seth godin (of tribes fame) has a good post what would a professional do? . the only rider to what he says about amatuers is that whilst there is great opportunity, being amatuer on its own is not enough. i have winced sometimes when something is really amateur. the point is that you can use it with creativity and imagination to do something unique. it reminded me of a macluhan quote from the book of probes...
blah... has been pretty quiet in lots of places (i suspect we're all spinning too many plates) but if you are in manchester there is a day coming up on february 12 with pete ward - participation and mediation. i reviewed pete's book here - i think it's a really interesting book and this should be a great day. we're planning to have a day with pete at some time in the summer in oxford so watch this space if you are down south!
there's a conference in april 24-26 in sheffield called reaching out in mind body and spirit. i'm planning to go. john and olive drane will be speaking. lots of us have run stands and been involved in taking the christian faith and spirituality into the market place of new spiritualities. this will be a good place to share stories and learning and get new ideas and encouragement. here's the blurb
you may (or may not) have noticed via twitter or facebook that i was presenting on the new environment (my preferred term for culture following marshall macluhan's lead) for cms directors - networks, communication, leadership, community, participation, new media and all that - and implications for mission. it went well. i can proudly report that cms does have one blogging, facebooking, tweeting director - phil simpson who spends half his life connecting with people across asia. go say hi.
his dream for church and connectivity is somehow captured in the slightly brilliant and slightly 'how do you get a job like that?!' wherethehellismatt who travels the world and dances in various cultures with various peoples..
catch up with ian mobsby on a speaking tour of australia and new zealand in march
if you are in manchester this call for solitude from artists looks good
and mark berry's face has appeared in the guardian guide and radio times this week - he's featured on radio 4 at 11am tomorrow in a programme titled the most godless town in britain. and is living with the murky blend of media profile and misrepresentation it seems...
i love the new photographers gallery in london (well technically it's the old one moved to a new venue). it's become one of my places to meet people if i am anywhere near oxford circus. although oxford street is really busy because this is slightly off the main track, the cafe is a bit quieter than anything else around there. last week i met andrew jones there and, mission geek that he is, he spotted a piece on mission in the exhibition on photography in soho. he even snapped photos of the magazines featuring what we might call missional church in 1955. andrew has blogged the pics and story .
on the subject of mission and photography there is a showcase on the london independent photography site of mark denton who has a series called missionaries which is described like this...
he describes himself as an athiest so it is interesting seeing how he comes to view something like this to capture it in images. i'm not actually sure what the group is - anyone know?
this missionary theme reminded me (and i'm not going to try and explain the connection in my brain) of nic's provocative post before christmas narnia über alles !
there's a white paper on barak obama's use of social media as part of his campaign. you can download the pdf here - the social pulpit [ht bob]. the paper is several pages and if you are like me you may have good intentions to read it but it's too long to be bothered to read now... so let me try and a) save you the hassle or b) persuade you it's worth it.
i have been banging on about the new environment and how different it is. and in relation to technology that one of the challenges to get is that the shifts taking place are not just about technology - they are changing a whole lot more. see my 4 interactions with here comes everybody 1 2 3 4 , review of tribes and starfish and spider or leadership reflections for example. my point is that barak seems to get this - he's actually native to the new environment - so we may be witnessing a seismic shift in political organisation. as the article puts it - away from the president's bully pulpit to a social pulpit where others take up and deliver (and create and reform?) the message and actively participate in their small worlds/networks/localities. it's the second half of the paper that particularly struck me which lists lessons from the campaign as follows:
i won't comment on them all here but just pick a couple...
going where the people are - recognises that while 60% of people in the US belong to an online social network most belong to one only. so don't expect them to come to a social network you create - you have to flow in theirs. this is almost exactly the sentiment behind my blog redesign and explanation in the top right hand box of the blog and yes it's the reason i joined facebook. what's weird is that so many organisations anbd charities are investing in their own social networks and sites. i understand it and obama clearly had a very effective hub of his own but largely to give people the tools to flow and communicate in their own online presences. obama identified some key networks amongst black, hispanic and asian communities and not just the facebooks. so maybe there is some intentional border crossing and getting out of comfort zones needed to enter other peoples worlds?
providing source materials for user generated content - what interested me about this section is the issue of trust. over 400 000 videos and 400 000 blog posts were created by people in their networks. the campaign could never have done that on its own but crucially it was better that it didn’t. why? because people trust someone like themselves more than a politician or religious leader or CEO or whatever other official. i.e. let someone in a local community be the voice in that community. it's such a simple point but how many organisations want or have their experts doing the talking?!
