Saturday, April 30, 2005
Thursday, April 28, 2005
If nothing else, it is inspiring to hear the stories, and how things work in various contexts. There are many fresh expressions of church represented, alt worship communities, network churches, cafe churches, neo-monastic experiments, justice-orientated action groups, cell churches, traditional church plants, you name it, it is here in a healthy way.
Please do pray for me, as I continue to be unwell but much improved since sunday/monday. Will blog on my reflections of the gathering at the weekend, and want to sit with the subject for a while...
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
As most mooters know, 2005 is a year of change for me (& Mike) as we're expecting our first child. At the moment, it's mostly physical changes (weight gain, swollen fingers, back ache, tiredness etc), but I'm not complaining! - I'm thrilled to be pregnant, and I knew what I was letting myself in for. I'm also aware that every aspect of my life is going to change when a small child is added to it, and I think I have as good an idea of what to expect as anyone who hasn't yet been through it can.
So I can handle the physical changes, I'm expecting and preparing for changes to my life in general, but one of the hardest things for me to imagine/visualize is how my involvement with moot will progress. For the first few months, the baby will be easily portable so we can bring him/her along with us, but what happens after that? How will he/she learn about our faith? Should we take him/her to Sunday School? Do we have to go back to talking about our faith in black & white terms so they can understand? Can kids be "emergent"? I have so many questions! I've seen other people leave similar groups and return to traditional church once they have children, and I can see why, but I don't want to do that.
I don't expect moot to change everything it does to fit in with us, but I also don't want to stop being "emergent" just because I have a child.
I'm guessing we'll just have to feel our way forward together and see what happens... I suppose it could be quite exciting!
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Loosely following Suzy B’s points, (and Suzy I wholeheartedly agree – I kind of lost the appetite for theological conversations many moons ago when very often they seemed to be a thinly veiled macho posturing. There seems to be something very ‘male’ about theology and yet there is no reason it should be like that…..i don’t really get it. I also feel awkward as a man about saying ‘c’mon women let’s hear your voices’ as, although I would much rather hear the voices of women, it seems a rather patronising male thing to say. So I remain quiet and hopeful. Whoops, I’ve said it now!)
Aaaaaaaaanyway, I am just finishing the novel, THE RED TENT by Anita Diamant, which tells the story of the full life of Dinah, Jacob’s daughter from Genesis. The book opens up and dwells in the lives of women and their rituals and wisdom with incredibly detailed research and knowledge. This poetic and lyrical story gives flesh and feeling to a woman whose only appearance in the bible is as an excuse for a brutal massacre. It makes Dinah and her mothers, Jacob’s wives - who again are fairly invisible in the text, come alive and become people we can all relate to - albeit through radically different lives and cultures. It reminds us that biblical characters, like us all, were trying to make the best of their situations, getting it wrong, getting it right sometimes, mixed up, flawed and fragile. The book also reminds me of Phyllis Trible’s ‘Texts of Terror’ which honestly explored four texts where women were treated so badly. This novel indwells that time and the patriarchal ownership of history. The abuses of invisible women are disturbing and repulsive. But the book overturns the received understandings of the bible – it reverses polarity and sheds radically new light on the characters involved. It’s ironic that the women regard men as almost irrelevant in their lives just as the men do to the women - their lives are separate with mutually unknown rituals and Gods.
It also raises interesting questions about the backward revising of history in order to maintain ‘God’s blessing’ on the lives of dubious characters. It’s made me yet again ask the question ‘if the name of God is so arbitrarily used and abused for someone’s own self-justifying purposes, then how much of ‘the book’ do we trust or need to make a useful image of G-d’s character. In other words if we say so much of this is questionable then do we actually need a God to make faith hold, (a reminder of earlier conversations on whether, as Kazantzakis asks in ‘Last Temptation’, we need Jesus to make Christianity work).
