Blog archive April 2006

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30.04.06 / 02 / not graffiti

was just reading a review of a book about freight train graffiti, and it occurred to me:

is it graffiti if i paint a british rail logo on a train?

and is it graffiti if i paint a white rectangle on a wall? over the graffiti that was there before? if i sign it?


sorry but it is all graffiti if you paint it on someone else's something and they don't want you to - whatever you are painting

apologies for spoiling your attempt to excuse your naughtiness !!

julie kenny

but that makes it graffiti when the council paints over graffiti ;)


30.04.06 / 01 / emerging leadership

didn't get to the blah 'emerging leadership' day yesterday - have had too much stuff at weekends lately. jonny hasn't posted on it yet [being too distracted by chelsea] but my only thoughts on the subject were, that too much concern with leadership is a fault of old-paradigm churches. emerging churches/alt worship communities are always getting the questions, "who is your leader?" "how do you do leadership". and the questions behind those are, "who has official permission to do this?" "how do you control people?" so while we need to sort out leadership issues for ourselves, we also need to not get sucked into playing an old-paradigm game in order to reassure them.

the public front of alt worship groups has tended to be deliberately collective and egalitarian, as a move against the prevailing church culture of star leaders. at grace we still resist [after much debate] putting information about individual team members on the website. i think bios and pics help strangers understand who you are/where you're coming from, and humanise things - i always go straight for these things when investigating new churches because, frankly, a haircut gives a lot away. but at grace the feeling was that we should continue to make a stand in favour of the collective. maybe all the more necessary since we've got a couple of superstar bloggers in the group ;) as mike rose said, blogs have re-emphasised the individual over the group and perhaps given the emerging church its own version of the leadership cult - though thankfully more democratic and emergent.

we've been using the term 'curator' for a while to describe a person who does the overall commissioning/shaping of an event. the word 'editor' might also be useful - the editor doesn't write all the stuff in the newspaper, respects individual voice - but guides the overall shape and feel. it's a different emphasis to 'leader'. who's the editor in your church?


It was a good day.

In my opinion there's not nearly enough proper thinking going on about leadership. It's the elephant in the room most EC's don't address properly, which has inevitable results: default to old models, or end up dying out. These are mistakes Grace is doing well to avoid, but I wouldn't go as far as saying that is the norm. The most important thing, of course, is that it's not just about leadership becoming devolved, but 'followership' getting more involved.

kester brewin

steve hi! i think the stuff from yesterday will be written up and made into a primer via lulu - that was gareth and ian's plan anyway... there was some interesting stuff. i particularly liked kester's take. i have to be careful - part of me fears i like it because it describes me and my instincts about leadership. so i need to take a step back probably. but one of my additions to kester's suggestions is that a task of leadership is to create environments in which things are devolved and participation etc can happen.

jonny baker

i wish my community was like this. Our "leader" is "pastor". He wants us to be involved, but it ends up him delegating things for us to do, like reading Scripture, setting up the space, etc. While these are all important and need a team to accomplish, we really have no part in the actual planning of the services, thus i don't feel any ownership. My pastor has business cards for the community with his name and pastor as title. We are baptist in church polity. I just don't fit here or anywhere. Ugghhh!


One of my colleagues at work is a fine Christian attending a large church in London - and has done for over 25 years. Yet, in our many conversations, he has never called the leader of the church anything other than 'Dr [Surname]'. It's essentially a small thing. But one that worries me. Why not 'Pete'? They are of the same age, and have been at the church around the same amount of time, with pretty much the same level of education. Weird.

kester brewin

I find it interesting that although emerging communities have thought some about leadership. It is basically, removing a label appplying a new one...but still asking all the same old questions fro the " old " leadership paradigm.

ron cole

i find it interesting too, this need to keep on talking about leadership in the emergent church - i agree with ron - it is the same old paradigm questions often scrutinized in the context of the same old church paradigm - i agree with you steve about resisting the urge to reassure the permission givers - our culture's obsession with what it calls accountability (often at the expense of integrity) sometimes has a vice like grip

what i find even more interesting though is the inevitable distraction that debates about leadership allow us to fall into and so draw us away from the real issue - i don't think the issue is as much about leadership as it is about community - our leadership emerges from our emergent communities - its form and pattern will be as unique and as self defining as each of those communitiies because it will take shape around the needs of each one

do we really need to get sucked in to an organisational debate about leadership in the emergent church ? i don't think we can think about these issues if we work with a paradigm for emergent as 'avant guard' - the gravitational pull of the concerns of this world are too strong - we need to move the debate to another plain - we are expediti - we belong to another Kingdom - there is only one real leader - we serve at the King's pleasure - we will reflect a million different facets of his leadership - it seems to me we should sometimes resist our urge to define and contain............

