Search for the Mystic – Where are we now? (1.4)

Welcome back.

Sitting in the back of the Starbucks in Barcelona, I began to piece together what I knew so far. “Here’s what I’ve discovered about The Mystic so far…”

WIRELESS. They would be radically decentralized, I am told. Anywhere there is a laptop open that might be a manifestation of The Mystic. The laptop and the home party –not the church building and church program– would be there venue. As a movement, The Mystic would gather not every week like regular churches but once per year at a gathering that resembled more a festival than a church service. The Mystic would also stay connected daily through a network of blogs. In fact, the blogosphere would become a “city of voices,” a voxtropolis, where one mystic after another would tell the tale of how the story of Christ intersected the story of each and every one of them.

NETWORKED. They would be radically unified in support of the movement. No one would enter The Mystic without a guide, they say, but once a part of the The Mystic they would

  • Experience a radical connectivity
  • adopt peculiar graphics/ icons–some wear it as a tatoo, but all have it on their blogs and websites — like the fish sign of ancient days
  • contribute 1 % to The Mystic . This 1 % would become a symbol that the whole of their lives and resources are for kingdom advancement and, I am told, as a way of upholding the hope of guiding 1% of western culture into the mystic.

FESTIVE AND SOCIAL. The Mystic would go on to consider every member more than a minister and even more than a missionary. Each mystic would be considered a powerful asset with the competencies to speak peace to the city and reclaim broken lives. They would also be known for their disposition to throw great parties.

COMMUNITY BUILDERS. The Way of The Mystic would be strangely different from and yet parallel to the ways of the traditional, contemporary and emerging churches. Instead of tithing to buildings and programs for themselves, they would use their resources to engage and/or help others. Yet because of their life and mission, many new churches of the other kind would emerge through “Mystic Migrations” and these new churches too would become part of The Mystic. The Mystic would then go on to become a church planting movement comprising “tent makers,” house church leaders, church planters and pastors.

BLOGGERS. They would tend to be bloggers.

FRIENDS AND ADVOCATES. They had lots of friends and supporters even among those who were not part of The Mystic because they would not be against the other forms of the church like the emerging church cynics. Rather they would be encouragers of all Christ following people and advocates for the Kingdom.

They are said to own and operate out of a franchise of “wireless INTERNET CAFE’S.” [Personal side note: Man, I hope they eventually open one in Barcelona]. I’m tracking down a lead on this now.

What do you think?

Please scroll down and comment. Scroll down past the narrative below that explains a little of how I gained this knowledge of the mystic things to come. Anyway, it only makes sense if you read “In search for The Mystic 1.3.

into the mystic…

Alex McManus

==============================================

Search for The Mystic (1.4)

There was no way I could risk having my gear stolen. I had to let the young woman with the perfect hands get away. I sat down and reread the page torn from a journal that she had dropped on my Mac:

“Warriors needed in a quest to save the universe one planet at a time starting with Earth. Safe return doubtful.”

“Safe return doubtful,” I read outloud. “What does that mean anyway?” I opened up my browser and launched Mac Mail and began to scroll through my mail.

Buy Viagra–discreet delivery.
Delete.
Erase your Credit Problems Now!
Delete.
Safe Return Doubtful.
Delete.
Wait. Retrieve.
Safe Return Doubtful.

I opened the email.

from: The Mystic date: July 25, 2015

“There will be a woman, the email began, with two sons. One of them will be great and the other must find his way into the mystic or a season of great darkness wll fall upon the earth. He must come into contact with a guide before the clock of his life strikes 21. Follow the threads and those who post them. They will lead you to him. Safe return is doubtful, but the journey is worth all.”

The Mystic

An Instant message opened on my screen. “Remember, the universe depends on it.”

Before I could reply. The sender logged off.

—————-

I know what you’re thinking.