I would thoroughly recommend this book – it’s felt like a rare privilege to read it. It may change the way you look at the bible – and that’s never a bad thing. It will certainly enrich our understanding of women’s history - and that's a very good thing.
it is a bit of a bug-bear of mine that there are so few women blogging on the many e.church blogs that i read. (i know there are some but men must outnumber women by 3 to 1). i find this a little disappointing, and i have been wondering where the women are. having been to a few e.church services and events, i know that there are plenty of women around. the situation conjures up an image of 19th century dinner parties when the men all withdrew to the drawing room for a cigar. these after-supper smoking parties took up the debates of the day - politics and religion - possibly considered too vulgar for the women. i wonder what the women were doing whilst the men were smoking? possibly sitting around doing needlepoint and giggling about the latest fashions. however my feeling is that the women were busy doing something (all this talking is so terribly self indulgent, after all). and that is my impression of so many church environments - the women are certainly there - but they are busy doing the important behind-the-scenes stuff. still, girls, i feel it is time to step into the drawing room and start to make a contribution. ironically it is on mootblog that i read the most about inclusion (economic,racial, social), so how come i don't hear about the role of women, or more importantly, how come you moot girls don't blog?
Thought i'd share with one and all my delightful mishap of accidently sending £40 through my shredder.
Well It's the root of all evil anyway...
Sunday, April 24, 2005
Tonight, we said goodbye to two of our best friends.
Graham and Bethan have quit their jobs, sold up, grown beards (well, Graham has), bought a camper-van (alternately called Audrey, Elvis, or Zebedee) and gone off around Europe for 6 months.
We had a special moot service this evening which involved Ian blessing their van. Ian Mobsby is able to do this in his capacity as deacon at St. Matthew's, Westminster.
Well, that was the plan anyway.
The van broke down on the way down to London on Friday, so their trip has been delayed. However, this is just a temporary blip, I'm sure. Ian blessed an image of their van which we projected on to the screen instead.
It's really screwed me up on the sweepstakes however, as we were taking bets as to where their van would first break down. I had Dover.
They kind of deserve an extended holiday as they had such a difficult year last year, but it's quite hard to say goodbye to 2 of your founder members (even if it's only temporary). They're only a blog away, of course, which you can find HERE.
Good luck and Godbless, guys!
Well its been a funny old week. Gareth & I have returned to London after being totally inspired by the living:room, see below for more details. It was good hanging out with Si as well in Seattle, funny how being the otherside of the world helps you to get to know people better that when you are in your own context....
We will be doing a bit of a presentation to Moot, at the next planning meeting, so check out the moot events page on the home website.
On the sad front, I came home to awful news that Revd Ian Durie, a support and encourager to us of ex-epicentre, was tragically killed in a driving accident out of the country on one of his international ministry jaunts. He was deeply loved by many, and was an inspiration to be around. I for one will deeply miss him, he was one of the few of those from St Marks who understood me, epicentre, and my own ministry. It is a dreadful loss. If you want details on the funeral and stuff, email me...
On a less dramatic yet sad front, Bethan & Graham head off into Europe with Audrey the Camper Van.
If you want to catch what Bethan & Graham are up to on their travels, check out there blogsite . I am off to Pasedena on tuesday morning, to attend an international gathering of the emerging church at Fuller Seminary, so will blog what I get up to, with Ben from Sanctus 1, Kester from Vaux, Karen from COTA to mention but a few....
Monday, April 18, 2005
Gareth & I have learnt a lot from being here, we are off home today, and will miss loads of the discussions, dreams and hopes - and the practical experience of running a sucessful cafe church. For more info on the conference see Si's blog, Dwight's blog, and Dave Paisley's blog.
Si is staying on for a couple of days, there is a story there but he can tell you that!!
I come home reinvigorated that cafe church models are such a great way of doing incarnational mission, alternative worship and engagement in the arts. So a big thanks to COTA.
If you were wondering how Minority Report and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind connect with faith, Reverse Shot will tell you as for the moment they're highlighting numerous films that they think have biblical and spiritual fervour, focussing on the themes of Presence, Absence and Searching alongside real venom for Mel Gibson's Passion.
Saturday, April 16, 2005
In a recent blog, I mentioned the fact that the alternative worship movement prides itself on it's urbanity.
This is an idea I've had dating back some months. The book "The Complex Christ" by Kester Brewin, particularly chapter 5 "Christ in the City", is very thorough in outlining that idea.
