Thursday, January 27, 2005

Complex Christ revisited
Following the debate about a posting I put on this blog on Kester Brewin's book 'the Complex Christ' late last year, and the following discussion that kicked off, I promised Kester that I would come back with a more considered critique for posting on the Complex Christ web/blog. However, given that the debate happened here, I want to post it here as well as the complex Christ website ( as a further comment on the subject. If there is resultant debate, I and I think Kester would appreciate if it could go to the Complex Christ web/blog. Cheers.... See link below for the review.

complexchristreview 0105.pdf

To see the review on Kester's website and comment click here

To see the debate on Kester's website click here

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

God's Politics : Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It

Jim Wallis, who many may know from Greenbelt and Sojourners, has a new book out entitled God's Politics : Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It. It's an interesting development from 'Soul of Politics', whereby he tries to move the American Vision of Christianity and Politics around and addresses what really needs to fund the political imagination.
An excerpt can be found
here »

Rather bizarrely he turned up on a USA talk/comedy show - if anyones interested in taking a look, you'll find it
here »

I Like Jim Wallis and admire his absolute, determined conviction. Not seen him for a while now but still raises thorny issues which are vital to hear.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


New Cathedral Images at St Paul's
St Paul's is unveiling four new striking paintings today that will be installed in prominent positions within the cathedral. Painted by the Russian artist Sergei Chepik they stand some 7 metres tall.

Chepik has taken images from the life of Jesus and reimagined them for today's world - one of the paitings of the crucifixion sets Jesus in a bleak landscape more akin to Tolkien's Lord of the Rings Mordor than Jerusalem. "Emanciated, despairing figures stand or cast themselves on the ground in mourning under the bloodred rays of a solar-eclipse, while bystanders gloat at them.

Another picture (above), strips Christ's nativity of shepherds, wise men and a manger. [Instead] it shows a cloaked peasant Mary, standing apprehensively over the head of Jesus who has the puny body of a famine child. Yet his arms are outstretched in blessing." (Quoted from todays Guardian).

Its fantastic when artists are given a free hand to reimagine religious images for today, and it is a bold move by St Paul's to commission such work given the prominent space the paintings will occupy. If the above image is anything to go by the other three paintings should be equally as impressive. I for one will be heading over there at the next opportunity.

Just purchased tickets for the U2 Vertigo Tour 2005. They are playing at Twickenham on the 18th June. Should be FAB! I haven't seen them in concert before - and some are saying this could be their last tour. Knowing U2 it will be a fantastic mixture of great tunes and fantastic lighting and stage choreography. And its also the day before our wedding anniversary as well - so it should be a nice double celebration.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

All you need... is just a little respect...
Amongst the business of getting though the gloom of a 30 something-nealy-fourty something birthday and lack of sunshine in the darkness of January, I have been reflecting on some thoughts that have been going through my frontal-lobe about 'honour'. I have been making a few connections between the discussion that came out of Gary's posting on 'that musical', some of the comments I threw in from Rowan Williams, and also connections with a study we did in Moot last year on "The fear of the Lord". He has obviously got to much time on his hands I hear you say, but I hope there maybe something in this......

The ancients took the need for an honour culture very seriously. A culture of giving and receiving respect (admittedly slightly romanticised as many died in honour-power relations), but never the less it was a society that respected people, their culture and and their beliefs as against cynical cultures which have no values. It has struck me how important it was for this honour culture to reflect this in how it related to God, hence the idea of 'fear of the Lord' as the word fear here is about loyalty, trust, honour, respect, as you would a 'prince' of old. So fear here is about honouring coming out of the heraldry idea.

Well, our culture today has been deconstructing for a while. So much so that it does not honour or respect anything, particularly things that have existed for centuries or institutions. Our culture is extremely cynical.

I have been thinking that this presents Christians with an issue, where we need to consider the need to live counter-culturally another way. I way of generosity, a way of respect and honour to everyone we come into contact with. In this way honour is about loving people enough to respect them even when we dislike or disagree with them.

