Wikio - Top Blogs - Religion and belief

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Fight for freedom

Support for Anti-Slavery International's Fight for Freedom 1807-2007 campaign has been fantastic so far. Over 40,000 people have now signed the Declaration calling for measures to address slavery past and present.

Please renew efforts, as the end of 2007 approaches, to get the Declaration as widely signed and supported as possible. Hundreds of thousands of ordinary people signed petitions as part of the campaign to abolish the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Today we are building a new mass movement against slavery, so please continue to collect signatures for the Declaration. If you haven't already signed the Declaration you can do so by clicking here.

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Sarah Masen - All Fall Down.

God is the provider

Here is the latest prayer news from Agape Christian Youth:

We greet you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. How are you? We hope you are doing well. Please pass our greetings to all our brothers andsisters in your Church.

Here in Bunia we are doing well but so busy with God's work. Please pray for my work, it seems I am not able to do much the way I like because of not having what we need for the transport and for the seminars. But God is the provider, he will provide.

Our vehicle got accident on the way from Boga. Really some parts of the vehicle have been broken which need money to bring it to the Garage. This is the only one means of the transport for our work. Before Christmas I like to visit four parishes such as Mungwalu, Sota, Gety, Bwakadi (here we like to have another seminar only for ladies, which can include ladies from Gety side, Hema side, and the forest people who have been involved in the tribal conflict), and finally to have a Youth Conference in Bunia town.

Please pray for these programmes. All these programms need transport, need food, etc. Please pray for our plan.

Also in January 2008, I am organising the wedding of our youth who do not have any one to support their weddings. Also some of them are the orphans and others the parents are really poor. They have accepted Jesus as their God. There are 10 couples.

Please pray for these programmes. With thanks, Bisoke.

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World Wide Message Tribe - The Real Thing.

Prayer for Madeleine McCann

This prayer request was received from the Arts Centre Group:

Prayer for Madeleine McCann on Saturday - A Request to the Nation to Pray

This Saturday, 3rd November is the sixth month anniversary of Madeleine McCann’s disappearance. During these six months, one way or another, like it or not, we have all been linked into the tragedy that has happened to the McCann family and I for one can no longer stand back and watch the sickening whirlpool of distress which is destroying them and do nothing about it.

As a Christian living in this country, I believe what will turn this situation around is – ONE MOMENT OF MASSIVE NATIONWIDE PRAYER.

This Saturday the parish church of Rothley will be holding prayer services for Maddy and her family.

NO MATTER WHERE WE ARE OR WHAT WE ARE DOING, WE CAN JOIN THEM!

PLEASE SPARE ONE MOMENT and PRAY FOR THE FOLLOWING:
· that the truth about Madeleine’s disappearance be revealed
· that Madeleine be found.

If you want a prayer to pray then put this up in your house and no matter where you are or what you are doing, PRAY THIS:-

God of the heavens who sees all things and to whom all things are possible, we call upon you this day for Madeleine McCann and her family. And with one heart and one voice we call Madeleine home. We ask you to shine the light on Madeleine McCann and show her whereabouts, to flush out the truth about her disappearance and to see her returned to her family.

The Bible says in Mark 4:22: For there is nothing hidden that cannot be revealed and anything that has been kept secret shall come to light.

We do not know if this little girl is alive or not but we do know where she should be! Amen.

IF THIS NATION PRAYS WITH ONE HEART AND ONE MIND, GOD WILL MOVE!

The fact is none of us knows the truth yet conjecture is informing judgement and opinion.
Whatever you may think the truth is, this simple prayer prayed nationwide will see the truth flushed out. God can even make an earthquake, if that’s what it takes.

When Apollo 13 was attempting to re enter the earth’s atmosphere people of all faiths in every nation of the world prayed for the safe return of these men. It was only much later, after their successful return, that it became known that the chance of them re entering the earth’s atmosphere was three million to one.

SO, TAKE A LITTLE FAITH MIXED WITH COMPASSION AND HOPE and PRAY.

Thank you,
Susanne Scott of London
Chair of Arts Centre Group (Christians working in the Arts professions)

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Sixpence None the Richer - I Can Only Breathe Your Name.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

The fragility of existence

My father is critically ill in hospital following brain surgery and a cardiac arrest. At moments like these your world comes to a halt while all around you the worlds of other people continue at breakneck speed. At moments like these life becomes a matter of whether another person will take another breath or their heart another beat and you become intensely aware of the fragility of the life on which we build such frantic constructs.

I have been deeply moved by the skill, commitment and support of the medical staff treating my father and of the human creativity that has developed the treatments they use. Their meticulous, commited and caring work seems a supreme example of the best that human beings can be and yet, where they are able to do so, they return many of us to selfish and self-destructive lifestyles that impact our planet as well as ourselves. It seems that such lifestyles are only sustainable through a wilful shading of our eyes from reality and that each of us, hard as we find it to deal with, could only benefit from more real encounters with the fragility of existence.

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Athlete - Wires.

The search for God

Screenwriter William Nicholson (the talent that lies behind Cate Blanchett's Elizabeth, Shadowlands, some blockbuster novels and Gladiator) wrote an interesting article in The Times at the weekend describing his approach to his work. He writes that his just-completed trilogy The Noble Warriors was designed from the start to be an ambitious undertaking: "The core plot is nothing less than the search for God, a search that takes place across a landscape of disintegrating civilisations and competing faiths."

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Emmylou Harris & Buddy Miller - Love Hurts.

Speed & spirituality

The first half of the twentieth century saw a remarkable flowering of Catholic culture in Europe. In the visual arts, France, through Maurice Denis, Albert Gleizes, Georges Rouault and others, saw significant revival. In Germany, the artistic school founded at the Beuron monastery had a great influence on ecclesiastical art and gained admirers among the European avant-garde. Even Britain felt its effect through the work of Eric Gill and David Jones.

Italy, however, was one place where this effect would not have been anticipated dominated, as it was, by the anti-clerical art of the Futurists. Yet, as the current exhibition at the Estorick Collection of modern italian art shows, Futurism inspired a flowering of religious painting that constitutes one of the most unexpected episodes in the history of that movement.

Futurism eulogised the beauty of speed and the energies and machines that produced it. Futurists saw themselves as “immersed in the chaos of an old, crumbling era” but “partaking of the vibrations of a new epoch in the process of formation.” They embraced continual progress and viewed Catholic priests as fatally associated with old order hating “the fleeting, the momentary, speed, energy and passion.” Not fertile ground for a flowering of religious art, one would have thought.

Yet Marinetti, the great theorist of Futurism, maintained a significant distinction between Christ and the Catholic Church that led to the explosion of Futurist religious art which appeared in the 1930s. The “precious essence of Christ’s morals,” he argued, “accorded every right, every pardon and every sympathy to the impassioned fervour, to the fickle flame of the heart.”

