Saturday, May 20, 2006

Phil McLaren Interview

I promised a transcript of the Phil McLaren interview with KURL Radio here in Billings. The interviewer is Bill Schuyler, host of “Super Jammin Hot Hits ‘n’ Hymns in the AM with Schuyler.” As previously noted we do not know when the actual interview will be aired.

Here is that interview:

Bill: Dr. Phil McLaren. Thank you so much for being here.

Phil: Thanks for having me, Bill. And you can just call me Phil.

Bill: Thanks. How was the flight in?

Phil: Good. The weather was warm and the crowds at the airports and on the plane were upbeat. Lots of college kids going home from school for the summer.

Bill: Nice small talk. Now let’s get right into one of the subjects that the listeners are just dying to hear about. Just how close are you to your brother, Brian?

Phil: Half-brother. Theologically or personally?

Bill: Both.

Phil: Well, raised in the same household puts you really close. We were both born early on. I really didn’t know Brian until a week after he was born. I was at summer camp. So right up front we had some catching up to do. He was really messy and sometimes he even smelled bad. And he didn’t really get any better in that department for a very long time. In fact, he seemed to regress at four after only modest gains in neatness during his first three years.

Bill: Did this alarm your parents?

Phil: Yeah. Mom, especially. I remember she didn’t say anything directly to him. She just hinted and then grumbled a little. Finally, one Sunday afternoon, when Brian was seven, she really got on him about it. Pointedly. I don’t remember what she said exactly, but I remember what he said.

Bill: Yeah, what?

Phil: He looked straight up at her and said that just this once he would stoop to offer an opinion on such a sensitive subject. He said that in his mind if someone in the family thought that their sort of behavior was better than someone else’s, they were being a little arrogant, really.

Bill: Wow! Brian was postmodern at seven, huh?

Phil: Well, I never thought of it that way, but now that you mention it, I think I might see it. You might be right.

Bill: So what did your mother do?

Phil: Slapped him a good one.

Bill: I take it she was not Emergent.

Phil: Plymouth Brethren.

Bill: You mean Plymouth Sistren?

Phil: Only in the TNIV, I suppose.

Bill: So, Dr., are you Fully Emergent?

Phil: Oh boy! Am I ever? The fact is, I can’t think of one doctrine.

Bill: You mean you can’t remember one right now that you believe.

Phil: No, I just can’t remember one at all. You know it’s been so long since I even thought about doctrines or spoke with anyone about one. This is really embarrassing.

Bill: How about the Doctrine of God? Do you believe in God?

Phil: Well, that depends on just what you believe “believe“ means. If by “believe” you mean “I think this might be true, but it really makes no difference to me one way or the other and I’m sure not going to change my life for it,” or if you mean “this is just my guess for today,” then, yes. I believe right down to my socks! In fact, I am a firm that sense. If, however, you mean that I actually think something and that those that don’t think the same thing as I do are mistaken, then, no. That would be arrogant, hypocritical and way too left-brain for me. I believe that would be wrong. I really believe that.

Bill: Wow! That’s deep.

Phil: Thanks. I know.

Bill: Speaking of deep, thoughtful things just when did you get your doctorate and what is your field of study?

Phil: Thanks for the question. I got my doctorate in Emergent studies from Fuller Seminary.

Bill: Okay. Help me understand this. You wrote your dissertation on Emergent studies. Was it on a particular doctrine in the Emergent?

Phil: (Laughing) No, Silly. We have no doctrines in the Emergent. (More laughter) Where have you been? The only thing we really believe is that those who believe things are really arrogant and hypocritical. We’re right on this, you know. I believe that with my whole heart. In a very humble way, of course.

Bill: So you wrote a dissertation on nothing?

Phil: No, Bill. Not nothing. It was on the fact that we believe nothing. It sounds like a subtle difference, but the devil is in the details, you know.

Bill: Huh?

Phil: Yes. It’s even deeper than that. You see it is not so much that we know nothing. It is in the deep, profound way in which we have ceased to know things that make ours such an intelligent movement.

Bill: Okay, you’re way over my head there. Tell the listeners about your church in Southern California. What is the facility like and how do you worship? Is there a prayer labyrinth? Incense?