In this way I think we connect to the traditions of the desert fathers, the mystics and many in the Christian tradition, not because we are better, but because we also have a vision of transformation through attempting to live counter-culturally to a greedy, selfish and cynical culture. So to Fear the Lord is to honour the Lord seriously enough to try to live by it...

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Moot Foundations or Grey Space
For those that missed Gareth's excellent article about Moot's vision of a fresh contributing to be Church in the City, see the below which has been added to the Moot Foundations section of the website. Moot in the city.pdf For more accessible writings written by members of the Moot community on the founding values and vision of the group click here

Monday, January 17, 2005

protest4 update
Hads some really good news this week (si blogged it here first thought). Michael Howard (the Conservative Party leader) and Oliver Letwin (shadow chancellor) were at the centre last week to visit the Centre for Social Justice.

One of the guys who works there had been on the Protest4 weekend and was really impacted by it. He had already shared with Michael Howard, as well as a few other prominent MP's the issue of people trafficking and the need for it to be up on the political agenda nationally and globally.

It seems what he said has made an impact because a major lecture by William Hague (the former Conservative Party leader) will be given on Monday 24th January at Hawkstone Hall, London (see last entry here) on the issue of people trafficking - and hopefully point to a shift in focus for the Conservative party - they will also hopefully be showing the installation that a few of us worked on for protest4. So do come along if you are interested in this important issue.

It may end up having a knock on effect for some funding we have been trying to get to push ahead with some ideas of how, on a grassroots level, we can engage with this massive issue locally in London.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Creative play in the city that challenges boundaries – an urban skaters perspective

Drawing on the ‘trickster’ mentality, I like the way this article makes links with humanising the city in playfulness, that challenges the boundaries and pharisaical practices about what is right and wrong.
My utopian image of what urban living should be like is that everyone should be a skater. Cities and buildings provide for our every living moment. Within them we dwell, we work, we play. Cities are our spatial world. But too often city folk are passive users of these everyday spaces and structures. Too often the bovine hoards we see passing from work to home to mind-numbing ‘leisure activity’ do exactly what they are told: Keep left. Don’t walk. No Cycling. Keep off the Grass. But the city and its architecture offer far greater opportunities than simply to work and to shop. Decades of urban technology have unwittingly created a concrete playground of immense potential. It just takes a skater’s sheer twisted creativity to realise it.

Skaters have used specialist facilities, as well as the street, to evolve a supremely body-centric set of spaces, creating spiralling forces of movement that act centrifugally, extending out of the body to the edge of the terrain beneath, and then centripetally pulling body, board and terrain together into one dynamic flow. But since the ‘80s, skating has taken on a more aggressive and political identity and space. After the closure of many of the skateparks of the first European wave, skaters were forced into the streets. Here they daily create a radical subversion of the intended use of architecture. An entire subdivision of skating has evolved that consciously undermines urban design, recreating the city for its own ends.

Around 1984, skaters began extending their obsession into the most mundane and conventional elements of the urban landscape. Using as their basic move – the ‘olie’ – as the base element of an ever-evolving physical language, they ride up onto walls of buildings, steps and street furniture. As legendary Californian skater Stacey Peralta describes it: “for urban skaters, the city is simply the hardware on their trip.” As well as the pavement, skaters across the world use fire hydrants, bus benches, kerbs and handrails. For skaters the city morphs into an endless set of opportunities for urban subversion. It is the leftover spaces that are the home of modern skating; the modernist suburban plaza, the steps outside Banks. Twelve concrete steps and a handrail define the difference between the pavement and the institution. Is the play between these two realms: the corporate and the individual, which makes skating fundamentally creative. Skating is antagonistic towards the urban environment. But, beyond simple accusations that skaters cause physical damage to persons or property, there is a more significant dimension to this seeming aggression: in redefining space for themselves, skateboarders threaten its accepted definitions, striking at the very heart of what everyone else understands by the ‘city’. Skaters produce an overtly political space, a pleasure ground carved out of the city as a kind of continuous reaffirmation of the notion that beneath the pavement lies the beach.

