Wikio - Top Blogs - Religion and belief

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Religion & belief: the Cinderella of the Equalities agenda?

In the latest edition of Faith in Business Quarterly I interview Catharine Pusey in her former role as Interim Chief Executive of the Employer's Forum on Belief (EFB).

Catharine undertook senior management roles with several major commercial media companies before moving into the not for profit sector to set up and direct the commercial arm of the British Film Institute. She now runs her own consultancy, SBO Consulting Ltd, providing interim and project management expertise in the culture, media and not for profit sectors. In addition to her work with EFB she was Interim CEO of the Employers Forum on Age. Catharine is currently acting through her consultancy as Interim General Manager of Ickworth House, the National Trust property near Bury St. Edmunds.

In an extensive interview we explore whether, as some Christians believe, significant restrictions on our liberties are coming into place rather than the protection from discrimination that the Religion and Belief regulations were intended to bring and whether religion or belief is the Cinderella of the equalities agenda.

Catharine concludes that the profile of the Religion and Belief regulations have been growing for unfortunate reasons in terms of a public mindset that cannot get away from equating religion and extremism, together with approaches to gender issues and the impact of high profile legal cases. But the more the profile rises, the more people become aware that they can ask for accommodations.

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Over The Rhine - All I Need Is Everything.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Northwood & Northwood Hills Art Stns (2)

My 'Stations of the Cross' meditations are being used, for the second year running, by the Northwood and Northwood Hill Art Stns.

This community art project involves a trail of artworks exploring some of the events in the final hours of Jesus' life. The artworks include paintings, photographic exhibits, drapes, metal sculpture and collages and will be displayed (from Friday 26th March - Friday 2nd April) at Holy Trinity Northwood, London School of Theology, Northwood Library, Northwood Methodist Church, Brisa Cafe, Northwood Bookshop, Northwood Station, St John's Northwood, Emmanuel Church Northwood, Hillside School, Northwood Hill Library, and St Edmund the King, Fairfield Church. Each artwork will be accompanied by one of my meditations and an explanation from the artist.

From Saturday 3rd - 12th April, all the artworks will be displayed together at Fairfield Church. The Northwood and Northwood Hills Art Stns are part of a passion for life. Admission is free. Check website for opening times. Contact Rachie Ross on 01923 824306.

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Gillian Welch, David Rawlings & Ricky Skaggs - By The Mark.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Gants Hill Arts Project (6)








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Maria McKee - Life Is Sweet.

Windows on the world (96)

West Ham, 2010
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Arvo Part - I Am The True Vine.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

c4m webpage update (38)

This week the new posts on the commission4mission webpage cover: the networking evening held at St Laurence Upminster as part of the Grace & Passion exhibition; a profile of our newest member, the sculptress JOEL; and photos showing Henry Shelton's newly installed tryptich during the Palm Sunday service held at St Paul's Goodmayes.

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William Orbit - Pieces In An Old Style.

Palm Sunday Procession

Starting out from St John's
Passing the United Free Church

Riding Isaac the donkey

At Westwood Recreation Ground

Blessing our Palm Crosses

Reading the Gospel

Our joint congregations at Westwood Recreation Ground

Completing our service at St Paul's Goodmayes

Fr. Ben leading at St Paul's Goodmayes

The new tryptich at St Paul's Goodmayes
Last year, for the first time, Palm Sunday in Seven Kings saw a congregation of 130 process from St Pauls Goodmayes to St Johns Seven Kings accompanied by a donkey and children dressed as disciples. The procession was jointly organised by the two churches and is intended to become an annual community event.
Today we reversed the procession beginning at St John's and ending at St Paul's, stopping midway at Westwood Recreation Ground to bless palm crosses and read the Gospel. This year our donkey was called Isaac and, as last year, our children loved the opportunity to have a ride. Also as last year, the congregation of the United Free Church came out to greet us as we passed by at the beginning of the procession.
As we went we handed out a leaflet explaining what we were doing and why:
The original Palm Sunday featured a joyful procession as Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a colt and the people praised God and spread cloaks and palms on the ground (see Matthew 21): “They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Hosanna in the highest!" When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, "Who is this?" The crowds answered, "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee."

Rev. Jonathan Evens, Vicar of St John’s, says, “This service and procession are a joyful celebration for us and, we hope, a visible act of witness to our community.” Fr. Benjamin Rutt-Field, parish priest of St Paul's Goodmayes, has said that the procession reminds him of his three month sabbatical in Japan, "where the indigenous faiths of Shinto and Buddhism celebrate their festivals with joyful and colourful processions, conveying to the whole multi-faith community, something of what they personally believe in and why it is important to them."

We are grateful to the Metropolitan Police and the London Borough of Redbridge for their permission and help in enabling this procession to take place.

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Kirk Franklin - Hosanna.

Save King George Hospital

Today I spoke at a public meeting to say no to the threat to close King George Hospital A&E and over 400 beds. The other speakers included: Chris Carter (Ilford Recorder Editor); Mike Gapes MP; Fr. Benjamin Rutt-Field; Lee Scott MP; Cllr Ralph Scott; and a range of other local faith leaders.

In my speech I said the following:

It is great news and testament to the community campaign that you have carried out that, as announced by Mike O'Brien, the Minister of State for Health Services, the Government have referred the decision about whether or not A&E and maternity services at King George’s Hospital will close to an independent reconfiguration panel for review. I echo what John Lister, of the pressure group Health Emergency is quoted in this week’s Ilford Recorder as saying, "It shows that if you don't clamour, your hospital will close down.”

But, he goes on to say that, “the fight is still on and campaigners need to keep the pressure on.” With that in mind I would to highlight something Mike O’Brien said last Wednesday which gives cause for concern and an indication of how the campaign may need to be taken forward.

Mike O’Brien was quoted in the Recorder as saying: "I’ve been to see the services for myself and it’s clear that there’s a great deal of affection for this hospital.” That sounds positive and straightforward but the language politician’s use is always significant and the subtext to this statement is that local campaigning is based on sentiment not facts. Local ‘affection’ for a place is not a substantial argument for keeping it open and the key to keeping these services at King Georges will not be sentimental affection but facts about the best way of delivering healthcare in this area. So the perception that this campaign is based on sentiment rather than facts is one that will need to be challenged and changed in the next phase of the campaign.

One aspect of the health services’ plan to challenge is their intention to engage in social engineering. Their plans to close A&E at King Georges are based on their judgement that 75% of those people currently treated at A&E can be treated as effectively elsewhere. So their plans, as they have set them out, rely completely on that significant group of A&E users changing their behaviour and using either the new Urgent Care Centre or their GP. We all know what would actually happen if those plans became reality, even if the planners refuse to acknowledge it, less A&E with similar numbers of people trying to access those reduced services. So, the campaign focus needs to be on the ways in which the arrangements for change don’t stack up.