Phil: Well, Bill, here’s one place where I have to disagree with my half-brother. Real Emergents don’t want any formal religious trappings--even architectural. We are in a house church. Not that it’s a little church or anything. It’s a double-wide with a deck in the back and a prayer labyrinth that goes past both bathrooms. Three services on Sunday, two on Two-Fer-Tuesday, and then there’s Saturday afternoon.

Bill: Wow! That’s really authentic of you.

Phil: Yeah. On the last Two-Fer-Tuesday we got into a deep discussion on just how much the church has been affected by the effort to market religion to our particular culture. Anyway, back to the worship, the 70‘s style dark brown paneling adds to the vintage Christianity feel. If Paul had a double wide instead of a tent, it would have been that one.

Bill: Any zoning problems?

Phil: No. Not until the fire. The old paneling and Rayon curtains don’t mix with incense and children’s church, you know.

Bill: I can imagine. I suppose you got rid of the incense, huh?

Phil: No. We’d never do that. Think vintage, man. We added the sprinklers

Bill: That must have cost a bundle.

Phil: Not really. We just get two of us to go through the trailer and sprinkle water like the Catholics.

Bill: Neat! Did the congregation take to the new worship form easily?

Phil: It started out as a preventative. We sprinkled all the rugs, curtains, and paneling just a bit before service to prevent another rub with the FD. Then one Tuesday evening service, we were running a tad late, and a few folks were in early. It seemed only natural.

Bill: Wow! The leading! So, tell us about your facility. Rumor has it you added a new feature for folks after they exit the prayer labyrinth.

Phil: Yeah. That was another natural thing. The labyrinth ends at the back deck and it seems in the confusion brought on by stumbling through incense smoke in a dark maze, some congregants would stumble out onto the deck and into an old hot tube sunken into the surface of the deck. We had a number of ideas put out at business meeting and nothing seemed to work. Finally, Brother Finnegan mentioned that he had a wrong shipment dropped at the Long John Silvers where he works. It turned out that a truck of mayonnaise was left instead of tarter sauce. Well, after some quick fiberglass patch work on the hot tub and a high lift jack for one corner of the deck, we had our brand new Mayonnaise Meditation Pit.

Bill: Really?

Phil: Yeah. It was kind of like being in one of those sensory deprivation tanks, you know, where you float in body temperature salt water. Nothing to feel but you and your thoughts…………..and the next guy out of the prayer labyrinth if you don’t watch out. (Both laughing) Seriously, we thought of it as quite a worship innovation.

Bill: I’m sure. Still using mayo?

Phil: Well, there were some problems. Right off, the pump motor that swirls the water all around made an awful noise moving the mayo. Sister Schuller just about killed herself getting out of there when it finally blew up. It sounded like a twelve gauge went off and that was it for the pump. Slipped in the mayo on the wood deck and got twenty-one stitches in her chin when she hit the edge of the deck on her way down and over onto the dirt. Mayo, dirt, and Penelope Schuller madder than a hornet. It was like a visitation from an unholy trinity. Then there were the flies. And after a week or two you couldn’t even smell the incense. You can imagine the mixture of new fiberglass and old mayo. We switched to extra virgin olive oil and added rubber traction mats. After enough people get in and out a few times, it turns a gray-white color. And then you can think of it as old mayo that doesn‘t smell bad. Who defines condiments anyway?

Bill: We still have some time for this last subject. Tell the listeners about the newly discovered Gospel of Bob.

Phil: Well I got the idea for the New Gospel of Bob in the olive oil. Bob, you know. Think about that for a moment. Just another natural thing.

Bill: You mean you didn’t actually find it?

Phil: Hey, it’s Southern Cal and we’re postmodern. I placed a call to Dan Rather’s producer and she set me up with a way to find it.

Bill: Well, that’s our time for today. When can we expect you back, Dr.?

Phil: We're having a huge conference this fall in Billings.

Bill: Wow! At the Metra Arena?

Phil: Casa Village. It’s the trailer park on Twenty-fourth.

Bill: Thanks for being here, Dr.

Phil: Thanks for having me. And you can call me Phil, Bill.

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Blogger kennyo said...

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Thanks! keep up the good work

11:59 AM  

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