what's on the CD player?
. the big chill - ichill . !k7 . fila brazillia - brazilification2
what books are by the bed?
. the music of silence - john tavener . hey nostradamus - douglas coupland . this is uncool (the 500 greatest singles since punk and disco) - gary mulholland . the bible . fences and windows - naomi klein . the art of looking sideways - alan fletcher
Tuesday, September 30, 2003 emergingchurch.info is a new emerging church web site. it's a place for stories of what is happening, reflections on what is emerging, discussion on anything and everything related to emerging church on the sites discussion boards, a selection of blogs and the obligatory links. i am excited about the site - do visit, join in the discussion, bookmark it, tell others, blog about it, and if you are involved in something that might fall under the loose label 'emerging church' then please add your story to the site....
Tuesday, September 30, 2003
Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae.
The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm.
Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.
Monday, September 29, 2003
on a lighter note to some of the recent posts, a friend of mine rocky (mark roques) has got a new book out fields of god that is subtitled football and the kingdom of god. written with partner in crime jim tickner, it is a deceptively good book. it is very amusing, written in a cheeky style, but packed with theological nous - a very very good take on what the kingdom of god is about... if you're ever in need of a speaker for your church football league presentation evening look no further!
Monday, September 29, 2003
Sunday, September 28, 2003
i admit i'm surprised - why?... because not a single person seems to have disagreed with my last post. this was also the amazing thing at NEAC itself - everyone i spoke to seemd to think the same way about it.... i agree that what i have reacted to is a part of evangelicalism, but as i have said in the comments off the last post the world and church would be a better place if we could just lose the label evangelical and being christian was enough... but anyway enough said about that!
more exciting though is an article in the church of england newspaper which outlines the new archbishop's vision for developing 'new ways of being church'.
Plans for a "mixed economy church" are being put in place during the run-up to next February's General Synod. The Archbishop of Canterbury will replace the Springboard missions initiative, instituted by his predecessor, and plans to use its funding to create "new ways of being church". Dr Rowan William's vision, outlined last July, incorporates ideas like church planting in pubs, and other new ventures including widespread theological education for the average churchgoer. The rigid parish boundary system is also under review. Dr Williams' fresh thinking has so far avoided an exodus among the wealthy evangelical backers behind the Lambeth Partnership which funded Springboard.
a few blogs i have discovered from comments left or e-mails sent...
i was doing a seminar at NEAC - the get together of anglican evangelicals in blackpool. i can honestly say it was the most depressing day of my year so far!!!!! after 10 minutes i came out convinced that i am not an evangelical. everyone says that being evangelical is about beliefs - salvation through jesus, the bible as the word of god etc (which i have no problem with) but it's not about that. it's about a tribe and i don't belong to it and have absolutely no desire to belong to it... i was hunting around for pictures to represent the tribe i saw... and this was the best i could do - the evangelical tribe is conservative old men in suits - no disrespect to old people intended - i love them - but one look at the speakers in the programme given platform told you loads. i'm 38 and i was evidently a youth! i tried unsuccessfully to find the programme from the last conference ten years ago - i bet it is virtually the same line up - everyone has just got older. so it's also about control and an unwillingness to give away power to a younger generation of leaders. even the 'radical' voices are coming from those who must be about 60. so i guess 'evangelical' is a piece of history. i don't reckon there will be another NEAC - it's part of a bygone era - passionless, souless, and old. the future belongs somewhere else. it's sad because there is a side of evangelicalism that was passionate and fought some great injustices - but maybe it's time to give thanks for that and let the whole thing die. close NEAC, close the EA, close lots of the spin offs and let something new be birthed that has passion, soul, and mission at its heart.
the other image i found was a snarling shark - there is a bitter judgemental spirit that has taken a grip of evangelicalism - even though there is a kind of pretence mouthing words like compassion, grace and meekness, really there's a nasty bite and everybody knows it. evangelicals have somehow set themsleves up as guardians of god's truth but mutated into something that embodies a different spirit to that of christ. grace had left the building...
if i'm not evangelical what am i? a christian - that's enough.
(there was an interesting new development that maybe will turn out to be something more hopeful - fulcrum is a new network of evangelicals wanting to shift the tone, using phrases such as 'open' and 'generous orthodoxy' (a phrase i love). this is certainly a move in the right direction... )
Tuesday, September 23, 2003
you may remember me blogging about emerging church in france and a get together in paris. well due to strikes at the time part of the conference was postponed - well it's now happening on 24 and 25 october. sadly i can't make it (which is terrible because my belgian beer supplies from last time have now run dry!) but check avant garde for the details - it looks like including a visit to chartres cathedral on a day when the chairs are off the labyrinth - now i am jealous....