As I type, the sound of 2 children charging up and down the length of the flat above mine is making it very hard to concentrate. At the risk of sounding like a right-wing Daily Mail reader, ignorant of political histories, this sound has been going on since 7am this morning, usually goes on to 8pm, and has done so 7 days a week (yes, 7am on a Sun. & Sat. too), everyday since we moved here 3 years ago.
In addition to that, the surly teenager in the flat below has the "The Emancipation of Mimi" by Mariah Carey on heavy rotation. I've never really liked R&B, but again, after 3 years of it coming through the poorly constructed walls & floors, and all the other **** I'm having to deal with (See "The Estate I'm In" posting below), I've had to go to the Doctor for stress related illnesses.
Any attempt to deal with these problems has resulted in either a door shut in my face, or an indifferent local council.
Now, without wishing to quote Kester out of context (and I do recommend that you read the book, especially pp.97-116), I think this passage is relevant.
"There are those of us... where everything in the city is new and exciting and right - and... those who live silk-cushioned and air-conditioned lives in the sterilised 'nice' parts of our cities who will never go beyond that. But for most of us who have lived in the city for a while, we go through a (stage) where perhaps we are a victim of crime, and the realities of the difficulties come crashing in on us. We either have the option to escape all together, or cocoon ourselves deeper into 'nice' ghettos... Or we refuse to let go and refuse to let the city remain unchanged. It takes a long time to commit to a city, but a conjunctive,... view of it does come, where we see beyond the mean streets and bad areas and inequality to the deeper issues and the essential goodness. It is only in doing this that the city space can become a spiritual resource for us."
Bearing in mind the experiences I have outlined about where I live, this passage seemed bizarre to me. Trying to see the city I know as good or even resourcing felt like a strange form of sado-masochism!
I agree with the critique in principle, of course. But there is a real danger that we can romanticise the urban. I'm not a social worker or a therapist, just a christian, so that is all that I have to make sense of my environment. Yet my problem is not with "them out there". but with trying to keep my spiritual head above the water in a city that is crushing for me, and I suspect for the underclass who live here too. When I look out from my balcony, I see people who, if you gave them enough money, would be out of here like a shot.
Without getting into the rights and wrongs of addiction, sometimes the act of rolling and smoking a cigarette is my only moment of peace, switching off and transcendence that my situation can allow. Smoking thus becomes a prayer and a moment with God. Little surprise that our estate has a poor health record well beyond the national average, if the figures are to be believed.
It is much easier to live the urban life with a door to shut on the problems, a bed to sleep in after the mugging, and flat to escape to that is quiet, calm and (relatively) secure. Which is why I worry that successful emerging churches come on the back of a degree of middle class wealth. I'm not suggesting that emergent church emerges as social work, nor am I trying to close the discourse.
What I would like is to open the discourse, to allow the underclass to participate in what we do, which, I think is incredibly helpful and resourcing.
Friday, April 15, 2005
You will need Quick time player.
Recent write up from Seattle Press
The Scene – Living: Room (write up in Seattle Weekly April 13th 2005)
When it cam time to pick a tea, we opted for “Moroccan mint,” a roughly 50-50 belnd of mint leaves and green tea, living:room serves the stuff in a decorative teapot; per Moroccan tradition, we dropped sugar cubes into our colourful glass tumblers before pouring. (The sugar is almost a must, since the blend is powerful, verging on bitterness.) Besides stocking an impressive assortment of teas – from comfy chamomile to exotic Kashmiri chai, orchard oolong, white Persian melon, and strong, smoky yerba mate – living:room also keeps a number of delightfully obscure sodas in the fridge, including the German-made Africola, sweetened with cane sugar rather than corn syrup, and Buckin’ Root Beer, a product of Jackson Hole, Wyo., that will make any root beer you’ve previously quaffed seem utterly irrelevant. 4301 Fremont Ave. N, www.livingroomseattle.org Fremont.
Thursday, April 14, 2005
Let me explain.... I'm the artist-in-residence at St. Matthew's, which is where moot happens.
I've had this painting kicking around the studio for about a year now. It wasn't coming together at all, and I couldn't work out why. Today, I suddenly thought about the shape of it - it was all wrong, and maybe if I cropped it down, it would gain a tighter focus, dynamism and abstraction to the work.
After a tense half hour holding up bits of paper trying to imagine it, I took my courage (and my saw) in hand and cut the bloody thing in half.