As a local faith leader, I see on each visit to parishioners in hospital the value of locally provided healthcare and, with those of my parishioners who have to go further afield to receive the treatment they require, also see the pressure that longer and more difficult journeys place on family and friends as they seek to supplement the care provided by the health services.

Centralising emergency services may save the NHS money but only at a real cost to all its users who then have to travel out of their local area to access these vital services. That cost won’t appear on any NHS balance sheet, nor, I imagine will the significant cost of making these changes be offset against the savings made. We all know, from the recent Audit Office figures on Government Department reorganisations, how much change can cost significantly reducing the savings achieved.

For all these reasons, and more, it is vital that this campaign keeps the pressure on until A&E and maternity at King Georges are saved.

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Writz - Night Nurse.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

John Reilly RIP

John Reilly, who died last month, once wrote that his ambition had “always been to paint a picture which perfectly weds form and content” in order “to express in visible form the oneness and unity of [the] invisible power binding all things into one whole.”

‘The Painted Word’, which was published in 2009 and which brought 50 colour plates of his paintings together with the Biblical and other texts that inspired him, was therefore both an argument for the unity of the material and spiritual and an opportunity to judge whether Reilly has succeeded in his intent.

Reilly used the greater freedom of expression that modern movements in art have given to artists to develop a visual language of forms and colours which he hoped expresses “something of their deeper spiritual significance.” Using lessons learnt from Orphism and Rayonism, Reilly frequently based his works on a central circle (often, the sun) from which facets of colour emanate, like ripples on the surface of a stream. The painting’s imagery was then set within these facets, each figure or object being embedded in the overall patterning of the painting and related to the environmental whole that Reilly created. By these means fragments of form and colour (the facets of the painting’s patterning) and the images that they contain are united to circle harmoniously around and within God, the central life and intelligence which is the light of the world.

Reilly made a profound use of the circle in his work in order to depict the wholeness that he found in the world and life that God created. His technique of colour fragments emanating from a central source enabled him to suggest that his archetypal images of creation and the landscape were both, filled with the emanating rays and linked by them into a unified circle. His paintings therefore suggested the way in which we are linked both by being the creation of God and by being indwelt by his spirit. A similar approach can also be seen in the work of Vincent Van Gogh and Cecil Collins where movement, of brush stokes, line, dots, and dashes, indicate a sense of force that informs both the natural world and human beings. Van Gogh described this as expressing "that something of the eternal which the halo used to symbolise". Such paintings recreate afresh, in modern styles, aspects of Celtic Christian thought. These artists found a means of applying the Celtic image of the circle, with its message of a perfect wholeness, through modern fragmentary art techniques.

Works such as Let There Be Light and The Fourth Day of Creation – Universal Power utilise these methods and meanings and both contain and convey huge energy and resolution as a result. Where the power of Reilly’s work dissipates somewhat is through the introduction of a theological and visual dualism which separates the union of the material and the spiritual into disparate zones, as in The Vision where the dreamer in the closed forms of the material world sees in a vision the open forms of the spiritual realm.

Such dualism, which drew on Platonism, muddied the waters and obscured Reilly’s central unitive vision. Taken as a whole, however, Reilly's work reveals the form and harmony of his unitive vision. Guillaume Apollinaire wrote that the “works of the Orphic artist must simultaneously give a pure aesthetic pleasure, a structure which is self-evident, and a sublime meaning”; a description that it would be entirely appropriate to apply to Reilly.

The final word, though, should be from Reilly himself:

"My paintings are not concerned with the surface appearance of people or things but try to express something of the fundamental spiritual reality behind this surface appearance. I try to express in visible form the oneness and unity of this invisible power, binding all things into one whole. I try to express something of the universal and timeless truths behind the stories of the Bible.”

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John Tavener: As One Who Has Slept.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Faith-based models of leadership (7)

Faiths in London's Economy (FiLE - see http://www.mile.org.uk/file.htm) aims to work with faith communities in order to create coordinated faith-community responses to the issues facing London's economy. We are currently planning a seminar series for the autumn on faith-based models of leadership and entitled 'Renegotiating 'value': what faiths offer 21st century business leadership':
  • Title: Renegotiating ‘value’: what faiths offer 21st century business leadership.

  • Purpose: To explore the benefit and challenge of faith traditions in leading sustainable businesses.

  • Audience: junior/middle managers; HR professionals; interfaith practitioners; leadership practitioners and people of faith in (or with an interest in) employment.

  • Sessions: Three half-day sessions:
    1. Profit vs prophet (Values). Purpose: To explore whether making money or making a difference are opposed. Workshops: (i) 'The importance of ethics for sustainable businesses' and (ii) ‘Alternative Economies’;
    2. Bonus vs Pro Bono – the value of inspirational leadership (Leadership). Purpose: To explore the place of inspirational leadership in renegotiating 'value'. Workshops: (i) 'The value of Spiritual Intelligence' and (ii) ‘The value of faith-based models of leadership'; and
    3. Stakeholder vs shareholder value (Finance). Purpose: To explore the question of who it is that businesses are/should be accountable to and the difference this makes to their structure and operation. Workshops: (i) 'Making stakeholder value reality' and (ii) 'Viewing Canary Wharf: company and community perspectives'.

  • Marketplace: Information and publicity displays from participating organisations.

  • Outcomes: Better understanding of colleagues who have a faith; Principles for and models of faith-based leadership for application; Motivation of participants to use ideas/models explored in the series; Improved understanding of a vocabulary for speaking about faith in the world of business; Integration of faith-based models into business leadership.

  • Outputs: Report of presentations/discussions (published online); Blog to continue conversations between and post sessions; Development of a shared document emerging from the series and involving series participants;

  • Timing: Autumn 2010.

To express interest in this seminar series, please email to: jonathan.evens@btinternet.com.

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Lavine Hudson - A Little Sensitivity.

Windows on the world (95)


Bishopsgate, 2010
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Young Disciples - Apparently Nothin'.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Artists & spirituality

Yesterday I spent a profitable half-hour at the Marcus Campbell art bookshop where I found catalogues about Michael Cullimore, Bella Brisel P. J. Crook, Lynn Dennison, and Folake Shoga, all artists with an interest in spirituality.

Clive Adams was one of those who hosted the exhibition 'I am awake in the universe', of which I purchased the catalogue yesterday. He writes that, "Michael Cullimore is belatedly becoming recognised as one of our most significant contemporary artists; a man of passion and intellect in the tradition of such visionaries as William Blake and David Jones." John Russell Taylor, writing in The Saturday Times, has noted that 'Cullimore has always had an odd and individual way of looking at things; he is a homegrown Symbolist, excited by the way that signs and portents and unexpected allusions seem to be half hidden in every shape of hill and valley, and finds magic and mystery in the most commonplace objects.....'