some people are saying that this use of social media is why obama is now president. i have no idea if that is overblown. but it is brilliant and there is so much to reflect on particularly for people working in advocacy or charity sector with a message, a big idea, a meme, a heresy.
and needless to say going where people are and giving tools to indigenous leaders - sounds like the instincts we could do with around mission and the church?! and yet what do we experience so much of the time in church programmes - experts, theologians, messages on video from the leaders (why do alpha do that?! - update:i have been corrected on this in the comments and they no longer do so apologies!) and very little trust of the local to deliver effectively!
it's been a very exciting week - i have actually looked forward to getting the newspaper and have been reading the sports section after the news!
tom brackett is reflecting on church planting in the episcopal church and has blogged a few pieces. it's good that the episcopal church has this appointment and i liked his description of what emergent might be about or the question we should be asking...
i have connected over the years with lots of people in mainline contexts in the US so hope this nudges things in good directions.
last weekend i did something i haven't done for years - went with jen to the cinema two nights in a row. decadent eh...?
on friday we saw slumdog millionaire, an uplifting romantic tale set in india of a boy on who wants to be a millionaire who answers all the questions but because he grew up in the slums is suspected of cheating. he is on the show for love not money trying to communicate with his childhood sweetheart who is caught up in slavery. the filming of india is beautiful - an array of colour, chaos and beauty. it's impossible not to be caught up in the romantic tale of the slum/underdog who risks everything for love and comes out on top and go out with a smile on your face. the bollywood style credits at the end are fun.
if you had said to me that i would see a better film the next night i would have laughed. but saturday we went to see the wrestler, a totally different kind of film but yes it was even better. i haven't been able to shake the film out of my head all week - i keep thinking about it. mickey rourke plays a wrestler 20 years after his peak. he is still on the circuit of wrestling matches but earnings are low, so low in fact that in the opening sequence he is locked out of his trailer because he is behind on the rent. his ageing body can't take the beating it used to. but somehow the need for affirmation and his 'family' of fellow wrestlers proves an irresistable draw even when he is under doctor's orders to stop. his story is mirrored by a pole dancer who is trapped in her own way in performing and affirmation but equally lonely. their paths cross and a glimmer of friendship struggles to lift itself above their combined loneliness. on her advice rourke makes contact with his estranged daughter to try and repair their broken relationship. and it all ends tragically which you kind of guess pretty early on... why's it so good? well mickey rourke is one huge factor - i so hope he gets best actor oscar for this. it's the perfect role for him. he has a broken loveable charm, character etched in his face and a deep sadness. and i think it's this deep sadness that has haunted me all week. the combination of reaching out so touchingly to his daughter and then just messing things up when they seem hopeful is heart breaking. i cried more than you probably should in a film called 'the wrestler'! the filming is brilliant too - the opening 5 minutes gripped me following rourke with barely a shot of his face and some scenes so dark you could just see light reflected on the side of his face and not much more. brave and original...
go and see both if you get the chance
sanctus 1 released a sky candle with prayers on over manchster for epiphany with a cheeky go on jonny make it a worship trick at the bottom of the post. ok guys!!!! follow the link to see their photos...
i was talking with a friend yesterday about jamie olver and the ministry of food. he exercises a kind of leadership that is a good example of what is described in the book tribes by seth godin which i read over christmas. jamie has an idea and is passionate about it - getting people to cook and eat better and goes to extraordinary lengths to develop a tribe who are converted to the idea and communicate it to others.
the good news is that the book is thin and got big writing - i.e. it won't take you long to read! i think it reads well as number three in a trilogy with starfish and spider, and here comes everybody which if you follow the blog you'll know I have enthused about. together these are great books as dialogue partners in mission, culture, theology, church, and leadership in the new environment. at least I have got as much out of reading these as any book I have read recently on the emerging church...
a tribe is a group of people connected to an idea, or a dream or a vision. faith or belief is crucial here - the vision needs to be passionate and paint a picture of the future. this sort of faith is critical to all innovation. the kind of person who will have this faith is called a heretic in the book. by this godin means the heretic leader undermines the way things are, the status quo. their role is to create change they believe in. they don't care too much for organisational structure or official sanction to lead. they use passion and ideas. they are generous, care for the tribe and are focused on smaller numbers of fans/committed people rather than focused on numbers realising that a committed core at the heart of a movement is more powerful than a larger group. they are also prepared to take risks. they know that new things are rarely as good as the old thing was. but that if you wait for the new thing to be better you'll never get started and you'll be too late! tribes get stuck and it's these kind of leaders that unstick them or begin new things to effect change. godin contrasts religion with faith (and he's not talking about church per se) -
religion works great when it amplifies faith. Religion at its worse reinforces the status quo often at the expense of our faith.
