Friday, May 23, 2008

Robert Beckford film The Great African Scandal

The Great African Scandal, was shown last September on Channel 4.

Read Dr Beckford's article on his journey and unjust trade rules

It exposed how unfair economic policies are crippling farmers and locking their families into a life of deprivation. Sit down with some fairtrade and watch the video here

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Sad night...

Oh well another penalty shoot out and another broken heart - if Job were a Chelsea fan he would really have known what it was to lament.

Of course - it is only a game!


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Shocking TV...?

I've watched two disturbing programmes recently TV.

'Am I normal' with Dr Tanya Bryon wasn't what I would call an easy watch; a few weeks ago she posed the question 'when people hear voices there are questions of mental health, but it is alright in church to say God told me', she went onto explore expressions of faith and to consider what some think is a fine line between religious devotion and psychiatric disorder. This week she looked at sexual deviance and finished interviewing a well spoken self professed paedophile who with eloquence argued for the legalisation of what he saw nothing wrong with - I was shocked at his rationale and argument.

Jesus Camp is a 2006 documentary directed by Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing about a Pentecostal summer camp for children who spend their summers learning and practicing their "prophetic gifts" and being taught that they can "take back America for Christ." As I watched the learned behaviour of these kids as they did, said and acted as they had seen the adults do say and act in their church - there was something that disturbed me. Whipping kids into mass hysteria so they can confess their sins to avoid burning in hell was an interesting children's ministry technique. The predictability and familiarity shocked me (Check it out on Channel 4 OD)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Hijack of Heaven...

Great article by NT Wright in the New Statesman here. To whet your appetite...
"Wright argues that, over the centuries, the influence of Greek culture and philosophy, in particular the theory of Platonic dualism - that the body is imperfect and destined to decay, whereas the soul is superior and continues after death - led to the language of heaven being "hijacked". ... It is sort of assumed that heaven is a disembodied state where immortal souls go to live, and then it becomes very difficult for the word resurrection to be anything other than a rather flowery metaphor for that state. But the whole point is that is what the Bible in the first three or four Christian centuries took for granted. We need to recapture that."
Thanks Matt (if you still pop in here) - you were right I did enjoy!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Living Missionally 1/4

I looked back over my notes that I kept having read Michael Frost's Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture. It was a good read and one that I enjoyed; his style remains as fluid and narrative as "The Shaping of Things to Come" - that he co-authored with Alan Hirsch - and so is easy to engage with.

Clearly influenced by Bruggemann he constantly points us to the dangers of preoccupation and calls us to engage in a process of rethinking, re-imagining and re-describing.

Community is a strong theme throughout - here is what he says about the journey to authentic community.
"To achieve community in the truest sense, it must undertake a journey that involves four stages:

pseudo-community where false niceness reigns, fake community
chaos - when skeletons come out of the closet
emptiness - a time of quiet and transition
true community - marked by both deep honesty and deep caring (Frost 2006:1070
Frost, M. (2006). Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture.

Perhaps authentic community is not so much about the destination but the journey and the lessons we learn together as we create space for each other to rethink, re-imagine and re-describe.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

One Conference at WBC...

The latest in one-day conferences at WBC sees Dr. Robert Beckford sharing with us during the day. This is open to all but you do need to book a place.

So if you want to come along and hear Robert Beckford email me on gordon [dot] cotterill [@] salvationarmy [dot] org [dot] uk and I will forward your application.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Art Resources

Recently I have run into some artists whose work I have enjoyed. Particularly the art and sculptures of Nicholas Mynheer.

Allegories of Heaven by Dinah Roe Kendall is worth a look as is some of the work of Paul Hobbs. Between the Image & the Flame is pictured and is my favourite for its challenge

Biblical Art is a useful site.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

You Gotta love Africa...

I fell in love with Africa when I lived in Kenya 26 years ago, someone sent me this as an email - I miss Africa!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

'In other People's Skins' an interactive artwork by Terry Flaxton

I popped into Southwark Cathedral today; I was passing on my way to Borough Market when heard the bells, looked at my watch and realised I was in time for Morning Prayer. Four of us were there for the simple liturgy, I like the rhythm that such prayer brings to the day so it was a good start to the day.

