Wikio - Top Blogs - Religion and belief

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Jonathan Anderson: Religious Inspirations Behind Modernism – Artlyst Interview

My latest interview for Artlyst is with Jonathan Anderson, co-author with William Dyrness, of Modern Art and the Life of a Culture: The Religious Impulses of Modernism (IVP Academic, 2016). In a wide-ranging interview, we explore two untold stories about modern art; first, Western art carries the mark of its religious roots; and, second, modern art is always doing theology at some level.

Jonathan says: 'Over the past twenty years or so there has been a remarkable shift in the number of artists who are more explicitly thinking about religion, the number of curators who are staging exhibitions specifically addressing questions of religion in contemporary art, and the number of scholars who are studying the role of religion and theology in modern and contemporary art. There are now shelves of books and exhibition catalogues related to these topics, and they are being written from several perspectives and at the intersection of several disciplines, including art history, religious studies, sociology, and theology. This shift has created a conversation that feels fairly chaotic and unfocused, and there also remains, as James Elkins has said, ‘a complex structure of refusals’ against this kind of conversation both in academia and in the art world. But, nevertheless, the shift has been quite remarkable.'

The ground covered in our conversation includes aspects of art history, hermeneutics, postmodernism, spirituality, and theology.

My other Artlyst articles and interviews are:
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Leonard Cohen - Born In Chains.

Friday, 30 March 2018

Windows on the world (390)


Norwich, 2017

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Madeleine Peyroux - Smile.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Getting to know the unknown

My latest exhibition review for Church Times is of Giorgio Griffa: A Continuous Becoming at Camden Arts Centre:

'Minimalist unfinished marks on parts of unframed canvases hung from tacks on white walls; this is the “poor art” of Giorgio Griffa, which is rich in meaning and beauty ...

His are the colours of the Mediterranean; light, airy, precise, pastel. Marks that give the appearance of doodles are, as his sketchbooks demonstrate, meticulously planned and executed. The rhythms and harmonies of his mark-making in space fashion the dynam­ism of his diagonals, curves, and rectangles.

The marks on his unfolded pinned canvases never extend across the whole — a decision that signs the unfinished nature of our under­standing and comprehension.'

I've also written about Griffa's use of the Golden Ratio in a feature article published by Artlyst.

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Mark Heard - Strong Hand Of Love.

Meditations, images, poems & prayers





Palm Sunday at St Martin-in-the-Fields included a powerful Passion drama in our morning service. Read more about the way in which members of the Sunday International Group, Nazareth Community and St Martin’s Congregation took part, by clicking here. In the evening I led From Creation to Salvation, a powerful service of readings and music as we entered into Holy Week, telling the story of salvation, with the Choir of St Martin-in-the-Fields. We began the service using my poem 'Designer of Creation' as a responsive prayer and later heard Passion monologues written by my good friend Alan Stewart.

On Monday of Holy Week I led Alternative Stations of the Cross, a time of contemplation on the Stations of the Cross using images, meditations, music and prayers. For this service I used meditations and images from ‘Mark of the Cross’, my collaboration with Henry Shelton, as well as showing the Stations of the Cross created by Valerie Dean

These images by commission4mission artists are available for download via theworshipcloud.com. 'Mark of the Cross' features 20 poetic meditations on Christ’s journey to the cross and reactions to his resurrection and ascension (images by Henry Shelton and words by myself). 'Stations of the Cross' by Valerie Dean are available as a powerpoint presentationand as a pdf file. Her 'Stations of the Cross' have a very clear and intense focus on details which are evocative of the whole. Individual images, pdfs and powerpoints for these collections are all available for download from The Worship Cloud.


Each month at St Martin's a different member of the artists and craftspeoples group shows an example of their work. In April it is my turn to do so. The paintings I am showing are reflections on 1 Corinthians 1:18 - 'For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God'. In 1 Corinthians 1, St Paul writes that Christ’s sacrifice of himself on the cross appears foolish to Gentiles. In this chapter, Paul contrasts the foolishness of God’s self-sacrificing love with the self-preservation that characterises what many think of as human wisdom. This aspect of Paul’s teaching has sometimes been linked to the literary tradition of the Fool, who speaks truth to power. My paintings are reflections on both these strands from the Christian tradition.

Tonight, we held a moving Maundy Thursday Eucharist with foot washing followed by the silent vigil of the watch. Katherine Hedderly preached an excellent sermon and I contributed the following intercessions (pulled together from a variety of sources):

Comforting God, on this night your Son knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to be with you. We pray for those whose loved ones have died and for all those who know themselves to be facing death. Do not let grief overwhelm your children, or turn them against you. When grief seems never-ending, take them one step at a time along your road of death and resurrection in Jesus Christ our Lord. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Affirming God, on this night your Son knew that you had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from you and was going to you. We pray for those of us who are uncertain of ourselves and unsure of the love of others for us. May we know ourselves to be your much loved children and, through that knowledge, become free of worries about status and hierarchy in order to look beyond ourselves and live for others, being with and giving time, care and comfort to others who are in need. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Serving God, on this night your Son washed his disciples' feet. We commit ourselves to follow his example of love and service. Open our hearts and let your Spirit live in us that we, though a motley band of muddled and broken humanity, may be your present and future disciples. May we be ‘salt’ and ‘light’ in our world as we bless our communities by serving them as you have served us. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Subverting God, on this night your Son turned upside down the hierarchies and human patterns of authority that we think are normal. We commit ourselves to make your Church a community at the heart of your kingdom alongside those on the edge of society, that each day we may seek your glory, and embody your grace. Enable us to receive the gifts you send in the unexpected people who turn out to populate your kingdom. Enable us to see that you are giving the Church everything it needs for the renewal of its life in those who find themselves to be on the edge. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Loving God, on this night your Son commanded his disciples to love, but suffered rejection himself. We pray for the rejected and unloved, those isolated and abandoned, that they may find companions in their distress, those who will be “with” them even when there is nothing that can be done or nothing that can be said. And make us a people of grace, wisdom, and hospitality, who know that our true identity is to be lost, until we find our eternal home in you. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

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Richard Gillard - The Servant Song (Brother, Sister, Let Me Serve You).