Unsurprisingly, this kind of activity does not go unchallenged. Because skaters test the boundaries of the urban environment, using its elements in ways neither practised nor understood by others, they meet with repression and legislation. Some cities have placed curfews and outright bans on skating. More usually, skaters encounter experiences similar to those of the homeless, frequently in areas of semi-controlled space hovering between private and public domains. Like the homeless, skateboarders occupy the pace in front of mini-market stores, and office plazas without engaging in the economic activity of the building and, as a result, owners and building managers have either treated skaters as trespassers, or have cited the marks caused by skateboards as proof of criminal damage. Skaters face fines, bans and even imprisonment – they are, in short, now subjected to spatial censorship.

Anti-skating legislation is rarely systemic, but the nervousness of the status quo when faced with skaters highlights a confrontation between counter-culture and hegemonic social practices. Ultimately, being banned from the public domain becomes simply one more obstacle to overcome; another set of suits to aggravate.
Iain Border, UCL London.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Urban Enough?

Recently I've been enjoying the various 'beep music' from pedestrian crossings.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Moot Prayer Experimentation
Following the moot service on Sunday where we used a trappist meditation as an aid to prayer, I want to encourage mooters to try incoporating elements of what we did into their spiritual devotional lives. For those who did/could not attend, please see the document below which is a bit of a summary. Talking to Trine, she is going to use some of it in the service she is preparing next month.

Notes from the Moot Service.pdf

Fluid views to life

I found this article recently in a surf magazine concerning perceptions of
time from people living in our postmodern culture.

As we should know the study of undulatory vibrations in the world of
physical phenomena, every wave comprises in itself a complete circle,
that is the matter of the wave moves in a completed curve in the same
place and for as long as the force acts which creates the wave. We should
know also that every wave consists of smaller waves and is in its turn a
component part of a bigger wave. If we take, simply for the sake of
argument, days as the smaller waves which form the bigger waves of
years, then the waves of years will form one great wave of life. And so long
as this wave of life rolls on, the waves of days and the waves of years must
rotate at their appointed places, repeating and repeating themselves.

Thus the line of the fourth dimension, the line of life or time, consists of
wheels of ever-repeating days, of smaller circles of the fifth dimension, just
as a ray of light consists of quanta of light, each rotating in its place so long
as the primary shock which sends forth the particular ray persists. But in
itself a ray may be acurve, a component part of some other bigger wave.
The same applies to the line of life.

If we take it as one great wave consisting of the waves of days and years,
we shall have to admit that the line of life moves in a curve and makes a
complete revolution, coming back to the point of its departure. And if a
day or a year is a wave in the undulatory movement of our life, then our
whole life is a wave in some undulatory movement of which we know
nothing. As I have already pointed out, in our

ordinary conception life appears as a straight line drawn between the
moments of birth and death. But if we imagine that life is a wave, we
shall get this figure: The point of death coincides with the point of birth.

(PD Ouspensky A New Model of the Universe in The Book of Waves by
Drew Kampion.)

So why have a posted this – well it has got me thinking about how we as
Christians engage with knowledge or what the ancients called ‘wisdom’.
This and the substance in Kester’s book the Complex Christ draws on this
whole wisdom genre in our own times.

Monday, January 10, 2005


Pleased to hear that Bruggemann is heading downunder.

Professor Walter Brueggeman, On Jeremiah
4pm 26 January 2005. St Kentigern College, 130 Pakuranga Rd, Auckland
Brueggeman is emeritus professor of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary in Georgia, and is a widely published and respected author.

This is organised by the University of Auckland School of Theology Ph 09 3737599/86676 or for more information. The notice I have does not indicate whether there is a charge, so probably it is free.

Sunday, January 09, 2005


Waited to watch Jerry Springer before casting some thoughts on the subject, and I think i have mixed feelings over this, so what follows is kind of provisional...