Marinetti’s ‘Manifesto of Futurist Sacred Art’ appeared in 1931 and further exacerbated the movement’s conflict with the Catholic Church by stating that “only Futurist artists … are able to express clearly … the simultaneous dogmas of the Catholic faith, such as the Holy Trinity, the Immaculate Conception and Christ’s Calvary.” Pope Pius XI responded in a speech of 1932 by saying that ”Our hope, Our ardent wish, Our will can only be … that such art will never be admitted into our churches …” From such strange beginnings comes the collection of religious paintings currently on show at the Estorick Collection and a strange body of work they prove to be.

Marinetti had argued that only Futurists could express the simultaneous dogmas of the Catholic faith because only they had “addressed the complex matter of simultaneity” in their art. Accordingly, a key feature of these works is the bringing together within the same picture frame of key events from the life of Christ. The convoluted titles of many of these works, such as Fillia’s Madonna and Child / Nativity / Nativity-Death-Eternity, indicate clearly the telescoping of events that can be found in these works. This work sets an semi-abstract/cubist Madonna and Child in front of a sky-filled cross in front of a mountain in front of a rock in front of a globe ringed by the outlines of churches as seen through the ages. Marinetti described this work as “an impressive amalgamation of the concrete and the abstract; a synthesis of the long development of Catholicism through the centuries.”

It is, when set alongside other works by Fillia in this exhibition, an example of a set of identikit symbols – saint, cross, globe, mountain, churches – that several Futurists juggle in works that sit uncomfortably between the later cubism of Gleizes and the surrealism of Giorgio de Chirico. Not all Futurist sacred art is, thankfully, of the poster book style and imagery of Fillia however. Giuseppe Preziosi, for example, also used simultaneity in his Annunciation-Nativity-Death but here the subtler harmonies of his colours combine with the interpenetrating planes of his subjects to integrate Christ’s birth and death within the work.

Gerardo Dottori, known as the ‘mystic’ Futurist, made use of similar techniques to create in his Crucifixion of 1928 one of the genuine masterpieces of Futurist sacred art. His crucified Christ is picked out in a heavenly spotlight which also surrounds the two Mary’s grieving at his feet. Light also emanates from the upper half of Christ’s body and outstretched arms illuminating the darkened sky that has thrown the landscape of Calvary into turmoil. Dottori’s stylistic use of light symbolises both Christ’s obedience to God’s will and the light of salvation that his death brings into a world darkened by sin.

Dottori also makes use of a second key theme in Futurist sacred art; that of flight as a symbol of transcendence. His Annunciation in an Aerial Temple sees Mary literally caught up in her spirit by the news that Gabriel brings (an anticipation of her own Assumption, perhaps) and gives us an angelic perspective on the event. Aeropainting was a major strand of Futurist art and this interest in flight became a symbol firstly of physical liberation from the earth and then of spiritual ascent. The Trinity, the Madonna, as well as the expected Angels, all appear winged and in flight within the works collected here.

The most striking of all the flight images collected here is undoubtedly Nino Vatali’s Ascension where Christ ascends on the cross in stop-frame images that build a Jacob’s ladder ascending to the heavens. Whether the imagery of the cross as a ladder from earth to heaven was consciously in Vitali’s mind as he painted or whether he was simply transposing a Futurist technique with a sacred theme, the image and imagery remain powerful.

Only Futurist aeropainters, Marinetti argued, “are able to express in plastic terms the abyssal charm and heavenly transparencies of infinity.” Again, his rhetoric tends to exceed the resulting works but, for all that, this art and this exhibition form a fascinating subject that extend our understanding of the influence of sacred themes and imagery in early twentieth century European art even where artists and the Church were conflicted.

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River City People - Special Way.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Friday's art tour

Last Friday I enjoyed a great day out in London viewing current art exhibitions. Seeing From Outside also had the benefit of taking me to six City churches while viewing an interesting and diverse selection of art by emerging European artists that raised questions of contemporary morality.

I had seen Mark Titchner's work last year in the Turner Prize exhibition and therefore was keen to go to Vilma Gold to see his new exhibition, The Eye Don't See Itself. It didn't disappoint with a mesmerising video projection of an unblinking eye against a phallic obelisk, on an endlessly shifting background based on a Rorschach inkblot commonly believed to represent the father. As Vilma Gold's publicity suggests this is video projection as monument, mirrored in a black reflecting pool, and referring to the Washington Monument.

The Estorick Collection of modern italian art currently has a surprising exhibition; an exhibition of Futurist sacred art. This is surprising because Futurism was vehemently anti-clerical and eulogised speed, energy and the man-made machines that produced them. However, as this exhibition shows there was in the 1930s a flowering of Futurist sacred art that makes this exhibition well worth seeing and which adds considerably to our knowledge of the Catholic cultural renaissance in the early twentieth century even when, as in this case, artists and clerics were conflicted.

Finally, I returned to church. This time to the Sam Taylor-Wood exhibition at the Wallspace Gallery. Wallspace is an exhibition space in All Hallows Church, London Wall, designed to explore the relationships between art and spirituality. Major contemporary artists such as Taylor-Wood and Damien Hirst have been keen to exhibit their work within a sacred space and happy with the association that this causes. Others, interestingly, have been less willing for the same reason. One of the questions I plan to reflect on as a result of Friday's art tour is to consider what it is that happens to art works when they are exhibited in a church rather than a gallery.

My time at Wallspace ended as I caught up with Malcolm Doney, a friend from ordination training, and shared in the end-of-show Eucharist that Malcolm led. Reflecting on Taylor-Wood's three film pieces from the exhibition (Pietà, Ascension, and Prelude in Air) he spoke about 'muscle-memory' (instinctive reactions learned through repeated experience) and compared this to our experience of communion (the repeated participation in Christ's passion and resurrection) which can lead to instinctive Christ-like action that is, in essence for us, a form of ascension or divinization of our humanity.

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John Tavener's Eternal Memory.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Redbridge Council - out of touch with local people

An edited version of the letter I have written below appears in today's Ilford Recorder:

"Recent decisions made by Redbridge Council over the sales of allotments and the Seven Kings car park sale reveal a Council that is out-of-touch with local people and lacking a joined-up vision for the borough.

Unlike other London borough’s our Council’s priorities make no reference at all to involving local people in the borough and the way it is run. Instead, when it comes to making the borough a ‘better place to life together’ their priorities are simply about “developing housing needs” and “improving sporting facilities.” It is a desperately limited vision for the borough that ignores the wider community and cultural engagement and involvement that many other London boroughs value and promote. It should come as no surprise then that this Council has ignored the views of 86% of Seven Kings residents and rejected Lifeline’s car park bid which would have provided much needed community facilities, in addition to homes.

Another Council priority is to make the borough a ‘cleaner, greener place to live’ but again in a limited fashion; only by “improving the street scene and recycling.” Setting themselves such limited goals presumably means that it is okay for them to destroy green spaces by selling allotments and still claim to be making the borough cleaner and greener. Again, that decision has been made in the face of public opinion.

This Council’s past planning decisions have certainly not made Seven Kings High Road a cleaner, greener place to live and simply building 130 new homes without any community facilities to give people living in the area a sense of pride in their locality will not make the area any cleaner, greener or any more safe.

