Saturday, May 29, 2004

 
A POST-MODERN UNDERSTANDING OF A THEOLOGY OF THE IMAGINATION

In the discussion on my essay about Douglas Coupland's book on Life After God on 23rd May, Maggi Dawn has made some good points that have got me thinking.

"OK now I've read it. Not what I expected at all! I thought you were going to discuss concepts of the imagination...
So, in defining concepts of sin, redemption etc., do you think that the imagination is used significantly differently in the postmodern era than it was earrlier - say in the 19th century novel, which also challenged people's conceptualisation of such ideas? Is it postmdernism or literature that makes this a different epistemology? We need to have a beer sometime soon... :)"


I think that all this theology of the imagination stuff is about a method or ground of knowing that has validity in so much that the imagination is a place where we encounter God through transcendent encounter through prayer, worship etc. A good example is wonderment which I talked about as a method through symbolic christian worship and through Godly Play as an example of it.

M915 Worship ESSAY.pdf M915 Worship REPORT.pdf

Yes I do think that the 19th century romantic poets and largely Colerage reacting against the cold logic of modernity were right, which we too now are challenging. They talked about knowing through encounter and less about knowing through 'holding more facts about God'. Quoting Malcolm Guite from a lecture:

The mind of the Maker is in us - dim awakening of a hidden or forgotten truth inside there - It is Logos the Creator. Logos Sophia. Taking Augustinian doctrine - logos is not so much reason but more the imagination that occurs with the artist or poet. They are witnesses - a sustainable theology of the imagination that says - we can expect correspondence between the intuitions and the aspirations of our hearts because our hearts are made in the image of God. The world then becomes the poetry of God. So there is a reason why the intuitions of an honestly pursued imagination are true. The same logos that is in the mind of all of us is also the logos made flesh as Jesus of Nazareth. If true - then anyone from any culture can seriously bring their best thoughts and hopes to that truth. We can expect something to be communicated that is at least resonant with what Jesus taught. In this way reason, imagination and revelation are linked.

I challenged him how this works in a broken world and where we are fragemented human becomings. Which he replied.

There is a difference between imagination and the fantasy that pleases the ego. Original blessing to original sin, but there are still fragments of encounter. Our imaginations are then full of truth and falsehood. Part of the task of a Pastor is one of discernment. The light of Christ brings illumination out of the text like Paul at Mars Hill addressing the statue to the unknown God. The light of Christ can affirm things of culture and also challenge things which are not of God. Knowing God is by imagining God with all our hearts minds and strength. Therefore mission, or connection between the Christian and the contemporary culture is finding out what God is already doing. This is therefore a logos centred theology of the imagination.

As I look back I do not think there it is any coincidence that many of us grew to understand some of this, (if unknowingly), through Christian Charismatic approaches to worship, or that we became experimental when we wanted to move closer to culture and the world. We like the character Scout in 'Life After God' are on such a Life of mystical encounter. So when we started worshipping God through trascendent moments in night clubs, creative arts moments, labyrinths, stations of the cross, we opened the door to a new way or rather an old way of knowing that challenged the cold logic of mental reason of sourcing facts, and moved to the experiential.

Hence our quest to find God in what is already going on in our culture - drawing on an old and refound epistimology??

Friday, May 28, 2004

 
SHORT HISTORY OF ALT WORSHIP - AND THE POTENTIAL OF ALT WORSHIP CONTRIBUTING TO MISSION-SHAPED CHURCH
church times.jpeg
As promised, please find below two articles by Brian Draper published in the Church Times in mid-may. They are both good. I particularly like the fact that it is acknowledged that most alt worship communities have some form of relationship with a local church. IN the UK is to local Cof E Churches but includes United Reform Churches, Church of Scotland and the Episcopal (Anglican) Church in Scotland and Baptist Churches.