having got the idea and the heretic leader(s), communication is the only other thing needed. and guess what - because of the new communication technologies it's never been easier and geography is eliminated or nothing like the challenge it used to be. that communication is between leader(s) and the tribe and then enabling communication between the members of the tribe to enable them to participate and initiate change. it's not about money - if that becomes the agenda people will opt out.
i probably like it because i am a heretic! that may not surprise you...
if you identify with this because you are a leader/heretic i guess the question is what are you passionate about or what's your good idea? and what's stopping you going for it?
if you are at the institution/organisation end of things looking for newness maybe the issue is to risk hiring people that don't fit in, that are not sheep like, that don't have a factory mindset, that will be leaders in their own right irrespective of the management structures in place. and set them loose...
the church of england is trying to do this with its pioneer ministers but factory and organisation and religion are proving to be powerful forces. i hope the pioneers are able to do it anyway through passion and vision and communication and connectivity. i guess they shouldn't be called pioneers if they can't! and it's a good reminder that a lot of pioneers will just exercise leadership and create tribes without the official sanction of 'ordained' pioneer leadership.
the quote i most remember from the book is actually from einstein
imagination is more important than knowledge
reading the book made me want to do something remarkable
last year wasn't a great year for music at least in terms of what i discovered so i'm hoping 2009 proves to be more inspiring! with the redesign of the blog i have lost a few things in the sidebar including the list of what i am currently listening to and currently reading. so expect the occasional music and book update.
i actually am listening to some great new tunes/albums at the moment including -
nu balearica a 2 cd set of warm house chosen by fred deakin
fourth estate by jon hopkins - an amazing 32 minutes ambient piece, the perfect soundscape for alt worship
undo by bjork - a single track but the most gorgeous piece which i heard in an advent reflection in austin last year
vampire weekend - yes guitar music i know! but really enjoying it
dear science by tv on the radio - coolest band on the planet right now apparently
a chilled selection of tunes joel put together from 08 (dubstep and all that) - very nice. you'll have to contact joel via facebook if you want to know what they are...
styrofoam - a thousand words and nothings lost
thanks to bob carlton, mike rose and joel baker for helping my taste!
i haven't blogged about the situation in gaza up until now - i simply don't know what to say. i just feel overwhelmed with sadness and anger. there are probably enough words out there anyway.
gordon lynch wrote a column in the guardian on how religion can help in the middle east that's worth a read
thinking about it i did read a post by ben edson that was almost exactly the sentiment i had in 1998 when i visited tekoa, the birthplace of the prophet amos. this tells the story of journeying down from tekoa that day and how poignant some of his words were. it's from the album backbone available on proost but here's this track free if you're interested - download justice (mp3)
it's basically an online presentation tool. you can create the equivalent of powerpoint or keynote and then embed or share the presentation with others. in fact you can also upload from powerpoint oir whatever if you want to. i know google applications does something similar and there may well be other tools out there.
i can see it being of use for a few reasons:
the subject matter may not be of interest but as an example i created a family slideshow meets newsletter that i sent to friends and family this year for christmas. i have used flickr before for slides but this was a good excuse to try 280slides.
then i have taken on the role of being web master for the ealing photography group (hope you like my re-design so far). it's meant i have had to teach myself a bit about stylesheets/css but that's a good thing. the previous version of the site had a lot of galleries that must have taken hours for the web master to edit and upload. so... my approach is to suggest people create a slideshow with something like 280slides or flickr so that i can just embed it in a page and then they can create a new show when they like. less work for me, more control and responsibility for them. here's an example of what a page looks like for this (it's only got a few slides in).
to explain how to create a slideshow i have created a slideshow so if it's of interest here's a very hasty idiot's guide to 280slides...
one concern i had was around their blurb on copyright so i e-mailed them about this and got the following e-mail from ross boucher which re-assured me and may do you...
next up at NET on january 26 is chris allwood founder of auction my stuff and none other than my sister esther baker, founder and director of synergy theatre project. NET stands for the network of entrepreneurial talent and there is a monthly meeting on the last monday of the month on the hms president on the thames. the next few months speakers are listed on the site as well...