Other London boroughs are working with a broad holistic vision that seeks to engage and involve local people and which joins up priorities to deliver a community infrastructure that supports additional housing; but not Redbridge Council. The national Conservative Party has rediscovered the word ‘community’ and has embraced green issues; but Redbridge Conservative councillors clearly have not. Local people have made it clear that they want community facilities and allotments; but Redbridge’s Cabinet do not.

Does the fact that they are so far out of step nationally, regionally and locally not give them cause for concern or are they proud of their obdurancy? I am told that the reasons for the Seven Kings car park decision are not in the public domain. What is this Cabinet afraid of? Democracy? The opportunity is still there for them to listen to local people on these decisions but do they have the courage or the concern?"

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The La's - Feeling.

Love Music Hate Racism CD

Love Music Hate Racism has launched their biggest initiative to date - a 29-track double CD compilation featuring some of the country's biggest acts. Disc One of the CD appeared on the front of last weeks NME music magazine. Disc Two can be downloaded for free. LMHR & NME - with the support of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) - have also produced half a million empty CD sleeves to be distributed in schools, colleges, workplaces and gig venues across the UK over the next three months. The sleeves will enable people to burn their own copies of the double CD by downloading all the tracks for free from a specially-designed NME/LMHR website http://www.2marketing.co.uk/inc/rdr.asp?a=72734c372784c32 - along with anti-fascist leaflets and posters, artist video interviews live footage from LMHR gigs and much more.

The CD idea came about following the fascist British National Party (BNP) attempts to recruit school students with their racist poison and amid reports from Channel 4 among others of a significant rise in racist attacks and abuse inside schools. The CD has huge potential in taking the LMHR message to a huge audience, getting many new people involved in the campaign to stop the fascist BNP from dividing our communities and schools ahead of next year's local council and London Assembly elections - but only with YOUR help.

Schools, colleges, universities and workplaces are urged to order bulk copies of the CD sleeves. You can order any quantity of CD sleeves (minimum 68 - the amount in one box!) by emailing us: info@lovemusichateracism.com. Please put 'CD sleeves' somewhere in the subject line! The sleeves are free to student unions, courtesy of the NUS, but schools and trade union branches are asked for a voluntary contribution of 10p per sleeve ordered to cover postage and admin costs.

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The Ruts - Babylon is burning.

Salaam Bethlehem

Riding Lights Theatre Company are touring during Oct/Nov/Dec with their new play, Salaam Bethlehem:

"Riding Lights Theatre Company met members of the Palestinian Christian community in 2006 and their message was clear; ‘Pray for us, visit us, tell our story’. Salaam Bethlehem is a response to that simple request from the heart of Bethlehem. Forty years on from the occupation of Palestine and within a stone’s throw of where a manger held the greatest divine intervention of all time, people are praying and working for another miracle".

One of the dates on their tour is All Saints Woodford Wells, on Wed 12th December.

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Sweet Honey in the Rock - promotional compilation.

Laden with significance

One of the greast lessons of the work of R. B. Kitaj, as his Times obituary says, "was that the accumulated layers of association embedded in a specific image could themselves convey meaning." It is easy to dismiss what he did as "cut-and-paste" postmodernism but, as the range and resonance of his references and allusions demonstrate, he painted in a contemporary tradition that, by bringing micro-images and narratives together, revealed connections which then suggest wider macro-images and narratives.

Jacques Maritain suggested, in The Philosophy of Art, that such multiple signification is what creates joy or delight in a work of art as “the more the work of art is laden with significance … the vaster and the richer and the higher will be the possibility of joy and beauty”. The work of Kitaj is an example of just this contention.

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Chagall Guevara - Violent Blue.

LT gets the message - or gives it unconsciously !!!

From Peter Challen:

"How London Transport stumbled (1) on the MiLE (2) message that the territory we traverse in this vast city is all Holy Ground!

PRAYER FOR OUR CITY (3)

Our Father who is in Hendon,
Harrow be your name.
Your Kingston come,
Your Wimbledon,
In Erith as it is in Berkhamsted.
Give us this day Canary Wharf
And forgive us Westminster,
As we forgive those
Who Wandsworth against us.
Lead us not into the Temple
But deliver us from East Dulwich
For thine is the Kingsbury,
The Poplar and Greenwich,
For Iver and Iver,
Crouch End.

(1) the new TV advert on Euston U/G station, as I recall it.
(2) MiLE is Mission in London's Economy
(3) Messenger's title not LT's."

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Sounds of Blackness - Optimistic.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Gospel & culture

Lesslie Newbigin set out what an effective missionary approach to Western culture by the church could involve. He argued that Western culture developed as the result of a “collective conversion” from the Greek/Medieval framework of thought that explained nature in terms of purpose to a framework of thought that viewed nature as governed by natural laws of cause and effect. As the new framework did not need to invoke purpose or design as an explanation (to have discovered a cause is sufficient to provide an explanation) there was essentially no place in this framework for miracles, divine intervention or even God at all.

The new framework worked by observation of phenomena and induction from the results of observation. Science used tools of analysis to dissect, separate and observe each of the elements that construct any phenomena. Analysis was then followed by reconstruction. Mathematics provided the tools whereby all reality can be quantified and arranged into relatively comprehensible structures. It was thought that by these analytical and mathematical powers humans could attain to a complete understanding and mastery of nature or reality in all its forms. Human beings therefore believed they had the right, as well as the potential, to exercise reason in the search for reality. This tendency led to the formulation of the “rights of man”. Rights can only exist where there are legal and social structures that define them and such definition led to the creation of nation-states. The individual nature of these rights, however, enabled each person to pursue and define their rights as s/he wished. Finally, this combination of ideas led to the doctrine of progress - a developing understanding and mastery of nature through human reason leading to the development of life, liberty, property and happiness for all.

Newbigin argues that this is the culture in which, in the West, a missionary encounter with the gospel needs to take place. We need to consider how the church can engage in this encounter and what the nature of the encounter should be.

In order to understand how the church can be engaged we need an understanding of the relationship between the Church (the Christian community) and the Bible. The Bible is the book of community, and neither the book or the community are properly understood except in their reciprocal relationship with each other. It is this relationship that is the clue to the meaning of both the book and the community. The Bible functions as authority only within a community that is committed to faith and obedience and which is embodying that commitment in an active discipleship embracing the whole of life, public and private.

The Bible is the body of literature which renders accessible to us the character, action and purpose of God. Taken as a whole, the Bible fitly renders God but this can only be understood as we are in engaged in the same struggle that we see in scripture. This is the struggle to understand and deal with the events of our time in the faith that God creates purpose, sustains all that is and will bring all to its proper end. The Bible comes to us in its “canonical shape”, as the result of many centuries of interpretation and re-interpretation, editing and re-editing, with a unity that depends on two primary centres - the rescue of Israel from Egypt and the events concerning Jesus - events, happening in the contigent world of history, which are interpreted as disclosures, in a unique sense, of the presence and action of God. However, the interpretation has to be re-interpreted over and over again in terms of another generation and another culture. The original interpretative language becomes a text which in turn needs interpretation. Yet the text cannot be eliminated. The events are not mere symbols of an underlying reality which could be grasped apart from them. What is presented in the bible is testimony.

