at cms yesterday the pioneer students were looking at culture and identity in relation to englishness which is always a lot of fun. if you've not come across kate fox's watching the english it's a must read for anyone from another culture trying to work out why the english are so confusing! two things people pointed out were @soverybritish twitter account (ht: kim) with gems such as
The unwelcome surprise of someone telling you how they are after you've asked them how they are
Saying you're pleased with your haircut despite the deep inner sadness it's causing you
and this series of posters in the guardian following the ministers rumoured negative advertising campaign to deter potential immigrants from comning to britain which i confess i found hilarious (ht: johnny)!
i had a photo project on the go in december for an exhibition i am taking part in next year called small adventures - more about that another time - but it turned out to be a dark, wet month so photos were quite a challenge. i will be adding some photos from that time over the next couple of months probably. here's one i took on the beach in devon where we were for christmas with my wider family...
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.
andrew brimms has published another free book. you may (or may not) remember i blogged about his last one unintended consequences. it's called the narky nazarene and is by andrew and nat. it's a similar style - cheeky, provocative and really good! i assume it was compiled over time as a series of discreet reflections on jesus and what it might mean to follow him. the image above is one, or another page simply says -
downward mobility: he came down from heaven to earth - what's your next move?
it's simple, honest and direct. for me it captures something of jesus the prophet which is an edge that sometimes goes missing as the church prefers jesus the king or jesus the priest. there's a link from andrew's site to download it for kindle. i don't have a kindle so asked andrew to send me a pdf which he kindly did. on a second glance i think it may not be free now - it could be the bargain of 75p. either way it's worth getting...
it's the first grace of the year this coming sturday - why not join us? post christmas here's the blurb...
What did you want? What did you actually get?
What will you do with it now that you've got it?
How do we recognise the true worth of what we are given?
Join us on Saturday 12th January for the first Grace of 2013.
It would be great if you can bring, or be prepared to talk about:
- a valued gift
- an useless or unsuitable gift
- a gift whose true value only became apparent much laterHope to see you
first worship trick of the year - no idea what number i have got to. i must tidy them up... anyway lou davis, venture fx pioneer in edinburgh, is doodling in response to a short section of the bible. it sounds like a great way to reflect but i doubt i will find the time or artistry so i will check her doodling instead.
this is a space to think, pray, relax, meditate
the photo above is of my feet when i was sat in the space (clearly being distracted). the last three years have been the busiest of my life. i realised at the start of this year that i can't do another at the same rate. i like the start of the year because it is a space to reflect and rethink some patterns. but i know i need to rebalance my life in some way for the year ahead. here's a few things i am thinking about that hopefully will help
rhythm of life. jen and i have found developing a rhythm of life really helpful in the last couple of years. what i mean by this is that we have plotted on one side of paper what our yearly, monthly and weekly pattern looks like. we try and make it a natural rhythm with the seasons of the year. and have then added some things that we want to try and do that are energising - for example inviting people round for meals at least once a month, a termly day of silence, not working more than two weekends in a month, having a weekly meal where we linger at the table for the evening and share bread and wine... we then talk about this every month or so. it's not a heavy thing - it's light touch. and in some ways it doesn't matter what's on there - it just helps create a conversation about it.
retreat. since starting the cms pioneer training, we have asked students to take a retreat each year. well you can't do that without doing it yourself. this is now essential for me. this year i am booked in to an 8 day silent retreat which i am nervously looking forward to.
holiday/rest. the last couple of years i have not managed to take my quota of holiday from work. this is entirely my own doing. i intend to change that this year and have sat down with jen and already diaried things we will do which already feels good.
art. imagine a world without gigs, music, film, photography, festivals, poetry, books, exhibitions? whenever i look back over the year and thngs that have energised me art is always a big factor - both the enjoying and the creating. and yet it's easy to forget or not prioritise it.
stop doing some things. i have already shifted one thing in my life this yar and i have a list of others. i realised in converation with a friend that i am my own worst enemy here. i do things out of habit and because i can - some of those i smply need to let go of or let others do. so i will be working on those habits. part of the reason for stopping is that i want to carve out time for thinking and possibly studying a day a week if possible.
prayer. i need and want to pray but find it difficult like everyone else in the world! i am someone who likes change so need to keep it fresh. this year i am starting off by using a book that cost me one pence second hand finding god in all things exploring ignatian prayer along with prayer exercises from sadhana by anthony de mello (which you can also get for one pence), a book i have had for years. i intend to read them both slowly and linger with them trying out the exercises and prayer.
someone to reflect with. i am fortunate to have a great community grace that i journey and explore faith with. if you are not part of a community why not join one or start one? - if you are near ealing come and join us! i also have someone who i meet with 3/4 times a year for some intentional conversation about my life in relation to faith. this is a wonerful thing to have found.
so there's a few of my thoughts on what i am hoping will help me find space to think for the year ahead. i had originally started this post with the intention of reviewing two books. these are two very recent books on finding space to think and pray. i'll recommend them by way of an end to the post because if you are looking for a book to help you these might be ones to explore.
the first is less is more: spirituality for busy lives by brian draper. when this book arrived we had two people living with us and before i had had a chance to look at the book they had both picked it up and read it and loved it. it's a book that explores exactly what it says in the title. it's contemporary, practical and easy to read. the irony is that i was too busy to read it at the time!
the second is return to our senses by christine sine. she is a prolific blogger and creates lovely prayers and liturgies. spirituality is her thing. this is another very easy to read book with very practical ideas and suggestings for prayer using things like gardening or breathing.
both are the kind of books that would work best if read an practised slowly - even though they are both easy to read. they would also be good books to explore and try the various ideas with others - maybe a book for lent? and they are both cheap to buy which is always a plus.
every year i like looking back through blog posts and photos - it reminds me some of the year gone by. i have updated the recycled section on the right hand side to 20 posts from 2012 that i like. here they are...
i also then got into relooking at the blog and have tried to refresh a few of the pages, created a new header (may take a few refreshes to find), but it's basically still the same... i was sad to say goodbye to the another world is possible header from 2012's blog header but i like a change each year. the main challenge will be finding time to blog as ever.