Tuesday, September 23, 2003
continuing the relations with down under have bumped into alan hirsch who facilitates/leads (or whatever term is suitable) the forge network of networks. i really liked alan and what they are up to... it's always hard to get a proper take from afar but it seems they are really doing good stuff. then today i had lunch with stephen said, one of the guys who run phuture (which i must add as a link...) and dreamland. i feel there are a lot of connections between the australian and new zealand contexts and the uk, in many ways more than with the usa so hope that dialogue between us all can carry on awhile... ironically while all these guys from melbourne have been here ian mobsby has been blogging from there!!!
Tuesday, September 23, 2003
continuing the relations with down under have bumped into alan hirsch who facilitates/leads (or whatever term is suitable) the forge network of networks. i really liked alan and what they are up to... it's always hard to get a proper take from afar but it seems they are really doing good stuff. then today i had lunch with stephen said, one of the guys who run phuture (which i must add as a link...). he runs a blog but difficult to prise out the address so any tip offs welcome. i feel there are a lot of connections between the australian and new zealand contexts and the uk, in many ways more than with the usa so hope that dialogue between us all can carry on awhile... ironically while all these guys from melbourne have been here ian mobsby has been blogging from there!!!
Tuesday, September 23, 2003
Wednesday, September 17, 2003
had a fab evening eating, drinking and chatting outside by the fire with darren and vanessa from living room in melbourne. one of the things we chatted about was whether emerging church was just another male thing - hopefully it isn't... it certainly shouldn't be or something's gone wrong. but we certainly need more female voices and leaders and bloggers....
anyway coincidentally was delighted to get an e-mail from maggi dawn who has just started a blog. i've always enjoyed maggi's thoughts/insights so i'm sure this will be one to watch - have added maggi to my blog list in faith of great things...
Wednesday, September 17, 2003
Tuesday, September 16, 2003 inspire is a weekend festival in coventry from 31 october to 2 november. all the details of what is happening are on the web site. you can either book in for the weekend or buy in to individual days. it's aimed at young adults (15+) - no upper limit really. it's all connected around mission - with seminars, celebrations, performances, club night, etc... i'm particularly looking forward to the pyrotechnic mischief makers te pooka who will be making mischief in the cathedral ruins on the friday night...
Tuesday, September 16, 2003
Monday, September 15, 2003
Listen with the night falling we are saying thank you we are stopping on the bridge to bow from the railings we are running out of the glass rooms with our mouths full of food to look at the sky and say thank you we are standing by the water looking out in different directions
back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging after funerals we are saying thank you after the news of the dead whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you in a culture up to its chin in shame living in the stench it has chosen we are saying thank you over telephones we are saying thank you in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators remembering wars and the police at the back door and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you in the banks that use us we are saying thank you with the crooks in office with the rich and fashionable unchanged we go on saying thank you thank you
with all the animals dying around us our lost feelings we are saying thank you with the forests falling faster than the minutes of our lives we are saying thank you with the words going out like cells of a brain with the cities growing over us like the earth we are saying thank you faster and faster with nobody listening we are saying thank you we are saying thank you and waving dark though it is
W. S. Merwin
thanks to whoever at greenbelt sent this round - it eventually got e-mailed on to me! has been added as worship trick 56 Monday, September 15, 2003
Sunday, September 14, 2003 grace last night was the first one back in the newly refurbished church of st marys. we've been meeting in the hall for the last year. the new building has been restored to its vibrant colour scheme, the pews are gone, and there's a lovely stone floor.... still it's quite a challenge to work out how to use the space now. anyway for the first service back in we decided to use the chancel which meant using the only remaining pews - i don't think grace has used pews before but it seemed a bit ironic that now the pews have been removed we decide to use the pews!!! we even used the pulpit for a reading (facing backwards towards the chancel) - well i guess we keep being alternative...
the other unusual thing was that no-one had a camera. usually steve (and often someone else) has a camera and we get a visual record of a service - but this time you had to be there for the moment...
maggi dawn led us in an ambient mass which was beautiful - a quiet, simple reflective service. a nice touch was a lava lamp on the communion table and also a video loop running all service of a close up of a lava lamp... simple idea but a great effect
Sunday, September 14, 2003
Thursday, September 11, 2003
tuesday night saw the first screening of jump london which was a documentary of three guys bringing the art of parkour to 14 of london's famous buildings/landmarks. it was simply stunning...
