Blog archive June 2004
went to see the edward hopper exhibition at tate modern yesterday. it left me feeling vaguely depressed, because the people in the pictures are so often unhappy. there's a bleakness. hopper's compositions are slightly unstable, objects are cropped awkwardly or fail to occupy the centre of the picture, and i think it's this as much as anything that gives them that cinematic quality. one senses that the camera is panning away, that these are caught frames rather than steady shots. the exhibition includes some of hopper's early work from the 1900s to the mid 1920s, and it's clear that his art didn't work until the world became modern, until clutter was replaced by emptiness.
have been spending an amazing amount of time organising a trip to norway. had to read the guidebook, figure out an itinerary, research prices/availability, then rethink on finding i could only get bookings for half of it. i ended up pretty much scrapping the original idea in favour of a six-day trip northwards on the hurtigrute, which is a system of coastal ferries-cum-cruise ships. my journey starts at bergen and winds through the fjords and along the atlantic coast to the arctic circle, then around north cape through the arctic ocean to kirkenes near the russian border. from there i fly back to bergen. this is not cheap, but i'll get to see the midnight sun and go as far north as one can go without special equipment.
so here is the grace planning meeting which coincided with the england v croatia match. video projector plugged into the tv.
jonny was just telling me that karen ward does a great improvised eucharistic prayer, and why can't more vicars do this. now clearly she is a verbally talented lady, whereas most improvisations i have heard from english vicars have left me wishing they had stuck to the written liturgy. but it sent my mind spinning - how about open mic eucharists? eucharistic prayer slams. compete to consecrate with speed and style! and, beyond the joke, what if we spent more time working lyrically on those words? instead of regarding them as untouchable, what if they became the focus of our most restless creativity?
just starting my month off work after two weeks of constant late-night working hence no blog. have already had four phone calls from my replacement at work!
was just reading doug pagitt's book 'reimagining spiritual formation' about solomon's porch. takes me back to what i said below about having a shop-front to give visibility. the shop-front that grace has is st. mary's ealing. we're seldom open for business, and when we are you can't see in from outside! so our real shopfront - open all hours, visible to all - is the website and the blogs of grace members. and that is very effective in bringing people to us. i guess each shopfront brings its own kind of people. the internet shopfront brings a certain demographic. but if we want the attentions of local people and passers-by i suspect we need a physical shopfront in ealing.
i guess the other communication factor is privatisation - "religion's fine for you but i'm not interested so don't bother to tell me". to attempt to tell is seen as intrusive, coercive. and yet we have this enormous church-cultural push [especially evangelicals] that we must tell - now! before it's too late!! for a lot of christians patient waiting-to-be-noticed is just too easy, a cop-out, collusive in the privatisation of religion.
visibility without targeting? living it publicly without pointing the finger at anyone in particular? how?
sweet smiles, hard labour - extracts from what looks like an important new book on the culture of work - how our emotional lives are now commodified and controlled.
Two ways of measuring the demands of a job have defined industrial relations since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution - time and effort - but a third has emerged in the past few decades: emotional labour. It's not just your physical stamina and analytical capabilities that are required to do a good job, but your personality and emotional skills as well. From a customer services representative in a call centre to a teacher or manager, the emotional demands of the job have immeasurably increased.
The demand for emotional labour is driven firstly by the growth of the service economy. Companies are increasingly competing to provide a certain type of emotional experience along with their product, be it a mobile phone or an insurance policy. Where once muscle power was crucial to employment for millions of manual workers, its modern-day equivalent is emotional empathy and the ability to strike up a rapport with another human being quickly.
from 'willing slaves - how the overwork culture is ruling our lives' [not published yet]
finishing a train of thought from the grace barbecue:
the two parts to mission: live it, and communicate it. we have a handle on how to do authentic faith expressions, now we need to work out how to do authentic communication. because in a society that's indifferent to christianity, your life with god and your church may be great, but no-one will pay any attention. either they don't see it, or they don't see it for all the negative stereotypes in the way. and if you try too hard to communicate how positive it is, you will become part of the negative stereotype of christians trying to tell everyone how positive it is.
we are called to live it, and to communicate it - but how to communicate when trying to communicate reinforces the negative reaction? the negative reaction is based on years of inauthentic communication - telling us that church is great when it's crap. telling us that christianity makes life wonderful and people good. what's authentic communication towards people who really don't want any communication?
are we just too impatient? can we bear to wait for people to notice without us actually saying anything?
not much blogging lately because i've been busy reordering the directories and extending the blog section of alternativeworship.org as mentioned below; had a truly lousy week at work; am involved in email conversations with emerging church people; did a review of kester brewin's forthcoming book 'the complex christ' for the in-house greenbelt magazine. and more futzing with the menu system for the next version of this site.
went to vaux tonight for what turned out to be a tiny meditative communion. there were only about ten of us, but two of them were adam feldman and his brother scott. adam and i had an email conversation back in 2001 when he did the labyrinth at the youth specialties conference. and then three years later, in a church in london, there he is. was great to meet him, i enjoyed it.