Conversion is required because Western culture is outside of the believing community where the authority of the bible is accepted. Here a paradigm shift is required whereby the current framework of thought of the culture can be radically understood from the viewpoint of the new (in this case Christian) framework of thought but which cannot be arrived at from any process of thinking within the current framework.

The nature of the missionary encounter will include testimony and questioning in five areas:
  • Understanding what it means to be a human person: The Enlightenment saw the human person as an autonomous centre of knowing and judging. The biblical vision is not one of equality but mutuality - “one-anotherness”.
  • The goal of human life: Our culture has generally accepted as self evident that the “pursuit of happiness” is the proper goal of any person. Happiness, in the biblical vision, is a gift of God, not a human achievement.
  • The capabilities and rights of Governments: Governments have come to be seen as the source from which all blessings flow and, because none can deliver what is expected, cynicism follows. The biblical vision is one of human life in terms of mutual responsibilities rather than of equal rights, and of happiness not as a right but as a gift.
  • Our vision of the future: The Enlightenment gave birth to the hope of an earthly utopia achieved by the liberal vision of gradual progress. The biblical vision is of the future controlled by the events of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The vision is of deepening conflict, of the destruction of what seemed stable, and of a final victory beyond the darkness. The hope is for the accomplishment of God’s whole purpose in nature and history.
  • Assumptions about what is involved in knowing: We have been tempted to believe, because of the awe-inspiring scientific achievements of the past two hundred years, that the methods of science are the sufficient key to knowledge in all its fullness. The biblical vision places at the centre a relationship of trust in a personal reality much greater than ourselves.

The twin dogmas of Incarnation and the Trinity form the starting point for a way of understanding reality as a whole, a way that leads out into a wider, more inclusive rationality than the real but limited rationality of the reductionist views that try to explain the whole of reality in terms of the natural sciences. A wider rationality that in no way negates but acknowledges and includes these other kinds of explanations as proper and necessary at their respective levels.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Quotable quotes

"Religion is the poetry of the people." Emmylou Harris on Ten Commandments of Country, BBC4.

"Art and religion are all that prevent us from degenerating into materialistic bacteria ..." David Chater, The Knowledge, October 20 - 26, 2007.

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John Rutter's For The Beauty Of The Earth.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Children in conflict

The renowned war artist John Keane has been commissioned by Christian Aid to produce a series of 11 new paintings for a new exhibition called Children in Conflict, which is due to at Wolverhampton Art Gallery on 24 November 2007.

Keane travelled to Angola, southern Africa with the churches' international development agency to visit post conflict projects funded by the charity and see for himself the issues faced by millions of young people living in this war torn country. For more information click here.

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Check out Philip Bailey's Walking on the Chinese Wall.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Take Five

Take Five: five little ways to make a big difference. Take Five is a monthly challenge from Micah Challenge. Each month they’ll challenge you to act, pray, read, send an invite or share a story on a topic taken from one of the eight Millennium Development Goals. It’s short enough to do during your lunchtime but powerful enough that together we can make a real difference.

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Check out Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher singing That's Entertainment.

Zimbabwe emergency appeal

From Tear Fund's monthly e-newsletter:

Four million people in Zimbabwe – a third of the population – risk starvation in the next few months. Years of bad governance and poor harvests have led to widespread food shortages. With elderly people, widows and children particularly vulnerable, help is urgently needed.
Tearfund has been working at grass-roots level with local churches in Zimbabwe for 27 years, so you can be sure your help gets straight to those most in need.

With so many lives at risk, please give whatever you can and pray today.

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Check out Sufjan Stevens' For The Widows In Paradise, For The Fatherless In Ypsilanti.

Engaging with faith communities

I spoke to the West Barnet Deanery Synod last night about Engaging with Faith Communities, the resource pack that is being made available to parishes by the Contextual Theology Centre.

In my talk I suggested that the presence of significant other Faith communities is now one of the major contexts in the ministry of the Church. Of the 12,226 parishes in England, more than half include a population that identifies themselves as being of another faith. In 228 parishes the ‘other faiths’ population is between 25% & 50%, in 62 parishes the ‘other faiths’ population is over 50%. As the Presence and Engagement report, from which these figures are taken, says "the wider world of other Faiths has arrived on our doorstep and Muslims, Sikhs and Hindu people are now parishioners with the happy consequence that the universal is now more than ever encompassed within the local parish."

For many of us coming to terms with such a changed landscape is a major task that requires every ounce of our faith and commitment and many of us don’t feel well-equipped or resourced for the task. Again, as Presence and Engagement says "the scarcity of long term experience in such contexts and the absence of tested models other than the standard parochial model, makes it all the more difficult to move on." Church leaders and congregations need resources that fit this changed landscape and it is this need that the Contextual Theology Centre’s pack is seeking to meet.

From the feedback we have received on its use that aim would seem to be being achieved:
  • "I wanted to say 'thank you' for today. It has given me much to think about." Revd Roy Dorey, Heythrop College
  • "I just read your "Engaging with Faith Communities". I am amazed at all the work that you put into it. It is so powerful." Beatrice Buchanan, St Margaret’s Barking
  • "The most helpful Study Day I have attended on inter Faith issues." Revd Colin Marchant, Newham Baptist minister, evaluating a study day based on the Pack
The resource pack can be downloaded free of charge by clicking here.

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Check out Steve Arrington's Feel So Real.

Monday, 15 October 2007

Groans, grief and glimpses of glory

The following is an extract from yesterday's Bereavement Service at St John's:

My younger brother, Nick Evens, died on 11th November 1999 in a plane crash in Kosovo. He was on a UN commissioned plane taking relief workers into Kosovo to work on reconstructing the country following the conflict there. Nick was part of Tear Fund’s Disaster Response Team. He had been in Kosovo working with Kosovan villagers to rebuild homes, had returned home for a short break, and was returning to continue work on the rebuilding programme.

The plane went off course as it neared Pristina Airport and crashed in nearby mountains. I remember taking a phone call from my parents who had been notified that contact had been lost with the plane and feeling absolutely unable to accept or comprehend the news. This was something that simply could not be happening.

My father and I were flown to Rome by Tear Fund to wait for news together with the families of the other 23 people who died in the crash. After a few days we were flown to Kosovo to see the crash site for ourselves. On arrival at Pristina Airport we were loaded into helicopters and flown the short distance into the mountains and over the site of the wreckage. This was the worst moment for each one of us. As we saw the small pieces of the plane strewn over the mountainside we knew exactly what had happened to our loved ones and were faced full-on with the reality of their death.

When we returned to Pristina Airport, some refreshments had been organised for us in a tent and members of the Tear Fund who had worked with Nick had travelled to the Airport to be with us. We sat and listened as they told us about the effect that Nick had had on the Kosovan people with whom he had worked and also on other members of the team as they had valued his friendship, support and advice. As they talked, the tears flowed; theirs and ours and, I believe, God’s as he was with us at the time enabling us to express our grief. But, as they talked, I also had a growing sense that Nick had gone into God’s presence and had been welcomed with the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” In that moment I glimpsed something of the glory into which Nick had entered and that glimpse continues to sustain and strengthen me in my loss.
Over subsequent days, I heard many more stories of the way in which Nick’s life had influenced others and over the years since I had seen the way in which the inspiration he provided has led others to continue the work that he began. Young people whose lives were turned around through the youth project that Nick worked for have continued his youth work and his charitable work in Uganda while Nick’s involvement with Tear Fund inspired another member of our family to join their Disaster Response Team. In these ways, the stories about Nick that begun to be told at Pristina Airport have continued to be told and in the telling my sense that Nick has been welcomed into glory has grown.

