i am sat on a resource weekend in a session being led by richard passmore. he's talking about his approach to listening and hearing and trying to discern where god is present in a culture and talking about god with young people from there, from below (theologising). i've blogged about this before and his use of flow as a name for god with one group. but he shared a reading of one of jesus parables of the wedding banquet through the eyes of those on the edge or the margins. it is totally brilliant - i won't repeat it but go and get a cup of coffee and read this take - the wedding banquet from below. how come jesus managed to tell parables that can still come with such newness - genius!
christine sine writes some simple and lovey prayers and liturgies. this prayer is as simple as they come but perhaps all the better for that simplicity. i really like using breath as a means for prayer. i don't exactly remember the reference but there is a really good reflection on one of rob bell's videos where he suggests that for jews the name of god is like the sound of breathing - yahweh without the vowels pronounced and that in the very act of breathign the neame of god is on our lips. christine suggests some passges that came to mind when she was reflecting on this prayer
Breathe out empty yourself: of hate, of fear, of anxiety
Breathe in fill yourself with love, with life, with mercy
Breathe out empty yourself of busyness, of selfishness of greed
Breathe in fill yourself with peace, with joy, with hope
Breathe out empty yourself of idolatry, of self worship, of false gods
Breathe in fill yourself with God, with Christ, with the Holy Spirit
as is her tradition she has also composed an advent video focussing on christ's coming not so much as a baby but as a bringer of justice.
when i visit a city no, idea why but i always like to photograph the metro/underground/tube. so brussels metro inevitably got snapped. i liked how the photos look in black and white with lots of contrast. there are a few more on my flickr pages... i think i like this photo (and this one) because it juxtaposes a moment of stillness with the fast pace of the city.
last night i watched the film another year by mike leigh which is a year in the life of a couple and the people who pass through their home and lives. the seasons are measured through the changes in their local allotment. i can't imagine for a moment the film doing well in another culture - it gets at aspects of englishness, a kind of englishness that is at times painful and awkward. this was one of the more interesting takes on the film i have read exploring how films represent single women (often badly or at least unfairly).
it reminded me of the book watching the english which i have dipped in and out of for a while but finally got to read fully last week whilst in belgium. it's been around several years - i'm a bit slow. written by kate fox, who is herself english, it's an anthropologist turning her skills in reading cultures on home turf as it were. lots of friends who have come to live in england from other cultures find it incredibly helpful (and funny) as they try and make sense of a culture that seems like it should be straightforward but can be anything but.
in mission, reading cultures is an absolutely central skill - anthropology and more latterly cultural studies are key partners along with missiology, theology, sociology and bundle of other disciplines. that's really why i picked up the book because part of the challenge in relation to reading cultures is that our own culture to us is just the way things are, it's invisible. befopre reading other cultures we have to heighten our own sense of being cultural creatures. and of course the invisibility of culture is why suggesting that church may not be working as it is because it's wedded to particular cultural expressions is still perceived as a threat.
i really recommend the book, (though it's not short). kate fox comes up with a core - what she terms social dis-ease. this sounds very negative and probably is but it gets at that awkwardness and embarrassment that english people can have. this is writ large in the film especially in the final season winter! humour is the reflex that enables the english to cope with this awkwardness - humour nearly all the time in all situations. banter and irony are never far away. this reflex is also coupled with moderation - don't rock the boat too much, gradual change, let's be nice, anyone for a cup of tea?... and hypocrisy - we don't say what we think and people know it. it drives cultures where directness is a central value mad!
on top of the reflexes she identifies 3 outlooks and 3 values - things like eeyoreishness and fairplay. she is particularly good at lifting the lid of the layers of class consciousness enshrined in speech, the cars we drive, and virtually every area of life. it's the detail and the nuances that are so billiant in her observations. the class is not about money - which i think can be a confusing thing in relation to some other cultures. it's about societal status and perception.
it's a very enjoyable and at times painful read. if you are trying to make sense of the english it could be invaluable, but it's also a mirror that's worth looking into if you are english. and it's a great text for anyone teaching in the area of reading and crossing cultures.
ben edson has taken the spirit walk idea and technology from greenbelt and put it into the space of the city of manchester. this is a great idea. it co-incides with the mind body spirit festival where you can collect a set of headphones to use for the walk. the technology triggers the track when you get to the destination. there are 6 tracks in total - download a map guide. it's part of the encouraging move of worship/spirituality into public space.
there are also 3 tracks on the spirit walk web site - i think they are unrelated to the manchester walk. they are available to listen to or download free. ben is looking for groups in other cities to develop spirit walks related to their context.
the origial spirit walk tracks - the silent pilgrimage from greenbelt are available on proost
shannon hopkins has an annual raffle to support her work in london. the prize is a hefty two tickets from the US to london. presumably if you enter from the uk you can use them the other way round?! tickets are 5 dollars each - more info and where to buy them online is here. i'm a big fan of what shannon is up to...
jen and i took a few days holiday last week and got the eurostar to brussels which remarkably is only 2 hours away. we have had a hectic few months so it was wonderful to get a few days to unwind. we'd not been to brussels before. this statue - the mannekin pis is a famous landmark! according to wikipedia there are various reported legends associated with it but it basically seems a lot of fun and suggests a city that doesn't take itself too seriously. it helps of course that it's in a city/nation that produces the best beers in the world - don't know if the two are related!
bang said the gun is a poetry night in london with a growing reputation. we went along last night to watch harry who had a slot having won an open mic contest the week before. he did a fantastic job and tried out a new poem sunshine. the night was mad with shakers handed out and cheering and whistling - a riotous atmosphere. the amazing kate tempest was one of the featured acts. i have blogged about her before but she was astonishing as ever, especially her opener renegade.
if you are in the uk go and watch the big silence on iplayer. it's a three part series hosted by christopher jamison, the benedictine monk who was the abbot in the monastery tv series a few years back. it's a similar series - 5 people take on the challenge of engaging with silence. programme one you meet the people and they have an initial introductory weekend. programme two follows them on an 8 day silent retreat. on this retreat each day they have one meeting with a spiritual director/guide. and programme three (yet to be shown) follows them back in their lives to see what difference this might make or how they might integrate silence back into busy lives.
it may not sound the most exciting television viewing but programme two was astonishing. it beats a lot of other reality tv shows into dullness and trivia. all of the five people had quite transformative experiences through encountering silence (and themselves and God in the silence). only one of the five was a christian.
there is a web site linked to the series here - growing into silence
because i am sick of spam in comments on my blog! it seems to all be trying to link people to nike and ugg shoes - i am never buying a pair of either in my life... spam is counter productive - i realise i am wasting my breath but hey...
i have had so much spam in the last few weeks that i have switched to approving comments - i am sorry about this as it feels one step removed from immediate conversation - like you are being filtered (which you are) but at the moment i don't have a lot of choice.