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Sunday, 31 August 2008

Greenbelt diary (4) & Windows on the world (16)

Greenbelt, 2008

On Day 4 I actually got to listen to Peter Rollins, as opposed to talking about him, in the session that he gave on 'Changing something so that everything remains the same.' This was essentially about the importance of revolution remaining outside the 'system,' in this case emerging church remaining outside of existing church. However, the main substance of the talk was an explanation of Bonhoeffer's 'religionless Christianity' and its relevance to our contemporary context.

On revolution versus system, this is the eternal debate over whether more radical change occurs from within or outside the system (whatever that system is). Rollins argues for radical change primarily coming from outside and made some interesting observations about the way in which systems can absorb aspects of revolutionary movements in order to remain essentially unchanged. However, in doing so he was also ignoring examples of the way in which systems, while in some fashion continuing, have been radically changed by revolutions. It seems to be that prophets are needed both inside and outside existing systems and that their roles and approaches will differ as a result. There is a great attraction of purity in what Rollins is advocating but I would worry if his arguments were dismissive of those working actively to change systems from within (if he were arguing that the only way to be faithful is to betray).

On religionless Christianity, Rollins was more apposite emphasising our responsibility for deciding, risking and willing action in every moment. His tendency, though, seemed to be to use the language of philosophy and story rather than that of the Bible. Only at the end of the talk when asked about the Bible and his favourite Bible verse did he begin to talk about his ideas in terms of the Bible's narrative. When he does use this language what he says makes alot of sense and so it seems a shame and self-limiting that, as in The Garden's installation/performance, he seemed to prefer to talk in terms of the defining books of the past being placed in the museum.

In the afternoon I heard a wonderfully energetic Martyn Joseph in concert and caught the end of Niall Williams speaking about his novels. As a result I have begun to read As It Is In Heaven. However, the main revelation of this final afternoon was Jamie Catto and 1 Giant Leap. Catto (ex of Faithless) played an acoustic set full of beguiling and broken songs. As a result, I missed the second Peter Rollins talk of the day and went to the screening of the second 1 Giant Leap film entitled What About Me? As with McLaren and Rollins, the film emphasised the significance of experience, of living in the moment, in the now. What I wonder, however, is whether the sense in which the present is formed by the past and includes plans for the future is being fully taken into account when the importance of experience is stressed.

My Greenbelt finished back in The Hub at the final Artist's Forum alongside Martin Wilson and Jon Mackay to show the Love & Light dvd. Wilson is a conceptual artist who cycles thousands of miles photographing images on 35mm film strips that tease meaning from the urban jumble. Mackay is an Oxfordshire based photographer whose 'So What Do You Think?' photography project from Greenbelt can be viewed by clicking here.

This Greenbelt seems to have been a shuttling between the via negativa in the pervading ideas of Peter Rollins and an actual experience of the affirmative way in the sampling of the variety of art on offer. Both ways ultimately exclude the other; which path to choose is the question posed?

As a coda to these posts, I returned to Nailsworth on Tuesday morning and found, in Nonsuch Books & Music, copies of three books by Greg Tricker. Of these, I purchased Francis of Assisi: Paintings of Our Time and am enjoying both the paintings and the reflections.


1 Giant Leap - Wounded.

Henry Shelton in 'The Month'

My interview with the artist Henry Shelton has been published in the September issue of The Month. The interview covers the dedication of Shelton's memorial windows at All Saints Goodmayes, the Patronal Festival exhibition at St John's Seven Kings, the Advent Art installation for Redbridge and plans for a new Christian Art Society.


Snow Patrol - Run.

Greenbelt diary (3) & Windows on the world (15)

Greenbelt, 2008

Day 3 began at The Hub with Andrew Tate's talk on resurrection narratives in contemporary culture. This was a helpful overview of artists exploring aspects of spirituality and took in Pat Barker, Nick Cave, Douglas Coupland, Dr Who, The Matrix, Superheroes, John Updike and Tim Winton.