You’re thinking that I’m telling a story that will end up with hundreds and thousands of new posts and threads [i.e. new communities of faith and church plants] linking all of Europe, the UK and the USA in an amazing new form of the Christ following movement.

You also think that I’m using this narrative to describe for you the very first “native application” to the 21st century of the Christ following movement.

You think there is no woman with perfect hands, no fat men with hairy backs in black speedos ogling naked women on the beaches of Barcelona.

You think I wasn’t even in Europe touring with a world music band called doSul when all these amazing things began to happen.

I don’t blame you. I questioned all of this myself. All I can do is continue telling the story. You decide what you can believe and what you should do.

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28 thoughts on “Search for the Mystic – Where are we now? (1.4)

  1. Definitely feeling more and more drawn into this. Reading through the “search for The Mystic” posts always really stirs me up and awakens something in me. I feel it more and more strongly.

  2. Great thoughts. I very much agree with the themes of decentralization, mobility and a radical commitment to mission.

    I think for the current moment, terms like wireless and blogging are acceptable, but I think these can be abstracted a bit more, even for the near future.

    Blogging is definitely a powerful medium, but I think it is only a medium for something greater–social networking. Blogging makes it easy for divergent “threads” and movements to link up and connect, but I’d be open to other technological mediums for which this can occur. Sites like Flickr, upcoming.org, 43things, del.icio.us and others incorporate elements of social networking that help tie together diverse and seemingly random movements of people and thought.

    Wireless can be abstracted to something greater than just the untethering of the ethernet cord (or for some of us who are still in the stone age, modem). Something more like constantly being “online” or connected 24/7/365. But I think the whole idea of being untethered and in constant connection will become so ubiquitous that it’ll be a given. For example, I think even having to sit down at a cafe with wireless internet tethers us to a physical place. With the development of WiMax and similar technologies, we don’t even need to be tied to internet cafes. Complete decentralization and mobility. I guess that’s what being wireless enables us to do but there are certain connoctations many people have of the word “wireless” and I think we really mean something greater than that–that whereever we are, we don’t have to lose connection with the rest of the Mystic.

    I’m glad there’s someone like you throwing out these wild and crazy visions for the future of the community of God’s people.

  3. I have a hard time believing that real mystics would care at all about special graphics and such. Nothing kills a movement quicker than having special signs of belonging.

    Mystics belong because of their hearts. God looks at the heart, and cares only for people. I guess this search for “The Mystic” is a good thing for our hidebound times but I think God is more radical yet.

    And am I the only one to shudder in horror at the idea of “24/7 connectivity?” How does one hear God’s voice in the cacaphony of Ipods, cell phones, Internet chatter and attendant interruption? How can you carry on decent conversation with someone who’s breathlessly awaiting the next phone call or Email?

    We have more ways to talk now than ever before, yet almost all of it is the same banal killing of time. People sit on the bus, staring at their cell phones as if they were oracles who will speak the world’s secrets at any time, yet the words are always “I’m on the bus.”

    Underneath “The Mystic” is God’s real mysticism…

  4. Maybe, Larry, the key will be in utilising the technology without becoming slaves to it. Being connected to one another without becoming controlled by the connectivity.

  5. Larry,

    Good to hear from you.

    I have several questions for you. Here’s a couple to start with…You write: “Nothing kills a movement quicker than having special signs of belonging.”

    How do you know this? Do you have an example of a movement that was killed quickly because of a special sign?

  6. Peter,

    Good contribution.

    So agree with you on the terms “wireless” and “blogging”. They’re useful in the short term, though, as pointers, as you suggest, to something greater.

    Blogging, of course, is just another way for ordinary people to have a voice. Much has been written about how the internet and blogging have leveled the playing field in the world of information sharing and distribution. Yahoo now puts the blogs of these “citizen journalists” alongside of traditional “news” sources.

    Having a voice, however, is not the same as being heard. Blogging has become, as you suggested, another vehicle for social networking. Not only can we have a voice but we can have a community in which that voice might be heard.

