Saturday, October 14, 2006

We are marching in the name of peace

In Scotland at the moment there is a wonderful movement afoot. This is the Scotland 4 Peace campaign that have it's aims as:
1. For a majority of Scottish MPs, MSPs, Councillors and MEPs to speak out publicly against the replacement of Trident 2. The Scottish Executive to establish a Scottish Centre for Peace and Justice 3. Establish an annual Scottish Peace Day 4. The Scottish Executive to establish an effective Defence Diversification Agency to plan the replacement of defence jobs
This shows true spirit and is supported by church groups (though I fail to find a listing of which ones) and with the Scottish Parliament elections coming up next May it looks like the churches will once again be helping shape the issues that get the nation talking - just what needs to be happening! EDITED : It seems turbulent cleric has been having similar thoughts and posted the following film about our United Methodist cousins...

I Blah therefore I shall blog (2)

There was an academic, a minister and a dude living it... no this isn't a joke just a jokey intro into my review of today. I went to a Blah day which Jonny Baker has been plugging featuring (amongst others) John Drane. This day was supported by the emerging church community moot (for a review of their community read this report which met in the venue we used, the beautiful St Matthews, Westminster Spiritual Formation with John Drane, Andrew Roberts and Ben Edson. The day opened with the usual coffee/tea set-up and mild polite conversation. This is noted for the reason that it is really the most odd moments as if you don't know anyone it is rather lonely. I was in luck as I was approached by one of the speakers and we got chatting. That said this did rather set me thinking about how we, as a church can be a truly welcoming body prior to services. After all at that point there is little or no link to anyone else and left me realising that the effort church puts into being welcoming at the start of the service needs to have more work put into the end... but more on that another time. John Drane First up to speak was Mr John Drane. You may have come across two of his books, The McDonaldization of the Church and the more recent Do Christians Know How to Be Spiritual?: The Rise of New Spirituality and the Mission of the Church. Both of these books were the running themes through the talk he gave. The main aim of his talk was to explain about how each time society has changed, from agrarian to industrial to beyond, the church has responded. The nature of what church was and did (ie liturgy focused on) was shaped by outside factors to keep the message of God relevant to the modern day. In order to be able to reflect the different times of humanity it has had to profile the people and ensure that what it taught did so. The idea of teaching though needs to be rethought, the previous generations and styles were always that people were taught rather than assessing what they needed to know first. What now happens is that humans have changed, they look for the big picture now and yet somehow the teaching method focuses on the small. This is then reflected (the need for the big picture) in what they look for the church to be talking about when (and now we go into my thinking), in reality, we are still (on an institutional) level looking at issues that don't concern the public any more. Discussions on human sexuality and the role of women are discussions that our society had over fifty years ago and they have now moved on. Yet with the church obsessing about out of date issues it looses the edge it had on the society it works with. (Back to JD's views now) In both the books I mentioned when introducing him he identifies styles of people and styles of the church reacting (eg Traditionalist, Conceptual etc). The Church is very good at reaching out to those for whom a Traditionalist or Apathetic approach works. Yet the other groups are not represented. Therefore by realising that we are all on a journey and we all have differing starting points therefore we need to ensure that we open our eyes and ears to everyones starting points and get ready to reflect that. This was summed up by the idea that we should "imagine church to be a Jazz band, different leaders at different times" and ensure that "we must ensure the questions we (the church) struggle with are new & not just a rehash of what faces old cultures"

I Blah therefore I shall Blog....