My experience of grief suggests that it is as we cry out in our grief that God meets with us. He is alongside us through his Spirit and will speak for us in groans that words cannot express. We should not be afraid of tears, of memories, of stories, they are an expression of the love we feel. But as we share our grief together we may catch a glimpse of the glory that waits to be revealed to us and into which our loved ones have entered and that glimpse can sustain us as we re-enter our everyday lives.
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Check out Delirious?'s Sanctify.

All Together Now



This questionnaire comes from the resources for One World Week and is my post for Blog Action Day. This Sunday, at 6.30pm, St John's will host the annual One World Week service for the Seven Kings Fellowship of Churches.

ALL TOGETHER NOW ACTIVITY: Measure your footprint
From children through to business and government, every one of us has an impact on the world.
This impact is called a 'footprint'. The lifestyle choices we all make affect the quality of our
environment. The more resources we use and waste, the larger our footprint. A smaller footprint can make life better for everyone, everywhere. Find out how big your Footprint really is by answering the following questions:
Home
Number of people I live with
a) more than 4 people
b) 1 - 4 people
c) by myself
House size
I live in a:
a) flat
b) semi-detached house
c) detached house
Energy source
My electricity comes from:
a) 'green' electricity or renewable sources
b) some renewable energy
c) all non-renewable sources (oil, gas)
Energy efficiency
My home is:
a) well insulated, double glazed and fitted
with energy saving devices
b) moderately insulated and part double
glazed
c) not insulated and not double glazed
Food
Type of diet
I eat meat or fish:
a) never (vegan or vegetarian)
b) 3-4 times a week
c) at least once a day
Food
I eat processed food:
a) never
b) sometimes
c) mainly
Food waste
On a weekly basis I:
a) compost all of my kitchen waste
b) compost some of my kitchen waste
c) Don't compost kitchen waste
Travel
Main travel mode
I travel mainly by:
a) foot/bicycle
b) public transport
c) car
Air travel
I fly, each year on average:
a) 0 hours
b) 1-10 hours
c) 10 hours +
Distance travelled
I travel each week approximately:
a) 0-50 miles
b) 50-150 miles
c) 150 miles +
Goods, services & waste
Earnings
I earn:
a) less than £20,000 per year
b) £20-40,000 per year
c) more than £40,000 per year
Household waste
I produce on average each week:
a) about 1 bin bag
b) about 2 bin bags
c) about 3 bin bags
Recycling
Each week I:
a) recycle all of my waste(glass, paper,
plastics, metal)
b) recycle some of my waste
c) recycle none of my waste

How big is your footprint? Count up your answers:
a) _____
b) _____
c) _____
Mostly a... Congratulations, as an individual, you are already doing your bit. To achieve a one planet lifestyle, government and business also now need to play their part.
Mostly b... If everyone lived like you we would need around three planets to sustain ourselves.
Mostly c... If everyone lived like you we would need around four or more planets to sustain ourselves
(Reproduced with permission from WWF Scotland)

Small changes you can make NOW. All together they make a BIG difference:
· change your light bulbs to low energy ones
· put on a jumper and turn the thermostat down by 1 degree
· turn off the light when you go out of a room
· turn all appliances off at the wall after use
· only boil enough water for your drink - don't fill the kettle right up
· turn off your mobile phone charger as soon as the phone is charged up
· reduce your water usage: turn off the tap when you clean your teeth; always fill the washing machine; wash the veg in a bowl of water, not under a running tap; take a shower (not a power shower, though!) rather than a bath;
· walk whenever you can (which might be more often than you have been doing!)
· find out when your buses run locally
· find out when your local farmers' market is and buy your local produce there, or discover where your nearest farm shops are - buy local!
For more ideas for individuals and families, try:
Living Lightly - a project of A Rocha UK. (site particularly aimed at Christians)
Friends of the Earth - (general application)
Or go to the: Useful LINKS section in OWW.Resources.

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Check Martyn Joseph's How Did We End Up Here?

Friday, 12 October 2007

Choice in language

One of the interesting insights from Margaret Barker's talk yesterday was that many words in Hebrew have a similar sound to their exact opposite thereby continually confronting the listener through language with the choice between construction and destruction, unity and disunity that we all face all the time.

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Check out Galactic Cowboy's Evil Twin.

Temple Theology

I spent a fascinating day yesterday at our Area Study Day listening to Margaret Barker speak about Temple Theology. Temple theology traces the roots of Christian theology back into the first Temple, destroyed by the cultural revolution in the time of King Josiah at the end of the seventh century BCE.

This sounds very academic and of interest only to historians but Margaret unpacked the significance to demonstrate its significance in providing a framework or paradigm for a characteristically Christian creation theology, emphasising the bonds of creation broken by human sin and advocating the stewardship of knowledge. This is because the temple represented creation, and everything connected with it expressed and symbolised how those worship the Lord should live in the world he created.

Her involvement with Christian environment theology is also not purely academic having been, since 1997, part of the symposium Religion, Science and the Environment, convened by His All Holiness Bartholomew I, the Ecumenical Patriarch. This work has led her to develop the practical implications of temple theology as the basis for a Christian environment theology.

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Check out Zbigniew Preisner's Funeral Music.

The Mission of God

Get a rare glimpse into the artist's studio as you watch a large-scale painting take shape before your eyes. Renowned Chinese artist He Qi, currently artist-in-residence at CMS in Oxford, has granted privileged access to his creative process. You can see the development of his new painting, The Mission of God, (specially commissioned for the foyer of the CMS mission centre in Oxford) by clicking here.

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Check out Evanescence's Bring Me To Life.

Let us rebuild our beautiful country

Judy Acheson, the Provincial Youth Officer for the Anglican Church in the Congo and St John's CMS Mission Partner, writes:

"Many within the Ministry of Education are very impressed with our new youth book, 'Young people with God, let us rebuild our beautiful country' and arranged a workshop to validate it and see how to use it throughout the country. This book is opening doors in amazing ways. The three of us who wrote the book, plus Bisoke who will eventually replace me and Rev Willy from our Centre in Mahagi are going to Kinshasa for this workshop on 15th-19th Oct . Please pray God will guide our planning."

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Check out Good Charlotte's We Believe.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Viewing my paintings

A selection of my paintings can now be viewed and purchased through the Veritasse website. Click here for a link to the page containing my images.

The aim of Veritasse is to glorify God through the arts and serve Him with the talents He has given. Veritasse are committed to:

  • Encouraging and supporting Christian artists and organisations, establishing links and forging friendships.
  • Promoting Christian arts at conferences, exhibitions, festivals and events, initially in the Christian field but also moving into the secular.
  • Playing an active role in spreading information about Christian arts, enabling artists to speak out God's message to their communities and the wider world.
  • Supporting suffering communities in India through their charity work.