Born in Jerusalem, Bella Brisel studied art in Tel Aviv and Paris. She participated in various salons, biennales and group shows in France and other countries and had one-woman exhibitions in Paris, London, New York, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, Osaka, Lausanne, and Lille. She is known for her her mystical human figures of mothers and children, intertwined and interconnected.

In Reclaiming the Madonna P.J. Crook writes that many of her paintings have a religious subtext giving the example of 'The Apprentice' where she is looking at "both craftsmen who have worked for me and Christ as creator." Lynn Dennison writes that: "I use religious imagery to celebrate and explain my life. In my larger paintings I often use a large central image, usually of myself, surrounded by tokens of my family and friends, in the style of a religious icon." Folake Shoga writes that as "a sometime convert to Catholicism", she is "more familiar with the imagery of it than the dogma." She writes about the poetry of the Ave Maria being "informed by an appreciation of the physical power of female reproductive capacity ..."

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Carleen Anderson - Mama Said.

Political debate & the place of Christianity in the UK

A colleague in the Redbridge Deanery, Reverend Robert Hampson, vicar of Holy Trinity Church South Woodford (Ilford North Constituency), will be standing for Parliament in the forthcoming General Election. He will be standing as the Christian Peoples Alliance (CPA) official candidate and his intention in standing is to campaign for a robust Christian British identity, free of racism and inclusive of all.

Robert’s decision has stirred up quite a bit of initial reaction. I support Robert’s decision to stand as a candidate in the election as I also support the work that the Diocese of Chelmsford is currently doing to encourage vocations to political life. However, I do not support the platform on which Robert is standing.

A lot of cynicism currently (and to some extent, rightly) exists about politics in the UK but we do have the fundamental human right of a democratic vote, something that people in other parts of the world risk their lives to gain or use, and we should not waste the opportunity we have to contribute to the democratic process.

Christians have much to contribute and share because Christianity engages with and has something to say on all the major issues facing our society and world - environmental degradation; international poverty; health and the NHS; education and schools; defence, foreign affairs and terrorism; crime, law and order; race, asylum and immigration; Europe and the EU; the economy; pensions; and transport.

However, the Bible and Church tradition does not provide a set of political policies that we can simply adopt, instead Biblical and Church approaches to issues over the centuries can help us formulate a series of principles against which we might evaluate party manifestos and promises. We need to think and pray through the issues, ask questions that matter to us, and reflect on our own priorities and what we understand to be the priorities emerging from the Bible and Church tradition, both for ourselves and for the society in which we live.

We don’t all agree however (which is why Christians can be found in all the main political parties) and this is one issue with parties, such as the CPA, that through their name and stance seek to present ‘the’ Christian voice on political issues. Their name and approach suggest that there is agreement among Christians on key issues and policies on those issues. Such agreement simply does not exist and to suggest that it does is misleading to the electorate and dismissive of Christians who think and vote differently from those in parties such as the CPA, the Christian Party, etc.

In addition I think that their analysis of our culture and politics currently is incorrect. Robert has been quoted as arguing that the increasing secularisation of the UK is “taking away the fundamental platform on which Britain has been built” and has stated that he will be focussing on making Christianity “centre stage” in Britain again. I am concerned that that is too simplistic a response to the current position of Christianity in the UK.

First, we are in a Post-Christendom period where the privileged position that Christianity once had in the UK is gradually being eroded. For Christianity to have had a privileged position in UK society was not an unmitigated blessing and the change in its position has pros as well as cons (and arguably brings us closer to the position of the Early Church in relation to political powers). However, our awareness of this erosion process as a series of losses gives the impression that Christianity is being treated unfairly.

Second, there has been and still is a secularist agenda that seeks to marginalise religion (and Christianity, in particular). Secularism combined with Post-Christendom was a potent mix initially seemed to threaten the survival of Christianity as a factor in the public square in the UK. In much of the 70s and 80s this secularist agenda essentially excluded faith-based organisations from involvement in the delivery of public services but that situation has changed radically as a result of ...

Third, the multi-faith nature of the UK and its inclusion in the diversity agenda which has been a counter-balance to this secularist agenda. Equalities and human rights legislation is resulting from the diversity rather than the secularist agenda so that, instead of religions (including Christianity) being excluded from the public square, we are in a place where discriminating against people in the workplace on the basis of religion or belief is illegal. One result has been the increasing reversal of the exclusion of faith-based organisations from involvement in delivery of public services (as example, see Lifeline Projects and the FaithAction network within which they are one of the key partners).

In a turn-of-the-year sermon, which I posted as http://joninbetween.blogspot.com/2010/01/post-christendom-church.html, I touched on some of these issues and argued that our current context is an appropriate reduction in the privileged position Christianity has occupied in the UK in the past combined with a secularist argument that seeks to remove religion (and Christianity, in particular) from the public square but that the secularising agenda has been halted and the position of religions (including the Christianity) regularised and equalised by the diversity agenda. Instead of berating these changes, I think the Church needs to become actively involved in the opportunities which they open up.

Finally, in a more than one London borough, a vote for the CPA or the Christian Party risks dividing the vote in such a way that it may open the door for the British National Party (BNP) to make gains which otherwise might not be possible for them. Any further electoral success for the BNP and similar racist parties, could seriously undermine the patient, strategic work of healthy race relations which has been developing in the UK over many years. Britain can be proud of its status as a world leader in multi-culturalism, a status which is expressed in churches and communities across the country and which is to be further celebrated in coming years, not least with the Olympics coming to London in 2012.

In Redbridge, the BNP is actively seeking the Christian vote by issuing leaflets from supporters which argue that the BNP, although a secular party, supports Christian values because its policies fit with the concerns of some Christians. These policies are mainly about being opposed to particular groups and legislation; being anti equality, anti immigration, anti-Muslim and anti homosexual. Do we, as Christians want to be known as the 'anti people' associated in the minds of others with bigotry, fundamentalism, and narrow moral agendas or do we want to be known as “good news” people associated with positive action and agendas?

Jesus broke down barriers. He treated all people with respect. As a Jew he talked to the shunned Samaritans. Through the cross he reconciled people to God and to each other. “There is neither Jew nor Greek” (Galatians 3. 28). Christians assert that all human beings are created equally in the image of God. The Christian vision of society is one where each person is treated with dignity and respect, whatever their ethnic group or religion. It is a postive vision of hope not a negative agenda of hate.

