a start has been made but is it too late? - article on the catholic and anglican churches in the independent
i stumbled across an article by graham cray on not knowing the end at the beginning which i rather liked. it probably didn't tell me a lot i didn't know but there is so much anxiety in the church about wanting to know outcomes and results (often in a short space of time) that this sense of not having a blueprint as people pioneer into the future really needs re-iterating. i also like the naming of the tension between contextual approaches to mission and being rooted in a living tradition. see what you think...
it's from the journal of mission practice which has had two issues so far online. this article by babatunde adedibu and this response on mission and black majority churches opens up some extremely interesting themes in mission in britain today.
i have written three articles on pioneering for youthwork magazine. the first is in the current (sept) issue and the next two will be in the following two months. i decided to write for youthwork because a lot of pioneers begin in youth ministry, i learned about mission and pioneering while doing youth ministry and youth ministry is the back door to renewing the church - what happens there happens in the church about 10 or 15 years later! i'd love to know what anyone thinks if you see the articles. give me a shout. at cms pioneer mission leadership training we have a few people who have done training with cym over the years who are joining us for modules or to do an MA. so if you are in youth ministry and excited about the notion of pioneering give me a shout. in oxford we actually have a great combination going on because oxford cym and cms pioneer training are in the same building so there is lots of opportunity for collaborating. the articles are not online - you have to get the magazine...
there is also a grove book on pioneer youth ministry out written by richard passmore and jo dolby which is excellent.
what kind of world, what kind of society do we want to live in in the uk? as you probably know if you read the blog regularly i have made more comment in the last year on the political than for a long time. it's because we seem to have a government that is increasingly trying to re-organise the world we live in horrible unjust ways whilst trotting out rhetoric of the so called big society. we need another imagining, dreaming, constructing of what a possible world looks like. i want to be part of a society that cares for the least well off, those with virtually nothing, not one that priotects the wealthy and hits the poor the hardest.
the latest piece that struck me in the guardian that had some brilliant imagining was from george monbiot in a piece property theft and how we must breach this scared line. he proposed a couple of years back a simple tax on the top owner occupiers - the 1% who on average have 15 million pounds of property - yes you read that right! instead of the outrageous policy of moving people with a spare (read second) room out somewhere else - the bedrrom tax - often hundreds of miles away in the country away from family and friends. of course the right hates this suggestion and george - but this is precisely the kind of thinking we need right now.
this is a brilliant piece by george monbiot that says it how it is on neoliberalism and economics. it's what i have been trying to say a few times but less eloquently. it's the kind of thing i suspect the old testament prohets would have said - like amos.
How they must bleed for us. In 2012, the world's 100 richest people became $241 billion richer. They are now worth $1.9 trillion: just a little less than the entire output of the United Kingdom.
This is not the result of chance. The rise in the fortunes of the super-rich is the direct result of policies. Here are a few: the reduction of tax rates and tax enforcement; governments' refusal to recoup a decent share of revenues from minerals and land; the privatisation of public assets and the creation of a toll-booth economy; wage liberalisation and the destruction of collective bargaining.
The policies that made the global monarchs so rich are the policies squeezing everyone else. This is not what the theory predicted. Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman and their disciples – in a thousand business schools, the IMF, the World Bank, the OECD and just about every modern government – have argued that the less governments tax the rich, defend workers and redistribute wealth, the more prosperous everyone will be. Any attempt to reduce inequality would damage the efficiency of the market, impeding the rising tide that lifts all boats. The apostles have conducted a 30-year global experiment, and the results are now in. Total failure.
what's more we have created a narrative that suggests the rich deserve it! it does not have to be this way. another world is possible, another way of doing things, another way of running a society. something's got to change. yet all we hear is about scroungers, people on welfare, cutting benefits, healthcare, the arts and so on! it's madness.