I was the only one there to be able to appreciate the 'in other people's skins' art installation in the cathedral. Inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci's The Last Supper you sit a large table covered in a white cloth and surrounded by chairs and become part of the art as life size moving images of hands and arms take food, break the bread, drink the wine as the images are projected from above onto the table at which you sit. The images move from 1st century meal of bread, cheese, wine through different cultures; as you sit and interact with the virtual guests you in a sense inhabit Other People's Skins.

It was a good Pentecost moment for me as I engaged with that which transcends division and seeks to embrace - the essence of the experience as you sit and eat but also receive and pass from others is that of 'for you'.It is worth seeing if the installation happens to come to a cathedral near you.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Miroslav Volf and The Church's great malfunction...

...we can begin to think of faith neither as simply a system of propositions to be believed, nor as merely a set of energizing and healing techniques to be practiced, but as an integral way of life...

Miroslav Volf in an article (The Church's great malfunction) has some interesting insights that I am still digesting. He starts from a premise of New Creation,
There is a remarkable image in the closing pages of Scripture that has become a touchstone for the way my colleagues and I think about faith and culture. Amid its descriptions of the New Jerusalem, Revelation includes "the tree of life, bearing 12 crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations" (Rev. 22:2).
The tree holds out hope that whole cultures will be healed and mended, becoming

places where people can flourish. And it sets an agenda for faith as a way of life that contributes to that flourishing, in anticipation, here and now.

and talks through giving detail and reason for the malfunctions of the church including temptation; the power of systems and what he calls a misconstrued faith. Volf points out that when
Karl Marx famously noted that religion—Christian faith, he primarily meant—is the "opiate of the people," a "downer" or depressant insulating them from reality and consoling them with a dream world of heavenly bliss. Marx missed the point that religion can often be an "upper," a stimulant that energizes people for tasks at hand. But the truth is that when Christian faith functions only as a soothing or performance-enhancing drug, that faith is, in fact, malfunctioning.
He concludes that from a place of rigorous self-criticism, we can move beyond that of malfunction and discover "a deep sense of the beauty and goodness of our faith."
Then we can begin to think of faith neither as simply a system of propositions to be believed, nor as merely a set of energizing and healing techniques to be practiced, but as an integral way of life. ... The Christian pursuit of the common good must be church-based without being church-centered. We need to build and strengthen mature communities of vision and character who celebrate faith as a way of life as they gather before God for worship and who, sent by God, live it out as they scatter to pursue various tasks in the world.
Interesting stuff!! Challenging stuff - do we celebrate faith as a way of life or are we part of teh Church's great malfunction?


Thanks to Jason for pointing out the article.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Staying alert...?

At one point I felt I was in the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan; near misses shrieking and whistling past my ears! I had to keep focused....

You can read about Adrian here.

It really is not easy talking to Adrian. I really wanted to try but Adrian has a mesmerizing effect, the slow circular nose pick throughout the conversation is hard to keep your eyes off. Fortunately it's the flicking is what keeps you alert. At one point I felt I was in the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan; near misses shrieking and whistling past my ears! I had to keep focused.

No one really knows much about Adrian, it is hard to understand his confusion - but last week he started to talk about aeroplanes, from that I got to hear about his favourite place - Denver, I got to hear about the mountains, his love and passion for the beauty. I got to hear about his pain; that dream is no longer open to him because he can't get a visa.

"Why Adrian...?"

His voice dropped to a whisper "I don't know .... ...".

I nearly missed it - but I was glad I stayed alert.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Boots '08

I hope all that went to Roots '08 in Southport had a great time.

Personally speaking there is only one place to be on this weekend and the 4th annual Boots weekend didn't disappoint. An increase of 100% in attendees was really encouraging, in fact such was the success of the weekend that there is some discussion in terms of revamping for the future!

It was great to spend time with Matt, Emma, Anais and Kiam and day visitors Nick and Emma Pears and the Davis clan.

There are things that go without saying on these kind of weekends - Kate wins scrabble; we have great conversations; walks; eat probably too well and of course Boots wouldn't be Boots with out some rain.

Book early for Boots '09! venue Sandy Balls! (probably the best campsite in the UK but with the worst name!)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

I've always said...

I've always said Avram Grant was a quality manager and would lead Chelsea to the heights of European domination.

It seems only fair to thank Liverpool's John Arne Riise for his last minute own goal in the first leg.

At last ... only Ronaldo and co to concern us now!!