A New Kind of Christianity
And third, I think more and more of us understand that in a pluralistic world, a religion is valued on the basis of the benefits it brings to its non-adherents. If it brings blessings to insiders but trouble to everyone else, we would tend to see the world worse off for this religion's presence. But if it brings blessings to both insiders and to everyone else, we would tend to see the world better off for this religion's presence.
So I would hope we would see lots of conversions ... people migrating toward the faith communities that do the most good for the most people, and that bring out the best in the most people. And I would hope that more and more faith communities would experience an ongoing conversion themselves, becoming more and more of what God wishes they would be.
One last question. You are in high demand as a speaker and travel much of the year. You also write, give interviews, have a family, and worship with your own faith community. How do you remain close to God in the midst of your busy life? What are the spiritual practices that ground you from day to day?
This is a great question, because it's the subject of the book I'm working on right now. The fact is, being a "religious professional" can be terrible for the soul. Being in demand is very demanding. You'll burn out or flame out unless you know a) that you need spiritual practices to maintain your inner ecology, b) which practices you need most in this season, and c) how to integrate those practices in your life.
I have a series of prayer practices that are very important to me. They involve holding certain postures or attitudes in my soul in the presence of God. I also have some other practices that help me get time to engage in those prayer practices: taking walks, being exposed to art and nature, having some soul-friends, journaling, making space for solitude. I work hard, but I also have boundaries for my work because I know that unless I guard my heart, my springs will run dry and I won't have anything to offer anyone. I know that we live in a youth-oriented culture that assumes that youth is good and getting older is bad, but in my experience, one of the great things about the second half of life is that you're finally beginning to learn that being really does precede doing, and that if you keep your delight in the Lord, your heart will be full and overflowing.
Visit Brian McLaren's website at http://www.brianmclaren.net/.
Additional interview questions provided by Timothy Dalrymple. Read another interview with Brian McLaren at the Evangelical Portal here.
Deborah Arca joined the Patheos team in 2009, after more than ten years of managing programs for the Program in Christian Spirituality at the San Francisco Theological Seminary. Deborah has also been a youth minister, a director of music/theatre programs for children, and a music minister.