i am in the usa for the first time in quite a few years at a consultation in princeton which starts later today - more about that later no doubt. i am topping and tailing it with visits to people in new york. i visited harlem for the first time - this is the famous apollo theater. the way it worked out i had a free day yesterday and also managed to get a ticket to see the new york knicks at maddison square gardens - my first ever nba game which i loved.
i was thinking i must have been ten time or so over the years but i started checking back on my blog when i had been previously and think this is my twentieth visit to north america. one of those was holiday - the rest have all been trips in response to invitations to speak, lead worship, join conversations, design labyrinths and so on. what a joy that has been. it feels like it's been a shared conversation of mission in response to a changing world and culture with so much to share and learn. it's so energising crossing borders, meeting new people and catching up with old friends. at the end of the post i have listed those trips for my own record as it took me a while to work out!
it was an absolute delight to meet claudio carvalhaes this week. we had not met before and he kindly agreed to meet some stranger from england! he teaches at uniion theology seminary (where james cone was of course) which is on the edge of harlem. he is a liberation theologian, liturgist, artist, earth lover. i reviewed his book liturgies from below which is an extraordinary collection of prayers. there are two covers for it. the publisher clearly struggled with the original cover and sends out the 'liturgies from below' version. but there is another one which says 'prayers in defiance of empire'. claudio gave me a copy of that one so at last i have that which i love! i am going to pray the prayers in the book for advent praying with the wretched of the earth, those at the edges, the poor, the dispossessed. i feel hugely challenged by this and his other writing as i have not had to face such pain and hardship. i have a couple of other books by him so will say more about that once i have finished them. but do check out his work. in true liberation theology fashion in his work praxis of prayer and liturgy is the first move in theology, and the second is to reflect on it.
one of the things that was surreal when we met is that he had a book on trickster on the side at his apartment - when i asked about it he shared that he loves trickster and has been researching about that. he gave a public theology lecture in brazil dressed up as the trickster character curupira in the indigenous brazilian mythology whose feet are back to front presumably so he can cover his tracks or confuse people about the direction of travel! he was equally surprised when i relayed our latest photo exhibition on the theme of trickster. an artist, a trickster, a liturgist, a liberation theologian, a lover of the earth, a creative teacher of theology, a prophet... - it may not surprise you that we got on and we are going to stay in touch!
for the record these are my previous trips:
1998 Canada family holiday to Ontario
2000/2001 Group youth ministry tour
2001? Youth specialties Anaheim
2002 May - Toronto
2003 Fredericton Canada
2004 San Fransisco + Nashville
2005 Colorado - youthworkers retreat
2005 Princeton + New York
2007 Lancaster + Ontario
2008 New York and Trinity retreat centre
2008 Oklahoma and Austin
2009 Lancaster + New York
2012 Austin SXSW
2013 Ontario + Saskatchewan
2014 Chicago CTU vocations event
2017 Chicago Luzbatek lecture visit
2017 Loveland Future of church conference + Denver
2022 Princeton and NY