    I’m totally with you, as well, on these other social networking forums and the upcoming technologies that will enable us to remain connected without the wireless cafe. I do like, however, the idea of the cafe in order to represent our physicality. The cafe becomes not a tether but an opportunity for f2f connection. Radical decentralization and fluidity. Primal f2f connections. Mission. Community.

    Thanks for adding to the conversation.

  7. So are you saying, Alex, that the Cafe becomes the meeting place where we gather f2f with those physically close us whilst then also serving as a portal into a much larger global community though the wireless technology?

    I agree about blogging (and other technologies) needing to be more than about giving people a voice, but is social networking the right term? I see loads of churches operating as little more than social clubs and would hate the thought of something with as much potential as this becoming nothing more than something social. I see this connection online as being missional networking. How do we make sure we don’t drift towards an online social club?

  8. Sam,

    Good question.

    The cafe represents, for me, the necessary physical component of human relationships. It could just as easily be a bookstore or a living room. BUT, it also represents an actual component of the “thread posting” strategy we’re developing here at “into the mystic.” I’d love to tell you more about this as we move along. So, in answer to your first question, yes.

    “Social networking” is more of a sociological description. I hear it as neutral. My sense is that The Mystic aggressively exploits the “social networking” patterns of 21st century humans. The newtorks and communities formed by this new technology create a new field for missional activity as well as open new windows into difficult to reach fields.

    I definitely agree with you about the social club thing. The Mystic, I am told, is definitely not just a social club. Their goal is to guide 1% of western culture into the mystic.

  9. I still stand behind the importance of blogging and the community I’ve found through it. Symbols…maybe …maybe not. All kinds of organizations have symbols that show who they are and they are recognized world wide…think red cross. I know there are people through out the world that may not know the background of the red cross but see a truck moving into their village and feel like help is there. What if a “mystic symbol” became that well known. Driving through the streets of Bombay a taxi cab driver follows you because he sees the mystic symbol on the back of your car.

    Some may say these stories and accounts are crazy talk…and perhaps they are. But perhaps it’s what the world needs right now. We need to get the radical truth out there of Jesus. If it takes a few stories to peak people’s interest in learning about Christ…so be it.

    I’m not implying that Alex is re-writing the story of Christ…I honestly don’t see this as any different than pastors putting ads in the yellowpages…or mail outs to come to church. It is a way to get people’s attention…that there is something more out there. How you wish to interpret his stories is your own deal.

    I, for one, appreciate it. And I for one see it’s movement happening. Without ever telling her about the Mystic…just about our blogs, our Hindu friend has started blogging, commenting daily on our blogs, and has now joined the Mystic Blog-Ring. Alex, keep it up…we’ll keep it up too.

  10. Deanna,

    Very cool story about your Hindu friend. That’s where we’re headed — a global conversation about living and walking in the way of Jesus regardless of our religious background.

  11. Here I sit in one of my cafe haunts trying to push my life out of the privacy of the four walls of my house and my church out of the four walls of our bunker (the basement of an office building on the outskirts of town) and I read about the mystic. This is the direction I am going into the mystic. But how does one get there? Who are the guides? Maybe I am already on the road to being a mystic and don’t even know it.

    Lawrence

  12. Examples, from my experience:

    1. A church in town where I used to live. A long-standing home meeting ran into difficulties and split. To this day I’m not sure why. I went with the new part, and spent all of one evening discussing… what to call the church. Instead of content, branding. The whole thing fell apart within several months. The other half is still meeting. With no name.

    2. A computer club, some years later. We spent way too much time talking about logos and names, and not enough time thinking about what we’d do at the meetings. It fell apart after a few months.

    3. A special interest group (subset) of Mensa. Lots of proposals for names and logos, but again no agreement on content nor projects. It fell apart within weeks.