The BNP, however it presents itself, is rooted in racist and fascist thinking; its message is one of hate. The BNP believes that white people are genetically superior to black people. The BNP believes that black and Asian people can never be British, even if they were born here. The BNP is a racist party and as such does not share the true Christian values. Therefore I endorse the following statement:

” … we call upon all people of goodwill to reject racist politics in the forthcoming General Election and local elections.

We encourage people to vote in the forthcoming elections to prevent racist political parties making any more electoral gains, indeed to out-vote such parties where they have already been elected.

In particular, we urge people to reject the BNP, English Defence League (EDL), National Front (NF) and similar political organisations for the reason that there is no place in mainstream British politics for dividing people on the grounds of ethnicity. The racist ideology of parties like the BNP, who speak of a "traditional British genotype", is not only inaccurate and misguided but is also contrary to the Christian belief that "all people are created as one race, the human race".

As church leaders we do not endorse any particular political party and recognise that there are many social issues today which require much closer attention from elected politicians, not least those of housing, immigration, unemployment and the sheer speed of social change in some of our communities. But we call on everyone to reject the BNP and like-parties as providing solutions to these issues. We all have a responsibility to work for a more just society. This will never be achieved by those who seek to divide our society based on a racist politics.”

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Bruce Cockburn - Justice.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Cross Purposes (2)






Cross Purposes is not only an excellent survey of crucifixion images found primarily in Modern British Art but is also an exploration of the extent to which the crucifixion has become a universal image of significance to those who do not hold the Christian faith.
The principal means by which this issue is explored is through the inclusion of work by the Jewish artists, Marc Chagall and Emmanuel Levy. Chagall provided the initial impetus for the exhibition through the proximity to Mascalls Gallery of Tudeley Church, the only Church in the world with a full set of stained glass by Chagall (see photographs above).
Their crucifixions, which include Chagall's previously unknown ‘Apocalypse en Lilas, Capriccio’, emphasise the Jewishness of the crucified Christ and equate his suffering to that of the Jewish people throughout their history and, particularly, during the holocaust. These paintings, therefore, are not based on and do not seek to explore the Christian doctrine of the Atonement but gain much of their force and power by deviating from that doctrine and would not exists or have the resonance that they do possess without it. These are images therefore that universalise the image of the crucifixion by exploring its resonance outside of the specifics of the Christian faith but which rely on the particularity of Christian usage of the image in order to give these wider uses their emotive power.
Another approach is seen in an image by Scottish artist R Hamilton Blyth. Here a broken and hollow crucifix hangs from a cross set in a shattered wartime landscape. This is not a depiction of Christ's crucifixion but instead the destruction of all that has stemmed from it; the end of Christendom and the failure of Christian faith in the face of worldwide conflict. Again, Hamilton Blyth's image moves outside of Christian understandings of atonement but depends on those understandings in order to do so.
What we see in these aspects of the Cross Purposes exhibition is the vital importance of understanding and valuing what the artist may ultimately seek to subvert or critique in order that that subversion or critique have relevance and resonance. This is also the way in which Susan Shaw's Dispersal, a linked exhibition at Capel Church, also works (see photographs above). Shaw's mass produced Virgins grouped on a pallet for distribution but located in a church as a worshipping collective raise issues of the commercialisation of religion and the religion of commerce but rely on the actual and emotive power that the image of the Virgin has had in Christianity in order to give the installation and the issues it raises their force.
In this way, the exhibition seems to demonstrate, all crucifixion images - whether subversions, explications or critiques - are predicated on the real and raw power that the crucifixion possesses within the Christian understanding and imagination.
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Julie Miller - How Could You Say No.

c4m webpage update (37)

The latest posts on the commission4mission webpage again feature a new member, Adam Boulter, as well as photos from our Grace & Passion exhibition which opens tomorrow at St Laurence Upminster continuing until 28th March (daily, 10.0am - 4.00pm). Also featured are updates on the Seeds of Life arts programme at St Andrew's Leytonstone and Henry Shelton's Stations of the Crown of Thorns commission at St Paul's Goodmayes. Finally, there are details of Faith & Image's latest meeting, a talk on and visit to the current Vincent Van Gogh exhibition at the Royal Academy.

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Julie Miller - Broken Things.

Friday, 19 March 2010

The Chip Shop (2)

The last appearance of 'The Chip Shop' at the London Word Festival will be tomorrow night (Keep Printing & Carry On). The first set will kick off at 7.20pm with Murray Macaulay doing an introduction to Sister Corita, the fantastic Screenprinting Nun (followed by a printing demostration in the Chip Shop).

The organisers have announced that the first 60 villagers through the door will be given a free ration book - this entitles you to a special print-themed cake from the Great Cake Escape! Also there will be some Universettee events starting before the first set, not to mention the "Dig for Printery" potato-printing allotment.

Later on, there'll also be some music from Darren Hayman and comedy from Jo Neary, each set accompanied with its own live print in the Chip Shop.

Doors 6pm, tickets £8, venue is Stoke Newington International Airport. As the London Word Festival writes on their website: "...times are hard and the cake is rationed – arrive early to avoid disappointment."

An article about the Henningham Family Press and the Chip Shop appeared today in the Independent; here's a link to the article.

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Darren Hayman - Rain All Summertime.

On the Movement of the Fried Egg and Other Astronomical Bodies

Three superimposed slow motion images of an egg frying in a pan coalescing gradually into one combined image sound as though the films of João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva, showing in On the Movement of the Fried Egg and Other Astronomical Bodies at Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery, are likely to live up to the stereotype of contemporary art as superficial comedy. Instead, the visitor paying careful (even prayerful) attention will be surprised and rewarded because that selfsame careful attention is what Gusmão and Paiva have shown in the creation of their art.

Their film of frying eggs reveals the beauty in a process of change which is often only viewed pragmatically. This is the commonplace becoming extraordinary or, in George Herbert’s memorable phrase, ‘heaven in ordinary’. Their choice of three superimposed images also provides the frisson of a trinity of eggs coalescing into one substance. That this connotation is not unintended is hinted at through the description of their films as “poetic philosophical fiction” and an accompanying artist’s book, which is an anthology of texts sourced from thinkers, poets and theologians presenting a range of ideas focused around the existence of God. What can be found then in these wonder-full films is the combination of contemplative meditations on ordinary objects with philosophical explorations of the nature of belief.

Their work exudes a playful inventiveness that makes us look again because they have originally looked at their subjects with real attention. Such attention is, to my mind, an aspect of prayer. 'Experiment with Effluvium' shows the splash and ripples of a skimming stone on water. Their slow-mo technique and the framing of the shots reveal the beauty of chaos evolving into symmetry. Slow motion is used as a means of creating meditative space and features again in a film exploring the shapes and substance of water flowing down a pane of glass. Another film shows a blown egg revolving while lit from one side; the soft glint and glimmer of the egg’s shell being firstly spotlit and then erased as its revolution brings it into eclipse.