The figures in it are (left to right) David Trimble from the Unionist Party in in Northern Ireland, Bono from U2, and John Hume from the SDLP, at a free concert in support of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.
I've rather cheekily under-painted the figures - Trimble in orange, Bono in white, & Hume in green, which, coincidentally, are the colours of the Irish flag.
It's a weird one, this. It's such an iconic gesture - a sense of triumph, uplift and positivity that happens when 3 forces choose to work together. The religious background of the figures, and the motif of 3-in-one.
I didn't do too much detail on the figures deliberately. Who they are isn't as important as what they represent, and it's more important that you, the viewer, identify with the sentiment as as much as the people. The possibilities of togetherness. The possibility of realising the Trinity.
I'm so pleased! Yesterday it was really annoying me. Now it's a really great painting - and it's finished! Hurrah!
You know it makes sense. Go on, go on, go on, go on ...
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Well Gareth and I have been here a couple of days, and tasted the events of the Living Room, from film nights, art shows, nightly performance by bands and DJs, an alt. worship service, and the cafe just being a cafe. Lots of things go on in this little cafe, and I have no idea where Karen gets her energy from. COTA is a perfect example of a successful Cafe Church, which has inspired Gareth and I to shape up our dreams concerning moot and cafe church.
On another note, we have had fun being tourists, hence the cheesy photo below. See below for a short movie of the monorail from Seattles space needle to downtown.
Sunday, April 10, 2005
Okay, We Give Up, We feel so ashamed - By The Editors of Scientific American
There's no easy way to admit this. For years, helpful letter writers told us to stick to science. They pointed out that science and politics don't mix. They said we should be more balanced in our presentation of such issues as creationism, missile defense and global warming. We resisted their advice and pretended not to be stung by the accusations that the magazine should be renamed Unscientific American, or Scientific Unamerican, or even Unscientific Unamerican. But spring is in the air, and all of nature is turning over a new leaf, so there's no better time to say: you were right, and we were wrong.
In retrospect, this magazine's coverage of so-called evolution has been hideously one-sided. For decades, we published articles in every issue that endorsed the ideas of Charles Darwin and his cronies. True, the theory of common descent through natural selection has been called the unifying concept for all of biology and one of the greatest scientific ideas of all time, but that was no excuse to be fanatics about it. Where were the answering articles presenting the powerful case for scientific creationism? Why were we so unwilling to suggest that dinosaurs lived 6,000 years ago or that a cataclysmic flood carved the Grand Canyon? Blame the scientists. They dazzled us with their fancy fossils, their radiocarbon dating and their tens of thousands of peer-reviewed journal articles. As editors, we had no business being persuaded by mountains of evidence.
Moreover, we shamefully mistreated the Intelligent Design (ID) theorists by lumping them in with creationists. Creationists believe that God designed all life, and that's a somewhat religious idea. But ID theorists think that at unspecified times some unnamed superpowerful entity designed life, or maybe just some species, or maybe just some of the stuff in cells. That's what makes ID a superior scientific theory: it doesn't get bogged down in details.
Good journalism values balance above all else. We owe it to our readers to present everybody's ideas equally and not to ignore or discredit theories simply because they lack scientifically credible arguments or facts. Nor should we succumb to the easy mistake of thinking that scientists understand their fields better than, say, U.S. senators or best-selling novelists do. Indeed, if politicians or special-interest groups say things that seem untrue or misleading, our duty as journalists is to quote them without comment or contradiction. To do otherwise would be elitist and therefore wrong. In that spirit, we will end the practice of expressing our own views in this space: an editorial page is no place for opinions.
Get ready for a new Scientific American. No more discussions of how science should inform policy. If the government commits blindly to building an anti-ICBM defense system that can't work as promised, that will waste tens of billions of taxpayers' dollars and imperil national security, you won't hear about it from us. If studies suggest that the administration's antipollution measures would actually increase the dangerous particulates that people breathe during the next two decades, that's not our concern. No more discussions of how policies affect science either-so what if the budget for the National Science Foundation is slashed? This magazine will be dedicated purely to science, fair and balanced science, and not just the science that scientists say is science. And it will start on April Fools' Day.
Gareth & Ian and their giant space needles!