Down under it is different - in NZ most have some affiliation to the Baptst Union of New Zealand, whilst in OZ there is a mixture of Anglican, Baptist and the Uniting Church (very similar to United Reform in the UK). Hope that clears it up Si!!

msctimes.rtf
Altarticle.rtf

Thursday, May 27, 2004

 
NEW BOOK

Great new book has come out exploring the use of ritual in contemporary worship and mission. Alt & Emerging church view is expressed through Jonny Baker (Grace) Maggi Dawn (Cambridge) Ana Draper (L8r) Mike Riddell and Pete Ward.

The sections by Mike Riddell and Ana Draper are particularly good. The book is a good reflection on how we can creatively use action and symbolism as a form of earthed and embodied worship in our current cultural context.

Good one.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

 
ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY CRITICISES PORTFOLIO APPROACH TO LIFE

Archbishop attacks pursuit of short-term goals By Mary Ann Sieghart and Ruth Gledhill

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has criticised Britain’s “portfolio culture”, in which personal integrity is being sacrificed to short-term goals. In an interview with The Times, Dr Rowan Williams said that the “portfolio approach to identity” is a trend
that is affecting people’s sense of who and what they are. “It is often said, I think with some truth, that the short-term job and the short-term relationship go together. The short-term job and the short span of attention go together.”

Dr Williams argued that spirituality was not something that could just be “bolted on at the edges”. People need an “inner chamber where things have time to echo”, he said.
The concept of the portfolio society was dreamt up by management gurus such as Charles Handy in the late 1990s to describe someone who would market himself as a collection of skills rather than as experienced in one job or career.

Ina previous blog entry we discussed the concept of portfolio church. By implication I think Rowan Williams is saying by implication that this approach to contemporary spirituality lacks integrity..... I need to do some more thinking.

TO see the article click here

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

 
Some early emergent reflections
After spending two weeks in the US in two completely different context (the Episcopalian church and the 'emerging' church) it has become increasingly obvious through conversations and reflection that the US and UK church contexts and very different.

One very helpful conversation Jonny and I had was with Rob Lewin (senior pastor of a Vineyard church & husband of Lilly) the day we were due to leave Nashville. He spoke with a lot of clarity about the US Evangelical church situation. Here are a few quick bullet points of what I remember him saying (apologies if this is not accurate my memory is not as good as I wish): -

• churches still want programs (e.g. 5 step to convert the emerging generation)
• Mega-churches are still succeeding and growing, to a certain extent they embody what many people want from church
• pastors are still very much career people - setting up an emerging church for a maximum of 50-100 people for not very much salary or working part-time in Pizza Hut does appeal very much at all to pastors on $70,000+ in large churches
• Success is still the operative measuring stick - if a 'program' is not getting bums on seats then it is not a success in Kingdom terms
• The post-WW2 period in the UK which saw rapid decline in church attendance across the board (save for some renewal from the Charismatic movement) actually had a positive side - out of this fallow ground grew the shoots of what we would now call the 'emerging' church, without this fallow period we may never have seen the creativity and imagination during the last 15 years
• Unless the US evangelical church which has for all intents and purposes become a civil religion undergoes a serious decline in attendance or an incredible turn around in attitudes towards the make up and purpose of church then the great opportunity presented at this time for the church to become a creative imaginative force may well fade away.

There are those within the evangelical church in the US who are doing pretty edgy stuff in church, who are experimenting in worship, teaching etc... But they are mainly having to do it outside of the evanglical church. Brian McLaren wrote an article in 'Emerging Stories' suggesting that now was a turning point for the evangelical church in the US - they either seriously need to support these people who are doing this creative thinking, opening their pockets and doors to them or risk being increasingly marginalised over the next 10-25 years.

