Friday, April 10, 2015



Clare Halpine writes at First Things about a recent "hangout" she went on:
It wasn’t a date. It was a hangout. We met up on a rainy night in the middle of April, to have dinner at a designated locale. “Present!” I texted upon arrival, and he stood up accounted for, waving me over to the bar area.... Everyone knows that a hangout differs from a date, though how, or in what way remains largely unqualified. A date is both a sign and symbol. It is an event that indicates the probable presence of something else, namely, attraction, and, traditionally, it serves as a symbol that stands in for something more: courting, love, marriage, etc.

A hangout exists outside the bounds of a date. It may be a sign or a symbol, but it may not be. Thus, choices and actions are not necessarily emblematic, but may be merely situational. And, in this way, a hangout is more like a happening than a date.

... a hangout leaves a person feeling somewhat unsettled and largely confused. Why are the women in nests? Why was there jam involved? Or, why did he pay for dinner, if it wasn’t a date? Why touch my leg if merely in pursuit of theological exegesis? We briefly texted each other in the coming days, but there was no follow-through on the plans he had eagerly proposed.

Had I been invited to participate in a happening, I might have prepared my mental nest, accordingly. I might have ceded that all conversation and gestures were a mere play at sign and symbol, a mimicry and parody of intentionality and meaning. He ordered a piece of pie for us to split. He held and helped me into my coat. Oh the ritualism!

But, one is unable to read a hangout, precisely because its sign and symbol are without character. It’s meaning less.
This is an incredibly powerful piece. It is pure analog.

It is oh so tempting to go on and on about it, but I think it destroys the effect. So I'll just ask a couple of question - Are we running the church as a hangout or a date? How should we run it?


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