Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lost Voices of Mission ... Ignatius

"OK, I will not go as far as lighting a candle for him, but I wonder if Ignatius' voice in mission has been lost and the principles laid out for mission overlooked by us still protesting! "

Oddly, I'd not really considered Ignatius in terms of mission, Spiritual Formation yes, probably even frequently, but not in terms of mission. That was until reading Mooney's paper on 'Ignatian Spirituality, A Spirituality for Mission'. She makes her point well by pointing to a triad of features of mission that show how strongly orientated mission was to being, spiritually rooted in and fed by God, that it was personally motivated by love of God and all creation, and finally mission inspired by Ignatius was strategically-orientated toward pastoral action.

'In the spirit, from the heart, practically...' underpinned a desire to help others to know God's love and to draw people into the self same mission of sending love. Within this framework Mooney argues that the principles of Igantius are still very much identifiable in contemporary mission.
  • Grace and prayer are prior to all mission
  • The mysterious and large God is also, paradoxically, intimately close, a God who bursts forth in creation, enters into it through the incarnation, and continues the missio dei by acting through the lives of Christians.
  • Ignatian Spirituality is positively world affirming rather than world denying. Mission embraced secular culture as both a manifestation of and vehicle for God's grace.
  • An emblematic feature of Ignatian Spirituality that spilled into mission is that of 'finding God in all things'.
  • Simple but challenging for an excessively kudos driven approach to mission, is that of going where we are needed rather than places we want to need us.
  • People were made agents of their own growth, rather than a patronising project mentality.
  • The more universal the good is, the more is it divine - "Why do we want to love the poor, to help the lonely, to console the sad, to heal the sick and to bring freedom to the oppressed? Simply because this is what God does. Nothing else" (Society of Jesus, the decrees of the general congregation 2008)
As a Northern European not exposed to the rigours of the Counter Reformation, I guess I can look at these principles a little more dispassionately, than those whose heritage has been bruised and broken by the Jesuits chequered history and otherwise questionable techniques of mission. OK, I will not go as far as lighting a candle for him, but I wonder if Ignatius' voice in mission has been lost and the principles laid out for mission overlooked by us still protesting!

Mooney, C. M. (2009). Ignatian Spirituality, A Spirituality for Mission. Mission Studies, 26, 192 - 213.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Dissatisfaction of Faith...

To many, any idea that there may ever be a time of dissatisfaction in faith would be to warrant an anathema. To others there is a reality that in the development or maturing of their faith an individual may have a sense of dissatisfaction that left unacknowledged can be disturbing and ultimately debilitating.

Alan Jamieson looks at this dissatisfaction and suggests that it can include a very strong sense of two or more of the following.
  • Disenchantment: this is the sense of not enjoying activities of faith that have previously been very personally rewarding.
  • Disillusionment: this is the sense that for different reasons they feel let down , sad, perhaps cynical, and often quite destructive in their view of their faith, the faith of others and, maybe, church.
  • Disengagement: this is the sense that they feel they are no longer connected, interested or involved in what is going on in the church, its structures and its direction, or within the church community.
  • Disidentification: this is the sense that they no longer identify with the church, the activities, the worship and the people there and begin to observe as an outsider would.
  • Disorientation: this is the sense that they don’t know where they belong any more. This is often coupled with a sense of having lost their bearings, their anchor, and, perhaps, even their identity.

Jamieson, A. (2008:22). Chrysalis: The Hidden Transformation in the Journey of Faith. Carlisle: Paternoster.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Day With Willard....

Sat in a side room before the conference was about to start someone asked me "Are you nervous about today...?"

"Not really, what's the worst thing that could happen? Apart from calling Dallas, Wallas Dillard!"

A softly spoken voice from the corner joins in "I've been called worse...!"

Willard unpacked his material on knowledge and his disappointment that despite a biblical mandate to know, the church has allowed the world to wrestle knowledge away from the church leaving only faith - a unmitigated disaster.