julie kenny

The problem, from my point of view, about discussing emerging leadership, is that the word 'leader' is a self-defining pictorial word. You simply cannot use it without in some sense accepting the concept of someone going out in front while others trail behind. In fact, I think that it is possible that the word is also a problem for traditional churches because it is such a physical concept that following can be interpreted as 'sitting in the same room' as the leader.

However, there are aspects of 'leader' that are useful but better addressed in different language: initiative-taking, authenticity, responsibility, for example.

This always leads me to the vast store of New Testament concepts in which the initiative of the Holy Spirit works through individuals. Lists of gifts (charismata), ministries, spiritual gifts (pneumata) and bodily organs all point to a universality of autonomous/Spirit-directed activity.

How that dynamic works within the individual to produce a unique product of God and the individual in his/her culture, how this activity combines in groups to produce a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts and how initiative-taking individuals in community resolve conflict and questions of self-delusion: these are subjects that emerge from this concept, rather than how to shoehorn in 'leadership'.

simon thompson

26.04.06 / 01 / playing

i went to work today but it was a mistake - i couldn't cope with anything much. so i left 'early' - which somehow ended up as 4pm. i needed to do something different, so i bought a stealth fighter kit


and a geoff mcfetridge toy


24.04.06 / 01 / bumpy ride

on saturday morning my father had a cardiac arrest. the hospital called me out of the blue to say that the outlook was not good, my mother was with him and that i needed to alert the family. so i phoned my brothers and jumped on the first train to bristol hoping i'd arrive in time. he was alive when i got there but asleep/unconscious and frankly the doctors were expecting him to die. so we did the bedside vigil thing. my mother watched him all night, i stayed too to be with her. it was a hard night and the fact that they let us ignore all visiting rules spoke volumes about the situation.

towards dawn he started to wake up, and at breakfast after a short break we had the joy of finding him fully awake and back with us - perhaps brighter than he had been before. the doctors were surprised and pleased at his recovery and have restarted treatment. but today he seemed a bit confused, irrational, behaving slightly badly, wanting to go home. of course he's still very ill. this disturbed us and took the edge off our joy. to be perfectly honest i kind of freaked and left the visit early.

he can't yet speak clearly, which doesn't help - he gets frustrated that we often can't make out what he's saying. they may start giving him liquids by mouth tomorrow, which will no doubt help - as will putting his teeth back in!

but it's been a rough, rough weekend. i made phone calls i never wanted to make. i'm suffering from delayed shock i think. i was quite upset on the train home when i should have been happy. his behaviour today has shaken me. i just hope he calms down and that nothing else happens.


Steve our familiy has yours in our prayers. May the Lord just surround and comfort you all with his presence...especially your mom, I can only imagine how she feels. Shalom...Ron+

ron cole

Lord, please comfort and be with Steve and his family as they go through this difficult and challenging time. Comfort his father and bring your peace and rest. Amen.


God go with you all Steve. Take care mate, and thinking of you.

kester brewin

praying for you and your family.

gareth powell

GOD is near. it will be well. peace to you.

julie wilson

17.04.06 / 01 / my father is improving

having returned from That Uncivilised Place ;) i can report that my father has improved considerably over easter. last thursday and friday he was very ill indeed, seldom awake, unable to speak and having oxygen pumped into malfunctioning lungs. today he is a fairly normal colour, is talking though understandably hoarse, and will be moved back to a normal ward in the morning without the oxygen. they had switched off the screen showing heart/breathing/oxygenation today, obviously it doesn't need close monitoring any more. he's still being fed and watered by tube, the underlying weakness and not eating remains a mystery, but the crisis seems to be past, god willing. many many thanks to all who've prayed.


Look, I'm worried Bristol is getting a bad press here!! Come back and come to a Foundation service and let us all take you out and show you the fantastic side of bristol!

charity hamilton

Glad to hear your dad is doing better.

cory aldrich

you don't know me but i read your blog. i like the way you think. i am definitely of the bedouin flashmob mentality and i pray for you. glad your dad is doing better

julie wilson

Glad to hear it, Steve! i will keep praying. Take care!


