Blog archive July 2006
psalm of boredom is now on smallritual.org as a quicktime movie, as originally used in the march 2004 grace service.
the strange slogans [next stop quebec!] were all taken from ads on the tube that day. i took my camera to work [canary wharf back then] and assembled the movie from the resulting images. so the pasta was my lunch. there's my desk and lava lamp. the people standing on the marble floor were watching a fashion show in the mall.
the flyer below is being used as a bookmark in pete rollins' 'how [not] to speak of god'. i've only just started it, but chapter 1 has some definitions of the emerging church that seem pertinent to current conversations:
Our first attempts to understand this network will often leave us with a certain frustration, as its kinetic and dynamic nature seems to defy easy reduction to a single set of theological doctrines or ritualistic practices... the participants are unified neither by a shared theological tradition, nor by a desire to one day develop one. The word 'emerging' cannot, then, be understood as describing a type of becoming that is set to one day burst onto the religious scene as a single, unified and distinct denominational perspective...
...those involved in the conversation acknowledge that Christianity involves a process of journeying and becoming. [as against the belief that to become a christian is to arrive in a fixed place]
...it would be a mistake to think that the only thing which unifies this fragile network is the shared commitment to understanding faith as a process...
Unlike those who would seek to offer a different set of answers to theological questions, those within the emerging conversation are offering a different way of understanding the answers that we already possess. In other words, those involved in the conversation are not explicitly attempting to construct or unearth a different set of beliefs that would somehow be more appropriate in today's context, but rather, they are looking at the way in which we hold the beliefs that we already have. This is not then a revolution that seeks to change what we believe, but rather one that sets about transforming the entire manner in which we hold our beliefs. In short, this revolution is not one which merely adds to or subtracts from the world of our understanding, but rather one which provides the necessary tools for us to be able to look at that world in a completely different manner: in a sense, nothing changes and yet the shift is so radical that nothing will be left unchanged.
this is the front of a flyer promoting local government services accessible on the web [including graffiti removal]. how long before a graffiti artist paints a giant laptop on a wall, tags it in the centre, and writes underneath it "how do I get this removed?"
i can't help but be horrified by the dreamspace accident, having written about it for ship of fools and photographed it. the video footage is shocking - they don't know why it flew up like that but it has been suggested that a combination of the high temperatures and a gust of wind turned it into a huge hot air balloon. obviously there are a lot of questions being asked about the moorings.
in the discussions at the emerging church conference thursday/friday, sometimes it felt like the language of the institution was creeping back in, in ways that i can barely articulate. perhaps because we were accepting the terms and language given to us by the institutional church, even as we try to speak our own thoughts with them. i realised this when sue wallace said something that spoke to me a different language, of the small/local/creative/personal, and i thought, "that's what i thought i was joining". that being a particular realm of feeling and action, not a will-to-erect-systems [and i plead as guilty as anyone]. i wonder what the language of non-systems is?
for me the worship we did [led by maybe, visions, cota] felt more real than the institutional/academic stuff of our diagrams. it seemed to reveal the actual truth and ground of our movement. what we do is who we are, is our values made manifest, is the centre of the set that contains us. we do this thing because previous church wasn't who we are, in its doing. i struggle to articulate this. the worship, this enactment of values, is the thing we have in common, or manifests the unspoken things we have in common, even as our declared systems and allegiances seem to draw us in different directions.
i wonder if definition by -ology is modernist, and we are groping for definition by mystery. definition by abstraction is our impulse, but definition by sacrament is the opposite movement. sacrament defines what is abstract by making it flesh. it turns thought into deed, diagram into food.
who pays for cheap clothes? five questions the low-cost retailers must answer
Something new is sweeping through the high street. Whereas five years ago, style-conscious teenagers would never be seen, like, dead in a bargain clothes shop, today the Saturday afternoon high street is awash with Primark bags and their proud owners boasting the bargains they have found.
The four companies this report focusses on, Asda, Tesco, Primark and Matalan, are to fashion what McDonalds and Burger King are to food: mass produced, hassle-free, fast, popular, and reliant on exploitation down the supply chain to keep things that way. It asks what impact this trend is having on workers' rights, and challenges these retailers to ensure that workers are not paying for our cheap clothes with their human rights.
depressing but enlightening reading. discovered while searching for ethical sportswear - that's actual technical sports clothing for running and working out, not leisure/casual wear. funny how companies like nike triggered the whole ethical clothing movement with their working practices, and yet years later they still have the actual sports clothing market sewn up.
earlier today i was in the adidas store and niketown in oxford street. such beautiful stores, stylish clothes, images and sounds of empowerment and achievement. and hidden inside each garment, a little label saying 'made in vietnam' 'made in cambodia'. temples of forgetfulness, of consumer denial, trying to drown out the real story of each garment with recorded cheering. it's as good as a work of art.
delayed response to tyler's question at the bolger/ward blah on saturday:
[loosely, is the emerging church just a temporary phenomenon of a particular social subgroup [middle class, hip] rather than anything more universally applicable?]
i was trying to think why i don't care:
1. humility - we can't be other than the people we are. our new forms of church are inevitably for us. the request that we produce universally valid forms that can be rolled out across other sectors of society may be a wish from modernity.
but what i'd hope is that we can model incarnation into culture, and perhaps a methodology for doing that which can transfer. jesus was incarnate as a 1st century jew. that doesn't mean that we all have to live like 1st century jews. it means we have a model for incarnation into local cultures. when people ask me "how do i do rock'n'roll church among the white homeless of vancouver?" i say, "i don't know, get them together and work it out for yourselves from the stuff that already connects you to god." that's the methodology that transfers, how we did it, not the cultural specifics of alt worship styles.