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Check out Aretha Franklin singing Never Grow Old.

A special invitation


Following the huge blessings of the Global Day of Prayer 2007 at West Ham United FC, we are now moving forward into 2008. and continuing the vision to connect the Church across London and the Nations, to pray and reclaim Pentecost.

In 2008 the vision is to bring the Church together and invite upto 30,000 Christians from across all the denominations, traditions, streams and networks, to Millwall Stadium South London to pray:

“Your kingdom Come, Your will be done
on Earth as in Heaven”

ALL Church Leaders from across London are invited to a special Global Day of Prayer 2008 Leaders Reception on Tuesday 30th October, 6.30pm@ Millwall Conference & Banqueting Centre, Millwall Stadium, Zampa Road , London , SE16

The vision of Millwall Stadium, the journey to Wembley and how churches and organisations can be involved will be shared. Light food and refreshments will be available. RSVP to enquiries@gdoplondon.com.

Bishop David Hawkins, Chair of GDOP London
Jonathon Oloyede, Visionary of GDOP London
Phil Stokes, Chair of Southwark for Jesus

Visual Dialogue - Ilford Recorder article 2


Tuesday, 9 October 2007

In it for the duration

Faith-based projects rooted in the community frequently demonstrate a long-term commitment to the local neighbourhood, working to improve the quality of life. According to the Cornwall Voice group, because of this many projects struggle with the contrasting short-term approach and ‘quick fix’ emphasis used by funders and commissioning organisations.

Highlighting a perceived rhetoric around community consultation, one participant suggested this was a vital part of their faith-based heritage. “The Church is in it for the duration. People ask, ‘do we do consultations?’ I say ‘this is our 17th consultation we’ve initiated. We’ve been around for 800 years. We’re in it for good…”

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Check out Jan Gabarek's Molde Canticle.

Chaplaincy crisis

The chaplaincy crisis in the National Health Service needs urgent ministerial attention, following new research revealed swinging cuts to the service throughout England, says a trade union group representing multi-faith chaplains.

The call from Unite/The College of Health Care Chaplains (CHCC) comes as research by the think tank Theos, which is backed by the Bible Society and major church leaders, released on 7 October, showed big cuts in chaplaincy provision in nearly 25% of NHS trusts in England.

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Check out Inner City's Pennies From Heaven.

Monday, 8 October 2007

Living with Jesus

The Holiday Club at St John's features in the current edition of The Month. You can find the report on page 12.

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Check out Neil Young's Let's Impeach The President.

Faith In Action

My good friend Paul Trathen compiles a ready-reminder and digest of events, news, publications and other resources to equip Christians in south and east Essex to better engage with our shared Gospel tasks of tending to a broken and unjust world, transforming society and culture, and treasuring God's gifted creation. Click here to find the latest edition of his Faith In Action Gazette.

The Gazette includes dates for Christians in the Workplace seminars in November, as well as sessions on Engaging with Faith Communities.

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Check out Lift To Experience's These Are The Days.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

The value of pointlessness

Interesting interview with Armando Ianucci in today's Sunday Times. In the article he says:

“I do feel spiritually dislocated from this life. But I simply can’t agree with the Dawkins thing and all his arguments that religion is basically irrational. So what? Isn’t a lot of what we do irrational? We’re all so interested in design and music, but really that’s just all patterns and different sets of noises. And then there’s football. It’s purposeless. Just a bunch of men running around being watched by thousands of other men. It says a lot about the value of pointlessness that all these things are quite good.”

“Spirituality is a fundamental human thing, as much as imagination or conscience. It just does not go away, this sense of need. It gets moved around into different shapes. There will always be manifestations of religion. People need to feel that they are watched or maybe judged and they have a need to find other people who think and fear the same things. It’s about seeking meaning; people still do things like go to church services or confession, but increasingly people go to the gym or see therapists or go on Facebook.”

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Check out Curtis Mayfield's We Gotta Have Peace.

Sharing thoughts on Lewis

My US friend, Ron Ratliff, has sent a link to article by Douglas Gresham on C.S. Lewis. Ron says: "This is a wonderful column by Douglas Gresham commenting on the play Shadowlands which is reopening in London. His comments about his stepfather, C.S. Lewis are wonderful. Thought I'd share them with you."

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Check out Bruce Cockburn's Lovers In A Dangerous Time.

The eagle's perspective

Today has been our Patronal Festival at St John's and we have been reflecting on the significance of St John Apostle and Evangelist. Richard Burridge, in his important book Four Gospels, One Jesus?, tells us that: “The ninth-century writer John Scotus Eriugena’s ‘Homily on the Prologue to the Gospel of St John’ is usually known as ‘The Voice of the Eagle’ from its opening words. He uses the eagle to represent the evangelist, ‘the spiritual bird, fast-flying, God-seeing’ ascending higher even than St Paul’s vision of the third heaven as he sought to reveal the mystery of the Trinity and the Incarnation in his Prologue (Voice, 4-5).”

In his Gospel John gives us the high-flying far-seeing perspective of the eagle when he writes about Jesus. Burridge says that, “in the other gospels, Jesus’ story takes place in the horizontal dimensions of the geography and history of Israel; John brings in the vertical – Jesus is above and beyond all that. His place is ‘with God’, his time is before the beginning of everything.” For John, “it is not enough to explain Jesus in human origins of time or place or ancestry, since he exists before all time: in the beginning he was with God, and he is God (1.1).”

John’s “story of Jesus joins creation and re-creation together: Jesus is nothing less than God, and has come from being with God in the beginning.” This is the perspective of the eagle. Looking down from the heights, the eagle sees the big picture. John, in writing his Gospel, sees the big picture about Jesus. He sees, not just what Jesus did, but also the significance of what he did. He sees, not just who Jesus was, but the significance of who Jesus was and this is what he writes so that we can know the truth about Jesus.

Often in our lives all we see is what is happening to us at the time. We find it hard to stand back and look at life from a broader perspective. As a result, we sometimes find it hard to know where God is in our lives and troubles. The Bible thought continually calls us to consider the bigger picture, to think about eternity, to remember that God works his purposes out through human history not just through our lives.

Reading John’s Gospel can help us get that bigger picture, that broader, wider perspective on life that is the perspective of the eagle. When we do, we can come to believe that God is in control and that we can trust our lives to him. John first learnt that trust at the side of Jesus, leaning close to him at the last supper. In his Gospel he shows us why we too can trust Jesus by unveiling the bigger picture of God at work in our world to save and restore us.

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Check out Bob Dylan's Ring Them Bells.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

'Visual Dialogue' - exhibition




Over 40 people attended the opening night reception for Visual Dialogue and several works were sold. A similar number viewed the exhibition as part of the Coffee morning held at St John's today with more coming over the remainder of the Patronal Festival events and services. Those attending said:
  • Stunning ideas.
  • Well done!!
  • Great!!
  • Very interesting - different.
  • Seeing work has helped me to see another side of you, Rodney!
  • Powerful images, very thought provoking.
  • Glad to see such a different event at St John's. Excellent. Thank you.
  • More! More! More!
  • Amazing and evocative.
  • Excellent display.
  • Brilliant.
  • Excellent work.