Monday, May 24, 2004

 
Rocking in the UK
Am back safe and sound in the uk after a rather long re-routing. We were due to leave Nashville on Saturday morning and get to chicago and fly in the evening back to the UK. Due to some weather problems we ended up staying in Nashville over night (the only plus point being free wifi in the hotel) and then flying via New York to get back to the UK, even then we got delayed by 3 hours due to some more bad weather. Oh well. Its great to be back in the UK knowing that shortly I will see my fiancé, friends and family again :-)

 
SHHH.... Journey of Sound in the V&A

This exhibition was fantastic, some of the music was deeply spiritual. Wondering around the V&A with headphones and different music triggered by lasers reminded me of the good old Labyrinth in St Paul's Cathedral. Some of the music/contributions were excellent, some a bit tedious, but the whole thing was very moving. If interested see the V&A Website

Music contributions are from Cornelius from Ryksopp, David Byrne, Elzabeth Fraser, Faultline, Gillian Wearing, Jane & Louise Wilson, Jeremy Deller, Leila, Roots Manuva & Simon Fisher Turner...

Sunday, May 23, 2004

 
Finding God & the Spiritual through contemporary Literature

Since Easter I have been doing a module on my MA on Literature and Pastoral Theology. It has been a great journey through a theology of the imagination as a space for encounter with God. It has focused on the creativity of the human imagination to experience and encounter God. I have been reflecting how much of alternative worship has been moving to the transcendent to enable people to encounter God through the imagination. Exciting stuff.

For my essay, below, I have looked at Life After God my Douglas Coupland, as a good example of our post-modern cultures search for God through the transcendent, and how God's presence can be experienced in spiritual moments.

Literature essay.pdf

Friday, May 21, 2004

 
EC day 4
Got up rather early this morning to go to the 'emerging church women's leaders breakfast'. It was pretty packed with about a 100 people turning up, with a good mix of women and men.

The session was put on by a cool team of ladies including Jen Lemen, who I met for the first time after frequenting her blog site - it was great to see a joint leadership model that had many different life experiences and backgrounds. It was a really hope-filled and moving time of sharing, listening and story telling.

Around the outside of the room about 7 stations that reflected different dimensions of womens faith experience had been set up with photos of key women and sets of questions. Some of the themes included, 'the road ahead', 'guiding lights', and 'pain on the journey'. Each person took a small coloured sheet from a station that most connected with them and then we split in small groups and shared stories with people who had picked up the same coloured paper as us.

It was moving to hear women saying how refreshing it was to be able to speak first and have the men listen and not feel as thought hey had to apologise. Something that as a bloke it is easy to forget - particually one that thinks he is pretty well educated and wants to have an opinion on everything.

It was a great setting that felt more like a alt.worship church service with a hundred people than a 'session'. Multi-particpatory, visual, with a few people doing a little bit from the front, a bit of ritual and lots of story-telling.

The core group have also set up a web site here, and they are planning to do a few gatherings around the US next year. I really hope we get in on this in the UK and set up a days discussion and sharing (Maggi if you are reading how about somehing at your place?) Even though it seems on the surface that by and large the emerging church in the UK has theologically got beyond the gender divide for all practical intents and purposes this does not seem to be true.

For the rest of the day we've been hanging with the usual suspects and having some good conversations - including a great one with Geoff & SherryMaddock , an Aussie guy and American gal doing some cool monastic style stuff in Lexington, Kentucky - will blog more about that later.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

 
Emergent Worship? I don't think so
Jonny and I attended the morning session today and were both really disappointed by the 'worship' that was on. It seemed strange that a conference that is primarily about re-imagining church has capitulated to a mass-market, performance style of worship that is more 'soul survivor' than 'emerging church'. This sort of worship merely reinforces for many people the impossibility of doing 'cool, with it' worship in their own church that has only 50 people in it. If people are to reimagine worship in their own context they need stuff that will inspire them in new directions that are possible without having to subscribe to a 'performance' 'mega-church' style.

I think for me I was amazed that there is no risk taking in the worship in a conference like this, which will unfortunately give little impetus to the attendees to do anything different back in their own contexts. Don't get me wrong there is nothing wrong implicitly with this type of worship but it just doesn't seem to fit with the theological exploration and questioning that is going on here. Come on people use a little imagination here. Why not have four different flavours for the different sessions rather than just one?

