
Participants arrive at the course open and free of anger and hostility.
They know why they are there and are glad to have this acknowledged by
assuming that they want to get down to business. This has permitted a pedagogical
style which honors the clergy as clergy and brings forth a style nonchalant
11 There is a strong consensus that RSI as it stands today really works, The participants are excited to see themselves as caring servants during the church lecture They are prone to escape during Bonhoeffer when they realize freedom is total obligation. They are less involved during tee opening lecture on the times, probably because they are anxious to get on with the practice sessions. It is there that they begin to image themselves as the religious and to get a new understanding of their vocation as clergy.
12 Although, we have experienced the collapse
of the dreaming about solving the problems in today's world, the classical
artforms and examples are still powerful, as well as happenings that come
off as a personal witness expressing how one's life can be authentically
committed. Such stories and images as the longnecked girl,
the People of God, Guernica. Requiem and the Bonhoeffer seminar are ones
.that continue to allow participants to decide to live their lives in the
midst of chaos, as well as emphasizing fascination and possibility.
PEDAGOGUE INTERVIEW 13. A number of PLC pedagogues interviewed In this regard, stated that a style which releases participants to become involved is one of nonchalant collegiality. Where openness and disciplined care are the prime factors, there are no secrets, no "meat cleavers", but rather the pedagogue/guru raises a curtain' pointing towards what must be seen. The Church is honored: her possibilities affirmed, and her problems clearly articulated. Authentic demonstration of one's love of the church is crucial, likewise, the clergy must be honored and affirmed. Teaching is a work of art, not an imposition. The new style must communicate utter openness, yet stand firm regarding the objectives of the course. They glory of the burden of being the church must be communicated. rather than the burden of the burden. Teaching must become a happening for all participants, therefore, teachers must grasp the method as a dynamic.
14. In the area of the symbolic, it was felt that short courses and lecturettes on worship were well received. "I don't know why, but they want to hear all we have to say about worship'" said one pedagogue which is representative of several of those interviewed. It was felt by some that the response to the prayer short courses was, in general, positive. Others interviewed' however. felt that participant clergy do not receive these well because many have most their concern in the whole area of prayer and therefore receive the short courses as being phony or false. The areas of worship and prayer need more serious attention give to them. more depth and grounding is needed in these short courses and lecturettes.
15. Corporateness is a key area in our short courses and lecturettes today. These short courses should push participants beyond their floating or apathy. It is an area which elicits a definite response, generally one of fascination, though sometimes one of anger. As one pedagogue stated, "They have a real desire to see themselves as part of a body of people." They know the individual can't do it alone.
16. Methods in tactical thinking give the participants a way to cut across apathy, whether their own, their congregation's or that of the parish. The consensus of those interviewed was that workshops need to push all the way to the tactical level. Participants need to see that miracles can be created through tactics, thereby releasing new possibilities over against creating new programs Lectures and short courses need to push toward tactical application as the future methodology of the church and the world.
PEDAGOGUES CONCENSUS 17 At the conclusion
of each interview the teachers were asked for their intuitions about changes
in the construct of the course. The following summarizes their responses.
There was a strong consensus that the RSI section of the course should remain much the same. The only significant exception was the first lecture. There was feeling that the secular context has not been adequately set in the Times lecture There was a consensus, however, that the final three sessions of the course need extensive revision.
19 It was felt that the workshops need to be less programmatic and more tactical The course needs to demonstrate what can be done through activating tactics and opposed to developing new programs. It was strongly recommended that a congregational analysis be included in the course and that corporate writing be included as a useful tool for the clergy. More time needs to be given to the workshops, using illustrations and examples as part of the workshops rather than making the lectures lengthy.
20 The lectures need to be sharpened, especially the movement lec- ture Lectures need to have common 4 x 4's and should include in them some stories or examples taken from galaxy congregations. The Lectures need to the crisper and new rational objectives and existential aims need to be written for the last three sessions. It was suggested, for example, that a workshop on the Ecumenical parish and the guild dynamic, as well as a whole lecture on discipline, be included in this section of the course.
21. The thought was also expressed by the teachers that the time design of the whole course could be expanded. One suggestion was the addition of an opening session which would share the wisdom of our corporate work held in the LENS course, providing a more secular grounding before the theological section of the course begins. Also, a session was suggested to be added at the end of the course to allow for the writing of a document which would explode the participants' imagination of corporate methods as well as push the workshops to the tactical application level.
22. The teachers feel strongly that the course needs to include more religious methods including the New Religious Mode, scripture conversations and spirit conversations. It is also felt that more singing would be good. The songs could come earlier in the course and could include more traditional songs as well as edge songs.
23. In order to honor the participants as colleagues the course needs to send them home with a working knowledge. They need, for instance, to become familiar with art form conversations, Luke conversations and the methodologies of each. It was suggested that after each type of conversation (Guernica, spirit, and scripture) a conversation on that particular methodology be used. In the course we need to give them the skills we have rather than appearing to have secret skills which they can obtain if they join the movement. Also in this regard, the participants need to be concretely invited to become the movement. A way of doing this was suggested through asking them to do a recruitment battleplan for the congregation during the course.
24. Finally the course needs to convey
to the participants the image of the Ecumenical Institute as an authentic
and established movement. An example, here is the distribution of song
books rather than song sheets.
PSU RECOMMENDATIONS 25. The collection of wisdom by means of these questionnaires! interviews has shown that pedagogues need each other's insights.
As a PSU, we recommend that a vehicle be created that would collect and distribute such insights so that they might be made available to all PLC teachers.