Also glad to hear about your dad's improvement. God bless.

craig mitchell

15.04.06 / 01 / no wifi hell

am in bristol for easter seeing my father. had to travel right into the centre of bristol to find an internet cafe to do my grace blog entry. the starbucks in the mall near the hospital are the only ones in the universe to have no hotspot. the cafe round the block here in the centre of town has a hotspot but it doesn't work. everything closes at 6 or 7pm. it's crap here.


So sorry. i hope you have a wonderful Easter with your family. How is your dad doing? And you and your mom?


Aw you need to put your coffee down and head down to the waterfront which is one big hotspot - the watershed, arnolfini, even the bus shelters. You might catc a good film while you're there!

charity hamilton

i was pretty close by the waterfront and under other circumstances would have searched more - but i had to get the blog entry in, it was 6.30pm by then and i seemed to be running out of options. plus i wanted to catch a certain bus back to my parents - which i missed and had to wait two hours for the next one - had my dinner in a pub instead of at home!


Thanks for persevering and posting anyway, Steve. It was a great post but I'm sorry it was such a hassle to do. Welcome back to London!

jenny baker

11.04.06 / 03 / san francisco wifi bedouin flashmob

san francisco wifi bedouin flashmob

if only for the title/idea

i need a new tag don't i - bedouin


you know about teh coworking things right?

daniel miller

daniel you should be writing this blog for me ;) does anybody get paid to ghost-write blogs? would we know?

with that 'ritual working' logo i should have been part of it all along

btw i always struggle with the word 'coworking' - i read the first syllable as 'cow'. it needs a hyphen 'co-working'.


oh yeah i forget
daniel ghost-writes his own blogs ;)


Steve, what is most amusing about your entry is that it scores higher in Google than the original posting!

richard baker

11.04.06 / 02 / free wifi - the cafe owner's perspective again

coffeeshop campers and the honours system from Coffee to the People in haight-ashbury - it's the link from the quote in the previous post but i want to foreground it since it's directly relevant to the discussion here.

One of the first decisions any coffeeshop owner has to make is what to do about the people who hang out all day studying, using the free wireless, and lounging on the couches, but don't actually spend any money. Sure, they spend $1.50 on a small coffee from time to time, but they nurse it for hours and take up room that might be used for other, paying customers...

11.04.06 / 01 / going bedouin 2

the new office space by jackson west at gigaOM:

Of course, the business of coffee shops is to sell food and coffee, not to take the place of VC-run incubator offices. While some have dealt with the problem of freeloaders by charging for their Wifi, this often turns geeks away. Coffee to the People in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury is trying to come up with guidelines, and the issue of coffee shop etiquette is a popular topic of discussion among digerati. Some cafe owners only share the WEP or WPA key with paying customers, limit the number of wall jacks to recharge batteries, or shut down wifi on the weekends to encourage offline socializing.


see? the high rent places in the US have the same problem...but are about the possible solutions. ;)

daniel miller

09.04.06 / 01 / going bedouin

picking up the wifi-coffee shop thing again, go read going bedouin by greg olsen [thanks daniel]

By focusing almost exclusively on service-based infrastructure options, a business could operate as a sort of neo-Bedouin clan - with workers as a roaming nomadic tribe carrying laptops & cell phones and able to set up shop wherever there is an Internet connection, chairs, tables, and sources of caffeine.

the way i see it:


this is the workplace model often aspired to in recent years:

• single business
• mobile workers
• fixed/owned core functions


this is the networked freelance thing many of us are doing:

• many businesses
• mobile workers
• no core/shared functions


this is 'bedouin':

• single business
• mobile workers
• mobile core functions

bedouin bears obvious similarities with church 2.0 [just as olsen's descriptions of how dynamism gets bogged down in infrastructure resemble church 1.0][but more of that later...]

olsen continues in bedouins are everywhere :

I feel like I unknowingly stepped into some sort of quasi-religious mass movement. There is clearly passion around the central ideology of infrastructure minimalism. What's also interesting are the different facets of this movement that draw peoples attention and the different perspectives that are being voiced.
Three key areas of discussion focus seem to have arisen:
  • Technology: Saddlebag contents?  What specific tools are available to Bedouins?
  • Location: Tent or no tent?  Physical vs. virtual office?
  • Social needs: Are Bedouins lonely?  Can alternative workplace concepts meet the social needs of workers?


