Seeing the Fungus through the Trees

By Metcalfe, Jeffrey | Anglican Journal, November 2018 | Go to article overview

Seeing the Fungus through the Trees


Metcalfe, Jeffrey, Anglican Journal


I'VE ALWAYS disliked church structures, an antipathy I credit to that potentially most monstrous of church creatures: the committee. Having grown up in a church community in which every conceivable task gave rise to a committee--from worship, to carpet cleaning, to selecting members to be on church committees (that's right: we had a meta-committee)--I came into ordained ministry convinced I had been committeed out.

This has been a bit of a problem because, as it turns out, one of a priest's ordination vows is to "take your share in the councils of the Church." This is a dignified way of saying that you will accept the meta-committee's nomination to attend the meetings of a church structure you would probably otherwise prefer to avoid.

For the first few years of my ministry, I confess that I often felt 1 attended these meetings more in body than in spirit. Whether at a synod, deanery council or a vestry, as soon as I heard church structure jargon like "visioning processes," "mission statements," "strategic planning" or "mission," my eyes began to glaze over. If Jesus came to bring us life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10), how was it that we were spending such an abundant amount of that life in musty church basements or sterile conference centres discussing what it would be like to live it?

There is a significant danger in church structures. While we need committees to help organize our community life, we must always be on guard that we do not allow committees to substitute for community. And this has got me thinking: maybe church structures like committees are best thought of not as monsters, but as fungus.

In his book The Hidden Life of Trees, German forester Peter Wohlleben describes, in romantic prose, the remarkable world of forest ecology. Glancing at a forest from the outside, we might see it as a series of individual trees competing with one another for the scare resources of soil, sunlight and water--a wooden war of all against all. This would be a mistake, for in truth, a forest is more than the individual trees that make it up; it is a complex community of sharing.

Living together allows healthy trees to share nutrients with sick trees, to block strong winds during storms, to keep moisture in the soil when it is dry. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Seeing the Fungus through the Trees
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.