Theory and practice...


I was inspired by Jason's outlining of some of the key values of deep church by the one on reflective practice.

I find this especially striking as I like to think/reflect/write but at the same time I am wired for action - if i am passionate about something i will start doing it straight away without stopping to think (whereas if i am not passionate about it i can reflect for a v long time - much to my wife's disgust when it comes to me actually cleaning the bathroom rather than just be thinking about it!).

In other words I often bounce from "reflective" to "action" and in doing so i get frustrated at times, especially where it feels like there's too much thinking going on and not enough action and vice versa.

This tension made me think of the driving test that we have in the UK - where there is a theory exam (highway code, road signs etc) and a practical exam (can i drive the car on the road safely).

I could pass my theory exam and never actually sit in a car let alone take it for a drive. I could quote stopping distances but never experience the stomach lurch of an emergency stop. I could understand and interpret the meaning of road signs but never actually have to take any action when i see them since i would not be behind the wheel.

Conversely i may have mastered clutch control and mirror, signal, manoveur but be unaware of who has priority at the forthcoming single lane bridge. I may be able to parallel park or reverse around the corner but have no perception about what sort of hazards i should be looking out for as I do...

(hmmm getting slight deja vu with 1 Corinthians 13)

In order to be able to drive i need to apply theory and practice - to let my knowledge inform my actions (stop at stop sign) and my practice/experience to inform my theory (the road sign may well say 60mph but the conditions may be screaming slow down!).

Maybe the life of faith in Christ, the life of love lived out, is like this too - I need to be reflective and people to be reflective with me to help see our blind spots, what we should be doing and why we should be doing it - and we also need to practice the practical together - which in turn raises more questions to reflect on (like what is the gospel in 21st century and what distinguishes being a christian from any other environmentally friendly, third world, poor caring, pro social justice group/individual?).

What do you think/feel? - are you more of a reflector or an activist? - where within the christian faith are you experiencing frustration (what action do you feel needs to be done/what questions do you feel need to be asked?) - how can the practice of love and the history of our faith help us reflectors and activists to be greater than the sum of our preferences?

Paul Mayers