london lumiere was wonderful - a huge success, only troubled by its popularity. as ever it's a challenge to photograph in the dark but here's a few pics...
there is a fresh expressions conference in london on nov 21 - from margins to mainstream. it's focus is on how fresh expressions of church might move to being embedded in strategies in churches and dioceses which seems a good and important conversation.
[i confess i would prefer the title the other way round as i feel more focused still in trying to get the church to move from mainstream to margins but i do get the point!]
i'll be taking part in leading the opening worship and a seminar/workshop around pioneer ministry with dave male.
i see karen ward is taking part - long time no see - looking forward to catching up with her!
harry ran the london marathon today in 4:08 or thereabouts which considering he had a contraption to carry and had done less than ideal amount of training was absolutely amazing! he was raising support for the amos trust and also awareness. he carried a homemade sail with free palestine written on it. the height of it with his height was about the height of the berlin wall. the israel/palestine separation wall is higher but walls will come down eventually! for obvious reasons harry was easy to spot! there's a few photos here
if you're in london maybe see you there? it's also open all week at various times. a few of the guys involved are training with us at cms - wonderful to see their creativity.
was quite a magical grace on saturday night especially as it was chris read's debut curating. the evening was on the theme of ruah - the creative breath of god and a double bass was improvised all night to symbolise this. then there were a series of cards with a sequence of numbers on which represented a mood/feeling as interpreted by chris. the numbers are chord sequences - don't worry about it if that makes no sense. grace is II, V, | I - perfect cadence. people could choose and/or were given a range of cards and on the back expressed hopes, dreams prayers for the year gone by and the one ahead. these were then randomly lined up with a regular return to grace and the sequence of cards improvised as a musical flow carrying those hopes and prayers by chris on guitar and the double bass. all rounded off with a new flock tune with chris joined by sam on cello which was also quite amazing in the space... steve has a ropey video here.
adventurous ii this saturday promises to be creative challenging and inspiring with a mix of discussion, art, poetry and performance. i'll be going along - maybe see you there? it's being put on by engegi arts and amos trust with a focus on peace in palestine and israel. and it's free...!
details of the programme are on facebook page
and i am exhibiting a photo in the exhibition
if you are in london before december 18 make sure you go and visit clay sinclair's brilliant exhibition utopia at the woolff gallery . there's actually what looks like a cracking evening on thurs 27 november that i am heading in for that is also free - it's a small gallery so not sure how everyone is going to fit in! best not advertise it - doh...
if you can't make it his catalogue is on the woolff site.
if you read my tale of two books shops post, the second of my four books that i purchased at the ICA is i admit a little more obscure than rewilding and you may think what on earth inpsired you to buy that?! it is explore everything: place hacking the city by bradley garrett. in it he describes joining urban explorers who hack the city by which i mean that they find ways into adandoned buildings, sewers, skyscrapers, disused underground stations. the study itself is an ethnography - i.e. the author joins a group to particpate and observe their culture to research and document it. this is a brilliant way of getting inisde a culture and it doesn't take long before he is utterly compelled by it. a lot of this hacking is illegal so what grabbed me about the book? here's a few things...
i love the word/metaphor of hacking. i appreciate it has a lot of negative connotations especially since the phone scandal. but the original definition of a hack is a solution to a specific computing problem. this quickly got extended to life hacks - creative solutions to problems in everyday life usually exploring the limits of what is possible. but it is particularly the spirit in which it is done that is interesting - there is a sort of ethos or ethic of sharing, openness, and decentralisation. rather than a world where i do my thing to gain competitive advantage and keep it from you, hacking assumes that information should be shared in an open source fashion so that somone else can access it, take it apart to its component pieces and reassemble to make something new and better or repurposed which is then shared with the wider community to make the world a better place. this it seems to me is a fantastic metaphor for mission or theology or the church - making available liturgies and theology and canons to be creatively played with to come up with new and fresh takes on things rather than as boundaries to be defended and kept pure. but in the book hacking is really about viewing a very different city to the one on offer, finding a different map and route through, levering open cracks in its surface to slip through. it reminds me of the work by french philospoher michel de certeau in his masterpiece the practice of everyday life where he contrasts the strategies in place within a system with the tactics that 'readers' or 'poachers' use to make do, to create an alternative route which makes a different meaning to the one imposed in the strategies.