Revd Andrew Roberts Up next was the Revd Andrew Roberts. He is a Methodist minister and works for the joint Anglican/Methodist Fresh Expressions project. He set out by explaining that many people view either fresh expressions or emerging church and rarely are the two seen as the same thing, an important way of seeing how different people view things which others see as the same (this idea of one being different from other was later challenged by a questioner who saw both intertwining). The main jist of what he was saying was that all successful projects have 3 key parts to them... 1) Prayer and Support 2) Listening and Following of Gods call* 3) Connexion *This is a listening and following of Gods call in that locality and not just a personal one The starting point for any new piece of work is to get out and to really know the place you are serving, whilst we bring many talents we do not bring the answer to the area - the only thing that provides those answers are the people that you meet. This was exemplified by the Liverpool Project called "somewhere else". This was one where the Methodist Central Hall was shut and the minister spent a year walking the streets to discern what the new need was and she felt called to produce bread with people within the centre of the city. "This is not a church, this is a house of God" Homeless dude in the film We then moved onto the idea that emerging church was the step after church planting. This is because church planting provided the answers (ie Worship) without allowing the community to decide on their need and end up as a worshiping community by naturally evolving into it. He finished with us examining some disciple causes and there was some interesting critiques of them from the attendees. But with all this hard work done it was off to lunch and that when we all got to know each other. Ben Edson Back after lunch for less lecture and more group discussion. Ben gave many real life examples, from the project he is linked to, Sanctus1,and was challenging all of us. We had to look at the way new media talks to us and how to integrate that into our worship. Also to look at how we ferment and grow as communities and what the key idea of community is and what it represents. After all this there was a short panel discussion and all then we all went home. I felt the need to blog at reasonable length about it because they are important things that are being covered. The work by John Drane, in particular, presents not only a challenge but also a way forward for me. He doesn't present that answers but he manages to solidify much of modern day thinking into ways of looking at what the church presents and leaving us to come up with the answers. Next month at Blah there is a talk on New Monasticism and I shall defiantly be there.... Take Care Y'all John

Monday, October 09, 2006

It tastes so good

I am not the worlds greatest Football fan, but I am following (with a keen eye) the success of the Scotland football team of late.... But for a more interesting viewpoint then i would suggest clicking here where you can watch a wee film shot by someone in the stands. Take care Y'all John

Some cutting satire...

Today I thought, in light of this news that a musical interlude was in order. Step forward the marvelous Tom Lehrer who wrote this prophetic song in the 60s....
First we got the bomb, and that was good, 'Cause we love peace and motherhood. Then Russia got the bomb, but that's okay, 'Cause the balance of power's maintained that way. Who's next? France got the bomb, but don't you grieve, 'Cause they're on our side (I believe). China got the bomb, but have no fears, They can't wipe us out for at least five years. Who's next? Then Indonesia claimed that they Were gonna get one any day. South Africa wants two, that's right: One for the black and one for the white. Who's next? Egypt's gonna get one too, Just to use on you know who. So Israel's getting tense. Wants one in self defense. "The Lord's our shepherd," says the psalm, But just in case, we better get a bomb. Who's next? Luxembourg is next to go, And (who knows?) maybe Monaco. We'll try to stay serene and calm When Alabama gets the bomb. Who's next? Who's next? Who's next? Who's next?
Yeah, we all know I ain't a fan of nuclear. That is neither weapons or power. It isn't right and for the money involved we could invest in much more meaningful ways to generate power and to create peace rather than prevent war. That said, this government will never have a nuclear leg to stand on as long as it continues to lambast the world for going nuclear whilst almost committing to nuclear weapons and also nuclear power within the life of this current parliament. So then, the next train to come into Hypocracy central? Take Care Y'All John

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Whos Harvest Is It Anyway

This sunday, at Wesleys Chapel, we had our annual Harvest festival. Like all churches this is a once a year extravaganza that has hymns you can depend on, such as we plough the fields and scatter and whole variety of others. All of which seem set to build up a mental image of us all ploughing and reaping our way through the rest of the year. Yet we do not do that - we are remarkably disconnected from our food production process. Does this instead mean therefore that all our harvests should be a guilt fest. After all, there are very worthy agenices such as MRDF (the Methodist Relief and Development Fund) who bring out many resources as a way of reminding us who produces the food we do eat and the harsh conditions in which they work for our cheap food. But there is, as ever a third way. One where we realise that not only are we a vital part in a global system of food sales, by looking to ensure we always purchase fairtrade (guaranteeing a fair price for farmers)but that we also stand up for farmers within our own country. We should be grasping the fact that this idea of ripping off food production does not only happen outside this country. Even more than that though we must use Harvest as a way to reconnect with Mother Nature. We are not growing any of our own food yet we should be. We have the resources, both space and time, to ensure that we can add to our own table. This year, coupled with last year, has brought these two issues together. The "Make Poverty History" campaign made the general public aware of poverty and the ways we can tackle it. This year the Stop Climate Chaos campaign is making us face our responsibility as citizens, or even stewards, of this planet. By realising how fragile the earth is we shouldn't be allowing our food to be flown half way round the world to our door. So, I started with the all time classic of ploughing and scattering. Instead I think we need to move on. We need to accept our global place but not neglect our local place. So then, what do we think the new Harvest Hymn of choice should be... over to you kids! Take Care Y'All John