I'm certain there are coffee shop owners that are scrambling to create "Welcome Bedouins" signs and to figure out how to better extract revenue from the Bedouin crowd. Surely some business model will emerge where oasis operators and Bedouins can mutually benefit from a loitering location flush with AC, bandwidth, and table space.

08.04.06 / 01 / madonna

there's a lot of comment about madonna charging £80-160 per seat for her UK dates. but it's a free market, the tickets are selling out, so good luck to her.

the thing i admire about madonna is her survival instinct. whenever her career is on the slide through poor product and bad choices, she pulls her act together and does what she has to do - make a great pop album. and lo and behold, she's the woman of the moment again - this time, at a point where she could reasonably have let it go. that commands my respect.

and looking like that at her age too. whatever did she do? that ass is a masterpiece of taxidermy.

07.04.06 / 01 / hiatus

i had several big posts lined up for this week, but my father is very ill in hospital and my blogtime has been taken up with phone calls to my mother. tonight i'm not feeling well myself, so i'm going to bed with a hot water bottle.


Praying for you all.


prayers for you & your dad

bob carlton

02.04.06 / 01 / church as a verb

on arrival in austin daniel presented me with an artwork that he'd commissioned from his friend patrick [remind me of patrick's surname daniel!]

the work is called 'church as a verb', it's based on various items on including this and maybe this. the title 'church as a verb' comes from this essay.

patrick writes:

The background is a Nolli plan of London, more specifically the area encompassing Holy Joe's. The transparency is based on movements of the body. The green lines are the extension of dance movements based on quadrants in space [the ultimate points of extension]. The pink diagram illustrates hypo/hypertonic exchange within the cell. So the two layers interact with each other showing the established structure and free flow of ideas and movement.

[apparently the area round holy joe's gave a better nolli plan than round grace - denser urban fabric]

having brought it back in its two pieces in a tube, i got it framed and hung up today. here's patrick and the work at daniel's apartment:


and here is is in my apartment:


thanks patrick and daniel, it's an honour.

btw i know it's slightly misaligned at the right - i'll correct that in a few weeks when it's flattened out properly. it was quite a ticklish job getting the rear layer [which is cardboard] into the right position after weeks of being rolled up.


rhodes. glad you like it. :)

daniel miller

01.04.06 / 01 / wifi communion and teleconsecration

wifi-enabled drinking glasses by jackie lee and hyemin chung at MIT media lab:

Two cups are wireless connected to each other with sip sensors and LED illumination. The Lover's cups will glow when your lover is drinking. When both of you are drinking at the same time, both of the Lover's Cups glow and celebrate this virtual kiss.

via Mike Rose on the Grace Lent blog

a magnificent idea with obvious uses for wifi-enabled holy communion [someone needs to work this out for the bread]

so how do you consecrate bread and wine if it isn't all in the same place? at Grace we've wondered whether a prayer of consecration spoken over a mobile phone held above the bread and wine is valid - can anyone explain why not? and if so, one could have dial-a-priest or consecration call centres [waiting to take your call 24 hours a day].

applying that to the medialab glasses, there would be another light that would glow when consecrated.


In a word: epiklesis.

The action of calling down the holy spirit into the elements is the act of consecration. It is not just a spoken but a manual action "Send your holy spirit so that these gifts may be made for us into the +body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ" is accompanied by holding the hands out over the elements.

The priest acts as a conduit through the grace of holy orders. It isn't magic, but it is mysterious.

You might want to consider conmingling - a small part of the precious blood taken and mixed with other gifts in other places to share in that eucharist.

Historically, this is why the priest takes a small piece of the host and places it inside the chalice - when mass was celebrated by the Pope (I'm talking 7th Century here), they'd take a fragment of the host he consecrated and deacons would run to all the other basilicas in Rome and priests would add this fragment into the chalice to make the point about the eucharist being about unity - "though we are many, we are one body, because we all share the one bread".

father simon rundell

i'm not convinced by this, since all one is doing is asking god to be present. if a specific gesture [or form of words] is required then we are in the realm of magic [ie the belief that particular words or actions have supernatural effects].

not that i have that view of priesthood anyway. my understanding of christianity is of a radical abolition of all human 'priesthoods' [because all are priests/christ is the only priest]. the subsequent return of the priestly order through parallelism with the OT was a mistake.


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