church leavers: faith journeys five years on...
Thursday, August 31, 2006
The book also charts the development of Spirited Exchanges and the role of spiritual directors. To read what Alan Jamieson says about the book, see 'here' and 'here'.
Labels: churchless faith
from Greenbelt to Pakistan...
If time allows I'll try to visit an internet cafe at 2 or 3 points and blog some reflections as we're going. If not, I'll be back at the end of September!
another taste of heaven...
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Why... because Greenbelt brings together thousands of people with differing characteristics and perspectives into a weekend's celebration of creativity and faith. There is so much variety in terms of music, worship, talks, seminars, art installations, discussions, debates, comedy and animals (yes, there was even a mini farm this year!) In short, I always see Greenbelt, in its God-centred variety, to be a taste of heaven!
The highlights for me this year were the New Forms Cafe (pictured), which provided an excellent space for worship and discussion around a whole range of issues to do with emerging church (Dream and the two Spirited Exchanges UK sessions happened there) and the thought provoking Ikon service (see Pete Rollins' take on the service 'here')! Thanks Ben and Ian (and teams) for working so hard on New Forms - let's hope it returns next year!
If you took photos at Greenbelt, add them to the flickr group and post any comments/reflections on your experience of the festival here (especially if you were at Dream or the Spirited Exchanges sessions and have comments to make).
If you want to find out what others thought, Jonny Baker has some good reflections (with some interesting comments in response) 'here', and Paul Chambers has written a Greenbelt poem 'here'.
half way through...
Sunday, August 27, 2006
full house for both Dream and the first 'Faith without Church' session... several deep conversations as a result of both... good discussions at the Global Zoo... welcome return of the main stage... kids loving it (but tired!)... great communion service this morning with inspiring thoughts from Doug Gay... welcome return of the organic beer tent... just about to hear Jim Wallis talk about God's politics... looking forward to the second SE UK session tomorrow.
For a growing collection of photos from this year's festival see 'here'.
off to greenbelt...
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
here's where I'll be found...
Dream: travel notes for a rescued people - Saturday 12noon, New Forms Cafe
Faith without church - Saturday 2pm, New Forms Cafe
Global Zoo - Saturday 3pm, New Forms Cafe
Future journeys beyond the church - Monday 2pm, New Forms Cafe
other inspiring worship... Grace, Sanctus 1, Ikon...
other fascinating seminars... Pete Rollins, Dave Tomlinson, Jim Wallis, Maggi Dawn...
(this is already way too ambitious I think!)
random unknown bands
wrestling (metaphorically) with two young children around a racecourse
and various other places over the weekend
If you're going, have a fun time and maybe I'll catch up with you at some point!
the truth isn't sexy...
Ellen was abducted from Albania and sold to a brothel in London's west end where she was forced to have sex with up to forty men a day. She was beaten, raped and threatened with death if she tried to refuse. Ellen was 15. The truth isn't sexy.
Check out the campaign site 'here', and sign up with protest4 'here'.
I remember Si talking about campaigning on the human trafficking issue at Greenbelt two years ago - it's good to see how this is gaining momentum, and that other groups are adding their voice to Stop the Traffik. This is a particularly apt (and sobering) post considering today (23rd August) has been designated 'International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition' - if only it was truly over.
settlers and nomads...
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
And there were other tent dwellers I met along the way, all, like me, searching for God, for wisdom and for truth. I found myself sharing with them my experiences of the journey and listening to theirs. And sometimes we introduced each other to our guides...
These reflections seem to touch on the discussions about 'conjunctive church' (see my posts 'here' and 'here') - it seems that, in Mandy's waking dream at least, the conjunctive faith community (that operates beyond the old polarities represented by the cities) is the nomadic one; the community/ies of tent dwellers. Such communities will necessarily be transient, as people feel the need to pack up the tent again and travel on, but they are no less genuine because of this. I guess this connects with my post on longevity 'here' too.
One of the oft-cited marks of genuine community is an ongoing sacrificial commitment to one another in the Acts 2 sense or that of Bauman's 'ethical community' (see my post 'here' for more on this), so the question naturally arises... are nomadic communites capable of this? For my part, I would argue that yes they are, and maybe in even more significant ways than the settled (citadel) type communities. If you've ever been back-packing then you will be aware of the sense of community that can exist amongst nomadic people. Several years ago when I was travelling in India I was staying in a back-packers shack on the roof of a tower block in New-Delhi when, one night, I developed pneumonia. It was great to see how people who I didn't know helped in that situation, giving me advice about how to deal with it (sometimes from personal experience), where to go for medical help, how not to get ripped off when doing so, and so on. I can't even remember the names of some of these people, and will probably never see them again, but, for that night at least, I felt like I was in some significant relationship of community with them.
Can the 'Church', whatever we understand that to be, take the risk of moving out of and beyond its citadel strongholds, be they those of tradition, theology or whatever, and facilitate genuine community for the spiritual nomads? What will this look like? Where will it lead us?
While on the subject of community, Paul Fromont has posted an interesting article 'here'.
(sorry for the numerous links in this post - have a good time travelling around them!!)
in relentless pursuit of real...
Sunday, August 20, 2006
p.s. the title for this post is Richard's own blog strapline, so I lay no claim to it!!
the conjunctive church #2...
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Friday, August 11, 2006
After Greenbelt I've got 2 days to get the washing and packing done before flying out to Pakistan on 1st September with a small group of students, graduates and generally younger-than-me people! We're going to be in Pakistan for three weeks, spending time with the Anglican diocese of Peshawar and CMS mission partners in Islamabad, as well as visiting the relief work in the earthquake and recent flood affected areas.