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

HeartEdge Mailer: March 2018

Welcome to the HeartEdge Mailer for March. Loads to inspire and equip this month - including:
  • Portrait from Prison, plus Adam Curtis on fear of change. And face paints!
  • Purple Shoots in the West Country plus a social enterprise 'how to' guide
  • Big Lunches, Dave Andrews on compassionate community work and 'Down to Earth'
  • Plus John Swinton, Maggi Dawn, Inderjit Bhogal and Jess Foster!
We're defined by our four Cs - HeartEdge churches and organisations are about becoming:
  • Active in commerce 
  • Engaged with culture
  • Nurturing congregation
  • Developing community
HeartEdge: Events

21 May, 7.00pm: St Martin in the Fields, London: “Who is my Neighbour? - The Global and Personal Challenge". Sam Wells chairs a panel discussion with Rabbi Shulamit Ambalu, Dr Megan Warner and Revd Richard Carter. Sam Ahmad Ziaee who will talk about his journey aged 16 from Afghanistan to the UK. Edited by Richard Carter and Sam Wells, and published by SPCK. The event is free and open to all. Copies of the book will be on sale at £10. Book here.

Thur 24 May, 2pm - 4pm: St Martin-in-the-Fields, London: HeartEdge Start:Stop Workshop. Learn about Start:Stop, the popular 10-minute work-based reflections for people on their way to work, with Revd Jonathan Evens. Session include - growing a new congregation; engaging with working people; ministering in the workplace and communicating with busy people. Book here or call 020 7766 1127. HeartEdge members - free. Non-members - £10.

24 - 27 August: Boughton House, Leicestershire, Greenbelt: Sam Wells, Vicar of HeartEdge members St Martin in the Fields will be speaking at Greenbelt Festival this August Bank-Holiday. Carol Ann Duffy, Paula Gooder and Pussy Riot also feature. Details here.

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Carol Ann Duffy - Prayer.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Artlyst - Michael Takeo Magruder: De / coding the Apocalypse – Panacea Museum

My latest piece for Artlyst is a review of Michael Takeo Magruder’s digital art exhibition ‘De / coding the Apocalypse’ at the Panacea Museum; a visual art exhibition exploring contemporary creative visions inspired by and based on the Book of Revelation:

'As the Panaceans knew, the Book of Revelation documents not only the destruction of the current world but also maps out the creation of a new, better one. With this in mind, Takeo says: "I think that is good for us to ponder and to imagine—whether we are religious or not—because in this technological age we have so much power to destroy and to bring about our own end. Yet that same technology could/can also bring us hope and salvation. And maybe in that simple fact, a text like Revelation can surface our greatest fears and our greatest hopes and help us to strive towards the positive in the full knowledge that if we get it wrong, it could be the end of us."'

I first met Takeo when St Stephen Walbrook was the first location to show his 'Lamentation for the Forsaken'. This piece is currently at The Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest, New York. In this work Takeo offers a lamentation not only for the forsaken Jesus, but others who have felt the acute pain of abandonment, whether by God or fellow human beings. In particular, Takeo evokes the memory of hundreds of thousands of Syrians who have passed away in the present conflict, weaving their names and images into a contemporary Shroud of Turin; a relic famous for its image of Christ, believed to have been created without human intervention.

My other Artlyst articles are:
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Robert Plant - Bones Of Saints.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

'Striking', 'intriguing', 'uplifting', 'interesting'


  • A useful lesson for my 'A' level art history students
  • Striking exhibition
  • Extraordinary place for an extraordinarily broad-minded, human and thought-provoking exhibition
  • Stations of the Cross are an inspiration
  • Very spiritually uplifting
  • Fabulous exhibition
  • Brilliant show
  • Intriguing show. Well done - the church should reach out to current artists more often
  • Very good, interesting
  • Not impressed by stormtrooper
These are the comments made in the Visitor Book at St Stephen Walbrook during Art Below's Stations of the Cross exhibition

While most people attending did't record comments, those that have demonstrate that the Great British Public is more accepting and unfazed by the supposedly controversial than those who make it their job to stir up such controversy in their constant competition for readers, clicks, listeners etc.  

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Bob Dylan - Disease of Conceit.

Windows on the world (389)


Covent Garden, 2016

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Joni Mitchell - Both Sides, Now.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Exploring the theology of HeartEdge








HeartEdge held an event at St Martin-in-the-Fields this week where a selection of HeartEdge branded books were launched. Andy Goodliff interviewed Sam Wells on themes addressed within ‘For Good: The Church and the Future of Welfare’, 'Incarnational Mission', ‘Who Is My Neighbour? The Global and Personal Challenge’ and ‘Liturgy on the Edge: Pastoral and Attractional Worship’. 

In recent months, a series of books have been published by Sam, often in collaboration, with others which set out key aspects of the theology that informs the design and practice of HeartEdge. As a result, several of these books carry the HeartEdge logo. These are books which speak into key issues and situations of our time in ways that have been described as timely, valuable and courageous. They are commended to us as richly challenging, deeply engaging and as being outstanding guides. Exploring their themes tonight therefore promises to be enriching on many levels.

Guiding us in our exploration of themes from the books was Andy Goodliff, the Minister at Belle Vue Baptist Church in Southend-on-Sea. Belle Vue were among the first churches to join HeartEdge and Andy subsequently explained the reasoning behind that decision in an article published by Baptist Times. In the article, Andy said that ‘HeartEdge feels different, in that it is practical theology, where the theology is not just a veneer, but running right through it.’ His interview with Sam enabled discussion of the theology that underpins the support and networking which HeartEdge offers, as well as providing the opportunity to listen to Sam talk about the theology of “Being With.”

A video of this interview can be viewed by clicking here.

“Who is my Neighbour?” The Global and Personal Challenge will have a further launch at St Martin's on 21 May at 7.00pm when Sam will chair an exciting panel discussion with Rabbi Shulamit AmbaluDr Megan WarnerRevd Richard Carter and Sam Ahmad Ziaee (who will tell the story of his journey aged 16 from Afghanistan to the UK). “This richly challenging and deeply engaging book merits careful consideration at a time when fear of the “other” threatens to overwhelm us. In simple terms its theme is migration but actually it’s about being human.” The Rt Revd Adrian Newman Bishop of Stepney. “This brilliant book addresses one of the most urgent questions of our time: how to welcome the strangers who come seeking a home with us.” Timothy Radcliffe. The event is free and open to all. Copies of the book will be on sale at £10. The Eventbrite link is https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/who-is-my-neighbour-the-global-and-personal-challenge-tickets-44409049663.