 
Book Q&A
A few people after the first seminar were asking us for a list of a few key books that had influenced us in our Christian journeys and altered our creative thought processes. So here are a few suggestions: -

Transforming Vision & Truth is stranger than it used to be, Middleton and Walsh - great books that outlines some of the key shifts that have taken place in culture over the last 20-30 years and gives some helpful suggestions to people looking to see how the church engages with these shifts.

Source of Life, Jürgen Moltmann, SCM Press. A key contributer to the debate on the role of the Spirit in the world, Moltmann presents a great argument for seeing the Spirit at work within all cultures working through people who are seeking life modeled on the Kingdom (whether it is implicit or explicit in that persons/peoples thinking).

Cristianity Rediscovered, Vincent Donovan, Waterbuffalo Theology, Kosuke Koyama and Third Eye Theology, Choan-Seng Song - each of these are classic textbooks which deal with trying to contextualise theology for an African/Asian culture/cultures. They contain many great illustrations of the kind of debate that must happen between the original sub-culture/culture and the incarnation as brought to us in the biblical text, and through our own traditions.

The prophetic imagination, Walter Brueggemann, Fortress Press. Another classic that calls the church back to a prophetic witness in the surrounding culture. Brueggemann uses the varying stages in Israels journey (exodus, Kingship, prophets, exile, Jesus) as a lense through which he explores the role of the prophet as a person who ruptures people's imagination by presenting alternative, Yahweh based, visions of reality that people have either long forgot or have never seen.

Texts of Terror, Phyliss Trible. A book that grapples honestly with the difficult stories in the bible that often seem to lack any intervention or judgment from God - God becomes conspicuous by Gods absence. Stories such as the rape of Tamar, and the rapes at Sodom and Gommorah are very thought provokingly analysed and reveal the complex nature of evil in the light of God in the biblical story without ever delving into abstract philosophical discussions.

Visible Signs, David Crow, a great book that unpacks the semiotics of design and visual communication using philosophers such as Derrida, Foucault amongst others. A great intro that should reveal the complex nature of visual communication, but also one that should inspire you to use visuals(in a critical sense) more and more in a 'church' context in a culture that is visually driven.

Sorry that the links are all to the UK Amazon site, but they should be simple enough to track down on the US site as they are all in print. Happy reading :-)

 
Emergent Arrival @ Nashville
Well we arrived at long last for the emergent convention in Nashville. We missed our connection in Chicago and got here a day late and headed straight for the pool and hot tub to chill out after a rather stressful two days of nearly lost luggage and manically running around trying to get on a flight that would arrive before the session that was scheduled for us at 7pm...

The seminar on 'alternative worship' went well, about 80 people turned up and asked a lot of good questions, hopefully as many will turn up for part two in friday.

We had a quick chat with Adam Cleaveland of pomomusings who was chilling with his powerbook and has been causing some general mischief with his bluetooth connection in a Doug Pagitt seminar. Adam attended some seminars and stuff on the tuesday (obviously he's a keener :-) and was commenting on how it seemed that people seemed to want to get beyond the re-imagining church by introducing candles and coffee into some serious theological deconstruction of the underlying theology that is behind many evangelical churches in the US. This sounds pretty hopeful and may help steer peoples attention away from seeing emerging church as the next 'program' that will reach some lost generation and get them thinking more critically about how church needs to become re-rooted within the pomo culture in the US and how they may best support authentic expressions of church that do emerge without expecting them to be or trying to condition them to be the same old.