'The Great Drinking Bout' is film of a group of men carrying a large pitcher of drink into the woods and enacting bizarre rituals around their consumption of the pitcher’s fluid. As this surreal narrative unfolds however it develops into a meditation on trust with the group initially following their leader and then leading him as he places the now empty pitcher on his head at the film’s conclusion.

Gusmão and Paiva were Portugal’s representatives at the last Venice Biennale and are exhibiting here for the first time in the UK. Inspired by the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa who wrote only in pseudonyms to present differing worldviews, they too revel in the creative energy engendered by contradictory philosophical ideas and express this energy through a humorous sense of wonder. Their sense of the profound comedy encountered through alternative perspectives is summed up in 'Astronomy of the End of the Boot' where a man observes the splendour of the sky through a hole in his shoe.

On the Movement of the Fried Egg and Other Astronomical Bodies, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, ends 21 March 2010.

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The Blue Aeroplanes - You (Are Loved).

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Children of Abraham

Bit late but this was my All-Age Mothering Sunday sermon at St John's Seven Kings:

How many of us have watched the TV programme ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ How many of us have done some research into our family history? For those who have researched their family histories, how far back have you been able to go? What has been the most interesting thing that you have discovered? How many of us have known our grandparents? Our great-grandparents? Our great, great grandparents? What is that we find interesting about ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ Why is that we need to know so much about our past?

There can be many reasons why it is interesting to research our family histories; we may track down relatives about whom we knew nothing and broaden our extended family, for instance, or we might come to understand ourselves better by knowing about family traits and characteristics which have been passed down across the generations.

I doubt that any of us have traced our family histories back to Abraham and Sarah but our Bible readings today suggest that we can. Abram and Sarai, as they were originally known, were very old and very sad because they had no children. But one night, out in the desert, God made Abram a special promise. God said:

“Look up and count the stars – if you can. That’s how many people there will be in your family one day. Think of the sand on the seashore. How many grains can you count? I’ll bless you and give you such a large family that one day they’ll be as many as the stars in the sky or the grains of sand on the seashore.”

As a sign of that promise, God changes Abram’s name to Abraham and Sarai’s name to Sarah. God’s promise comes true when Sarah finally does have a baby, called Isaac, when she’s very old. The great-great-great-(lots of greats)-grandchildren of this family are the members of God’s family here today, so we’re all actually members of the same family; Abraham and Sarah’s family, which is also God’s family.

Now, because we are all part of the same family we’ve got to care for each other like we are family. Some of us heard John Bell talking about that this week in our Lent Course. He said:
“... within the Church, at its best, we are the surrogate mothers and uncles and grandchildren to other people – and that’s a very different unit of belonging. Which means that should your mother or father reject you, the Christian Church will still accept you.”

This is an important part of Mothering Sunday because today is about Mother Church as well as being about the Mothers who gave us birth. As John Bell says, the Church at its best is our extended family; “the water of baptism will be thicker than the blood of genealogy.”

As a result, we’ve got millions of brothers and sisters of all ages and colours in every land all over the world. In fact, just like on ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ when we realise that we are Children of Abraham, we also realise that we have some unexpected relatives because Jewish and Muslim people are also Children of Abraham.

Bono, the singer with rock band U2, suggested in his guest column for the New York Times on 2 January this year the idea of an: “arts festival that celebrates the origin of the three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Every year it could be held in a different location; Jerusalem would obviously be the best place to start.”

We can already experience something of that idea locally through the East London Three faiths Forum:

“For more than ten years, the Three Faiths Forum has been encouraging friendship, goodwill and understanding amongst Muslims, Christians and Jews. We also facilitate dialogue, leading to action with people from other faiths, and those who do not subscribe to any religion. We create new models for faith encounters.”

So we can see through all this that although God’s promise starts out with small things it can become incredibly massive. Sarah laughed when she heard what God had planned. Just like Sarah we can be sceptical, cynical and mocking about what it is possible for God to achieve through us but, in the story, Sarah’s cynical laughter turns to joyful laughter when her son Isaac is born and the same can be true for us too as we learn to trust that God can use us and achieve great things through us.

We know the difference between cynical laughter and joyful laughter don’t we? Who can give me a cynical laugh? Who can give me a joyful laugh? Sarah’s story shows us how we live life joyfully and hopefully. Patricia De Jong has described what happened to Sarah like this:

“Here is Sarah, at age 90, saying to God: Look, I'm old, I'm tired, I have arthritis and even a little osteoporosis; are you sure we want to get into something new like this now?

But this is when we encounter the marvelous wonder of God, at that very vulnerable moment - when the improbable is mistaken for the impossible, at that moment when we actually believe that our spirits are wasting away, as our bodies are, and God couldn't possibly have any more surprises in store for us, at that moment when we have settled in to things the way they are, instead of things the way they can be through the hope of God …

And yet what better way to live than in the grip of a promise? To wake in the possibility that today might be the day ... To take nothing for granted. Or to take everything as granted, though not yet grasped. To handle every moment of one's life as a seed of the promise and to plant it tenderly, never knowing if this moment, or the next, may be the one that grows.

To live in this way is to discover that God is always blessing us ... This is what Abraham and Sarah found out late in life ... This is what the psalmist had in mind when he wrote, "so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's." (Psalm 103:5) This is the spiritual path we embark upon when we place our hand in the open palm of God ...

Abraham and Sarah believed in God's promises and dared to hope. As Paul reminds us, "hope does not disappoint because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which is given to us."

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Pops Staples - Hope In A Hopeless World.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Steve Scott dialogues 4: Torrance, Gunton & Bahktin

SS: I just joined the Thomas F. Torrance `fan' page on Facebook (I've been a Torrance fan since the 80s) and I found a bunch of online lectures/papers etc including this one. I noticed Colin Gunton's `The One, the Three and the Many' in one of your book lists (at your `between' blog). Both Gunton and Torrance have (survived in their work) much to tell us ...

`That Thomas F. Torrance is a scientific theologian seems beyond dispute. But that he may also be understood as a theologian of culture is a permission given us through a consideration of his doctrine of God as triune Creator, his doctrine of creation as contingent, and his doctrine of humanity as a mediator of order and priest of creation, whose work results in, and is enabled by, the development of social coefficients of truth. If Torrance provides us with the fundamental assumptions and dynamics necessary for the development of a theology of culture, then we are also given permission to begin to see his work in this light and to develop it toward this end.'