HeartEdge is a growing ecumenical network of churches and other organisations which are contributing to God's mission in the world by ministry with diverse, inclusive congregations that combines compassionate activities, commercial activities and cultural programming. HeartEdge members see all of these as missional and aim to integrate all four for maximum impact.

HeartEdge has been initiated by St Martin-in-the-Fields and the 4C's form the mission model that has been used here for the past 30 years. It is a model that is used by or which makes sense of the mission and ministry of churches throughout the UK and beyond. For that reason, churches Aberdeen to Amsterdam, Bristol to Birmingham, and all points in between including Dunfermline, Edinburgh, Hull, London, Norwich, Rochdale, Shoeburyness, Swaffham and Utrecht, among others, have already joined the network.


In addition to the Book Launch, HeartEdge has recently organised a well attended day on Churches & Commerce at St Martin in the Bull Ring and last week ran a consultancy day for HeartEdge member All Saints Hertford exploring options for developing their existing ministry. For Consultancy Days we gather a small hand-picked team of people from member churches to visit a specific church for a day, spending the morning seeing and hearing about their ministry, buildings and context, before using the afternoon to share stories of relevant experience and thoughtshower ideas and approaches which may be of use within that context. The church was grateful for the time and input of the HeartEdge group, all of whom added real value.There seemed to be several points during the afternoon at which ‘lights were coming on’ for particular people or for the church group as a whole, together with a range of ideas and responses that also emerged from the day. Further consultancy days are being planned for churches in Bristol, Redruth and Southwark.

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Carolyn Arends - Seize The Day.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

St Martin-in-the-Fields: Palm Sunday, Holy Week & Easter Day

On Palm Sunday at 5.00pm in St Martin-in-the-Fields I will be leading From Creation to Salvation, a powerful service of readings and music as we enter into Holy Week, telling the story of salvation, with the Choir of St Martin-in-the-Fields.

At the beginning of Holy Week I will be leading Alternative Stations of the Cross, a service for Holy Week at St Martin-in-the-Fields, at 6.00pm on Monday 26 March in the Dick Sheppard Chapel. For this service I will use meditations and images from ‘Mark of the Cross’, my collaboration with Henry Shelton, as well as showing the Stations of the Cross created by Valerie Dean. These images by commission4mission artists are available for download via theworshipcloud.com. 'Mark of the Cross' features 20 poetic meditations on Christ’s journey to the cross and reactions to his resurrection and ascension (images by Henry Shelton and words by myself). 'Stations of the Cross' by Valerie Dean are available as a powerpoint presentationand as a pdf file. Her 'Stations of the Cross' have a very clear and intense focus on details which are evocative of the whole. Individual images, pdfs and powerpoints for these collections are all available for download from The Worship Cloud.

Our other Holy Week and Easter services are as follows:

Meditation on the Cross (DSC and Lightwell)
The meditative service for Holy Week.
Tuesday 27 March, 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

A Concert for Holy Week: Will Todd Passion Music
Will Todd conducts St Martin's Chorus and the Choral Scholars of St Martin-in-the-Fields in the world première his Passion Music.
Tuesday 27 March, 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

Bread for the World in Holy Week
A weekly informal Eucharist on Wednesdays to deepen the life of the St Martin’s community, through prayer, music, word and reflection. Followed by fellowship.
Wednesday 28 March, 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm

Great Sacred Music: A Sequence for Holy Week
Revd Dr Sam Wells explores the story and the meaning behind the music of our religious heritage, with St Martin’s Voices (directed by Andrew Earis).
Thursday 29 March, 1:00 pm - 1:45 pm

Maundy Thursday Liturgy
Maundy Thursday Liturgy with foot washing followed by the silent vigil of the watch until 10.00pm.
Thursday 29 March, 6:30 pm - 10:00 pm

Good Friday Service for All Ages
An all age service for Holy Week.
Friday 30 March, 10:00 am - 11:00 am

Good Friday Three Hours
A Cross in the Heart of God from the Foundation of the World: a service of reflections on the passion of Christ.
Friday 30 March, 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Sound of St Martin’s: Bach St John Passion
Andrew Earis directs St Martin’s Voices and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields in this stunning performance of Bach’s magnificent St John’s Passion.
Friday 30 March, 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

Easter Day

The Easter Vigil and the First Eucharist of Easter
Sunday 1 April 2018
5:30 am - 6:30 am

Easter Eucharist
Sunday 1 April 2018
10:00 am - 11:00 pm

Choral Evensong – Easter Day
Sunday 1 April 2018
5:00 pm - 5:45 pm

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J.S. Bach - St John's Passion.

How does a crucified stormtrooper glorify God?

The blogger Archbishop Cranmer asks the question, ‘How does a crucified stormtrooper glorify God?’ As I see value in exhibiting Ryan Callanan’s ‘Crucified Stormtrooper’ in a church, when he does not, he goes on to assume and assert that I cannot have pondered the question of what this artwork is actually saying about God’s unique sacrifice and the ultimate source of salvation.

The cross was originally a scandal and a stumbling block within the societies to which the Early Church took the Gospel. The Apostles asked their contemporaries to follow a man who had been given a death reserved for the lowest of the low, who had died among thieves, and who was cursed, as was the case, according to the Law of Moses, for anyone who died on a tree.

Christ’s crucifixion is one of the great subjects of Western Art and yet, for the reasons we are been considering, there are very few early crucifixion images as the Early Christians went out of their way to not depict it. We Christians, by contrast, have become so used to speaking about crucifixion that we tend to miss its horror. Instead we have beautiful crosses on or in our churches, in the lapels of our coats, hung around our necks and embossed on our Bibles.

Not only have we tamed the horror of crucifixion in our thinking but we have also tamed the true scandal of the cross; that we are all sinners and that the sinless Christ became sin himself on the cross in order to save us from our sin. In such a context, how do we recapture or represent the true scandal of the cross?

I suggest that one way is to display a crucified stormtrooper in a City church. To do so generates accusations of blasphemy from those who don’t understand that the sinless Christ had to take sin onto himself in order to save us and also the accusation of tackiness from those who seem to think that the beauty of our worship and architecture is what saves us.

