I imagine that, if an old man with a microphone were to walk up to two emergent-church-types and ask them, "Have you ever heard of Zach Bartels?" this is how the conversation would play out:
Emergent #1: Grrr... Zach Bartels. Isn't he thanked in the acknowledgements of Don't Stop Believing (Zondervan, 2008), which is a horrible, bounded-set book by Mike Wittmer?
Emergent #2: Yeah, I think he is. And, as if that's not enough, he's also cited in chapter 6, footnote 14 of the same book, if I'm not mistaken.
Emergent #1: I can't stand the way that book uses Scripture to refute many of our emergent leaders...
Emergent #2: And is this the same Zach Bartels featured on pp. 149-152 of Why We Love the Church (Moody, 2009) by Ted Kluck and Kevin DeYoung, another book that flies in the face of our emergent conventions?
Emergent #1: The very same...
[at this point, the old man drops the microphone and whips off his mask, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE-style, revealing that he's actually ME! ]
Zach!: I just blew your minds! I'm not an old man! And now, Ted and I have written a book satirizing the Emergent Church called Kinda Christianity (Gut Check Press, 2010). Buy it on Amazon today!
Emergent #2: Wait, you wrote a book satirizing the emergent church this year? You're a couple years too late. Don't you know it's pretty much dead?
Emergent #1: Dude! Shhhh!
Emergent #2: I'm just saying, who would buy such a book?
Zach!: [whipping a laptop out from under my trenchcoat and displaying the rankings page from Amazon.com] Only enough people to launch us to the #2 rank in the "Humor: Religion" category!
Emergent #1: Gasp! Did you displace Brian McLaren from the #2 spot?
Emergent #2: Is McLaren's book in the religious humor section?
Zach!: Should be, but it's not. So long, suckas. Ha-sha-sha!!
And with that, I shatter one of those expansive-gas-filled glass beads against the ground and disappear in the mist.
Emergent #1: [shakes head] First the footnotes, then the three pages, and now a book that isn't available in stores, save for by special order... How will postmodernism survive, Tad?
Emergent #2: I don't know, Randy... I don't know.
So, yeah, anyway, Ted and I wrote Kinda Christianity: A Generous, Fair, Organic, Free-Range Guide to Authentic Realness and it launched fairly successfully, thanks to some blog cover from my friend Frank Turk. Hopefully, upcoming blogs from Dr. Wittmer, Kevin DeYoung, and others will give it a couple more bounces before its plunge into literary obscurity.
The funny thing is that the one book we have yet to beat in the Books > Humor > Religion division is Stuff Christians Like by Jonathan Acuff. This is funny because I recently posted (and then half-recanted) a rather critical review of this book, after which I was accused of being "bitter" by someone named "Anonymous."
This charge didn't really make any sense to me. Why must I be bitter in order to not find this book all that funny? But now, retroactively, it makes perfect sense (anonymous and clairvoyant, this guy)--I'm kind of bitter that we, for a time, are ahead of the flying spaghetti monster, the Tao of Pooh, that guy who lived biblically for a year, and Garrison Keillor's Church People...but we never elbowed past Jonathan Acuff.
Not yet anyway.
Click here to read more about the book, or click here to buy it.
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