    Hence my own insistence on having something real. I don’t talk about sand sculpture, or figure out what to call it. I go do it and leave the naming to the PR types. I am deeply mistrustful of pie in the sky plans. Big trees start from tiny plants and grow through time. And they don’t have PR agents: they grow because that’s what they do.

    God invites us to tell stories. Blogging is one way to do that. Not everyone will read Blogs, but they don’t have to. God has ways to reach everyone.

  13. Larry,

    It seems that these were three NON movements talking about a brand.

    You wrote that “nothing kills a movement faster than having special signs of belonging.” The examples you give don’t seem to support your point.

    Consider these actual movements that have –as all movements do — icons and signs of belonging:

    Movement: The Christ following movement.
    Sign of belonging: Baptism, the cross.

    Movement: The Salvation Army.
    Sign of belonging: The uniform

    The list, of course, could get quite long.

    Just a thought.

  14. I’m not surprised that you have heard reports of a Mystic in Ohio. Ohio is in many ways a microcosm of the United States in terms of geography, political affiliation, diversity, economics — sounds like a logical place to keep a low profile and be engaged in the culture.

    I may be biased here though – I spent the first 22 years of my life in Akron, Ohio.

  15. Alex, I tend to side with Larry on the argument regarding signs of belonging, although I think you are on different wavelengths in your argument.

    The symbols you referenced have significant history to them. They are not concepts developed in one or even a couple lifetimes though, are they?

    I think the challenge is that a movement’s brand can be made into something more than just that. It is part of its public image. The characteristics/prefernces you identified could potentially be best practices in a community of practice, but certainly the movement is not the medium, but the message.

    In this day and age we have broken down nearly every concept into a formula. Just today I was reading and article on social capital and the idea o measuring it and building it up. But to honestly think our brains and simple methods of communication can actually capture what social capital is, I think that may be a little naive. I believe the same may be true for too quickly suggesting certain patterns in a movement. Over time the practises will change, but over time we will see how they are using these practices that will show some future generation what lies in the movement.

    Rant, Rant, Rant…. Done. Sorry its not coherent, but something in Larry’s post and your reply caught my attention. Sorry I have little time to refine my contribution.

  16. hmmm about symbols and such…

    I don’t think the symbols themselves cause a group to fall apart. Its if the symbol really means anything that counts.

    I think without a doubt they help people recognize a movement. But how about that fish on the back of a car? Does it REALLY mean the person driving is a Christian? or the wwjd bracelets… they started as a thing to identify ppl with a movement, it was great, then suddenly mass marketing kicked in and it became a way to make money.

    I’m not saying I don’t like the idea… I think it fits with the natural progression of a movement. Especially as a way to begin identifing yourself as someone who belongs. But there’s always the chance it could be picked up and comercialized and thereby lose all of the orginal meaning and intent.

  17. In the interest of communicating quickly, I condensed the story too much. The cross became associated with Christianity because… it is. There was no committee sitting around Jerusalem wondering what sign to adopt.

    Real movements tend to have things associated with them by accretion, not assignment. There’s a great distance between putting a cross on the back of your car and actually picking one up and carrying it daily.

    And, so often the signs are used to exclude. “You can’t be a member of the Mystic Nation. You don’t have the secret handshake.”

    More interesting to me are the heart-to-heart exchanges between people, regardless of membership signs. People belong where they fit, and sometimes a symbol can make the fit awkward. Blogging requires no membership sign…

  18. Larry, I was going to totally disagree with your comment that “Nothing kills a movement quicker than having special signs of belonging.”… until I read this last post of yours.

    I agree with the accretion thing but must point out that the accretion process involves lots of participants coming up with their own images, metaphors, etc. It does not happen via everyone scorning all special signs of belonging. And there is a role for leaders of a movement to affirm certain signs of belonging, e.g. Jesus (an extreme example) decreeing baptism, or (perhaps better) Celtic monks encouraging the indigenous development of those clever knot designs as Christian motifs rather than pagan ones: crosses instead of deer, that sort of thing. Now, “the Celtic cross” is distinct and recognizable but not necessarily exactly the same each time it’s executed.