In the Star Wars films, stormtroopers are the main ground force of the Galactic Empire, under the leadership of Emperor Palpatine and his commanders, most notably Darth Vader. They are on the dark side in that conflict. That the artist Ryan Callanan chose to create a ‘Crucified Stormtrooper,’ provides Christians and others with the possibility of experiencing something of the sense of scandal that Christ’s crucifixion originally generated.

The imagery of the dark side in the Star Wars films can be seen in this context as equating to the Christian belief that we are all sinners. If we use the imagery opened up for us by ‘Crucified Stormtrooper,’ then we are forced to reflect, much as we dislike the thought, that we are all on the dark side. We are all stormtroopers.

The amazing message of love at the heart of Christianity is that God does something about that situation. God becomes one of us in Christ. He becomes a stormtrooper in order that, through his death, he can take the darkness onto himself and enable us to live in the light. That is the original heartbeat of Christianity, which continues to radically change people's lives on a daily basis around the world when they genuinely acknowledge their own sinfulness. The scandal - the stumbling block - that is the cross, is brought to home to us afresh by including this artwork in this exhibition; particularly to any who view their own assets as the basis for their own self-esteem.

My reflection on the ‘Crucified Stormtrooper’ is unlikely to be what the artist intended when he made the piece. The concept of cross referencing is important in Callanan’s work, taking one item out of its context and splicing it with another to create something that feels familiar but whose meaning is subtly shifted, so he was probably primarily interested in juxtaposing incongruous images. But once he had put the stormtrooper on a cross, he made that reflection possible.

For us to show this work in a church enables that reflection on Christ's love to be seen and shared in a new way and that is why it worthwhile for the Church to show art, especially controversial art, and to explore the questions that it opens up to us. I am interested in putting art exhibitions into churches because I recognise that artists, in their work, are seeking to explore the big philosophical questions in life. Questions like, who am I, where am I, why am I here and is there a God? The Church is also exploring those same questions and, therefore, there is potential for real connection between the Church, artists and those viewing the art in exploring those questions together. We won't all come to the same conclusions or even to any conclusions but exploring the questions and living the questions is a profoundly spiritual thing to do.

Those who have come to the exhibitions I have organised, and many do, generally respond reflectively and with appreciation. Ben Moore, the curator of this exhibition, said that its well-attended Private View was a great success with an atmosphere that had a good warmth and glow about it. In that context, I was able to talk to people, for whom churchgoing is not necessarily a regular feature of their lives, about the art in relation to the love of Christ. That is both a great privilege and opportunity. Ben himself has, as a result of the controversy, written publicly about his faith. He equates the image to the storyline in Star Wars 'The Force Awakens' (2015) where we see ‘a stormtrooper escape from the dark side to come and support the rebellion’ and therefore views 'crucified stormtrooper' as playing into the notion of forgiveness.

In addition, many Christians see no issue with the image. One, who wrote to me, is a collector of Callanan’s work, and stated clearly that it is not offensive. A parishioner, who is thankful that the piece wasn’t removed from the exhibition, has written of how the exhibition has informed his Lenten reading:

‘Like each work on display, individually both ‘Crucified Stormtrooper’ and ‘Dying Slave’ are beautiful and thought provoking. Placed together, they seem to take on an extra dimension - creating a dialogue about our own mortality and relationship with body image - and the extent to which our minds and bodies are a legible witness to our faith. These themes are explored in Chapter 5 of Ben Quash’s Book ‘Abiding’: Wounds that Abide. The reaction of my anonymous friend at church and the subsequent act of moving the Crucified Stormtrooper has meant that all of us, as parishioners and visitors to the exhibition, are bound up in this dialogue.’

I give thanks to God for these and other responses. I think it better by far to engage with these images and discuss the questions they raise, instead of seeking to suppress or censor. I think it important to build relationships with those who are outside the Church but nevertheless grappling with their response to the challenge and scandal of Christ's cross. I think that all these are in play as part of this exhibition and that that is genuinely glorifying to God.

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The Call - I Still Believe.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

CHURCHES SHOW PRISONERS’ ART





First Impressions – Portraits from Prison, has been curated by the Koestler Trust, at the invitation of the Prisons Mission of Churches Together in Westminster. The exhibition was opened tonight at St James Piccadilly by prison reformist, Jonathan Aitken.

The Koestler Trust is the UK’s leading prison arts charity. It plays a vital part in the rehabilitation journey offered to prisoners and ex-prisoners to transform their lives through participation in arts.

The Prisons Mission is an initiative of Churches Together in Westminster (CTiW) which provides support and assistance identified and needed by the multi-faith Chaplaincy Teams in prisons. It also aims to ensure that prisoners while out of sight are not out of mind. 

The Prisons Mission has developed a very useful relationship with the Koestler Trust enabling the of this four Churches Show of Art by Prisoners. Artwork will be exhibited at St James’s Piccadilly, St Martin-in-the-Fields, Notre Dame de France and Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church. It is hoped that the artwork will be the focus for other prison related activities, discussions, lectures, displays and dramas, providing information about the prison and criminal justice system, not only to the regular congregations, but to a wider audience.

The exhibition showcases a selection of portraiture and sculpture entered into the Koestler Awards – an annual scheme run by the Koestler Trust that has been inspiring participation in the arts by people in the UK’s criminal justice system and secure sectors for over 55 years.

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Johnny Cash - San Quentin.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Stephen Newton: Artistic creation & transcendental feeling

I'm currently reading 'The Spiritual Unconscious: Stephen Newton - Paintings and Drawings 1975-96'. Newton argues that there is an abstract ‘core’ of creativity which generates the spirituality of both the icon and the abstract.

He quotes Wilhelm Worringer from 'Abstraction and Empathy':

‘To transcendentalism of religion there always corresponds a transcendentalism of art, for which we lack the organ of understanding only because we obstinately insist upon appraising the vast mass of factual material in the whole field of art from the narrow angle of vision of our European-Classical conception. We perceive transcendental feeling in the content, to be sure; but we overlook it in the real core of the process of artistic creation, the activity of the form-determining will’.

'It is this abstract ‘core’ of creativity which generates the spirituality of both the icon and the abstract. It is this access through the materiality of form to a communion with the supernatural and an ek-stasis which invoked the wrath of the iconoclasts, and not, as is usually assumed, because the image of the deity is figuratively symbolised.'

'The original genesis of such a spirituality is in creative structure and experience, which arguably underpins art, religion and also psychoanalysis. Put simply, this creative experience might generally be described as involving some sort of transcendental, therapeutic, transformative and ecstatic process, which can involve actual ek-stasis , an ‘out of body’ experience ...

