Monday, September 29, 2008

Cameron's fashion break...

Cameron continues to come along to Faith House and it seems he values the sense of family that exists within the staff, volunteers and guys that come to the drop in. He was quite shocked this week because he had been spotted on Tottenham Court road as a potential model for a catalogue shoot. Apparently he has the looks and physique that met a certain brief (so to speak!!).

As he showed me the contact card - he shrugged his shoulders "they'd have to do a lot of 'airbrushing' to be able to use me..."

As I thought how to encourage him, before I could speak he added.

"I've too many stab wound scars...!"

More about Cameron here.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Tom Sine...

It was an interesting start to the evening; stood outside a very well locked up inner city church wondering if we were in the right place to hear Tom Sine. Five of us sensibly getting there early just in case we didn't get in. We didn't have much to worry about! Eventually some life and Tom and his hosts arrive and we are let in together with a young dread locked boy seemingly looking for community and warmth. Gradually a small crowd joins us and we introduced to parts of his new book The New Conspirators: Creating the Future One Mustard Seed at a Time.

His thing is definitely that of being a friendly voice to the emerging church, championing a new generation of innovators, risk takers and entrepreneurs, those he perceives God is doing something new through. He used Strictly Ballroom to make the point that this new generation are "fed up of dancing other people's steps" and with this motivation these new conspirators engage with the emerging crisis facing church through innovative missional expressions of church in what he calls four streams.
  • emerging
  • missional
  • mosaic {multi-cultural}
  • monastic
Tom Sine is what he would call a futurist - someone who looks into what future trends will mean for the church and he painted a disturbing picture of current and future economic and the consequent demands and opportunities for the church.

I think I would have liked to have heard more about life after the emerging church has emerged! With each generation deconstructing the generation before what will a deconstructed em. ch look like? I wanted to get a insight to how church will look like with deeper definitions of gospel and evangelism. I wanted to know what had happened to the young dread locked boy who seemingly had slipped out while I was fascinated with the fact that the slides were being remotely controlled by someone's mobile phone via blue tooth!!

Sine, T. (2008). The New Conspirators: Creating the Future One Mustard Seed at a Time

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Emergant begging...

As the commuters busy themselves to make the next leg of their journey into work I wonder if The Salvation Army is more emerging than we think

They were not there when I came back.

I saw them from the top of the 185 bus as I made my way to Victoria to do a stint of collecting for the SA Annual Appeal - ironically sleeping under the bridges - as I went to 'do something'. As the bus slowly passed overhead I looked at the time 6:30am, the group seemed to be slowly waking up, some of the group folding away sleeping bags, others folding up their cardboard, their only insulation.

Five minutes later I am signing in at Victoria, collecting box poised - I'm hopeful that I might have a better place to stand than last week when at another station I stood in front of a poster boldly promoting its message "DO NOT ENCOURAGE BEGGARS BY GIVING THEM MONEY". For the next three hours with the image of Vauxhall Bridge in my mind I 'encourage' people to contribute and I am happy to 'beg' in their places.

At a recent Tom Sine seminar on the emerging church, he pointed out that the real losers in this recession will not be the banks or stock markets but will be those individuals on the margins. With less people in a place to give Sine suggested that the emerging church needs to identify with those to 'have not' in a way that will help them through. As the army of commuters busy themselves to make the next leg of their journey into work I wonder if The Salvation Army is more emerging than we think :o)!!

My stint over, I settle down on the bus to read. At Vauxhall Bridge I look up and out for the small community... they've gone!

Monday, September 22, 2008

question of evil (5)

'Mastering Evil' - Henri Nouwen...

"Choosing life instead of death demands an act of will that often contradicts our impulses. Our impulses want to take revenge, while our wills want to offer forgiveness. Our impulses push us to an immediate response: When someone hits us in the face, we impulsively want to hit back.

How then can we let our wills dominate our impulses? The key word is wait. Whatever happens, we must put some space between the hostile act directed toward us and our response. We must distance ourselves, take time to think, talk it over with friends, and wait until we are ready to respond in a life-giving way. Impulsive responses allow evil to master us, something we always will regret. But a well thought-through response will help us to "master evil with good" (Romans 12.21)."

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Proud Dad....!

Eryn starts an accelerated ballet course at The Royal Ballet today; with Kate away we are just about to head up to Covent Garden and the Royal Opera House.

I can't help being proud and a little bit nervous - the tying up of the hair into a bun is a little intimidating!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Essence of the Church (3)

While exploring the essence of church unsuprisingly the theme of the Reign of God comes into play. Van Gelder pulls out some key themes in what he calls God's redemptive reign.

  • This reign reflects creation design
  • This reign anticipates the new heavens and new earth
  • This reign defeated the principalities and powers
  • This reign was demonstrated in Jesus' life and ministry
  • This reign brings redeemed life to all the created powers
  • This reign anticipated the church as creation of the Spirit pp102

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Kees de Kort...

I like the biblical imagery that Dutch artist Kees de Kort captures and have added him to my art that speaks label. More here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Out on bail...

After a couple of minutes of nonsensical conversation he starts digging deep into his jacket. He pulls out a police evidence bag with a wad of paperwork and says "can you make sense of this...?"

More about 'I don't know Adrian' here and here.

The first wave of guys leaving after their plate of pasta was in full swing, the small room at Faith House opened up and when a chair became available next to Adrian I was able to sit next to him. He had been more agitated this evening than usual, he has a kind of musical chair routine throughout most evenings - tonight there was more to it, there was something up.

