Friday, 21 September 2012

Dreams, visions and revelation (Book Review)

by Peter Lockhart

I have just finished reading Without a Vision My People Prosper a short book by David Hayward. The book is a collection of posts from Hayward’s blog The Naked Pastor, which I regularly visit.

Given it is a collection of musings from his blog the book reads like a blog not a well structured argument which was both a blessing and a little irritating. It is highly unlikely that I would have read through his post history and it was interesting to see the progression of Hayward’s life story reflected in the blog history. On the other hand I did feel that a more precise editing process may have reduced the repeatitive feel.

Hayward’s key theme was crituiqng the obsession with vision and goal setting in church cultures and the burdens placed upon people by their pastors.

As a minister I have often found myself struggling with the notion of vision and goal setting recognising the paradox that much of what I do is somehow defined by personal goals, recognised or not. It is a paradox that Hayward struggles with, ironically how to have a goal of no vision and no goals.

I found myself having a great deal of empathy for what Hayward was exploring yet wondering about whether or not the reactionary agenda that appears to drive him was really as freeing as he thought. There were times it felt as he has become chained to his own need to critque the church. 

I also searched for a sense of concern beyond his own spiritual journey and whilst there appeared a strong concern for the local and the acceptance and support of all I wondered about bigger picture issues (other than challenging the instituional church).  Core to the mission of the Uniting Church in Australia has been service of others, an agenda I believe is well worth pursuing.

Despite this absence this is but one part of Hayward's work and I find the raw (and oft confronting)openness of Hayward is a gift and whilst I might not agree with where he heads in his search I am gratefully for his willingness to share.
I think I will continue to appreciate The Naked Pastor as a corrective to misplaced energies whilst at the same time being prepared to take what is said with a grain of salt. I am glad I was able to read Without a Vision My People Prosper as an insight into Hayward’s personal journey and why he might think the way he does.  At $7 for the eBook it was worth saving the effort of backreading the blog.  I believe there are things Hayward says that we need to hear, even the ones we find distinctly uncomfortable.

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