This spiritual, creative structure turns up in various guises throughout human history; in mysticism; in ancient oracles; in African tribal dance and ritual; in all religious and spiritual experience; and throughout mythology. I think its most recent genuine or ‘authentic’ manifestation is in the advent of modern abstract art, as practised in its purest sense by artists such as Kandinsky, Mondrian, Rothko, De Kooning, Guston and others.'

Newton's work is included in the Priseman Seabrook Collection which was established by British artist Robert Priseman and his wife Ally Seabrook in 2014. The collection is formed into three categories – 21st Century British Painting, 20th and 21st Century British Works on Paper and Contemporary Chinese Works on Paper. The focus of each collection is on painting and drawing made by hand. Priseman also founded ‘Contemporary British Painting’, an artist led organisation which exhibits in the crypt of St Marylebone  Parish Church exploring and promoting current trends in British painting through group exhibitions, talks, publications and the donation of paintings to art museums. 

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Lent Oasis

We enjoyed another ‘Oasis’ time of quiet scripture reflection, prayer and practical art at St Martin-in-the-Fields this afternoon. Art materials were available for us to explore, play with colour and be creative through collage, painting, drawing or writing. The 'Oasis' time began with Lectio Divina and imaginative contemplation of Mark 10. 46 - 52.










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Gregory Porter - He Looked Beyond All My Faults.

Inspired to Follow: Art and the Bible Story - Abraham and Isaac

‘Inspired to Follow: Art and the Bible Story’ is a free resource to help people explore the Christian faith, using paintings and Biblical story as the starting points. It’s been created by St Martin-in-the-Fields in partnership with the National Gallery.

Here is the latest reflection that I have prepared for the series:

Text: Genesis 22:1-12
Image: ‘Abraham and Isaac’ Johann Heinrich Ferdinand Olivier, 1817, NG6541
Location: National Gallery, Gallery D

Reflection:

Johann Heinrich Ferdinand Olivier was born in Dessau where he received his first artistic training. In 1804 he moved to Dresden where he became acquainted with the painters Philipp Otto Runge and Caspar David Friedrich. Friedrich combined landscape motifs with religious symbolism, and pictures like his ‘Winter Landscape’ in the National Gallery represent the hope for salvation through the Christian faith.

From 1807 to 1810 Olivier was in Paris, and in 1811 he settled in Vienna. In 1817 he became a member of the Brotherhood of Saint Luke, an artistic brotherhood (later known as the Nazarenes) founded in Vienna in 1809 by Friedrich Overbeck and Franz Pforr. The Brotherhood was committed to regenerating German religious art in imitation of the works of Durer, Perugino and Raphael. Olivier shared the Nazarenes' enthusiasm for northern medieval and Renaissance art and their interest in the revival of religious painting. The Nazarenes were particularly admired by the Pre-Raphaelites.

In this painting, Abraham and his son Isaac make their way to the place of sacrifice as recounted in the Old Testament (Genesis 22: 1-19). Isaac carries wood for the altar fire and Abraham holds a lighted torch. They appear to be focused primarily on their journey and don’t appear to be involved in debate or argument about the coming sacrifice.

The style of the painting is deliberately archaic, with precise outlines and odd disparities in scale, while the figures of Abraham and Isaac recall the simplified forms of a medieval woodcut. The landscape background is drawn with meticulous care. It is loosely based on Olivier's studies of the countryside around Salzburg, which he first visited in 1815. The distant mountain peak may perhaps be identified as the Watzmann, to the south of the city.

The story of Abraham’s near-sacrifice of Isaac is not an easy one to handle for a lot of people. There appears to be a lot that is wrong, even barbaric, about the tale. How can a man, elsewhere called a hero of the faith, be prepared to kill his child? And how can a God, whom we talk about as loving, ask anyone to do that? What kind of God would ask Abraham to kill his own son as a sacrifice? Should blind loyalty to God lead us to commit evil, inhuman acts? It is a story that seems like an easy target for people who say that religions cause violence and conflict.

The key to understanding this story is the realisation that child sacrifice was the norm in the religions of the day and that the reason Abraham obeys God so unquestioningly may have been because, horrific and distasteful as it seems to us, there was nothing at that time unusual about the idea that the gods required human sacrifices in order to be appeased. It may be that we see this imaged in the calmness and willingness with which Abraham and Isaac ascend the mountain to the place of sacrifice.

The stories in Genesis about Abraham are foundational stories for the People of Israel. Imagine for a moment that you want to create a foundational story for a group of people that will change their understanding of sacrifice from the understanding with which they have grown up to one which is completely different from the religious practices of all the people that surround them. What kind of story might you tell? It may be that you would tell a story in which the person founding this new nation is taken all the way to the brink of child sacrifice and then dramatically and suddenly pulled back from taking that step.

The legacy of the story of the sacrifice of Isaac, the philosopher and anthropologist René Girard has suggested, is that Israel developed a system of animal sacrifice that continued until shortly after the crucifixion of Jesus. Jesus’ crucifixion, Girard suggests, was both about God identifying himself with all the victims – the scapegoats – who have been sacrificed down through the centuries and also, because in Jesus God himself was scapegoated and sacrificed, the ultimate demonstration of the reality that, as Hosea first stated and Jesus then repeated, God requires mercy, not sacrifice.

In Jewish tradition the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem is where Abraham’s near sacrifice of Isaac is said to have taken place. At our partner church of St Stephen Walbrook there is a visible reminder of this in the central Henry Moore altar. By carving a round altar table with forms cut into the circular sides, Moore suggested that the centre of the church reflected the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem commemorating the sacrifice of Abraham and Isaac as a prefiguring of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross and the place for the offering of the Eucharist at the heart of Christian worship. In the Eucharist we remember and re-enact these stories of the sacrifice of Isaac and of Jesus because we need to remember and act on the realisation that God desires mercy, not scapegoats or sacrifice.

Prayer: Grieving God, in your son you experienced the agony of the pointless, savage, premature end of life. Hold the hand of those whose loved ones have become scapegoats; calm the fears of all whose identity makes them subject to the perverse hatred and grotesque violence of others; and hasten a world where all are celebrated for who they are as your children, where difference is a sign of your diverse abundance. Through the wounded yet ascended Christ, your personification of solidarity and embodiment of hope. Amen.