Another interesting aspect of Greenbelt is the sense of dialogue occuring between seminars. In this instance, Tate's referencing of The Matrix and dismissal of the two sequels was counterbalanced by Peter Rollins' use of the films in the first of his Day 4 talks where he argued that the death and resurrection imagery of the first film, much loved by Christian commentators such as Tate, was shown in the later films to be a part of the control system exerted over the known universe by machines. Rollins was using this illustration to demonstrate the way in which 'the system' (in his case, the mainstream churches) can use new and revolutionary initiatives to bolster their system and survival.

I stayed on in The Hub for a fascinating talk by Salley Vickers in which she spoke about her novels, style of writing, and inspirations. She quoted the opening paragraph of Miss Garnett's Angel as a template for her over-riding theme; the effect of death on the living. She also spoke interestingly about the way in which her characters develop without there being any initial plotting of the story and of how she interleaves ancient stories with her contemporary stories and the dialogue that then occurs within the novels between them. Finally, she spoke about the way in which particular paintings come to have significance as images for understanding the story that has unfolded within each novel.

After my daughters arrived we went to the Arena for the Communion Service. Apparently the time for the service had been moved this year to the afternoon which meant that it coincided with the rain that blew in. This was rather ironic as the theme for the service, and for Greenbelt as a whole, was the Rising Sun. That's the risk you take when using a weather-related theme for an outdoor festival! Anyway, people persevered despite the rain and enjoyed the community feel of the service sitting picnic style in small groups to share communion and link ribbons.

Following the service, we went to mainstage to hear Beth Rowley, the performer we most wanted to hear over the weekend. Rowley has an exceptionally strong voice, ideal for festivals, and is backed by a very competent band for her mix of blues and gospel infuenced originals and covers. Hers was an excellent, enjoyable (if slightly easy listening) set where the only disappointment was the absence of 'So Sublime.'

From there I caught a few songs in what, I'm told, was a moving tribute concert for Larry Norman. While I was there performers were speaking honestly about his contradictions and not just his virtues. I returned to The Hub to hear the poetry of Mark Halliday, Cole Moreton and Martin Wroe combined with songs from Iain Archer. Knowing Wroe's work rather more than that of his colleagues it was his words that made most impact on me but the overall impression was of wrestling with faith and doubt.

I ended Day 3 with a visit to two installations. Phill Hopkin's Seven Drunken Nights and Possibility of the Impossible by The Garden, an emerging community based in Brighton, living obscurely on the fringes of religious life and seeking to work out how to live passionately in response to 'the other.' Possibility of the Impossible was a well-crafted experience beginning with simultaneous readings from influential books (the Bible, Das Kapital, The Female Eunuch etc.) which were then stored in three centrally located display cabinets. This was accompanied by images of eclipses and the extinguishing of candles. The point of the performance, in line with the ideas of Peter Rollins, was that we live over an abyss of meaninglessness beyond the reach of big stories but that by realising this we might possibly "find significance in what calls to us in 'what is', the wonder of the ordinary, the moment when life touches life."

One issue with the installation/performance and these ideas is in terms of what sustains this response of finding significance. The deconstruction of ideas leading to the recognition of meaninglessness is then followed by the possibility of finding significance again. But on what basis? For most, the recognition of meaninglessness has led either to madness or hedonism, not to significance. The installation/performance didn't seem to answer that question/issue, just to assert that significance might be possible.


Iain Archer - When It Kicks In.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Other Greenbelt blogs

For other perspectives on Greenbelt, in addition to my own ramblings, click here, here and here. Dave Walker has a good round-up of blogs at the Church Times blog which can be found here. There are also several Church Times articles on the festival including a full review (currently subscriber only).


Ed Sheeran - Open Your Ears.

Greenbelt diary (2) & Windows on the world (14)

Greenbelt, 2008

Day 2 for me began with an interlude in the form of a search for works by the artist Greg Tricker. I first came across Tricker's work in Images of Earth and Spirit: A "Resurgence" Art Anthology and knew that he has been involved with the Ruskin Mill College at Nailsworth. Through the kindness of Diana and Peter Crook during Greenbelt we were staying in the picturesque village of Uley which is just down the road from Nailsworth. So I headed off early in the morning to see what I could find of Tricker's work.