    Generally though, I must say that having special signs of belonging, used not to exclude but to include (and intrigue), are NOT movement-killers at all but indispensable to the growth of a movement. Symbolism is hugely powerful. Human souls hunger for it. Just because modern marketing takes advantage of that does not discount its truth.

  19. Love the conversation… it’s the fact that it’s happening at all that thrills me.

    I wonder if in some ways The Mystic are like The X-Men. On the cusp, on the verge, on the frontier… not in the minor contexts of culture and fads… They are the growing rumour of the next evolutionary step of humanity birthing and manifesting in our time. Not knowing all the ramifications of what is happening to them but feeling their way through it together.

    The evolution is spiritual, though with physical manifestation. The race evolving is the Kingdom race, though with repercussions that will ripple through humanity. But one thing is certain – it’s all digital.

    The Kingdom has always been digital. Nature and the material world and the life of the unenhanced human has always been analog. We just have the metaphors now of computers and software to describe it with.

    Spirit is digital. Body is analog. Soul is the interface technology. Salvation is to get the download the upgrade.

    Technology won’t necessarily be the antithesis of real and genuine spirituality… we just can’t see how it will work yet… because it won’t without… oops gotta go – my wife is here to pick me up.

  20. Alex,
    I was guided here by my friend Lori…someone I have trusted, for little to no apparent reason, for nine years now. I keeping asking her what the Mystic is but she says she cannot explain and sent me here. This is not without precedent; when she got me hooked on coffee at the age of fifteen, she said the same thing– “I can’t explain it,”– and took me to Starbucks.

    I am not sure whether you are brilliant or delusional, and I am not sure how much of this to believe. You said to believe as much or as little of this as we like; I am good at believing things. I’ll give this a shot.

    One thing I do know: you are, without a doubt, right to recognize the possibilities of the internet with respect to dialoguing with people in lands heretofore unreachable. Countries which are closed to Christianity in the form of a physical, human missionary are starting to see the influence of Truth slowly, stealthily creeping in via modems and wireless networks.

    About seven months ago, shortly before I graduated from college, I competed with a team from my university in a Model League of Arab States competition. The League of Arab States is like the UN, but strictly for countries with Arab governments located in the Middle East and Northern Africa. In our model, I served as the Secretariat to the Committee for Social Affairs for Lybia. Our topics were taken directly from those concerning the actual delegations to the actual League. One of the topics we discussed proposals for was that of information technology and the internet. The internet is a source of major concern for governments controlled by religious groups which have historically kept a tight grip on censorship. Through the internet, citizens of nations like Iran or Turkmenistan (Which, admittedly, are mainly Persian and Muslim, not Arab; but the principle remains the same) can access materials such as political propaganda, banned forms of entertainment, pornogrpahy, or even– most relevantly– religious texts. Some people have even been imprisoned for the heresy of Blogging.

    Keep up the search.

    -Mel, Fool and Wandering Minstrel

  21. What an exciting time to be living. So much to be part of what God is doing both in the church and our culture. I agree with many of these ideas of new ways of expressing our faith and connecting beyond the traditional means. Here is one technology that is here but in its infancy. There is a company called RoseTel that has revolutionized two-way-video conferencing. The quality is as close as you can get to being face to face in multiple areas at once. I could speak to ten different locations all over the world, any size group or individual people at once. The dialog and visual is impeccable. Think of all the possibilities that will bring. I hope to see it as part of our church life.

  22. understand that the symbol is never the meaning and only a representation of the is-ness

    It’s the idea, not the symbol

    and if you are not careful you’ll start making people think you are just a new age christian preaching christ loving INSTEAD of spreading spirituality

    …sometimes those you seek don’t wish to be found, or rather found out…

    try looking into Carlos Castenada and the Nahualt

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