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The Call - Scene Beyond Dreams.

Art Below: Stations of the Cross






Art Below is a London based public art enterprise, founded in 2006 by brothers Ben and Simon Moore. Their raison d'être is the use of billboard space in underground stations to display artworks in London and overseas. Their mission is to enrich the everyday life of the traveling public by giving fresh insight into the very latest in contemporary art whilst at the same time providing a platform for emerging and established talent.

It has become an annual feature of Art Below that every year in the run up to Easter they feature ‘Stations of the Cross’ in some form or another. This year they are exhibiting at St Stephen Walbrook from 16th – 23rd March with a show that features crucifixion themed work by 14 artists including Francis Bacon, Paul Benney, Ricardo Cinalli, Sebastian Horsley and Ben Eine.

Last year Art Below showcased crucifixion themed works by Francis Bacon on billboard space at Green Park and St Pauls tube station. Bacon often referenced the crucifixion in his art to embody life’s horror as he could not find a subject as valid to embrace all the nuances of human feelings and behaviours. In 2015 ‘Stations of the Cross’ at St Marylebone Parish Church included a life-size body cast of Pete Doherty nailed to a cross entitled ‘For Pete’s Sake’ which attracted media attention worldwide. Their first Stations of the Cross exhibition also took place at St Marylebone Parish Church and on billboard space across the London Underground. This show included work by artists Antony Micallef, Mat Collishaw, Polly Morgan, Paul Fryer and Bran Symondson.

All the 'Stations of the Cross' exhibitions have raised funds for The Missing Tom Fund. The exhibitions’ curator and participating artist Ben Moore, with the support of his family and the Missing People Charity, set up the Missing Tom Fund in 2013 to raise money for the search for his older brother Tom (b.1971) who has been missing since 2003 (www.missingtom.com). Ben Moore says: “Tom was very interested in religion and, as such, Stations of the Cross seems a natural fit for us. We hope that the project will offer further help in continuing our search for Tom.”

This year’s exhibition could almost be seen as a review of the series so far, featuring, as it does, many of the artists that have exhibited in previous years including Francis Bacon, Paul Benney, Ricardo Cinalli, Chris Clack, Sebastian Horsley, M C Llamas, Ben Moore and James Vaulkhard.

Paul Benney has become known for his depictions of stygian themes and dark nights of the soul. Rachel Campbell Johnston writes that his figures ‘some sense of our spiritual quest.’ This is because he ‘shows us our lives as they balance on that fragile boundary between the perfectly ordinary and the profoundly otherworldly,’ seeking ‘to capture that mystery which redeems us from the mundane.’ Joseph Clarke says that Benney’s work ‘could be seen to continue the strong tradition of ‘British Mysticism’ championed by the likes of Samuel Palmer and William Blake.’ Benny is contributing ‘Dying Slave: 13th Station’ to this exhibition. This image shows a cruciform figure above a whirlpool. Christ walked on water in his ministry but, figuratively, was sucked under the waters in death. For Christians, baptism (going under the waters and emerging) is a symbol of Christ’s death and resurrection. In this piece, Benney can be understood as showing us the beginning of this redemptive process.

Sebastian Horsley contributes a film still of a performance from 2000, when he was nailed to a cross in the Filipino village of San Pedro Cutud in order to gain an insight into crucifixion for a series of paintings on the subject. In doing so, he passed out with pain and then fell from the cross, taking the nails with him when the straps holding his arms broke. But far from being euphoric or enlightened by the experience, he was dejected and wrote in his diary that God had punished him and had thrown him off the cross 'for impersonating his son'.

Argentinian artist Ricardo Cinalli, who lives in Spitalfields, creates spirited and passionate paintings that are baroque in their emotionalism and surrealist in their imaginative extravagance. Over a career spanning more than thirty years, he has become internationally renowned for his works on canvas and his huge pastel drawings created using a unique method of pastel and layers of tissue paper. In 2007, he was commissioned by Bishop Paglia and Fr. Fabio Leonardis to create a fresco in the Cathedral church of the Diocese of Terni-Narni-Amelia.

Each year, particular images, such as Anthony Micallef’s ‘Kill Your Idol’ and Nick Reynolds and Schoony ‘For Pete’s Sake’ have attracted significant media attention and generated debate about how the Church can explore the contemporary significance of Christ where people are at and in a language they can understand. This year, Ryan Callanan's ‘Stormtrooper Crucifixion’ may be viewed as being among the more controversial images shown in the exhibition.

Callanan (also known as RYCA) is a modern Pop Artist. Important to all Callanan’s work to date is the concept of the cross reference: taking one item out of its context and splicing it with another to create something that feels familiar but whose meaning is subtly shifted.This image raises similar questions to those which CS Lewis raised in his science fiction trilogy i.e. that, were other races to exist on other planets, would Christ be incarnated among those races in order to die for their salvation? Lewis’ view, which he sets out in the story running through the trilogy, is that Christ would do so. For Christians, Callanan's image can lead to a similar conclusion.

Chris Clack’s ‘Descent with Gerbera’ raises similar questions as it depicts the descent from the cross as set on the moon. As with Callanan, such juxtapositions are Christopher Clack’s stock-in-trade. Tyrannasaurus rex and crucifix, cemetery and prism, head formed by the moon, pieta with astronaut - these are just some of the disparate images brought together in his work. Such juxtapositions position us at a point of paradox, a liminal place where there are more questions than answers. In this work science and religion are juxtaposed, but are they opposed or reconciled within the image? Yuri Gagarin famously flew into space, but, in the words of Nikita Khrushchev, “he didn't see any god there." Buzz Aldrin, by contrast, consumed the Holy Sacrament while on the surface of the moon. Who was right and who was wrong? Was Christ to be found on the moon and in what form? As we have reflected, similar questions were posed by C. S. Lewis in his sci-fi trilogy where the Fall was re-imagined and re-enacted on another planet.

Clack has said, “The 'Religious' is found in the least expected places.” What would be the impact, I wonder, were we more frequently to take religious images out of their religious context, as Clack has done, and trust them to raise their questions and reveal their meanings in other landscapes, cultures and worlds?

In their ‘Stations of the Cross’ exhibitions, Art Below show images designed to provoke thought from artists grappling with their response to the challenge and scandal of Christ's cross. For Christians, these images can be commended as images that can open ideas and minds to new reflections on the eternal significance of Christ's sacrifice.