JE: What I'm particularly interested in, I think, is the Trinity as a pattern for aspects of life which is why I enjoyed Gunton's 'The One, the Three and the Many' with its exploration of the implications of God in relation within himself as Trinity through the transcendentals – relationality, substantiality and perichoresis – which Gunton argues underpin all pattern and connection within the created order. This has similarities with Dorothy L. Sayers in 'The Mind of the Maker' and Christian Schumacher in 'God in Work'.

Gunton uses his theology of creation to identify three concepts that he calls (drawing on Coleridge) ‘open transcendentals’. That is, “possibilities for thought which are universal in scope yet open in their application” Gunton’s three open transcendentals are: relationality (“[a]ll things are what they are by being particulars constituted by many and various forms of relation”, p. 229); perichoresis (“all things are what they are in relations of mutual constitutiveness with all other things”, p. 178); and substantiality (all things are “substantial beings, having their own distinct and particular existence, by virtue of and not in the face of their relationality to the other”, p. 194). Sociality is a description of the social relation of personal beings, “their free relation-in-otherness” (Gunton, p. 229.). Gunton notes that, outside of God and humanity, “the rest of the creation … does not have the marks of love and freedom which are among the marks of the personal” and so cannot be said to be characterised by sociality.

Within the creation stories, sociality is seen in the joint working in which God and Adam shared to find a helper for Adam (Genesis 2: 15 - 25) and the conversation between God, Adam and Eve in Genesis 3: 8 - 19. Dorothy Sayers remarked on the fact that the one thing we know for sure about God at the point that he makes humanity in his own image is that he is creative [D. L. Sayers, The Mind of the Maker (Methuen & Co. Ltd. 1941)]. She argues that it is therefore logical to suppose that creativity is a significant aspect of humanity’s being made in the image of God. Within the creation stories human creativity is seen in: God’s blessing of humanity which included the tasks of increasing in number, filling and subduing the earth and, ruling over living creatures (Genesis 1: 28); Adam’s working and taking care of the garden (Genesis 2: 15); and, Adam’s naming of the living creatures (Genesis 2: 20). Albert Wolters brings both sociality and creativity together when he comments that: “Adam and Eve, as the first married couple, represent the beginnings of societal life; their task of tending the garden, the primary task of agriculture, represents the beginnings of cultural life" [A. M. Wolters, Creation Regained: Biblical Basics for a Reformational Worldview (Carlisle: Paternoster Press, 1996), p. 37].

Among those who have developed practical proposals for the implementation of relationality, perichoresis and substantiality through sociality and creativity are:

· Christian Schumacher with his system of work structuring outlined in God in Work: Discovering the divine pattern for work in the new millennium (Oxford, Lion Publishing plc, 1998);
· David Lee and Michael Schluter with the dimensions of relational proximity which they outline in The R Factor (Hodder & Stoughton, 1993).

Schumacher draws on Sayers and Distributionism to create a Trinitarian model while Lee and Schluter draw on the work of Christopher Wright who argues that the Israelite society of the Old Testament provides a paradigm for contemporary Christian lifestyle.

Gunton makes his argument based on Coleridge's work on transcendentals, which I haven't read in any depth, but was interested to have Coleridge's thought commended again in reading Dru's book on Charles Péguy. Not sure that any of this relates to Torrance particularly.

SS: Yes, at first blush I'm going to suggest that Torrance provides a lot of deep background in both patristics and quantum physics (and scientific ideas and history thereof) that hums away in the deep background of Colin Gunton's work. I'm prejudiced because I discovered both Torrance and Gunton `at once' on a sale/clearance table in Logos books in Berkeley in the late 70s or early 80s. There's a good book called `The Knight's Move: relationality in science and theology' (I think) that suggestively links Torrance, Niels Bohr, Kierkegaard and someone else whose name escapes me ... Ah. M. Polanyi. Here are some amazon reviews.

Fascinating second review; suggests that the author as a result of this book is going to read some T F Torrance. Anyway. If the (Trinity in) creative process includes aesthetic judgement (saw that it was good) and there's something optimally human or humanizing about our creative calling ... then this would link what that guy was saying about Torrance (Triune God, contingent creation, priestly Human) and the `open transcendentals' of Gunton's Trinity argument. They become `co inherent' categories that inform not only our `place' in the world, but also the inner dynamic of our art ... everything from the formal arguments about material and design up/out to the social /shalom implications of the work in context ... a la Bourraiud and Loraine Leeson and co. And this would make the Christian contribution to interfaith dialogue via, through or with the arts a distinct one.

JE: I particularly liked this quote from the essay on Torrance that you sent over:

"... human persons are not blank slates to be socially programmed as we wish, nor is the created order passive material that we can arrange as our needs and socioeconomic goals dictate. There is an order already present in reality, created into it by ‘the ultimate controlling ground of order’ prior to our ordering activities. Our task is to create cultural/conceptual tools that enable us to discern that order so that we may cooperate with it, not impose ourselves upon it. This is simply Torrance’s theological science applied to the social and material world."

I've tried to explore what I think this sense of partnership with God might involve in an outline theology of work. Underpinning this is the idea that I first came across through Dorothy L. Sayers in 'Mind of the Maker', but which is unpacked more fully by Paul Ricoeur, that humanity is made in the image of God because we enjoy the power of creativity.

“… according to Ricouer, human being is possibility: “it does not yet appear what we shall be” (1 John 3: 2). Human existence is “forward-orientated,” constantly projecting itself in front of itself towards a possible way of being. Possibility is therefore intimately connected to the imagination which projects it, and to time, specifically the future. Human being, then, is not limited to the here and now, that is, to actuality … there is a “surplus of being” to human existence, and this surplus of being is nothing other than possibility. We are not as we shall be. Thanks to this surplus of being – possibility – humanity can hope.”

Kevin Vanhoozer notes that: “In his essay “The Image of God and the Epic of Man,” Ricoeur suggests that humans are in the image of God because they too enjoy the power of creativity. Thus the image of God, creativity, gives rise to the images of man, in the sense of the images that man makes. These images constitute “the sum total of the ways in which man projects his vision on things.”” Ricoeur suggests that through our imagination we can determine (God created) possibilities and define the (God created) essence of all that is around us. Essence, in this sense, is similar to Gerard Manley Hopkins' idea of 'inscape'.