The bible is a book of knowledge that gives knowledge and offers the best analysis for living. The problem is that people try to deal with human life on a non spiritual basis, with knowledge taken from the church, all that can be offered is a 'leap of faith'. Full knowledge comes from a place of completeness, the antithesis of the brokenness generated from excessive desires that will ruin you (2 Peter 1:2). Willard argued that we live by faith based on knowledge of God, not ignorance, it is this knowledge that represents the answer to living.

"What about Gnosticism?" I asked him over lunch. Of course gnosticism and its duality was all about a secret knowledge to be kept to oneself, biblical knowledge of living is out there in the public square for all, wrapped up in the message of fullness that Christ himself brought.

Certainly plenty to think about, certainly challenged about wanting to offer more than blind faith. Intrigued with the link between eternal life as knowledge within the context of fullness. Disturbed with what he describes as a trivialisation of faith, where faith in Jesus Christ, and of life as his students is repositioned outside the category of knowledge. Liked the idea that we understand ourselves as an outpost of the Kingdom of God.

For a moment it was just me with him as he carefully ate his crisps. I expressed a frustration, "Sometimes this all makes sense then as soon as it does and I try to articulate it, it's gone"

"Well Gordon, get used to it, it still happens like that for me, I've just learned to enjoy looking for for next piece of the puzzle..!"

Friday, May 21, 2010

What a couple of days...

So yesterday it was sitting listening to the brilliance of J├╝rgen Moltmann, Miroslav Volf, David Ford, Luke Bretherton and Rowan Williams, tomorrow we have a day with Dallas Willard. Weeks like this don't come along very often.

I think I need a bit of a challenge from Dallas tomorrow spiritual formation wise, I need help to recover from the squeaky upperclassness of HTB and the rediscovery of a chip on my shoulder.

There are not many churches in the world where in the same day you hear the word 'discombobulated' and an opening gambit where one speaker at HTB asked for a show of hands up if you were educated at Cambridge!!! On top of that it was interesting queuing for the toilet when the women walked past us with a smirk.

Friday, May 14, 2010

journey through darkness... 2/2

Here is the continuation of Jamieson's list of chaarcteristics of what he calls the journey through darkness.

• It is a journey from trusting in, and being strengthened by, external authorities (e.g. church leaders, the Bible, etc.) into an internally based authority that is willing to be responsible for one's own faith, beliefs and life decisions and on to a growing acceptance and integration of both internal and external voices.

• It is a journey from an effortful faith to a doubtful faith and on to a restful and thoughtful faith.

• It is the journey from a faith like Martha's, which is troubled by many things and worried about all that has to be done, into a faith like Mary's, which is able to choose the one thing that is necessary, and on still further into a faith that expresses both Mary's heart and Martha's hands.

• It is a journey from a faith that needs mentors, leaders and disciplers to lean on, into a faith that is encouraged by those who sponsor and support the individual's own exploration and on into a faith that draws on others as co-discerners in the will and leading of God.

• It is a journey of faith from external truth, towards a growing trust in self-truth and on to an embracing of communal truth, symbolic truth and paradoxical truth. 96-97

Jamieson, A. (2008:96 ff). Chrysalis: The Hidden Transformation in the Journey of Faith. Carlisle: Paternoster.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

journey through darkness... 1/2

It was good to have Andrew Grinnell to guide us through Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross this morning. Interesting to get a sense of the groups intreprtation of the dark night of the soul and it's application. I found myself revisiting Jamieson's Chrysalis and found what he acknowleges as an oversimplification in his description of what he calls a journey through darkness. He describes ten characteristics of the journey.

Here are the first five...


• It is the journey from faith understood in black and white, right and wrong, true and false dichotomies into the hyper-critical focus on the greys of life and faith. In this hyper-critical phase the black and whites are rejected in favour of a celebration of the greys of theology, morality and ethics. The move beyond hyper-critical faith to a post-critical faith involves the embracing of the black and whites and the greys with equal respect.