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Check out John Prine and Iris DeMent singing In Spite of Ourselves.

Public Art event - Day 5



Day 5 comments:


  • Wonderful job
  • It's good - it 'drawers' you in
  • It reminds me of the "Glory" drawer and those things we mean to put in the right place but haven't got around to it. A bit like life - but the centre of our life is centred here ... thank God.
  • It reminds me of the painter Leonardo Da Vinci. It's brilliant.
  • This is a good way to show the talents with which we have been blessed! We can give glory in various ways to touch others lives and keep us thinking.

Day 5 activities:

Day 5 was primarily spent preparing for the opening of Visual Dialogue; hanging the remaining paintings and preparing the list of works. A photographer from the Ilford Recorder photographed the exhibition and the cabinet for a piece in next week's paper. The opening night reception began at 7.30pm and was attended by 40+ people, some of whom left the comments above. During the reception people also viewed a slideshow of photos documenting progress on the cabinet together with all the comments collected. The cabinet has been named as The Cabinet of Sin and Salvation.

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Check out Blessid Union of Soul's I Wanna Be There.

Friday, 5 October 2007

Hanging 'Visual Dialogue'

Part of the 'Faith Journeys' section




Part of the 'Spiritual Landscapes' section







Rodney Bailey working on the hang



Rodney Bailey and I hung two sections of the Visual Dialogue exhibition tonight. We have divided the exhibition into three sections: 'Landscapes'; 'Spiritual Landscapes'; and 'Faith Journeys.' In each section our work will be hung alongside each other to emphasise the dialogue between our works and beliefs.


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Check out Pierce Pettis' State of Grace.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Public Art project - Day 4

Painting 'Holy Ground'

I AM Love

Day 4 comments:

  • It's different to what I expected
  • You've covered up the bit at the back that I like
  • It's good to see something that's tired transformed by someone's ideas into a nice, exciting version of itself
  • This is a nice thing that you have made because I like the pictures - Dominic, age 7
  • Very good to express your feelings in art. To show your emotions in what you feel about movement and passion. And you might as well enjoy it. Good idea - Chelsea, age 9
  • Good - Cameron and Dominic

Day 4 activities:

This morning seemed slow. I was finishing off First the seed must die ... and The Wheat and the Tares while painting the base coats for Holy Ground and I AM Love. Only a couple of playgroup parents stopped to chat and only a couple of comments were recorded. Jean and Margaret were again stalwarts providing tea and conversation. I also arranged for the Ilford Recorder's photographer to come tomorrow to take their 'after' photo of the cabinet.

This evening by contrast was manic. Rodney and I had planned to begin hanging the exhibition this evening but had set aside tomorrow for the bulk of the hang. At short notice, Rodney has bewen told that he has to work tomorrow so he had to work flat out on the exhibition hang tonight while I finished work on the cabinet and rehearsed Evensong with the choir. Rodney managed to hang all the works that are going into Church leaving me to hang the works in the Church lounge tomorrow. I managed to complete Holy Ground and I AM Love while having photos taken that may appear in the Church Times and then help Rodney complete the hang in Church.

Holy Ground has two trees reaching up towards a huge sun, which mirrors that on the rear of the cabinet's mirror. I AM Love has the eye of God crying a tear of blood over a solitary human figure.

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Check out Neal Morse's Somber Days.

'Visual Dialogue' invitation



You are invited to the opening night reception for Visual Dialogue; a joint exhibition by Rodney Lloyd Bailey and Jonathan Evens.The reception will be from 7.30pm on Friday 5th October 2007 at St John the Evangelist, St John's Road, Seven Kings, Ilford IG2 7BB.

Also featuring in the reception will be:

  • a piece of conceptual sculpture created by Jonathan Evens in the week prior to the exhibition as a public art event;

  • photographs of Jonathan's public art event; and

  • meditations and images from Jonathan's collaboration with artist and writer Alan Stewart.

Rodney Bailey trained in Visual Arts and Design and Public Art at Chelsea College. His work is concerned with identity, communication and the difficulties we face in communicating our identity and nature to each other in a respectful and sincere way. In his work he hopes to give the audience an aspect of himself that is normally hidden from view. Rodney works in a variety of media and styles. His work can be viewed on his website and he recently exhibited at the Bankside Gallery as part of the Eye Play exhibition.

I am Vicar of St John's Seven Kings and a creative artist and writer. I paint in a symbolic expressionist style and writes poetry, meditations, stories and sketches. As curate at St Margaret's Barking I helped create opportunities for local people to contribute to a public art event, a series of arts workshops, the creation of a graffiti mural and a film/photographic project and exhibition. I have written on the arts for Art & Christianity, the Church Times, New Start, AM, Strait and The Month.

Rodney is a District Leader with the Buddhist organisation Soka Gakkai International (which means 'Value Creating Society'). He practices the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin and seeks through SGI to build bridges through dialogue and cultural exchange. An interesting aspect of the collaboration between Jonathan and Rodney will be the dialogue between their two sets of beliefs. Rodney's link with St John's is that he is the son of one of the Churchwardens and came to services as a child.

Visual Dialogue will be open on: Friday 5th October, 6.30 – 10.00pm (including reception and performances); Saturday 6th October, 9.30am – 5.00pm; and Sunday 7th October, 12 noon – 5.00pm.

Other Patronal Festival events at St John's include:

  • Saturday 6th October - Coffee morning with stalls and refreshments in the Parish Centre from 10.00am – 12 noon;

  • Saturday 6th October - Quiz Night from 7.00pm (for a 7.30pm start). Tickets for the Quiz Night are £7.00 for adults and £5.00 for those under 16 and are available from the Parish Office. They include a fish/chicken and chips supper. Teams will be eight per table;

  • Sunday 7th October - Revd. Rosemary Enever (Redbridge Area Dean) will preach and preside at 10.00am for the Patronal Festival Holy Communion Service;

  • Sunday 7th October - Choral Evensong at 6.30pm featuring the combined choirs of St John’s and St Peter’s Aldborough Hatch with the preacher being Revd. Clare Nicholson, Vicar of St Peter’s.

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Check out Lone Justice's Ways To Be Wicked.

Public Art project - Ilford Recorder article


Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Public Art project - Day 3

'The Wheat and the Tares'

The rear of the mirror

Day 3 comments:

  • This project has got people excited. It's more than paint on the wood. It's a focus, it's got people talking.
  • I see blood donors have had a go!!!
  • It's rewarding to see progress is being made especially at Church Centre. Day & night good.
  • Love the mirror. Jesus will always be at the centre of our world.

Day 3 activities:

This morning painting had to wait until after our Wednesday morning Communion Service. I talked about the project with our congregation over tea after the service and most of today's comments come from them. In fact all except for the blood doning comment, which came from a blood donor last night in reference to the imagery for drawer 2.