My quick detour to Ruskin Mill failed to uncover any definitive examplesof Tricker's work, although I saw a carving of an angel that looked as though it could well have been his work and did establish that he lives in the town. On one occasion in the past I have cold called an artist - the very wonderful John Reilly on the Isle of Wight - but on this occasion didn't have the time to do so as I wanted to arrive at Greenbelt in time to hear Chris Dingle's talk on the faith and spirituality of Olivier Messiaen.

Dingle is the author of The Life of Messiaen and gave a worthwhile summary of Messiaen's life that highlighted pieces to listen to beyond the well known Quartet for the End of Time. Another thing that Greenbelt is great for is broadening knowledge of the large number of artists expressing spirituality in their work and, in the case of a massive body of work like that of Messiaen's, highlighting some accessible ways in.

My daughters arrived and we listened to a great set by Ed Sheeran; so good that Emma bought his cd. Following Ed's set we mooched around the site catching up with other familiar faces as we did so. Michelle Gillam-Hull's stall was one place where we stopped, shopped and caught up. I also introduced myself to Aidan Mellor, the impresario responsible for Veritasse. I am a Veritasse artisan and my artwork can be found on their website, so it was good to meet the man responsible and to hear about their expansion with a new gallery opening in Maidenhead and increasing use being made of the download facility on their website.

At the Artist's Forum I listened to Phill Hopkins speak about his onsite installation Seven Drunken Nights and performance piece Wine & Beer/Oak & Bread. The evening saw more shuttling between mainstage and the Performance Cafe to take in the likes of Julie Lee, Helen J. Hicks and Cathy Burton. I made a detour to Underground to catch the electro-rock of This Morning Call before settling down to hear the whole of Edwina Hayes' set at the Performance Cafe. With her engaging personality and beautiful voice, this was a real treat. Having enjoyed the Hummingbird album on which she sings with Cathy Burton and Amy Wadge I was anticipating something special and wasn't disappointed. A great conclusion to a full day.


Edwina Hayes - Pour Me A Drink.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Greenbelt diary (1) & Windows on the world (13)

Greenbelt, 2008
I arrived early at Greenbelt on Friday afternoon; a sign of my eagerness to be back after a number of year's absence. Virtually the first people that I saw on arrival were my friends Paul Trathen and Heather Whicker who were volunteering on the Church Action on Poverty and Operation Noah stands respectively. One of the things I was looking forward to at Greenbelt was catching up with a number of friends but hadn't expected that to begin as soon as I arrived. But once we were onsite we were soon in conversation with other friends and, as expected, this continued to be a special feature of the Festival for me.

Tim Hull, who had been one of my tutors at NTMTC, was one of the friends that I met. Tim is now at St John's Nottingham where he has produced a number of very useful dvds on key theological issues. The two of us went off together to hear Brian McLaren speak about rediscovering Christian faith as a way of life. On the way back we talked about Peter Rollins' book How (Not) To Speak Of God which Tim thought may have put theology back 30 years or so through its emphasis on existential experience which ultimately may have no need of the Christian narrative at all. I pointed out that McLaren had also been emphasising experience over doctrine but we agreed that what he had said had been clearly rooted in the Christian story.

After that I checked into the Artist's Forum to confirm whether Meryl Doney (Director of the wallspace gallery) wanted me to show during the Festival the DVD of the Love & Light public art event which featured St Margaret's Barking.

I spent the remainder of the evening shuttling between mainstage and the Performance Cafe to sample sets by Emmanuel Jal, Michael Weston Smith, Juliet Turner and Michael Franti and Spearhead. It felt great to be back!


Michael Franti - East To The West.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Faith = provisional reflections

I'm currently reading Truthfulness: the future of the church by Hans Küng and Poetry and Prayer by Richard Griffiths. Both are well worth a read and both have had something to say about the provisional nature of our understanding of God.