parkour is the art of using your surroundings as a playground to leap across and navigate in creative and playful ways. for these guys it included leaping across rooftops, breathtaking handstands on the edge of buildings and jumps onto concrete from great heights. i read a review of someone describing it as skateboarding without skateboards which was pretty accurate. you may have seen the bbc one advert with david belle or nike and toyota have had ads incorporating this art form (to make them look cool).
you can read more about it at parcore.net, le-parkour.com or urbanfreeflow.com. sebastien foucan was in the team in london and he is one of the founders of parkour (they called it free running on jump london but the french name parkour sounds a lot better!). he says this about it in an article.
parkour, is a children games that become an art, an art of living, of moving. what is shameful is to believe that, once grown up, we shall stop playing.
watching the programme and having a scout round web sites reminded me of surfing, snowboarding and skateboarding and how they lend themselves to beautiful photography. it seems that parkour is still very much an underground urban sport but there are already some great pics out there. here's a couple i like...
i videoed the programme and am so glad i did. it is so perfect for using in alternative worship particularly in london. there so many sped up or slowed down images of london, combined with the graceful negotiation of the city by sebastien and friends. i don't know if you can get hold of it anywhere but i am adding it as worship trick 55 - it's bound to come out on video/dvd one day. maybe it will just be the lucky few who set their videos who will be able to use it?.... i was chatting to a friend last night about it who said that his brother's first comment about it was 'what a fantastic video for alternative worship!'.
i think i'd want to push it further and say it's a fantastic metaphor for emerging church/alternative worship. here's how my thought process has connected this up (i'd actually thought this ever since seeing the bbc one advert)... essentially what parkour are doing is renegotiating terrain in imaginative ways. i've banged on about michel de certeau and his book 'the practice of everyday life' before (i think me and steve taylor are probably due some royalties we've plugged it so much!!!!) but one of my favourite insights from his book is where he distinguishes between tactics and strategies. strategies are the systems set up in a place - say a school timetable or a library, or the road system in a city. these strategies are designed so that you negotiate life according to the way the sytsem is set up. tactics on the other hand are the ways people negotiate life in practice which may have nothing to do with the way the system was set up. so parkour is a creative and playful tactic to renegotiate your way through the city which has nothing to do with the strategy of the city layout. jump london had an architect wondering what other creative possibilities exist in using the 'stuff' that is in place in cities - i thought it was a wonderful quote:
i'm sure there's all sorts of other people waiting in the wings to come and corrupt our spaces in all sorts of different ways we haven't even thought of yet. we spend millions and millions of pounds building all this stuff and what else could that stuff be used for - that's the key question!
isn't that quote directly applicable to alternative worship and emerging church which are finding tactics to renegotiate the space of church, worship and christianity in ways very different from the strategies of the inherited church but at the same time bringing life to the tradition? alt worship in particular has used the stuff of culture and tradition in creative and playful ways to reimagine worship in inspiring ways. sebastien foucan says this in the article linked to above about parkour
our future is linked to words like soft, feline, fluid. the most understandable metaphor for it is the water one. we need to dream in parkour. because we are forerunners, so it's necessary to continue practicing, searching, travelling to discover, meet and share. our wish would be that people consider parkour as a whole art that it's impossible to dispatch for one or other aspect of shows. it must be understood as a whole. its not a speciality. comparing to other groups, we deeply want to keep in our quest, to be in the right. that's why we don't accept to be shown by the media if they don't give to parkour all its sense, if they don't explain its entire story. when somebody tell us 'if you aren't shown in the media, you won't be known, if you're not known, your art won't be transmitted' we answer 'it's not a problem because the art we got it inside, and we'll transmit it anyway'. it's so huge that i can't just keep it for myself. you must always wonder 'what are you searching for? the right or the wrong?' you must be able to stay real and genuine in what you do.
i have highlighted the word parkour in this quote because i want you to re-read it replacing parkour with alternative worship and/or emerging church - amazing eh!!!!
Thursday, September 11, 2003
Friday, September 05, 2003 grace has been going ten years in november!!!! all this talk of emerging church... well maybe we've emerged? it's been a fantastic jounrney - we're having a party/service/alt worship celebration to celebrate. lots of others have joined us at various moments on the journey often travelling from far flung places to visit. we'd love to extend the invite to TEN as wide as possible. so if you live nearby or are passing through london come and join us. if you can't why not post a message as a comment here and i'll pass them on... here's the blurb we're passing round - pass it on, put the date in your diary
ten years firestarter chillout incense undeserved favour muslin rembrandt desert labyrinth bitter sweet ibook icons ikea ice shrine pebbles prayer camouflage candle wax washing lines bouncy castle tvs bread and wine....