Caught up over dinner with Lilly & Rob Lewin over dinner, along with Josh and Hannah of Vintage Faith in Santa Cruz who we met last night. It was great to meet Lilly after musing over her blog quite a lot, she's just a much a livewire in real life as she is in the blogdom sphere. Although her husband was concerned that she was spending to much time with other men - a unfortunately common phenomenon for women who work in the church it seems - although hopefully this discussion will be furthered in the 'women in the emerging church' breakfast that is happening tomorrow that is a follow on from the rather explosive conversation that occured within the blogworld a month or two ago. Hopefully it will be a good space for people to think creatively and honestly about this issue.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

 
Its a long way to NashVegas...
Jonny and I have been stuck in Chicago for the night after missing our connection flight... So we won't be at the emergent convention till about 3pm. Not a good start :-( And we have discovered that there is no free wi-fi at the conference, which is also bad news, as we have been spoilt with free wi-fi since we got here. Even the downtown hotel we are staying in here has free wi-fi in every room.

I think this is definately a trick places in the UK are missing out on. And I reckon when moot gets round to setting-up/opening a café church it should definately have free wi-fi. Hopefully we can find some people in the know at Nashvegas and get them to show us the free spots :-)

Sunday, May 16, 2004

 
Jonny the doctor
Jonny B has posted a rather doctored photo of me on his blog - so I wanted to put the original up! Jonny was just jealous of my VJing skills and needed to release some inner anger ;-)

















 

VJing in Grace Cathedral
Jonny and I did some stuff at a Episcopal Ministries conference yesterday. Jonny led people in some chanting and breathing exercises while I VJ'ed in both the morning and afternoon services.

It was fantastic to see the cathedral space transformed from a fairly silent, hushed space where you felt awkward talking to a place filled with Radiohead, Faithless and some other cool tunes along with some pretty striking images.

We had managed to get some video loops of the San Francisco skyline as we drove over one of the bridges and these loops formed the backdrop for much of the layering we did using Arkaos. The pics show some of the ways we used the San Francisco loops. We overlaid the words 'Jesus is Risen' and put on a 70's style gradient effect cross the whole image which looked stunning during the eucharistic prayers. And the shots of the decks spinning the words grace over San Francisco also looked great.

Afterwards lots of people seemed to be really envisioned to see how such a traditional space can be transformed using just a few simple images and some ambient music - and how they can encounter God in that.

We also spun some music and VJ'ed before the afternoon service when the Cathedral was open to visitors, many of whom just sat and listened to U2's Grace and watched while the words Grace appeared over the city. Some guys from New Zealand thought it was 'awesome' to hear Radiohead in a Cathedral!

In between we did some sessions on alternative worship with about 20 people, they were a great bunch of people who seemed to be really sparked when Jonny just went through a load of images of some of the various services that go on in the UK. Hopefully some of these guys will become permission givers and bless/help/allow some cool stuff to spring up in their own congregations.

Jonny was also offered $300 dollars for a kiss from one slightly over enthusiastic woman

If you want to see a playlist and see some more images of the conference check out Jonnys blog here.

Friday, May 14, 2004

 
San Francisco Photo Album
Jonny has posted a photo album of shots of San Francisco - some pretty cool shots there (all art-directed by me of course!) Go see here

We have just planned a fairly kick-ass arkaos presentation for the services at the ministries conference in Grace Cathedral on Saturday - should be really fun, although I think I am a bit addicted to a rather 70's psycadelic effect. Will post some shots of it on Saturday.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

 
ALTERNATIVE WORSHIP SPECIAL FEATURE IN THE CHURCH TIMES
church times.jpeg
Brian Draper involved in L8r in North London has written a speacial feature article for the Church Times on alternative worship. Generally it was very good linking alternative worship to new forms of being Church, but unforunately was not very informed about Moot, but heay you can't have everything. Suggest having a read if you are interested....

 
Realize conference
Did some stuff at the Realize conference in Paolo Alto in the US yesterday. About 80 people turned up from the Episcopal church of the US, mainly ministers or those in full time employment of the church. We were exploring new emerging forms of church.

We had a Q and A session with a few of us on a panel which was fun - Karen espoused the link between drinking Belgium beer and the emerging church, and Jonny B talked about loving to drink it! Generally people were very receptive to the stories we had to share.