Küng argues that the church must be provisional, unassuming, ministering, conscious of guilt, and obedient in order to be true to Jesus' proclaimation of the reign of God as a "decisively future, end-time final event."

Provisional: "Is not that church alone able to maintain her truthfulness which always remembers that she will find her goal, not in herself, but in God's kingdom? Because she thus knows that too much is not required of her, that she does not need to provide anything at all final, to offer any lasting home, that she must not be surprised if - in her provisional nature - she is shaken with doubts, blocked by hinderances and oppressed by cares?"

Unassuming: "Since the church then knows that, with all her efforts, what ultimately counts is not her theories and practices, that it is not her catalogue of achievement and her brilliant statistics which guarantee the coming of the kingdom of God and hence that no want of an echo may prevent her from continuing to call, no failure dishearten her."

Ministering: "Does a church which in this end-time overlooks the fact that she exists for selfless service to men, to enemies, to the world, not ose her truthfulness and thus also her dignity, her validity, her reason for existing, because she abandons the true imitation of Christ? Consequently does not the church alone which remains aware of the fact that it is not she, but God's reign, which will come 'in power and great glory', does not this church alone find her true greatness and thus her truthful existence only in being small."

Conscious of guilt: "... can she - even with all the proofs of grace reaching her and precisely because of these proofs - in fact ever give herself airs as a self-righteous caste or class of the pure and holy. She can in fact never imagine evil, unholiness, impurity as existing only outside herself. There is in fact nothing within her that is perfect, not in peril, not fragile, not dubious, that does not need to be constantly correctd and excelled."

Obedient: "Can the church ever be allowed to avoid this radical obedience to God's will? ... As if she could declare as eternal laws what are always time-conditioned arrangements and which can then be adapted to the ever-recurring present only with the aid of artificial and twisted interpretation. As if in matters of decisive importance she could 'swallow a camel' and on the other hand with petty casuistry 'strain at a gnat'. As if she could thus lay on men's shoulders the burden of innumerable laws and regulations which they are not able to bear. As if instead of a heartfelt obedience out of love for God she could demand a blind obedience out of fear: the obedience of someone who does not act in this way because he understands and approves the requirement, but only because it is commanded, and would act otherwise if it were not commanded. As if there could be a question here of external legality instead of internal conviction, of the 'traditions of the elders' instead of the 'signs of the times', of lip-service instead of sincerity of heart, of 'commandments of men' instead of the absolute, uncurtailed will of God."

Richard Griffiths reminds of the 'reflections' or fleeting insights into God's being of which St Paul speaks in the famous passage from his First Epistle to the Corinthians:

"Now we see only reflections in a mirror, mere riddles, but then we shall be seeing face to face. Now, I can only know imperfectly; but then I shall know just as fully as I am myself known. (1 Corinthians 13. 12)

"In this world of ours, the mysterious nature of God can only be half perceived. Only later, at the end of time, will we be able to see face to face."


Michael McDermott - Tread Lightly.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Body & Soul

I visited Body and Soul today, a fascinating exhibition in the Waterhall Gallery of Modern Art at Birmingham's Museum & Art Gallery:

"Kenyan born Juginder Lamba is one of the most acclaimed figurative sculptors in Britain. This exhibition includes over 50 of his exquisitely crafted works in wood, stone and bronze illustrating his expressive approach to the human figure and natural forms. His often life-size male and female figures have a vibrant, dynamic quality reflecting the passions of love, loss and anguish while others embody a serene, inner stillness. He often uses salvaged timbers from old buildings, respecting the origin and history of each piece as part of the finished work."

Brendan Flynn, Curator of Fine Art at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery writes:

"The rich amalgam of cultural influences at large in his work are important but they do not define his approach. Rather, they are paths towards more universal mythologies and notions of the human condition. One of the main strengths of his work is that it addresses fundamental themes in a figurative idiom without becoming trite or sentimental. That is what makes it so compelling; the standing figure gazing upwards, the embracing lovers, the reclined figure, the mother and child, and the plant form bursting with life are all archetypes, embedded deep in the collective consciousness."