grace celebrates its tenth birthday in november! we'd love to share it with as many friends as possible please come and join us
sat november 8 st mary's church, st mary's road, ealing, london w5 @ 8pm nearest tube south ealing
Wednesday, September 03, 2003
went to the Playstation Experience exhibition at earls court on saturday. i didn't actually play on a single game - went to take the kids. but it was inspiring nonetheless. there was an evaluation form and on it you were asked what you had enjoyed the most - i think i was probably the only person who put 'furniture' as their reply!!!!
it was a wonderfully designed exhibition. pretty much everything was white with projections all around on huge screens that were large bits of white cloth strectched between scaffolding poles or trusses - it was an incredibly visually determined space. there were obviously hundreds of consoles to try out forthcoming games but the furniture around them was sort of squidgy white sofa type things or overgrown mushroom seats. there's a few pics here to give you an idea of what i'm talking about. the first is a circle of seats with tv screens as you look out with a white screen overhead. the second pic looks like an alt worship service - it's actually the movie area where lord of the rings was showing but you can see what i mean by mushroom seats...
and i think my favourite item was this inflatable semi circle that enclosed a small space - you can see it in the picture. how cool would that be for having an area to project images on to or defining the space for an installation or small ritual?... it made me think that money that is spent on redoing church buildings could be invested in very different ways. wouldn't this be a wonderful space to reimagine worship in (you wouldn't need the games but could certainly make use of some of the screens and projectors!).
Wednesday, September 03, 2003
Tuesday, September 02, 2003 future shape of church is worth a look... designed by ed green with articles, stories etc...
free leonard sweet book to download quantum spirituality which i have yet to read but at least it is free!
worship trick 54 stations of the cross seems to have caught the current mood for ancient spiritual treasures in the tradition that lots of people are doing at easter. we did this at grace last easter for the first time which i blogged about back then. but i don't think i ever put it as a worship trick. was reminded about it by a link on smallritual to communique journal an arts magazine site that has a really good mix of stations of the cross done by artists in austin here.
turns out another jonny baker has started blogging in northern ireland - also involved in alt worship!
Monday, September 01, 2003
Just got sent a copy of Losing My Religion? Moving on from Evangelical Faith by Gordon Lynch. It's a short book, written it seems from a pastoral point of view aiming to help those struggling or with evangelical churches to move on in their journey of faith. To state the obvious it seems to be worth getting if that's where you are at or to give to someone who is there. It includes interviews with Jo Ind and Dave Tomlinson in the back. I liked this notion from Dave T:
The problem is that we're living in one room in a mansion... And I do think the evangelical part of the church is in a mansion - you know it is part of God's house and it would be disingenuous of me not to acknowledge how much I owe to my evangelical background. It's given me so much, I am where I am today because that's where I started off. But it's only one room in the house, you know, and there are so many rooms. So get out there and explore and have a look around the place...
it's actually gordon's second book - the first was after religion which i've also read. that is worth reading for the chapter on douglas coupland which is brilliant...
gordon has also been developing a web site that is a portal for thinking on theology and popular culture that looks very useful... though i haven't had an in depth look yet. i'll be adding it to my links.
Monday, September 01, 2003
a bit about me...
i am a londoner; christian; dad; postmodern (whatever that means - i know at least that i'm not modern); director of an independent record label proost which we set up to release music without being subject to christian record labels who had a frankly unimaginitive approach to music at the time as far as we were concerned; a member of grace , an alternative worship community in west london that has been an inspiration, lifeline, home, great bunch of friends, provided an arena in which to be creative about faith and worship and culture; i'm also part of the wider alternative worship movement/scene in the uk where i have lots of friends sharing the same dreams and struggles; an ideas person; a husband; national youth co-ordinator for cms; involved in various creative projects, the most successful of which has been the labyrinth which has been on a roll since we first installed it in st pauls cathedral in 2000; a mac user; co-ordinator of the worship at greenbelt arts festival where we have tried to create a space for new/creative/alternative worship especially in the new forms venues - a good place to visit if you want to encounter lots of creative uk worship in one go; writer (albeit a novice) with a few articles in books, mags and the web; a chelsea football supporter; involved in youth ministry - i have been for 15 years now - in the uk at least many people involved in alt worship want to avoid being labelled youth ministry as it's a convenient way for the church to write off what you do and the people involved aren't by any means youth (though some are), but i live in both arenas and think there's lots of overlap and creative conversation and ideas to be shared between the two; songwriter; lover of music especially the ambient, chilled, dub, instrumental end of things; lover of good food, belgian beer and conversation;