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Arvo Pärt - St. John Passion.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Windows on the world (388)


London, 2016

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Friday, 16 March 2018

Art Below: Stations of the Cross – Private View





 



A well-attended Private View last night saw lots of interest and engagement with the artworks featured in Art Below's Stations of the Cross exhibition at St Stephen Walbrook. In the course of the evening I said the following:

I am interested in putting art exhibitions into churches because I recognise that artists, in their work, are seeking to explore the big philosophical questions in life. Questions like, who am I, where am I, why am I here and is there a God? The Church is also exploring those same questions and, therefore, there is potential for real connection between the Church, artists and those viewing the art in exploring those questions. We won't all come to the same conclusions or even to any conclusions but exploring the questions and living the questions is a profoundly spiritual thing to do.

This exhibition has, as you will be aware, attracted criticism primarily focused on Ryan Callanan’s ‘Crucified Stormtrooper’. To bring an artwork like the Stormtrooper Crucifixion into a church enables us to see key aspects of the Christian faith in new ways because it challenges the traditional ways in which we picture Christ. Stormtroopers are on the dark side and that perception equates to the Christian belief that we are all sinners.

If we use the imagery opened up for us by the Stormtrooper Crucifixion, then we can reflect that we are all on the dark side. We are all stormtroopers. The amazing message of love at the heart of Christianity is that God does something about that situation. God becomes one of us in Christ. He becomes a stormtrooper in order that, through his death, he can take the darkness onto himself and enable us to live in the light. That is the heartbeat of Christianity, which is changing people's lives on a daily basis around the world and it is brought to us in a new way by including this artwork in this exhibition.

My reflection on the ‘Crucified Stormtrooper’ is unlikely to be what the artist intended when he made the piece. The concept of cross referencing is important in Callanan’s work, taking one item out of its context and splicing it with another to create something that feels familiar but whose meaning is subtly shifted, so he was probably primarily interested in juxtaposing incongruous images. But once he had put the stormtrooper on a cross, he made that reflection possible.

For us to show this work in a church enables that reflection on Christ's love to be seen and shared in a new way and that is why it worthwhile for the Church to show art, especially controversial art, and to explore the questions that it opens up to us all. To be quite frank, I would not be standing here talking to you about the love of God, if we were not showing this artwork in this church. If, as a Church, we don't engage with the world around us and the artists in it, then we have no future.

Callanan’s image can also get us wondering, as C.S. Lewis also did in his science fiction trilogy, whether, were other races to exist on other planets, Christ would be incarnated among those races in order to die for their salvation. Lewis’ view, which he sets out in the story running through the trilogy, is that Christ would do so. For Christians, Callanan's image can lead to a similar conclusion. Chris Clack’s ‘Descent with Gerbera’, as it depicts the descent from the cross as set on the moon, raises similar questions.

There isn’t time to talk about all the images in the exhibition, so I just wish to mention one more. Joseph Clarke has said of Paul Benney’s work that it ‘could be seen to continue the strong tradition of ‘British Mysticism’ championed by the likes of Samuel Palmer and William Blake.’ This is because he ‘shows us our lives as they balance on that fragile boundary between the perfectly ordinary and the profoundly otherworldly,’ seeking ‘to capture that mystery which redeems us from the mundane.’ In ‘Dying Slave’ we see a cruciform figure above a whirlpool. Christ walked on water in his ministry but, figuratively, was sucked under the waters in death. For Christians, baptism (going under the waters and emerging) is a symbol of Christ’s death and resurrection. In this piece, Benney can be understood as showing us the beginning of this redemptive process.

Chris Clack has said, “The 'Religious' is found in the least expected places.” What would be the impact, I wonder, were we more frequently, as has been done in this exhibition, take religious images out of their religious context and trust them to raise their questions and reveal their meanings in other landscapes, cultures and worlds?

This exhibition has been brought to St Stephen Walbrook by Art Below and Ben Moore in support of the Missing Tom Fund which raises money for the search for Ben’s older brother Tom who has been missing since 2003. I am pleased that this church can be part of that search by hosting this exhibition.

In this exhibition, Ben has gathered together images designed to provoke thought from artists grappling with their response to the challenge and scandal of Christ's cross. For Christians, these images can be commended as images that can open ideas and minds to new reflections on the eternal significance of Christ's sacrifice.

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Maria McKee - Life Is Sweet.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

The Nazareth Community at St Martin-in-the-Fields

Here's news of an exciting new initiative at St Martin-in-the-Fields:

This weekend, on Sunday 18 March 2018, 45 people will make their promises and be blessed by the vicar, Revd Dr Sam Wells, as a new intentional community is formed at St Martin-in-the-Fields. The Nazareth Community is an experiment in being with God, with one’s neighbour and with oneself in the centre of London. The community offers a structure and a framework to grow in prayer and compassionate discipleship. It is a dispersed community that joins together in five shared disciplines:
  • Silence
  • Sacrament
  • Service
  • Sacred Study
  • Sharing
The Community’s way is to live prayerfully, simply, attentively and mercifully in the midst of often busy lives. It believes that sacred space is needed at the very centre of our city and aims to deepen a life of contemplative prayer realised in compassionate face-to-face service. The Nazareth Community is rooted in, but not exclusive to, the congregation of St Martin’s. The 45 who will make their promises come from many different walks of life, including those who have known homelessness and those who are refugees. Each new member of the community receives a small Lampedusa Cross. Each cross is made on the island of Lampedusa from the wreckage of migrant boats washed ashore. This is a sign of resurrection born in the pain and the hope of the cross.

Revd Richard Carter, who will lead the community, spent many years of his life as the Chaplain and Brother in the Melanesian Brotherhood, a community that models a similar sense of living in the spirit of the Beatitudes. He writes: ‘The Nazareth Community is about learning to listen again, as St Benedict said, “with the ear of the heart.” We sense the need in this city for sacred space for people to come and replenish tired, stressful or simply busy lives. At the heart of our community we want an oasis of the Spirit - the Spirit that leads to compassionate reciprocity, service, healing and joy. We are not simply managers organising resources and events but those who seek God: women and men of prayer, who know our utter dependence on God’s grace and know this city’s need of God’s forgiveness and love.”