Friday, April 08, 2005
For this guy, his family and any others affected. (This is regarding the posting I put up earlier this week).
click here for news report
BBC Radio 4 has streamed a great programme on the whole issue of the desert - check it out - you will need Read Player (free) to operate this - links from the BBC Radio website for this if you need it.
Check out, here
Thursday, April 07, 2005
Church on the Corner in Islington (london) will be hosting an entire day on Protest4 on the 16th May. It will begin at 10am and finish at 8pm so unless you're unemployed like Si, see if you can get the time off work and join the growing collective. I believe we will be discussing issues in and around 'justice in emerging culture'. Protest4 has been on a slow boil since we held the conference on trafficking last October and in many respects this day will function as a lift off for projects that some are already thinking about. E-mail Si Johnston if you're able to make it or would like to come (see link to his blog on the left hand side).
The Estate I'm In.
The other night, I was watching TV at home, when the doorbell rang. Then it rang again. And again.
Muttering under my breath, I went to the answer it only to find no-one there. I noticed 4 kids walking away down the street. Cursing them under my breath for a prank I'd probably played a million times myself as a teenager, I shut the door and thought nothing of it.
It wasn't until later that I realised that they had in fact ripped the doorbell off my gate and had been repeatedly pressing it as they were walking away (it was one of those remote control ones that don't need wires).
About a month before that, someone reach through our security gate and stole the back wheel off our bike.
About a week ago, I returned to my local train station at about 5pm (Streatham Hill) to find the police conducting a fingertip search outside the local Somerfield supermarket, as someone had been shot 2 hours previously. The whole High Street had to be closed off. (Bit of a problem, as its the main route from Central London to one of our major international airports).
Now, I'm not sharing these stories to induce any kind of "poor little me" sympathy from the blogosphere, but it got me to thinking about affluence and it's association with alt. worship.
It strikes me that when one lives in a situation where money is plentiful, home is comfortable, and friends and family are always there, it's much easier to create a space to think about God, and choose which worship service we feel like going to today. I know this from my own middle class background.
However, I now find myself in a distinctly urban situation where the majority of my neighbours are dependant on the welfare state, and I, as an owner/occupier of my property am in the minority.
Not only that, but my block faces demolition. I'm trying to move through the various legal channels, whilst holding down 2 jobs, fixing up the place so that we'll get decent compensation, contributing to moot, oh, and by the way, my wife is due to give birth in September.
In this situation, it becomes increasingly difficult to get or create a moment to be with God as much as I would love/need that right now. My points are these:-
1) The alt. worship "movement" (if I can calll it that for the sake of argument just now) prides itself on its urbanity. However, I'm becoming increasingly concerned that it's turning into a haven for people with technology/time/money to go for a coffee, and leaving behind those who would benefit from it the most.
2) In a time where the emergent church seems to be either being co-opted as the newest form of evangelical outreach on the one hand, or on the other, on the receiving end of a rather un-called-for backlash, succcess seems to come down to one thing - spondoolicks. That is to say, the readies, the green folding stuff, lolly. I'm talking, of course, about
3) I'm starting to notice, that affluence amongst the individuals in alt. worship "congregations" breeds a kind of consumer driven laziness when it comes to partaking of said congregation. The few run around setting up, whilst the attenders sit at home trying to decide whether they can be bothered to go.
Although this may be a bit of a rant, this is not about me. It's about what I see happening to the scene here in London, UK at the moment, and if I have offended anyone, I apologise.
My only wish is to for people to see the value of what we have here (and it is extremely valuable), and perhaps inspire people to do something positive with the huge potential that exists. I look forward to your comments.
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
They have managed to get three staffed salaries from anglican charities in the USA, and rely on the giving of those involved to keep the show on the road. They do alt.worship services, discussion evening, film nights, and cafe that is open every day. It is so what I want for us in Moot. They are even buying an old church building to turn it into a new cafe church gallery and music centre...... they are radical and very committed - and something I am already learnt from. More to follow.....
Monday, April 04, 2005
Where:The Yurt, 28 Abbotts Road, New Barnet,
Herts EN5 5DP (Tel: 020 8441 8903)
Cost: Free (donations will go to Trade Justice)
Fairly traded refreshments will be available.