Thursday, 24 September 2009

Do you see this woman?

It's very easy to go through life and not notice certain groups of people - we can hardly notice the homeless person, the asylum seeker, the psychiatric patient, the violent, the unloved. I guess our whole lives are geared around living in a bubble of middle-class people who cause us no discomfort. It was one of the first things that struck me when I first started teaching - I saw a cross-section of the population - those who would never, with all the will in the world get a GCSE, those who had been burnt, abused. I see the disabled, the young carers, the witnesses of domestic abuse. Yet, now I've been teaching all these years, its easy not to see it.

It is with this in mind that I was struck this week by Ched Myers' take on the story of the woman who washed Jesus' feet. The crux of the story, he argues, is when Jesus turns to the crowd and asks "Do you see this woman?" Here was a woman suffering and oppressed and she is not seen - the political consequences of her actions are seen, but the woman herself is not seen. Jesus called on the religious leaders, just as he calls on us, to see the inconvenient other.

I myself had lived for years with Bibles and commentaries all around me and had not seen - now the challenge is to live with this new insight - an insight that sees, even if inadequately.

Monday, 21 September 2009


Went to 'Reflective Space' at St Oswald's last night (nice to see u Rache) and found myself very conflicted and wrestling with many ambiguous thoughts and feelings, falling into silence and finally reconciliation that for now there is no resolution - just a small light in the darkness that will not be overcome.

Seems like the guys involved in Reflective Space are going to be changing a bit / progressing with maybe some sort of broader network of folk wanting to explore reflection, creativity and ritual - interesting times for those interested in this stuff.

Will keep you posted if and when I hear more and please return the favour.

Quote that's floating round at moment:

“The purpose of a fish trap is to catch fish and when the fish are caught, the trap is forgotten. The purpose of a rabbit snare is to catch rabbits. When the rabbits are caught, the snare is forgotten. The purpose of the word is to convey ideas. When the ideas are grasped, the words are forgotten. Where can I find a man who has forgotten words? He is the one I would like to talk to.” Chuang Tzu

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Swamped with worship leaders!

According to Wlison Carlile College, Sheffield. Last year they had the following training for ministry:

1 Evangelist

3 Pastoral Workers

6 Lay Readers

16 Worship Leaders

What does this tell you about our society? In our celebrity saturated world, everyone wants to be a singer. We certainly have more role models of singers than evangelists. I'm sure most people would rather be Matt Redman than Billy Graham!

What I'd like to see is some activists or prophets on the list. Any better suggestions anyone?

I certainly don't think this is morally neutral. There are consequences for the church in co-opting the values of pop culture.

Friday, 11 September 2009

(S) Hell Garages

I love this idea. Take a photo of Shell service stations, obscuring the 's' to make 'hell'. These can be sent to Amnesty International who upload them onto the Google maps site. You can also write a review of a garage on Google maps : "They are abusing human rights in the Niger Delta".
And why? They are, as you may have already gathered, abusing human rights in Africa. Click here to see more about the campaign.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Climbing the Jack Nicholson facet of the Atonement

Not sure why but I was musing on the Cross whilst taking a soak and this clip jumped in my head. I am really appreciative of how different people, different communities and different everyday culture can shed light on a new facet of the biblical story of atonement. Here I feel the impact of the unmasking. That decisive moment where justice comes as a light not a gun, where we finally see through the rhetoric we so often fall for about the 'peace' we enjoy and see it is in fact the opposite of peace. We also realise our own denial, our own complicity, our own will to power we disguise so well - yet the unmasking is the undoing of it all - it will inevitably, mercifully and miraculously crumble from here.

The death and resurrection of Jesus are the unmasking of evil.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Affirming Liberalism

Check out the two podcasts at 'Affirming Liberalism', particularly the one by Martyn Percy. He argues that churches grow, not by having the right theology (whether Evangelical, Liberal, Emergent), but by getting the simple things right (a warm welcome, relaxed environment, good music and children's work). It gave me hope that an alternative to the churches is possible. What do other people think of his podcast?

Thursday, 3 September 2009

The Parable of the Lost Sons

There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, Father, give me my share of the estate. So he divided his property between them.

Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

When he came to his senses, he said, how many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' So he got up and went to his father.

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him; he ran to his son, raised his hand then stopped himself, he tore his robe and began to weep.The son said to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.

So the father said to his servants, Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.

But first, said the father *, bring the fattened calf and kill it. No, wait, that is not enough. Before we feast and celebrate this son of mine who was dead and is alive again there is one more thing to be done.

The older son was in the field. When he was brought near the house, he heard loud wailing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. Your brother has come, he replied, and your father wants to see you.

When the older brother realised his father’s intention he became distraught and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. You never even had to sacrifice a young goat for me. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill for him!

My son, the father said, this is the way of the world.

* Some early manuscripts include the phrase ‘with a grievous sigh’ others record ‘with a solemn determination’

The real story is here

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Beer AND Hymns

If you came from Homebrewed Christianity then Chad nearly got it right - it's beer & hymns... click to find out more from the Jesus Arms and thanks to Eliza for getting this video up so quick - you know you want to be at Greenbelt next year. Tripp and Chad - your tickets will be on the door my friends and perhaps a deacon discount should be arranged?

If you didn't come via the brew boys latest podcast feat us in the intro and then the man LeRon Shults... you should have

Proper festival reflections including the Gooder, Bell and Ugly after I pick up my laptop bag inc ipod etc that I left in Subway in Cheltenham - doooooohhhhhhhhh!

If you were there - what was your Good Bad and Ugly of Greenbelt 09?