The Opera/Musical, (it's debatable), is really very good in respects of production, approach and music, and yet the feeling I ended with after watching was one of unease. I think that was meant to be the point, but i'm still not convinced the story is strong enough to effectively make it's statement.

Jerry Springer, as a TVshow is a nauseating carnival of the grotesque and broken. It's a modern day freak-show which humiliates people as a vehicle for generating ratings. I think this is clearly and accurately shown in the Opera, and so I think the 1st act alone would have left me feeling uncomfortable.
The 2nd act however takes the surreal, (and now controversial), turn where Jerry, having been shot, descends to hell to mediate a show involving God, Satan, Jesus.

My overall feeling was that the subject of the play was about Moral choices and asks who now are the arbiters of modern morality. It wasn't about God, but was trying to emphasise that, in this chaotic melee, even God could be judged in the light of TV soundbite. People aren't intertested in God or the divine - what counts is MY justification of MY self in any given moment, until things go bad. Interestingly both God and Jerry point out that people are 'making bad choices and then they blame me'.

I suppose I had anticipated, (my own presumptions i know), that the appearance of God and Jesus may have provoked some moment of insight, of revelation, of self-questioning. Instead they seem like the same characters on the show; squabbling, holding grudges, misunderstandings etc. In fact it's Jerry who seems to have the clearest insight into the total absurdity of this situation. I felt dissapointed that there was yet another misinterpretation of who these people really are. It the kind of 2-dimensional gentle Jesus - (or stupid Jesus here), Satan with red horns etc, charicature that is hardly blasphemous but just very annoying.

In many respects i could agree that this is a blasphemy, (by definition), but i wonder if that kind of attitude/concept still has a place in our world. I for one have had enough of fundamentalists telling us what not to watch or think, and if we don't agree we may be blown up, yelled at, or any of the other available options of religious coercion we now live with. I think it was CS Lewis who suggests that we don't need to defend the power of a Lion - it doesn't need simply open the cage. In other words, Ideas are ideas - g-d is g-d. Are we really defending G-d or simply our vulnerable beliefs?? (it's a question).

However grace and love do have a part to play here to, and we are encouraged to be sensitive to the weaker brother/sister - so where do we go with that?

Whether this is blasphemy or not is not my place or position to judge. (Some of my own personal faith-inspired views have been regarded and heresy in the past so i'm hardly the person to offer a judgement). I can very clearly see however how many people would say, 'that's my Jesus and he's not like that so you are blaspheming'.
Once again though i remind myself that these characters are not, i think, really meant to be themselves. I.e. this is not a piece about Theology but about the TV-isation of moral choices. And in that light the Divine Subjects are metaphors, projections of our own ignorance.

Oh dear, I think i'm in one of these situations where, we seem to be in the middle of defending Art or Faith, when the art isn't really that good.
The overall peice wasn't, to my mind at least, the 'significant and weighty' piece it's defenders say it is. I don't think it's the attack on the Church that the defenders of faith say it is either. I certainly don't think it's 'FILTH' as i've heard from multiple sources, but i'm not sure if it's really that strong as an idea.

It's a musical in the end. It's hardly the end of civilisation, more a mirror to our times. But there are better things to say, and there are more significant battles to be had...........

Thursday, January 06, 2005

New kids on the blog
I am pleased to see that the Sanctus 1 crew in Manchester have set up a community blog. They in Manchester, and B1in Birmingham and us in London and not to leave out COTAS in Seattle are all attempting to do fresh expressions of church in city centres. Intriguing all of them are also experimenting with the cafe church concept as well as what we are doing at the moment as alt worship/network church.

Some in Moot have wanted to experiment with doing cafe - and starting small, we are going to start doing tea and coffee for half an hour before services, alike what headpsace do so well...

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Andrea, friend of a number mootites and part of Gracelands alternative worship community is promoing a band in Bricklane, see flyer...

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