Thursday, May 26, 2005

Interview with Bryan McFerrin Pt. 2 Avoiding the Question

This is Part 2 of a multi-segment interview with Bryan McFerrin, author of A Generous Ego, which took place at the recent Emergent conference in Nashville this past week in May.

Demergent Churches: You are saying that Emergent people are NOT a movement because movements are a modernist construct. If I may paraphrase, you are saying that evangelical modernists have been doing ‘movements’ and this has been reflected in their empires, cults of personality, conferences, book deals, etc.

Bryan McFerrin: Right, but I can see you’re trying to paint us in a corner and make us look like hypocrites and I’m not—

DC: Whoa, there. Easy. I’m just trying to understand. How many times in this interview have you told me, “We’re a conversation, not a movement”? You drew that distinction and when I asked what comprised the substance of the distinction, you said, “empires, publicity machines.” I am not putting words in your mou--

BMc: Yeah, but you’re trying to catch me in a contradiction and I don’t know why you have to engage me in this sort of silliness.

DC: [pause, reflecting] Mr. McFerrin, that is a good question…Hmm….maybe because we’re having this interview in a large conference where there are Emergent stars and Emergent no-bodies, non-subtle publicity about one cool thing after another, and a room full of books from you and the other stars.

BMc: I think I—

DC: I’m just warming up.

BMc: I thought I was the one being interviewed. Aren’t you sort of inverting the whole reason we got together?

DC: Yeah, but so what? You’re pomo, you figure it out. Let’s transgress the conventions of interviewing. Or do you believe in some ‘Form of the Interview’ that we must conform to?

BMc: It just seems odd…and perhaps that you lured me here under false pretenses if you’re going to not ask me questions.

DC: I was asking you questions and you interrupted me as I was building up to my big question about your contradiction. You interrupted and said you didn’t want me painting you in a corner and then asked me why I wanted to engage in this sort of silliness. So I’m answering. Now you’re bitching that I’m answering.

BMc: It was rhetorical.

DC: So you don’t really want to engage in a real conversation. Ask your rhetorical question to make your point, head me off at the pass from asking you a hard question, and keep control of this. Manage me. Geez. I’m sorry that I called you pomo. What are you if not exemplary of modernist control?

BMc: Wow, you’re angry. Why do you think you have so much anger?

DC: Bryan, I am frustrated at the moment, not in life in general, because I was trying to be a good interviewer and hang you on the horns of dilemma. You didn’t want to be hung so you tried to take control. I’ve tried to answer and you tell me your question was just rhetorical. Why wouldn’t I be frustrated? I keep thinking there’s this contradiction that you need to answer for and you keep throwing whatever you can in my path to keep me from getting there. But I can see the destination in my mind’s eye. I know that contradiction question is just sitting there, begging to be asked, and I’ll jump around or over or under every obstacle you throw until you ‘get real’ and answer the question.

BMc: Why are you so desperate to hang me on the horns of a dilemma? Where is the love in that?

DC: Rhetorical?

BMc: No, that one’s real. Go ahead and answer.

Part III will appear soon.