2. emerging church is happening in the part of society that questions and generates culture in all fields, not just church. many emerging church people are professional culture-changers bringing their external skills to bear on church. hence the perception that emerging church is 'hip' - hip means skill in cultural manipulation. it's to be expected that the drive for cultural change in the church should come from such people, rather than the parts of society who simply accept the culture they're given.
that's why, when you apply the method - when you open up a free space for contributions - you get these people. they're the ones who want to experiment and change things. they're the ones who actually want to use such a space, and understand where it might lead.
3. humility again - we cannot know whether what we're doing will have long-term significance or not. in three hundred years time we'll know if this is a second reformation or just a blip. we'll know if postmodernity is just a phase, and what it's really called. after all, it's three hundred years from the renaissance to the fulness of modernity in the enlightenment. so definitions and system-building had better be provisional. there may be no big answers for decades, centuries to come. just localised good-enough patches.
and that's ok. the one thing i can say is, even if this is temporary and local, it is what god wants me to do, here and now. and what else can one do? what will last, what is important only god can know. ecclesisastes 9:10 - whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might...
incidentally, tyler thought that the pace of change in our culture might give each of us greater responsibilities in its direction/outcome than in, say, the reformation. because in a slow-moving culture the increment of change that can be enacted by each person may be tiny. but if our culture makes that 300-year leap in 50...
subsequent thought: god doesn't have a monkeysphere limitation. god calls us to transcend our monkeyspheres. fowler's stage 6 people, the universalisers, the saints are the ones who do so, ie are most like god in the breadth of their relating.
are on flickr. i knew i'd taken some but thought i'd deleted them.
i caught it in a blue phase, it was only changing slowly that evening.
my photo albums are now replaced by a flickr account. atm i'm still loading it with existing material rather than new, but some of it hasn't been published before. obviously i've got vast archives of stuff to upload. not sure of the implications yet for the photo sections of smallritual.org - sometimes that format and the bigger size is good. and i spent a lot of time getting the site colours to work as photographic backgrounds. i'll probably add a flickr link into the main menu.
the trees in the light pavement at broadgate apparently deliver bluetooth reports to your phone from wimbledon, courtesy of IBM.
the light pavement is a grid of LED lights across a public square that change colour in the usual LED way, sometimes very slowly and sometimes flashing in complex patterns. the effect is rather tron-like, especially when reflected in glass balustrades into infinity. it's always a pleasure to walk across on the way from the office to the station.
outside my flat is chaos and screaming as italy beat germany with two goals in the last two minutes of extra time. there are lots of italians in london.
went to cambridge on sunday to meet my nephew edward for the first time. he is now a month old. i've never handled a baby this young, it was a little scary, but my brother has a good picture of us which i hope he mails me. here he is with my mother. my brother asked her what pet form of grandmother she wanted to be referred to by - this being her first grandchild, no precedent has been set. and then they can teach edward to call her that, which of course will be for the rest of her life. strange what decisions have to be made when a child arrives. everyone in the family gets renamed.
edward wasn't quite his usual amiable self due to the 33C heat. my brother did a barbecue, but we ate indoors. and young babies don't drink separately from feeding, so his mother didn't get much rest from a thirsty baby...
lighting report makes the front page of the independent with a backup article from greenpeace
This report illustrates yet again what we all know but somehow fail to address: it is often not the demand for energy, but waste of energy that is driving us towards radical climate change.
plus these stats:
ENERGY-SAVING BULBS (compact fluorescent lights - CFLs)
* An 11-Watt CFL bulb (equivalent to an ordinary 60W bulb) costs £2.41 to run per year.
* Energy-saving bulbs last on average 12 times longer than ordinary light bulbs, with a life span of around six years.
* They cost about £3.50.
* Each bulb can reduce your electricity bill by up to £10 a year.
* They generate up to 70 per cent less heat.
ORDINARY (incandescent) LIGHT BULBS
* An ordinary 60W bulb costs up to £13.14 in electricity bills per year.
* The average life span is between 750 and 1000 hours, which gives round five months of use.
* An ordinary bulb costs around 50p.
* In most houses lighting accounts for approximately 15 per cent of the electricity bill.
* If every American home switched their five most-used light fittings to energy-saving bulbs, they would save $6bn (£3.2bn) and reduce greenhouse gases by nearly half a million tons.
* 90 per cent of the energy goes into generating heat.