David says more clearly what I’ve only been muddling through on a number of posts:
Over Christmas time, Willowcreek put on Christmas Eve service(s) that they described as their most ambitious yet. Most noteworthy, according to the newspaper, they used Cirque de Soleil-style acrobats in the presentation of the Christmas story. While some of us were (admittedly) smirking over this – a friend said to me, “they are just trying to be creative in presenting the story of Christ’s birth. What could be wrong with that?” At which point I pondered – at what point is the story no longer the story? Answer – when it becomes a spectacle. According to Paul Ricouer, we know it’s a good story when we “get into it,” when we see ourselves “emploted” into the story. This is the idea behind remembering the story, rehearsing it in worship (and the Eucharist), true anamnesis (1 Cor 11:24). The spectacle however turns us passive no longer able to participate in the story. The question is: did Willowcreek turn the story of the Christ child into a spectacle with the use of acrobats? Did the acrobats becomes so mesmerizing that those who came to see were caught up in the spectral gaze, detached and mesmerized, made totally inert as onlookers no longer able to participate in the story? Because when the story becomes a spectacle, the story is no longer a story. And we have gone from an act of worship to an act of spectatorship, from an act of participation to a spectral gaze. (emphasis added)
UPDATE: Scot McKnight weighs in, in the comments. It’s a very good and interesting discussion. Scot’s one of the premiere emerging/missional voices…and he attends Willow. He disagrees strongly with David.