Revd Dr Sam Wells writes: ‘Being with God and one another and ourselves is how we shall spend eternity. The Nazareth Community is a group of people who are saying, ‘Why not start eternity now? Why wait?’ In their living eternal life now we see hope and inspiration for ourselves, our church, our community and our city.’

For further information email Richard.Carter@smitf.org or visit www.smitf.org

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John Tavener - The Lord's Prayer.

Abiding in Exile

Last night I offered the following reflection for Week 4  of the Lent Course at St Martin-in-the-Fields, drawing on the chapter 'Abiding in Exile' from Ben Quash's book 'Abiding':

On the day he died, Jesus walked the Via Dolorosa through the streets of Jerusalem. Jesus' journey is traditionally commemorated by the Stations of the Cross. Following in the footsteps of Jesus through the Stations of the Cross has been part of the Christian practice of Lent and Holy Week since the time of the early Church. The Stations of the Cross were created for those who weren't physically able to go to Jerusalem and literally walk the Via Dolorosa, the Way of the Cross, in its streets. Those who began this practice, the Franciscans in particular, understood that travelling the Way of the Cross imaginatively and prayerfully was meaningful and valid spiritually, albeit different from the actual physical experience.

This is an example of our being able to move while standing still, of journeying whilst staying put. That is what this chapter is all about and it subverts our usual understanding of what is meant by abiding. The most famous passage about abiding in the Bible sees us grafted into a vine that is planted in the ground in a particular place and it is from this passage that many of our understandings of abiding in terms of rootedness derive (John 15). However, all images have their limitations when it comes to expressing and understanding the wonderful depths of God and the inadequacy of the image of the vine and the branches is that it suggests that our abiding is a static thing.

The point of the image of the vine and the branches is that we are to abide in Jesus. Jesus came to us as person and a characteristic of human beings is that we move and travel as well as settling and establishing homes to which we return. Jesus left God's side to be incarnated as a human being and returned to God at his Ascension. In his mother's womb he travelled to Bethlehem, as a child he was exiled in Egypt and his ministry was an itinerant one. Therefore, we are called to abide in someone who moves, meaning that we are called to move when God moves and stay when she stays.

Ben Quash notes that this reality for us as God's people is symbolised for the Israelites during the Exodus in terms of the pillar of light by day and pillar of fire by night that led the people through the wilderness (Exodus 13. 17 - 22). When the pillar moved, the people moved, when the pillar stopped, the people also stopped. He says that what we see here is ‘the very remarkable idea of a presence (or an abiding) that moves.’ He quotes Jurgen Moltmann, who says this is a ‘good symbol for the mobilizing presence of God in history’. ‘God dwells with the Israelites all the time, but God is also moving all the time. He is always before them, but by having God always before them, they find themselves moving. God dwells among the Israelites as a ‘Trailblazer’, says Moltmann’.

Our abiding in Christ therefore involves times of moving and times of staying still. These can be physical - actual journeys or places to be - or, as we have reflected in relation to the Stations of the Cross, they can be movement or rest in our spirits and imaginations. This then helps us to understand and make sense of the nature of Jesus' call to us as his disciples, remembering that he called some to travel with him on his itinerant ministry, but also needed other who remained in their homes in order to support those who were on the road. Jesus' call to us could, therefore, be about physical travel or movement, as for someone on pilgrimage or those called to be missionaries in another place or country, but it could also be to imaginative travel, as with the Stations of the Cross, which takes us ever deeper into our faith while we remain where we are physically and geographically.

Ben Quash calls this the ecology of vocations writing that: ‘for some the knowledge of the special sort of home God offers needs to be discovered in having no permanent resting place in the world, and for some the discovery of God’s infinitely new and transforming horizons is best achieved by staying still.’ He quotes Michael Paternoster as saying, ‘some people need to stay where God puts them, even when they feel like moving, and some people must move when God requires them to, even if they feel like staying.’

The reality of God is one of infinite depth. God created all things and therefore all things exist in him and he is more than the sum of all things, so it is impossible for us with our finite minds to ever fully know or understand God. However profound our experience of God has been, there is always more for us to discover. This means that knowing God is like diving ever deeper into a bottomless ocean where they is always more to see. We are within that ocean and, therefore, are abiding within it, but can always be moving because there is always more to see and uncover and discover.

In the last book of The Chronicles of Narnia, 'The Last Battle', C.S. Lewis describes his characters dying and entering eternity. In eternity they find themselves back in the land of Narnia but it is a Narnia that has more depth and beauty than previously. As they explore this revitalised Narnia, their cry is one of exploration, 'Come further up and further in'. When they reach the garden at the centre of Narnia, they discover that this is a gateway to another Narnia that has yet more depth and beauty than that which they had just left. Lewis' idea that we abide in eternity in the world that we know but know it in ever increasing depth reminds of T.S.Eliot's phrase that, “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.’

This, I think, is the form of abiding that Ben Quash describes in this chapter. It is both a running while standing still and an abiding whilst travelling. The God of movement wants to keep us exploring the depths of the world and himself. The God who dwells with us wants to keep us abiding in her refreshing rest. The God of stillness and change wants keep us growing as we remain rooted in him. Quash writes that we have been called to live lives of abiding, while at the same time we have been told, puzzlingly, that we have no abiding city. We are invited to exchange changeless abiding into changeable abiding.

I want to end with a meditation on the symbols that we use in baptism; oil, light and water. As baptism is our entry to Christian faith, it is easy for us to think of these symbols as being primarily about our beginnings in faith, but they also speak powerfully to us of the journey of faith that we begin at our baptism. The faith into which we are baptised is that in which we abide but in order to do so we must move and change and grow and travel:

Oil …
bleeding
from the pressurised
crushed
and wounded
to
free us up
lubricate
our rusting
static lives
and
facilitate
our ever moving
onward
forward
Godward

Light …
revealing our past
lighting our future
shining like a lighthouse
in our storms
burning like a warning beacon
in our wars
warming like the sun
on our journeying
glowing like a fire
through gaps and cracks
in shattered, splintered lives

Water …
cleansing our grubbiness
reviving our tiredness
refreshing our thirstiness
nurturing our liveliness
babbling communication
rippling out our influences

May we -
baptised in water,
anointed by oil,
lit by the Spirit -
live and move freely
like a babbling brook
speaking life
to parched ground
leaping boulders and barriers
sparkling in the ever present
light of the Sun.

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Moby - This Wild Darkness.