he concludes the piece
As I say, I have no dog in this race, except a belief that no one, in this sea of riches, should have to be poor. But staring dumbfounded at the lessons unlearned in Britain, Europe and the US, it strikes me that the entire structure of neoliberal thought is a fraud. The demands of the ultra-rich have been dressed up as sophisticated economic theory and applied regardless of the outcome. The complete failure of this world-scale experiment is no impediment to its repetition. This has nothing to do with economics. It has everything to do with power.
it actually reminded me of kate tempest's poem parables which says the same thing but in the voice of the poet. we have colluded with the beast and are reaping what we have sown.
maggi dawn has written a really good piece exploring inclusive and expansive language in liturgy. being inclusive of course sounds a great idea (and is) but maggi suggests that the practice of it can lead at times to other issues and even other exclusions. she suggests expansive language might be a better way to explore...
Rather than make our capacity for naming God smaller, then, perhaps it would be better to explore the breadth of the ways God has been named; to reflect on the refusal to articulate any name for God as a way of acknowledging holiness and mystery. We might rediscover, from the scriptures, and from two thousand years of Christian theology, some of the many names of God: helper, Lord, servant and friend; compassionate father, a mother who breastfeeds her children and who knits for them, a tigress, a mother hen, a shepherd, a rock and a tower, a shield and a defence, a landowner, a housekeeper, a baker of bread, a mighty ruler and a powerless infant, the light that lightens the world, and the darkness that is above all light; the God who is both love and wisdom, and at the same time the God whose name, however close we try to get to it, will always elude us.
we had a grace service a couple of years back where we explored some similar ideas - follow the links to see some of the prayers we produced taking this approach.
i was asked to write a guest post for boats without oars, a blog run by someone i met in austin earlier this year. he asked if i could come up with something using a metaphor for church so church as network is the result which is a reworking of a couple of posts from my series riffing on clay shirky's here comes everybody...
mark scandrette has written to his twenty-something self. probably because i am in my forties, i strongly related to it. there's some real nuggets of wisdom in there. i loved this thomas mertom quote in the mix...
Many poets are not poets for the same reason that many religious people are not saints: they never succeed in being themselves. They never get around to being the particular poet or the particular monk they are intended to be by God. They never become the person or the artist who is called for by all the circumstances of their lives
letters home is a bulletin aimed at those like CMS who are in new mission communities or orders or sodalities (yes jargon I know but probably useful as a term) and definitely aimed at pioneers. it is edited by beth keith and this is how she describes it...
Letters Home is a collection of thoughts, struggles and dreams; it is in fact a collection of letters home. A collection of letters written by pioneers who have followed the call to go beyond the Church as is. We chose Letters Home because they want to stay connected, stay in touch, and because home is not just where they’ve come from but a family they still belong to.
When we were putting it together it felt like an odd mix combining research, theology, parable and meditation. But it felt important to mix it up. It’s in the mix we find ourselves, combining gut instincts with rationale observations, thought through prac- tices with missional spirituality. The exploration we’re involved in requires all of this.
the first issue explores the tensions pioneers experience as they go beyond the existing church. it is totally brilliant. pour a cup of coffee or something, and sit down and chew over the contents.
beth present's what she has called elsewhere the pioneer's journey. this shouts so loudly to me that pioneers are really well advised to connect with a mission community or network (a sodality).
i really loved a piece by simon sutcliffe reflecting on the pioneer as guest. he creates a map of pioneering that has three types - pioneering in existing structures, creating fresh expressions and the ministry of wandering or being a guest (or sodal pioneer). this is a really helpful piece. i suspect that many in the church think of pioneer as either one or two but life becomes more complicated if you want to pioneer in the last category and dare I say more exciting, unknown, and wild...
then there are a few other pieces as well.
i found today's experience: i tried to cure gay people in the guardian weekend magazine very moving. it has an honesty and vulnerability about it and courage that models the kind of conversation the church needs to have.
i was pleased to see CMS posted an article on kony 2012 because there was quite a lot of campaiging in CMS around 2003/2004 which did quite a lot to raise profile. anyway this article seems to have its head screwed on...