He seemed pleased even relieved that someone had sat next to him. After a couple of minutes of nonsensical conversation he starts digging deep into his jacket. He pulls out a police evidence bag with a wad of paperwork and says "can you make sense of this...?"

I have a quick look and see that Adrian is out on bail. Adrian has been involved in a violent assault in Yorkshire where this 'homeless guy' has a home. The bail conditions ban him from even going anywhere near where he lives, not that he would want to because people don't understand him and give him grief. So here he is homeless in London with a house in Yorkshire so he is stuffed!

Is it his fault that he plays his music excessively loud to try and drown out the torment in his head? Is it his fault that he has no awareness of what other people are feeling and that he has no idea that his behaviour is disturbing? Is it his fault that any rational conversation is impossible? Is it his fault that people get frustrated with him and shout at him? Is it his fault that all that is left open to him is to shout and flail his arms back? Is it his fault that he really 'doesn't know'?

I'm trying to work out who does know - because I know I certainly don't. Adrian certainly doesn't. The frustrated and angry neighbour pushed to extremes because of Adrian's eccentric and bewildering behaviour doesn't. The police sergeant who arrested him and processed his bail conditions certainly doesn't. The duty solicitor who sat with him and allowed him to be sent back onto the streets doesn't.

So here we are all not knowing - so we have a level playing field, none of us know! The problem that I have is that some people should know better!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Nouwen, H. (1993). In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership...

A book that challenges you before you have finished with the contents page has got to be special! Drawing from his own experience; the desert tempations of Jesus; the restoration of Peter and the necessary disciplines for future Christian leadership - Henri Nouwen does it again in three short sections and a beautiful epilogue.

From Relevance to Prayer
The Temptation: To Be Relevant
The Question: 'Do you Love Me?'
The Discipline: Contemplative Prayer

From Popularity to Ministry
The Temptation: To be Spectacular
The Question: 'Feed My Sheep'
The Discipline: Confession and Forgiveness

From Leading to Being Led
The Temptation:To be Powerful
The Challenge : Somebody Else Will Take You
The Discipline: Theological Reflection

Friday, September 05, 2008

question of evil (4)

"Horsley takes an interesting angle that needs processing should we wish to avoid a glib response to the question of evil and spiritual warfare."

Richard Horsley writes primarily on the dangers of depoliticising the person and message of Jesus - he contributes to an understanding of the political context within which Jesus' message and ministry is set. It is very hard to do this without addressing the question of evil. Interestingly he looks in particular at the exorcisms and their significance in illustrating that 'God is accomplishing a political as well as a religious or spiritual victory'. (2002:102)

In other words:
The series of episodes in which Jesus exorcises demons and the discussions of the significance of Jesus' exorcisms in the Gospels indicate that precisely in his practice of exorcism God's kingdom is defeating Roman rule. (2002:99)
He illustrates that 'warfare with Satan - was one of the principal ways that Galilean peasants as well as Qumran scribes had of explaining how they could be suffering such subjection and even violent oppression, when supposedly God was the ruler of history. Opposing forces of overwhelming superhuman strength must be responsible.' (2002:101)

This explanation of their situation offered a means, a get out clause which 'enabled Galileans and Judeans to avoid blaming themselves' (2002:107).

Is Horsley trying to down play the more common acceptance of evil in contemporary evangelical Christian thought? I don't think so. It is more a case of there being more to the gospel accounts of exorcism than initially meets the eye. Horsley takes an interesting angle that needs processing should we wish to avoid a glib response to the question of evil and spiritual warfare.

Horsley, R. (2002). Jesus and Empire: The Kingdom of God and the New World Disorder.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

God on Trial...

God on Trial is well worth checking out on BBC iplayer if you missed it last night on BBC2.

The setting is based on the story that prisoners in Auschwitz put God on trial. Their suffering at the hands of the Nazis pushing their faith to breaking point brought forward the charge that God was in breech of contract. God had broken his covenant.

As those selected for the chambers leave the question is heard.

"Now we have found God guilty, what do we do?"


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Mosab Hassan Yousef...

I've got a great Dad! He likes his newspaper and He's keen to make sure I am up to date with those little stories that I could miss. So whenever I visit I come home with a stack of clippings to equip me! That is a long way round to legitimise why I am about to point to a story in the Daily Telegraph!!

There is an interesting story about Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of one of the top guys in Hamas - the Palestinian Islamist group. You can read it here. In short Mosab Hassan Yousef started to question and deconstruct his faith but reconstructed it through what he read in the Bible. The one time successor of leadership of Hamas is now a Christian, having found himself excited at what he read in the Gospels. The answers to the end of violence he found in forgiveness and what he saw as the foundation of Christianity 'love your enemies'.

He is well worth googling.

Monday, September 01, 2008

11 across...

The advantage of Salvation Army uniform is that it draws questions. Kate and I rushed out at lunch time to Sainsbury's to get some food for the house. I went for the bread and was aware of the Sainsbury member of staff bearing down on me.

As our trolleys pass in the bread aisle he fires a broadside! "Salvation Army?"


"Do you mind if I ask you a question?"

I pump myself up. He's an older guy - perhaps wanting to find out more about how faith can impact his life; perhaps searching for something that has been missing in his life; perhaps some deep regret eating away at his sense of peace. I - resplendent in my uniform - am in the right place and the right time for him.

"Sure" I look expectantly.

"Who is the General of The Salvation Army?"

Not the question I was expecting - nevertheless I am able to give him the answer to 11 across in the crossword puzzle he was doing.

He goes away happy! Whistling.