secondly i love the spirit of adventure in the book. i think the author feels alive and discovers a sense of wonder in the world and the city - he says that the one thing urban explorers all share is "the desire to find adventure in everyday life. this is the central foundation of place hacking". now this may just be the rush of adrenaline but i think it's a bit more. a friend and pioneer student at cms, steve, suggests that the gospel can be understood as a call to adventure and he is exploring that - i think he'll like this book. garrett has this lovely word for moments when everything is right and comes together, of epiphany, of "when the seen and unseen, the possible and impossible, the self and community fuse" - the meld! what a great word - i know i have experienced the meld in silence when i have felt at one with the world, at home in my own skin, in god, at peace. the place hacker is trying to get back a sense of what they have lost - a sense of self, place and community. in this sense it is a sort of spirituality i think. it's also a challenge to the way things are, finding cracks in the world, in the staus quo to squeeze open and to disturb notions of property and ownership - which if any of you are familiar with theories of trickster who is a mythological character who remakes the world through mischief is one his or her ruses. in a world where the commons has been almost totally eroded we need people doing this in my view. one way urban explorers describe this is edgework which again is a rather lovely phrase - i recognise this in pioneers who find the edges, the margins the cracks and dwell there in forgotten spaces with forgotten people.
thirdly i love the photography - wow! i don't think urban exploration began as that but the book is full of amazing photos taken in these spaces in the city. here's one from a crane on top of the shard before it was finished!
it's a wonderful ethnography, a brilliant exmple of getting inside another culture to learn its language and codes as a participant observer. for students of mission it might not be the most obvious story of crossing cultures but is worth a read for that as well.
inevitably living in london i passed by the poppies at the tower of london. whilst it is impressive i am not a fan (sorry!) - i can't seem to deal with war and especially when it is tied to national interest. i hope now one hundred years are past we might move on as several others have expressed in various articles. anyway of course i took a couple of photos and preferred ones where i was messing around. this line from teardrop explodes seems as good a caption as any though i know i have used it on a photo before!
am planning to head over to see martin daws and gav mart on tour on oct 15 in kingston. join us...
singer songwriter and arts curator gavin mart, + young person's poet laureate for wales martin daws - are coming to Kingston with a creative acoustic set that explores what
'it' is at the heart of the artist.
through expressions in songwriting, music, poetry and spoken word gav and martin explore the following questions:
how does the artist express their yearning for an understanding of something bigger?
what does god mean through the eyes of the artist today?
what is 'it' that triggers our creativity?
how is god understood in contemporary culture?
how can we connect with and support local artists within our communities?
join us at grace this saturday sept 13 for the first grace of a new season. we are privileged to have memory, a photographic exhibition from the ealing london independent photography group in st marys on its last day and will be surrounded by and using those images suspended in the air as a focus for the evening. we have a new pattern we're trying out where we cycle through some different types of evenings through a term. this is the first where we have a specific art focus.
i'm on a week off but taking time to sort out and decorate in the house... i thought i'd have time to catch up on some other things such as the blog but not so! but here's a snap on my phone whilst at heal's in london. my favourite thing in the whole shop was this stairwell! i didn't have my camera with me so had to resort to the phone...
love this advent calendar in sound. it's an absolutley huge amount of time and effort that must have gone into creating it. the intro on the blog explains it all but essentially a speaker a day is added through advent to jacob's ladder. it's by artist sunil chandy and if you are anywhere near penge or beckenham in london go visit...
and of course this is a worship trick - 47 series 4.
we'll be celebrating around the table on saturday november 9. do join us if you are able to (though it would help to know numbers ahead of time so ideally let us know). i'm not on the planning group so not sure what is lined up but if grace has been part of your journey in some way i'd love to hear - either post us a message in the grace facebook page or leave a comment here or something...