Possibilities are, Ricoeur argues, real, although unactualised and it is through imagination that actualisation occurs and with it self-understanding:“The point of phenomenology is to describe the meaning of “lived experience” rather than its factuality. Husserl calls the meaning of a thing its “essence” (eidos). We come to know the essence of a thing by exploring its various possibilities. These possibilities are explored in the workshop of the imagination. Ricoeur notes of phenomenology that “its favourite technique is the method of imaginative variations. It is in varying the possible realizations of the same essential structure that the fundamental articulation can be made manifest.” Husserl’s example of the meaning or “essence” of a table is helpful. By “free imaginative variation” we can alter its form, its color, its material. By then looking to see what there is in common among the various examples, we can determine its essence. We can also imagine possible uses of a table: we can eat a meal on it; we can write letters or do a jigsaw puzzle on it; we can stand on it to fix the lightbulb etc. These variations are not present, but they are imagined as possible. Phenomenological description is thus closely related to fiction and the realm of as if. As far as phenomenology is concerned, we may define the meaning or “essence” of something as the imagined ensemble of its possibilities”.

We see this happening too in Genesis 2. 18-25, where God brings all the animals in the Garden of Eden to Adam for him to name and, at the end of this naming process, Adam recognises Eve as his soulmate. The key to this story is that names in ancient times described the essence of the thing that was named. So Adam looks and listens in order to understand the essence of each different creature and then creates a name that reflects that essence. By so doing, he also sees what is different between himself and the creatures, so that when he sees Eve he is able to immediately recognise her as his soulmate.

This is also what I understand the Bible as doing for us. The Bible is a diverse book. In fact, it is more of a library than a book; a library of 66 different books containing biography, drama, history, law, letters, prophecy, poetry and proverbs. Mike Riddell calls it "a collection of bits" assembled to form God's home page while Mark Oakley uses a more poetic image in writing of the Bible as "the best example of a collage of God that we have." They use these images because the Bible contains, as Oakley writes, "different views, experiences, beliefs and prayers" drawn "from disparate era, cultures and authors" which are not systematic in their portrayal of God. As Riddell states: "The bits don't fit together very well - sometimes they even seem to be contradictory. Stories, poems, teachings, records, events and miracles rub up against each other. They come from all over the place, and span at least 4,000 years of history."

The point is that the Bible gives us many different perspectives on God and on human beings. These different perspectives produce new ways of thinking, seeing, imagining and creating in us. As we see God and human beings from different perspectives and through fresh eyes we are opened up to new possibilities. As we see and imagine possibilities we have the same experience as Adam and come to know ourselves better - we see the essence of who we are - and we change to become more like the people that God created us to be.

This is living creatively, living artistically. The art of life is to be open to the diversity of life in order to see life's possibilities from different perspectives and, as we compare and contrast these possibilities, to identify the essence of who we have been created by God to be and to become. By understanding ourselves and by responding to the essence of others, we are able to develop and use our talents for the enrichment of other people's lives. In doing so, we express the fact of being creative creatures made in the image of our Creator God.

I think all this connects well with your description of Torrance's argument; Triune God, contingent creation, priestly Human. Gunton's open transcendentals (and other Trinitarian patterns - Sayers, Schumacher etc.) would then help in exploring the essence of each thing that is around us; including artworks. To critique artworks in terms of relationality, perichoresis and substantiality would indeed be a fascinating and distinctively Christian approach to art criticism and would extend Bourraiud's Relational Aesthetics considerably.

SS: Yes, all true, and some of my thinking on this enhanced by a couple of books by Timothy Gorringe, and the collaborative/partnering with God in Eden was touched on by David Thistlewaite in his `Art of God'.

"As Richard Bauckham has stated, the Christian is thrust into a “painful contradiction between the promise and present reality”:

I think Colin Gunton made some remarks on this in light of Romans 8, and in the framework of his talking about `catharsis' and Trinitarian Aesthetics (a lecture he gave at Kings of which I got a reprint somehow .... and used for `the light by which we see' included in `Crying for a Vision' and is borne out by much of below ...)

“The contradiction arises from a hope for the world, for the whole of this worldly reality, which it exposes in all its god-forsakenness. The Christian’s suffering is thus a loving solidarity with the whole of the suffering creation … and a hopeful solidarity in expectation of the transformation of all creation … Love and hope for the world involve the Christian in a movement towards world-transformation which has two moments: critical opposition and creative expectation …. In the first moment, hope liberates the Christian from all accommodation to the status quo and sets him critically against it … In the second moment, it gives rise to attempts to change the world in the direction of its promised transformation, imaginatively grasping and realising the objective possibilities in the present which conform most closely to the coming Kingdom … .”

Yep, so the `imaginative grasping' probably includes the groaning of Romans 8.

“… according to Ricouer, human being is possibility: “it does not yet appear what we shall be” (1 John 3: 2). Human existence is “forward-orientated,” constantly projecting itself in front of itself towards a possible way of being."

I once had a coffee mug that was imprinted with a Ricouer slogan: `If you want to change a people's obedience, you must first change their imagination.' which, I think brings art to the front of the conversation about community and change......

“The point of phenomenology is to describe the meaning of “lived experience” rather than its factuality. Husserl calls the meaning of a thing its “essence” (eidos). We come to know the essence of a thing by exploring its various possibilities. These possibilities are explored in the workshop of the imagination. Ricoeur notes of phenomenology that “its favourite technique is the method of imaginative variations. It is in varying the possible realizations of the same essential structure that the fundamental articulation can be made manifest.” Husserl’s example of the meaning or “essence” of a table is helpful. By “free imaginative variation” we can alter its form, its color, its material. By then looking to see what there is in common among the various examples, we can determine its essence. We can also imagine possible uses of a table: we can eat a meal on it; we can write letters or do a jigsaw puzzle on it; we can stand on it to fix the lightbulb etc. These variations are not present, but they are imagined as possible. Phenomenological description is thus closely related to fiction and the realm of as if. As far as phenomenology is concerned, we may define the meaning or “essence” of something as the imagined ensemble of its possibilities”.

"This is also what I understand the Bible as doing for us. The Bible is a diverse book."

Polyphony. and the ideas of Mikhail Bahktin. Have you read any Bahktin on dialogism and the novel? Also, some people have done work on Bahktin's ideas about culture and implications for the Bible (or our reading of it).

JE: "I think C Gunton made some remarks on this in light of Rom 8, and in the framework of his talking about `catharsis' and Trinitarian Aesthetics (a lecture he gave at Kings I got a reprint of somehow.....and used for `the light by which we see' included in `Crying for a Vision.' and is borne out by much of below...."

Gunton stated in The Actuality of Atonement that “the victory of Jesus stands behind; the final revelation lies ahead [and] it is the gift of the Spirit to enable anticipations of the final victory to take place in our time”. As a result, “the Christian community lives neither in the sphere of the lie nor in the kingdom of heaven where we shall know as we are known, but ‘between the times’”. This ‘in between’ time, David Ford suggests in Self and Salvation, is eucharistic time: “In between the Last Supper and the expected consummation signified by the Kingdom of God there is history punctuated by obedience to the command to ‘Do this’. This is eucharistic time – time understood and shaped through the reality celebrated repeatedly in the eucharist.” All this is where the title of my blog derives from.