there's what sounds like (and probably is) a slightly technical piece of language floating around mission circles - modality and sodality. i have touched on it before a few times i think - here and certainly in my breakout talks. george lings who is a wise reflector on these things has clearly been thinking this over and has published his thoughts on the matter here in an article - understanding mission and church better through modality and sodality. and there is a conversation developing in the comments. this is an important conversation because it helps shift our imagination around what church might be - we have been so dominated by thinking the word church means gathered together for worship in a locality, this helps open up a different idea - yes church can be that but it is also a spread out community in mission. i guess you can see why i think it's important... if anyone has a less technical language go and suggest it.
ok so that is not the most catchy title ever for a blog post - congratulations if you made it this far!!!
anvil is an evangelical anglican journal of theology and mission that has been revamped and made digital and free and at cms we are very much seeing it as a mission journal into the future. you may remember i had an article on curation in the first edition. well the second edition is now online and is basically a response to steve bevans wonderful book introduction to theology in global perpsective which i review here. for me it's the best book i can think of that articulates what i think an approach to theology should be in today's world.
anyway all that by way of saying it's a really good edition of anvil. i think this could prove to be an exciting journal in an ongoing way. steve bevans reflects looking back at the book and what he has attempted to achieve in a brilliant reflection. the ephesian moment is a term from missiologist andrew walls. here's how steve describes it in the article
our globalized church today is in situation in which it had only been once before, in the community of Greeks and Jews in Ephesus. There in Ephesus, Christians of two very different cultures could have formed two separate churches, but they did not. Christ was the peace that tore down the wall between them, and they became not two, but one (See Eph. 2:14-22), and in that give and take they caught a glimpse of the whole Christ. Neither, says Walls, ‘was a form of Christian faith complete and valid in itself, apart from the other. Each was necessary to the other, each was necessary to complete and correct the other; for each was an expression of Christ under certain specific conditions, and Christ is humanity completed.’ Now that ‘Ephesian moment’ has come again. Today, ‘new Christian lifestyles…have developed or are developing under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to display Christ under the conditions of African, Indian, Chinese, Korean, and Latin American life.’ The Ephesian moment demands a global theology.
in other words we only see who christ is as we see christ's many faces and theologies and embodiments in his body represented around the world. this is a bit of cms jargon and something of an internal joke at times. so i blame steve's time with cms a while back for him picking up on this! but it is an exciting idea. he concludes his piece by saying
We need a theology adequate to the Ephesian Moment in which we find ourselves in today’s world, and we need a theological education that helps students who will minister in a church that, for the first time in history, is conscious of the fact that Christianity truly is a world movement.
timothy tennant has a piece on theological translatability - again this is essentially arguing that we need to become conversant with other theologies especially from the majority world, that we need to realise our own is partial and not universal and that if we are open to it a global exchange will highlight our own heresies and blind spots!
atola longkumer reflects on partnership's opportunities and challenges in another really good piece -
Globalization, the growing divide between the rich and the poor, human rights abuses, fundamentalism, violence, secularism, environmental degradation, and migration are some of the challenges that require creative and healing attention. The global Christian community must respond in unison by transforming the world into a better place — the Kingdom of God. Despite the vastly different contexts with a variety of challenges, Christians around the world are called to be partners in building God’s Kingdom, speaking the truth in love and witnessing together to the Gospel. And in the partnership between Christians of the global south and the global north in carrying out our missional task of witnessing to the fullness of the life in Christ, may we heed the directions of the mission scholar Cathy Ross who has perceptively given the ingredients for a productive and fulfilling partnership: mutual trust, acceptance of responsibilities and willingness to take risks among the partners.
there is also an interview with miroslav volf, a tribute to john stott and a poem by rowan williams.
congratulations to the editorial team - this really looks set to become a good online journal. i haven't added hyperlinks to articles because you need to register and login to read them - it is free which is also amazing judging by the price of most academic journals!
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