Sarah commented yesterday on the easiness of seeing the emerging church in the states as only the evanglical churches dressed up in candles and coffee, and I think this is something that a lot of people are struggling to get beyond.

The term 'emerging church' unfortunately is being heavily commercialised and sold as the next solution to your church problems. So it was great to hear yesterday of some great stuff going on around the Bay Area, and hearing from people who are keen to release people into re-imaginging the church for todays postmodern culture. We met a few guys & gals from Vintage church who look like they are doing some really cool stuff in Santa Cruz, as well Mark Scandrette who is doing some cool monastic style stuff in San Fransisco.

Hopefully it will be groups like these who get some limelight and exposure in the US so people can really see how imaginative, creative, radical and contemporary the church can be rather than just a rebranded entity with little change under the surface.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

 
Sunny San Fran
Got to go into San Francisco centre yesterday, its really lovely place, and the centre is actually full of pretty cool shops and stuff.

Jonny and I lead the morning prayers at Grace Cathedral. We used some of the stuff Grace has done recently on the Psalms, they seem to really enjoy it and several people were requesting if they could keep and use the stuff we had given out.

In the afternoon we had a quick tour of the city and made out pilgrimage to the Apple Store, I resisted buying anything buy Jonny came away with a few things. We also went to the famous Riding Lights bookstore.

In the evening we sat around and shared our stories with some of the students in the theological college we are staying at, Karen from Seattle joined us and her story is pretty amazing. She has helped to set up the church of the apostles in a pretty run down area in Seattle, there services use a blend of dance and trance music, and they recently had about 150 drop in for an easter eucharist which sounded pretty spectacular. She drew some great analogies between the Linux operating system and the way the church is run which I will try and type up later.

Was really good to hear a truly authentic emerging church story from the US, when it seems much of what is called the emerging church is just your bog standard evangelical church with candles and coffee.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

 
Greetings From Sunny San Fran
Have arrived in San Francisco earlier today with Jonny B to do take part in a few conferences being organised by Bob Carlton for the Diocese of California at Grace Cathedral.

Incidently Grace Cathedral has a really amazing labyrinth in it which I will attempt to get some good pics of!

Should be good fun, the weather is great, very sunny, the views are pretty spectacular. Am pretty tired now after being up for nearly 24 hours!

We have a pretty hectic schedule of meetings with lots of people, but hopefully I will be able to get a glimpse of what the emerging church looks like in one part of the US.

Friday, May 07, 2004

 
'Keep Them Out!' and why I am ashamed to be British
I watched a dispatches program on channel 4 last night (with the above title minus the why I am ashamed bit. And I can honestly say I have never been so embarrassed and angry at a TV program for a long time.

the program focused on a community in a village called Lee, an area chosen by the home office as a potential site for an accommodation centre for refugees. The townsfolk rallied against this idea and set up an anti-asylum group that erected banners, distributed leaflets and organised mass rallies to oppose this ideas.

Whilst I am not against people who do not like the idea of a refugee centre on their doorstep, I was incredibly angry and upset at the incredible racism that people exhibited in interviews. Some people commented that they would love to see 'all refugees shot', or 'put on the Isle of White and blown up', another exclaimed that said 'I don't give a toss what happens to them as long as they didn't use my f*****g taxes and don't get into the UK'.

And the way in which the opposing group 'dialogued' with people who supported the idea of a refugee centre was a dead give away for their incredible bigotry and sexism, several scenes showed men telling women to shut up as they knew nothing and were being incredibly naive in thinking that refugees wouldn't rape, pillage and kill people if they came to Lee. Interestingly, when pressed, the opposors could not explain their fear in a rational coherent way, one couple told a story about a group of refugees that had blocked their daughters path and threatened her, when pressed how she know they were refugees they could not answer, but they were sure of it as the group had angry expressions on their faces ...ummm convincing answer. Even the leader of the group could not give an answer as to why people feared refugees. In the end the government decided to not set up a centre in Lee for 'technical' reasons, needless to say the residents saw it as a victory for Britain and democracy.