"Yep so the `imaginative grasping' probably includes the groaning of Rom 8"

Yes, and the resurrection; as Jurgen Moltmann says, the “resurrection of Christ does not mean a new possibility within the world and its history, but a new possibility altogether for the world, for existence, and for history.”

"I once had a coffee mug that was imprinted with a Ricouer slogan: `If you want to change a people's obedience, you must first change their imagination.' which, I think brings art to the front of the conversation about community and change..."

Fully agree. Moltmann also says that we have to perceive God’s activity in the gift of the future and in the stream of new possibilities.

"Polyphony. and the ideas of Mikhail Bahktin.Have you read any B on dialogism and the novel.....also, some people have done work on Bahktin's ideas about culture and implications for the Bible (or our reading of it....) ??"

I've read a bit on polyphony in relation to Solzhenitsyn (I think it must have been Krasnov on Solzhenitsyn and Dostoevsky - very interesting stuff and very relevant to the arguments I've been making about the structure and form of scripture) but I haven't read Bahktin. What would you recommend?

SS: Here are all the pdfs in my Bahktin and bible sub folder. I've got a couple of his titles, and I've read some things on Bahktin and cultural criticism/carnival etc. I'm still coming to understand him.

JE: Thanks for this. Have just skim read the Bahktin and the Bible pdf which is one of those 'ohmigod, someone is articulating what I have been thinking' moments. Much of what I was writing in my posts on 'The Bible: Open or Closed?' (click here, here, here, here, here) seems to be expressed more clearly in this article which I'll clearly need to read more closely together with the other Bahktin files. Having read the Krasnov book, I've clearly come across Bahktin's ideas but without having incorporated them directly into my own thinking and writing on these issues. So, am very grateful to have these essays to fill in this gap.

SS: Excellent. I've long been a fan of the polyphonic/mosaic approach to `the Bible' as a whole ... as was the author of Hebrews ...

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Noah and the Whale - 2 Bodies 1 Heart.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

The space between events

Real life
is lived
in the spaces
between
events.
These gaps
are moments
to catch
breath
to rest
recuperate
reflect
like Mary
who
treasured up
all things
and pondered
them
in her heart.

Real life
is lived
in the spaces
between
events.
Times
to see
ourselves
acting on stage
and to
escape
the script
revealing
to the audience
the significance
of what
is happening
off stage.

Real life
is lived
in the spaces
between
events.
By watching
yourself
act
your part
you are
off-stage
while on-stage
revealing
unspoken
coincidences
round the corner
patterns
of liveliness.

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Mark Olson & Gary Louris with Victoria Williams - Lights.

Windows on the world (94)


Birmingham, 2010
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Fleetwood Mac - Oh Well.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

c4m webpage update (36)

The latest posts to the commission4mission webpage include information about the forthcoming Grace & Passion exhibition to be held at St Laurence's Upminster from 21st - 28th March and the Networking Evening which will be held during the exhibition (22nd March, 7.30 - 9.00pm) focussing on painting the Passion. in addition, there are new photographs of work by Henry Shelton on the Stations of the Crown of Thorns commission at St Paul's Goodmayes, the current Seeds of Life art programme at St Andrew's Leytonstone, and a profile of our newest member, Elizabeth Duncan Meyer.

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Katie Melua - The Closest Thing To Crazy.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Windows on the world (93)

Capel, 2010

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Morrissey - I Have Forgiven Jesus.



Thursday, 11 March 2010

Raising the Roof


Raising the Roof is a 20th Anniversary Concert by the Meljon Singers (http://www.meljon.org.uk/) followed by a buffet supper. Saturday 20th March, 7.30pm, St John's Seven Kings. Tickets are £5.00 from the Church Office (Mon-Fri, 10.00am - 12 noon). An hour-long programme of light music followed by a buffet supper to celebrate The Meljon Singers' 20-year association with St John's Church, Seven Kings, and its restoration project.

The Meljon Singers are one of London's most accomplished and enterprising chamber choirs and are celebrating their 20th Anniversary in 2010. Based in the London Borough of Redbridge, the group performs regularly in local and central London venues, and appears by invitation in other parts of the UK. In 2009 the group visited Italy for the fourth time, with appearances at the Rassegna Corale International Festival at Levanto and the Cinque Terre.
With their founder Musical Director Janette Ruocco, the Meljon Singers bring to their performances a spirit of adventure and a passion for music-making. Their concerts include music as diverse Palestrina's 16th century polyphony, Romantic classics like Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem, modern minimalist masters such as John Tavener and Arvo Pärt and the wealth of new choral writing from all over the world. The group's repertoire is constantly expanding, offering audiences fresh and original programmes devised to shed new light on familiar works and to explore little-known or unjustly neglected music.
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Palestrina - Stabat Mater.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Hope

The faith that I love best, says God, is hope.
Faith doesn’t surprise me.
It’s not surprising
I am so resplendent in my creation. . . .
That in order really not to see me these poor people would have to be blind.
Charity says God, that doesn’t surprise me.
It’s not surprising.
These poor creatures are so miserable that unless they had a heart of stone, how could they not have love for one another.
How could they not love their brothers.
How could they not take the bread from their own mouth, their daily bread, in order to give it to the unhappy children who pass by.
And my son had such love for them. . . .
But hope, says God, that is something that surprises me.
Even me.
That is surprising.
That these poor children see how things are going and believe that tomorrow things will go better.
That they see how things are going today and believe that they will go better tomorrow morning. That is surprising and it’s by far the greatest marvel of our grace.
And I’m surprised by it myself.
And my grace must indeed be an incredible force.

Charles Péguy

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Bruce Cockburn & Toumani Diabate - World Of Wonders.

Living Streets: Community Audit






Seven Kings & Newbury Park Resident's Association and Living Streets organised a comunity audit of Aldborough Road South today as part of the Redbridge Fitter for Walking project. As we walked the street we noted issues for notification to the relevant authorities and to consider for comunity action. These included: dumped rubbish, cracked pavements, speeding traffic, and improved signage, amongst other issues.
Living Streets say we all hear a lot about the need to increase the amount of exercise we take, and for busy people the best answer to that can be leaving the car keys at home and walking more as part of their daily routine.
But to do that, we need our streets to feel safe, look attractive, and be looked after with people in mind. Often it's simple things that can make a huge difference to how we view our streets - whether clearing up a particularly useful walking route, starting up street parties, or running campaigns to get parents walking the school run.
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