I've also received another amusing message of support from Philip Ritchie: " Hope the public art project goes well – will you be playing Genesis’ I know what I like in my wardrobe while you work? You could call it Chelsea as I think they recently got four draw(er)s! More seriously the mirror brings to mind all sorts of ideas – I once heard worship described as ‘reflecting back to God the love he has lavished upon us’."

Today's work began with the reverse side of the mirror. There I began by gluing a priest's wafer to the centre of the board. Around this, maintaining the circle, I placed white and then yellow brush strokes radiating out from the central wafer to create a sun-like effect. Then on a piece of white embroidery I painted in wine a crucifix shape. When dry this will be pinned to the rear of the mirror covering the wafer and painting and so needing to be lifted in order to see the painting behind.

On the left hand end of the cabinet I have painted a copy of my painting, The Wheat and the Tares. A green Christ hangs crucified from three yellow stalks of wheat, red thorns entwine the base of the stalks and the legs of Christ echoing the crown of thorns on Christ's head (yet to be painted). On the right hand end of the cabinet I have begun a copy of my painting, Unless the seed die ..., which is a companion piece to The Wheat and the Tares. The originals of both paintings will be included in Visual Dialogue.

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Check out The Arcade Fire's No Car's Go.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Public Art project - Day 2

Mirror & Cabinet top


Drawer 2 - 'All is marred'

Day 2 - Comments:

  • That's brilliant - art deco - do you want to come home with me?
  • Amazing what a coat of white paint will do.
  • You've really got on, haven't you!
  • Didn't know you had an artistic flair.
  • Dude, you got to learn to hold your red pen without making a mess!!!
  • The images in the drawers are really powerful.
  • I like the technique on the mirror.
  • I like the dialogue you're getting.
  • It's really coming on - looks almost finished.

Day 2 - Activities:

Only able to work on the project during the morning today but have managed to install the photomontages and constructions for the four drawers and complete the front of the mirror.

The first drawer contains two constructions. The first is a black circle glued to the drawer base from which a segment of the circle and drawer base has been cut. This breaks the perfect circle and creates a hole into the drawer below. The second is an image of the hands of God and Adam taken from Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. In the space between the two outstretched fingers a bloodstained nail has been driven and blood drips from the nail.

The second drawer contains two collages spattered in blood. One depicts people and activities that are generally perceived as positive, the other people and activities generally perceived to be negative.

The third drawer has two photomontages. The first features a segment from a medieval painting of Adam and Eve. Eve's apple and breasts are positioned in the same line and painted as the same size and shape. Framing this segment are the words: 'Temptation or Fall? Or not at all?' The second photomontage shows the angel and Mary from Fra Angelico's Annunciation. Above these two figures are the heads of Adam, Abraham, Elisha, Elijah, David, Solomon, Moses and Eve. Below are the words: 'Will she say, "Yes."'

The final drawer has two photomontages. In the centre of both are Crucifixion's by Rouault. An arrow saying either 'Redistribution' or 'Relocation' crosses Christ's body suggesting that his outstretched arms are a bridge by which we can move from the hoarding to the sharing of wealth.

The front of the mirror uses black and white images of Christ and Clowns by Houthuesen, Howson and Rouault copied onto transparencies. These have been taped to the mirror's glass enabling the viewer to see his/herself among overlapping images of Christ and fools.

As I was working on these images there were several complimentary comments from playgroup parents about last night's painting. Margaret and Jean again provided tea and chat. Jean took photos.

Met up with Rodney this evening to discuss the hang for Visual Dialogue and to collect the paintings he is including in the exhibition.

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Check out Al Green's Jesus Is Waiting.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Public Art project - Day 1

'Creation: Paying attention'

Maureen, Jean, Margaret, Jo and Rhonda view the morning's work

Day 1 comments:

  • "Bit early in the day for DIY."
  • "I don't like people painting over old wood."
  • "I like the idea * what's it's for?"
  • "Great dude."
  • "! It is very good !!!"
  • "Why are you doing this?"

Day 1 activity:

The morning was spent putting two coats of white gloss on the cabinet, its drawers and the back of the mirror. The smell got quite intense. Had two or three conversations with playgroup parents while this was going on. Kathy came in to take a photo. So did the local newspaper, the Ilford Recorder, to go with a story on the project in Thursday's edition. They plan to come back and take photos of the end product too. Margaret and Jean came to make tea. Rhoda, Jo and Maureen also looked in on what I was doing.

This evening the gloss was still too sticky to make a start on the photomontages and constructions that I have planned for the drawers of the cabinet. So, instead, I started work on the painting for the top of the cabinet. This is a version of a watercolour entitled Creation: Paying attention that will be in the Visual Dialogue exhibition. This version is in acrylics painted into the still drying white gloss.

I had a good conversation with a Kumon Maths parent and her children. They thought the project was a great idea and may come along to see the exhibition. A number of Kumon's staff also came to look at the project, expressed interest and contributed comments to the board. Peggy said she thought the painting was beautiful.

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Check out Sam Phillips' I Need Love.

Public Art project - Ready for the off

Initial comments:
  • "I think a face lift will do it good."
  • "What colour? (Not bright pink)."
  • "What are you doing with it after?"

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Check out Leonard Cohen's The Future.

A Story of Homecoming

For Back to Church Sunday at St John's we used Henri Nouwen's reflections on the Parable of the Prodigal Son via Rembrandt's painting, The Return of the Prodigal Son.

In the book, The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming, Nouwen describes his thoughts as he first saw this image as a large poster pinned to a colleague’s door:

“I saw a man in a great red cloak tenderly touching the shoulders of a disheveled boy kneeling before him. I could not take my eyes away. I felt drawn by the intimacy between the two figures, the warm red of the man’s cloak, the golden yellow of the boy’s tunic, and the mysterious light engulfing them both. But, most of all, it was the hands – the old man’s hands as they touched the boy’s shoulders that reached me in a place where I had never been reached before.”
Nouwen says of the father’s hands:

“The two are quite different. The father’s left hand touching the son’s shoulder is strong and muscular … That hand seems not only to touch, but, with its strength, also to hold. Even though there is a gentleness in the way the father’s left hand touches his, it is not without a firm grip.

How different is the father’s right hand! This hand does not hold or grasp. It is refined, soft, and very tender … It lies gently upon the son’s shoulder. It wants to caress, to stroke, and to offer consolation and comfort. It is a mother’s hand …

... As soon as I recognised the difference between the two hands of the father, a new world of meaning opened up for me. The Father is not simply a great patriarch. He is mother as well as father. He touches the son with a masculine hand and a feminine hand. He is, indeed God, in whom both manhood and womanhood, fatherhood and motherhood, are fully present ...
... The parable of the prodigal son is a story that speaks about a love that existed before any rejection was possible and that will still be there after all rejections have taken place. It is the first and everlasting love of a God who is Father as well as Mother. It is the foundation of all true human love, even the most limited. Jesus’ whole life and preaching had only one aim: to reveal this inexhaustible, unlimited motherly and fatherly love of his God and to show the way to let that love guide every part of our daily lives. In his painting of the father, Rembrandt offers us a glimpse of that love. It is the love that always welcomes home and always wants to celebrate.”
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Check out Maria McKee's To The Open Spaces.