But before all that... a week's holiday on the south coast with the family! No blog post next week (my wife tries to keep me away from computers when I'm on holiday!) but hopefully I'll return to these pages before Greenbelt and Pakistan!
Thursday, August 10, 2006
"We are hugely diverse even for an interfaith forum, with every major religion and most minor ones represented by our members. But what we most pride ourselves on is the warm and welcoming environment we've created in which people gather to discuss religions and all related matters."
Go check it out 'here'
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
"Until about five years ago, most of the people interested in psychic phenomena were basically of a certain type," says Craig Hamilton-Parker, who runs the online Elysium Academy Psychic School, based in Stansted, and also practises as a medium. "You could call them the Doris Stokes brigade. They were usually over 50, might well have had a loved one who had died and were very keen to know what was on the other side. Over the past few years, however, we've had so much interest from people in their twenties or thirties who want to use skills such as aura reading, psychic abilities, mediumship and clairvoyance in their personal lives to help with relationships and careers and are unlikely to be wanting to contact and speak to the dead."
These students are part of a new, prosperous, younger generation whose desire for the psychic skills of mediumship and tarot reading sits comfortably alongside a range of other lifestyle choices, such as reading self-help books, going to the gym and dressing for success. Generation X-Files, if you will.
Of course, Making Sense of Generation Y is concerned with what it labels 'generation Y' (i.e. 15-25 year olds) rather than people in their later 20s and 30s, and has a fairly narrow (by its own admission) research base, so we can't set this article up against the report. Maybe what we can say is that whereas the report limits its research field and takes a detailed look at those in its sample, this article gives a broad brushstroke of the picture as it is emerging. Armstrong also makes the point that much of this growing interest in spirituality is fueled by "the gradual rise of psychic television" (programmes like ITV's Supernatural and Living TV's Haunted Houses, Unsolved Mysteries and Street Psychic), so maybe we should be prepared for a growing interest in such spiritual practices amongst Generation Y (and younger) over the coming years.
There is another reason for this trend highlighted by the article too...
The crumbling of politics and religion has helped spur the growth. Kay Stirling, the "Spiritual Journey" tutor, came to spiritualism via anti-Vietnam protests in Australia and radical feminism in the 1970s. "As the movement splintered, I became more interested in finding solutions in personal responsibility," she explains. "I think that drew me towards channelling my energy, and on into spiritualism. You'll find lots of people my age came through that route, but these younger kids are turning towards it because there's no sense of God in a world where people kill each other over religion the whole time."
All of this begs the question as to how we (followers of Jesus, 'Christians', the 'Church',...) are engaging with people who are searching to find meaning in such spiritual practices. Thank God that we have people like Phil Johnson and Matt Stone asking these sorts of questions in the blogosphere, alongside the excellent dekhomai.
The full text of the New Statesman article can be found (for free!) online 'here'.
discussions about emerging church ex/in - clusivity...
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
As a result of all this (and the fact that I'm away all of next week with the family!) the blog posting is likely to be a bit quiet (unlike the summer!).
However, there are two great discussions currently taking place in the blogosphere about whether the emerging church is exclusive. So, if you haven't already, go read them at Steve's blog and Ben's blog.
Labels: emerging church
a new look...
Monday, August 07, 2006
Hope you like it - let me know what you think!!!
the conjunctive church...
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
"In the transition to Conjunctive faith one begins to make peace with the tension arising from the fact that truth must be approached from a number of different directions and angles of vision. As part of honoring truth, faith must maintain the tensions between these multiple perspectives and refuse to collapse them in one direction or another. In this respect, faith begins to come to terms with dialectical dimensions of experience and with apparent paradoxes: God is both immanent and transcendent; God is both omnipotent and a self-limiting God; God is the sovereign of history while being the incarnate and crucified One. In physics, in order to account for the behaviour of light, two incompatible and unintegrable models must be employed - one based on the analogy with packets of energy, and the other on the analogy with wavelike motions somewhat as in sound. Similarly, many truthful theological insights and models involve holding together in dialectical tension the "coincidence of opposites." As regards faith and its expressions in this stage, we must speak of a kind of epistemological humility. The Conjunctive stage recognizes that properly we stutter when we speak of the Divine."
This has so much resonance with Pete Rollins' How (Not) to Speak of God, Brian McLaren's A Generous Orthodoxy and Kester Brewin's The Complex Christ; as well as relating closely to Gibbs and Bolger's second mark of the emerging church, 'Transforming Secular Space', in Emerging Churches, and to the comment made by Matt Rees 'here' about the desire of the emerging church to "operate beyond conservative/liberal polarities"
So... is the emerging church (knowingly or unknowingly) in the process of building authentic faith communities for people operating at Fowler's stage 5 - 'Conjunctive Faith'? If so, it seems pertinent here to add a further quote from Fowler, by way of refuting the often made accusation that the emerging church is in danger of slipping into an epistemology without any convictions...
"I do not here speak of a wishy-washy sense of openness in which one has no strongly held convictions. Rather, I refer precisely to its opposite. ... Persons in this stage do have deep and particular convictions that account for their nondefensiveness in the dialogue with other traditions and perspectives."
is longevity necessary?
"...having been asked what an ecclesial minimum might be for emerging churches, we were told that one of the main criteria in measuring the success of emerging churches, would be their longevity. I'm glad the same criteria wasn't used to measure Jesus' 'intentional' activity otherwise his 'paltry' three years would be deemed highly inconsequential compared to the average life span of 6 years for emergent communities which is apparently too short."
Read the whole of Si's post 'here'.
Update, 9th August... Kester's post 'here' about rites of passage, nomadic faith and the Vaux story may have something to say about the nature of 'longevity' in the emerging church too.
Labels: emerging church