Friday, February 27, 2009

Confession..

OK - there is a bit of a waste of time that I enjoy.

Soccer manager

It's out now, I've told you, now that feels so much better!!

We're in league 1441 and FC Schalke 04 are currently top of the table and available!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Chelsea in Europe...


It's been a while since I have been to see Chelsea at Stamford Bridge - I'm in the wrong profession!! But a ticket came available for last nights match against Juventus and I treated myself!

It was a relief to see Chelsea hang on! Watching the Chelsea subs warm up made me feel pretty old!

I'm a bit hoarse this morning!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Monday, February 23, 2009

Faith Development c/o Alan Jamieson... [3]

Synthetic-Conventional (The Loyalist)

This is a stage that I find a lot Christians identify with. It is a stage where faith becomes a form of loyalty and is influenced greatly by the self awareness and awareness and others. This means that faith is expressed in personal relationships with the like-minded and that consensus contributes to an important sense of affirmation.
we hunted as a pack, finger pointing at anyone who offered opinion outside corporately held evangelical orthodoxy. 'Dodgy theology' the most damning of all sentences.


This tribal loyalty can lead to too much dependence on thinking like the crowd rather than for oneself, shielding faith from important questions and admissions of diversity.

I look back to Christian Union days at university and remember how we hunted as a pack, finger pointing at anyone who offered opinion outside corporately held evangelical orthodoxy. 'Dodgy theology' the most damning of all sentences. Fear of being on the outside preventing any sense of critique and questioning, questions left unasked. We looked sadly on those who questioned as having lost their faith and prayed for their re-alignment in between praying for those poor Bulgarian Christians locked up in communist prisons!!

Jamieson notes that this is a tribal stage where the shape of faith is significantly shaped by being part of the tribe. Beliefs that are deeply held are not examined critically and are held due to an external authority outside themselves. Identification with their church is key with worship, teaching and prayer a source of enormous idealistic meaning as they contribute to confirmation of self-hood and faith. Dualism is common with clear black and white demarcation used to locate those who are in and those who are out.

Fowler describes those within this stage of faith as being:
"acutely attuned to the expectations and judgements of these significant others and as yet do not have a sure enough grasp of their own identity or faith in their own autonomous judgement to construct and maintain an independent perspective" pp 116
Faith Development c/o Alan Jamieson... [1]
Faith Development c/o Alan Jamieson... [2]

Friday, February 20, 2009

Church as Santuary...

Abbot Christopher Jamison of BBC Monastary fame, was everything I had imagined. He spoke with a quiet and unassuming authority about how and why the church needs to move from being 'locked up' to being 'open as sanctuary' for a society that needs a break. Pointing to the Night Church in Copenhagen he illustrated the power of contemplation within evangelism and without saying that one supersedes the other he illustrated the difference and relationship of 'evangelism as silence' and 'evangelism as amplification'.
The time flew by as we listened to this gracious man invest of himself into us. His point is that church has much to offer in the way of silence, virtue and grace

No video clips, buzz groups, role play, modelling, art - this was simply someone articulating with intelligence and amazing insight a real depth of character and experience. The time flew by as we listened to this gracious man invest of himself into us. His point was that church has much to offer through the way of silence, virtue and grace to a tired self-absorbed society needing to slow down from reaping the dis-benefits of rampant consumerism. The alternative way of sanctuary showing what grace centred humanity can be.

If our churches are to be places of sanctuary he got us to think about how we can create that holy space for those who need to rediscover church as spacious and holy. Where people can escape noise and sound to discover their contemplative need? He got us to think how church could maximise its place in our community as a resource, where people have time to listen to what matters in themselves and in others?

If our churches are to be places of sanctuary he got us to think about how we can develop our understanding of virtue as foundational to our definition of integrity. Not surprisingly for an Benedictine Abbot of Worth Abbey he suggests that our churches need to impact their communities with a redemptive and restoratative framework for human rights based on:
  • Fortitude (firmness of spirit, steadiness of will in doing good)
  • Justice (determination to give everyone their rightful due)
  • Temperance (restraint of inordinate movements of desires)
  • Prudence (the correct knowledge of things to be done or avoided)
If our churches are to be places of sanctuary he got us to think about how we all this needs to be wrapped up in the reality of Grace - Churches need to be authentic grace full sanctuaries. Quoting Augustine - 'if we believe we can make ourselves better we are better than God' - his point was really that all he said had to stem from a realism that recognises we are only who we are by grace.