• It is a journey from dependence into a hyper-independence that shuns the influence of others, towards a growing interdependence that can be characterized by humility, vulnerability and deep connection.

• It is a journey from uncritical and tacit acceptance of answers into a mindset full of doubt, questions and critiques and on to an embracing of mystery, of paradox and a childlike delight and wonder.

• It is a journey from doing (being God's servant), into personal failure and acceptance of incapacity and on to a deep sense of God's delight and acceptance of who we are as God's friends. We are people who can simply be.

• It is a journey from living a role or roles into a period of self-identity formation and on to a new giving of self for others.

Jamieson, A. (2008: 96ff). Chrysalis: The Hidden Transformation in the Journey of Faith. Carlisle: Paternoster.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Hung Parliament Drama...

Here's what I don't understand.

Three parties put together well thought through policies on which they hope to build their government. Insufficient seats for a majority leads to two of those parties to negotiate what they once felt were non-negotiable, now together they look for areas of compromise for the national interest.

I am trying to get my head around what this says about what was expressed in their manifestos in the first place, which were surely written in the national interest - weren't they? Perhaps compromise is compromise is compromise. Perhaps national interest is a convenient deconstructable concept. Much can be learned from Jeremy Thorpe and his refusal to sell out - time will tell!

Season 2010....

A double over Manchester Utd, Arsenal and Liverpool, record 103 goals in a season; Drogba hatrick; Drogba Golden Boot; record league result (8-0).

A long drive back from South Wales was made all the better for Chelsea winning the premiership.

Thanks has to go to Alan Hansen for saying Chelsea lacked desire!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Prime minister puts in extraordinary performance...

Sorry still can't get this out of my head.

"Critics of the prime minister described it as one of the best speeches they have seen by a politician..."

Great to be there and to hear it. Still struggle with how Murdoch has gagged the media.

More here Guardian.co.uk.

Thanks Roz!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Gordon on Fire...

"When Cicero spoke to the crowds in ancient Rome, people turned to each other after hearing the speech and said 'Great speech'. But when Demosthenes spoke to the crowds in ancient Greece and people turned to each other, they said: 'Let's march.' Let's march for justice, dignity and fairness. That's what we have all got to march for, and let's march for it together." Gordon Brown (3rd May 2010)

Best political speech of the election and the press hardly touch it - anyone else voting Rupert Murdoch? :o)

Watch the speech here

Thanks Jonny!

Prize to anyone who spots me! (Of course that might be an empty promise but heh this is the season for it!!)

Monday, May 03, 2010

London Citizens... 3 May

This was more like it.

With three days of campaigning left it was good to see Cameron, Clegg and Brown giving their all on issues that were put before them by London Citizens. In the largest gathering of the General Election at Westminster Hall, Gordon Brown was everything that the others weren't.

While I overheard people about me say between their 'awwws' and 'aaaaahs' how they loved Clegg - Gordon Brown was rough, ugly and loud. While Cameron smooched and wooed, even claiming prematurely premiership 'when I am PM' - Gordon Brown was the prize fighter punching through the naivety and 'fresh air' that had proceeded him.

His message was justice, dignity and equity - we saw his heart and not a PR machine tapping out his message. Nothing airbrushed, trimmed and smooth about this.

Resourcing Mission - Practical Theology for Changing Churches 2/2

One thing that I definitely will take with me from Helen Cameron's book is what it is to look at the Church's capacity or potential to subvert culture.

It seems to me that kingdom values are able to offer an alternative viewpoint by saying it doesn't have to be this way. Looking at the various cultural forms of church Helen gets us to do just this and through doing so brings confidence. However, subversion seems to be a double edged sword, while the church has the capacity to subvert culture it also has the potential to subvert and compromise the gospel. Helen may bring confidence but it is with a warning.

Theological reflection is therefore key. This is why the 'pastoral cycle' can be seen as so important, in order that our response is built upon looking at the what and why things happen in the light of the bible and Christian tradition?

Looking at what we do in this manner can only be good if we are brave enough to face what we see in the mirror.