The documentary also followed a Congolese man who was seeking asylum and was staying in a nearby town after fleeing the country after trying to put on a photography exhibition about human rights violations in DR Congo. It was incredibly moving to see how much he missed his family and wished that they were safe. He had not spoken to since he left 6 months earlier. His attitude was one of trying to learn about British culture and to seek to educate himself futher in this country before returning to DR Congo to try and change things for the better there.

Now obviously the director has cut these different scenes together for maximum effect, and the refugee he chose to follow may have been the best example of someone who has a genuine case for immigration status, I am sure there are some that are not so genuine. However, the attitude of many of the people in Lee sickened me to the core, I found it revolting, this sort of thinking in the extreme is well represented by the Nazis. I hope some of the people when they see themselves in camera are ashamed of what they say, and see how bigoted and racist they are.

In watching the program I was reminded of moots discussion last week about Rev 21 (the New Jerusalem). The overriding image of community there is one that has open doors to all, respects peoples/cultures/countries differences, old divides are gone, it truly is an image of society for the 21st century, as well as an image of what the church should be like today. If any of you wish to read up further on Revelation and how to read it today I suggest either Fiorenzas book or Bauckhams. The more I study and re-read the book the more it comes alive as an incredibly prophetic book for life today in the UK.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

 
Jesus comes to London town!
Was in Selfridges today and was amazed to see that the Brazilian Samba was being recreated all round the store. A band was playing mambo and salsa music, there were dancin girls everywhere and loads of guys doing Capoeira dancing.

All very impressive really. Apparently the Brazilian tourist board have sponsored a month long celebration of everything Brazilian. The best bit though was the recreation of the giant statue of Jesus that overlooks Rio - as you can see from the pic its about 50ft high and looks very cool.

If you near Bond Street be sure to check it out!

Monday, May 03, 2004

 
The Kingdom of Birch & Bath
Visited Bath today to see Jon Birch (the creative genius that behind Proost). Watched him mix some music up till about 2am and then had a long chat about fonts while poor ol' Jonny tried to get some sleep next door!

The picture is of John chilling on his granddads chair - purpose made it seems for putting an ibook on!

John has a new website that should be uploaded soon, so check it out if you want to see some funky flash graphics. Hopefully Jon will be doing some work for CMS in the near future.

We also grabbed some dinner with Dave (an old friend of Jonnys and Jons) and a guy who used to run the childrens club, but now works for fyt. We had a great discussion late into the night about setting a maximum wage level for individuals (not my idea) as well as some rather deep conversation about incarnational theology - I'm glad there was some Hoegarden on tap, it was all getting a little bit serious :-)

 
Revelation 21 Discussion
Moot had a discussion on Revelation 21 last wednesday which went very well. I did a little presentation for about 15 mins, and then we went right into some in-depth talking.

Most the conversation revolved around looking at the New Jerusalem as a metaphor for the church today rather than an image of where we will all end up when we die. Or as Fiorenza puts its, ‘[The New Jerusalem is] not a predictive description but instead a prophetic encouragement and persuasive exhortation.’

For me the New Jerusalem is an incredibly rich image of community (for both humans and the whole of creation). And this becomes especially noticeable when you contrast it to the city of Babylon (chapter 13, 16-17).

An interesting point that Fiorenza makes when she comments on the Rev. 21 is that when the Angel measures the walls of the New Jerusalem they measure 188x188, but when the Angel measures the actual city it is some 1200x1200 furlongs. The city itself if seems does not fit into the actual walls, it is vastly bigger. Given that the walls of the city symbolise the Christian community, Fiorenza argues that these verses serve to remind the Christian community that the boundaries of salvation are far wider reaching than we can imagine, and that Gods cosmic purposes for salvation are bigger than any in/out theology we may hold on to. A very interesting point - although it is debatable whether John would have meant this, as the numbers are symbolic in themselves.

I have uploaded my introduction for those who are interested, download it here.

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