Utterly convinced that consumer church is not meeting a very real need for sanctuary, Jamison pointed to the many opportunities for re-alignment of people through greater stillness. This he believes has every chance of leading to the embrace of 'good life' which then by grace leads to awareness of God.

If our churches are to be places of sanctuary he got me to think that it stems from a fullness of life that makes us spacious towards others others. For churches to be places of sanctuary perhaps we need to be aware that it starts with and through us.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

give up give out...

Andrew Grinnell and Ian Mayhew are starting up a Lent Blog which will be worth visiting I am sure. It is called give up give out

Here's their welcome:
Throughout lent we are going to be posting a thought, an action and a picture each day. The idea is that we re-imagine the world by capturing something of God's dream for his creation and get involved in making it happen. We want your help as well by sending through snapshots of where you've seen people engaged in extraordinary acts of giving. It could be as simple as giving flowers to a stranger, a random act of kindness for a friend or a symbolic moment where you pass on God's love. Think deep, think hope and think love and then give it out to the world.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

It's been a while...

"It's good to have you back Gordon, you know we've been really worried about you...!"

It's been a while since I have been at Faith House. In fact it has been six weeks since I have been able to get along to what is an important part of my week.

I've missed the characters that have become part of my life over the last 18 months, it felt good to be back, to chat and make tea and 2 sugars. These men haven't been far from my mind, particularly with how cold it has been recently. Images in my mind of some of them caught in the snow.

Seemingly I haven't been far from their minds either. As we were finishing up Dylan gets my attention.

"It's good to have you back Gordon, you know we've been really worried about you...!"

Thursday, February 12, 2009

NT Wright on Hell...

Given that we are constantly told in evangelical circles that hell should be a motivating factor it is always interesting to me that our theology in this regards is a little patchy. I've just come across this on YouTube.

*Sorry I should have explained that there are 14 clips that I clumped together. Scroll along them and you can find the one specifically on hell.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Refreshing Church...

Refreshing Church is a series of lectures hosted by Hinde Street Methodist church. I'm hoping to get along on Tuesday night at 7:30pm to hear Abbot Christopher Jamison speaking on 'Church as Sanctuary'. Abbot Christopher Jamison was featured in the BBC documentary called Monastry and has written a couple of very helpful books.

Jamison, C. (2009). Finding Happiness: Monastic Steps for a Fulfilling Life. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press.

Jamison, C. (2006). Finding Sanctuary: Monastic Steps for Everyday Life. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press.

Directions here.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

My Emerging forehead...

OK - I'm going to admit it. The picture that I have been using for most on-line forums is old! Actually possibly six years old taken on a lovely holiday in France.

The picture has worked hard as it has been used in many different situations ranging from various ski and travel passes; to accompanying bio's. Whenever I have been asked to send a picture I've sent as a default the nice smile with jauntily perched sunglasses.

It is however is a picture of denial. I've known it for probably five years, content to maintain the denial of what has been inevitable - my emerging forehead! My once thickly clad coiffure now shows thinning as the tide goes out. A visit to the hairdressers and the inevitable chat and conversation about what style I am thinking always brings an inward smile as I tell the hairdresser that her job is simple. "All you need to do is ease my head into baldom!"

A comment in Rome last week, "You know you don't look anything like your picture on the Internet?", left me making a mental note to be a bit more honest about my picture - thanks Major Willis Howell (incidentally sporting more hair than I had when I was 18!). Hence the new picture and the confession! Here's what I've learned.

Emergence is inevitable.
Contentment with denial is ridiculous.

Too often the church's rhetoric resembles the iconic comb over!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Homelessness Sunday...

It was good to be reminded that today is Homelessness Sunday today. I was visiting Dartford SA where the Bales are doing a great job.

Before I realised that it was homelessness Sunday, on the train journey I found myself drawn to the design of benches on the railway stations. Two or Three various designs shared the same unique characteristic - sitting OK, lying and sleeping impossible. Pesky Homeless. Armrests, material and angle of the seats cleverly preventing any over night comfort should anyone need it. That'll teach them.

The intentionality of design troubled me - or perhaps I am being over sensitive.