P.O.D. - Alive.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Afghan Action - Birthday celebrations

Afghan Action runs a small carpet factory and training school in Kabul, Afghanistan with 150 young men and women weaving traditional and modern handmade Afghan carpets.

The organisation started in September 2005 and will be holding a birthday carpet sale on Tuesday 9 September 2008, from 5 - 8pm at St Mary le Bow Church, Cheapside EC2V 6AU – all are welcome to join them. Proceeds of the sale will go to the work of Afghan Action

Afghan Action set up a training school and factory in September 2005 for young men and women, some disabled, in Kabul, making handmade carpets. They’ve trained over 330 people since starting. Staff and trainees receive daily literacy and numeracy classes, a free midday meal and on-site healthcare.

Their goal is to help young people help themselves, through training, jobs and opening up international markets. We can support their work by:

· buying a unique carpet made by hand from sheep’s wool and mainly natural dyes
· donating towards the cost of education, healthcare and food
· sponsoring a Trainee for £360, payable by instalments

For more information about their work, please see


Marcus Miller - Tutu.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Less about projects, more about people!

The Social Responsibility Network aim to share good practice, ideas and information on a wide range of issues and provide peer support and encouragement for Christian practitioners in social responsibility.

Their next conference will be held on 30th September - 2nd October 2008 at The Thurrock Hotel and is being ably organised by Paul Trathen.

The conference, which is titled 'Less about projects, more about people!', has one of the most interesting and varied agenda's that I have seen on regeneration issues and themes. The topics include:
  • Forming a theology of regeneration for this generation of new communities
  • Building a legacy from the Olympics 2012
  • Public art as spiritual regeneration for communities
  • Policy development for Eco-Towns
  • Transition Towns or How shall we live as the oil runs out?
  • Innovative community-building & ministry through IT and virtual communities
In addition to these and other topics, there will also be a series of guided site visits to Stratford New Town, the Olympics Stadia and Village site, Purfleet and other parts of the Thames Gateway. The final morning on Thursday 2nd October will form a half-day conference for those in Essex and London from church circles and community partners.

I'll be speaking at the conference on the subject of public art and will be talking about and showing examples of works from the public art projects with which I have been involved. These include: Love & Light; RE:Generation; Newlands Park graffiti mural; The Cabinet of Sin & Salvation; Hertford stns; and the Advent art installation currently being prepared for churches in Redbridge.


Deacon Blue - Your Town.

Delays for a library in Seven Kings

Today's Ilford Recorder reports that Redbridge Council has delayed its report into the possibility of a static library for Seven Kings. This comes as a result of renewed lobbying by TASK members highlighting the limited range of options the report appeared to be considering.

At the beginning of the week I sent the following letter to the editor of the Ilford Recorder:

"As part of discussions with Council officials over the possibility of a static library for Seven Kings, I have suggested that there are several community buildings in the area that could be considered for the siting of a library. These include schools and faith buildings including St John’s Seven Kings.

To date, the Council has not shown any interest in this suggestion and I am not, therefore, in discussions with them about it. I would be very happy to begin discussions however.

The Council’s unwillingness to explore the possibility of working with community organisations to identify both possible locations and possible sources of funds for a library seem symptomatic of the Council’s refusal to engage in a meaningful partnership with the community that it seeks to serve.

The Redbridge Conversation is a prime example. Hyped as the way forward for community consultation by Councils, the Redbridge Conversation was actually primarily concerned with the Council’s own agenda and the Council’s options for funding that agenda. As a result, the priorities of the local community, like a static library for Seven Kings for example, didn’t feature and neither did the option of working with community organisations to draw new funding into the borough.

This is because the Council is, at present, not appearing to seek genuine consultation and partnership from and with the local community. If it were, it would be open to changing its agenda and exploring alternative and more creative ways of funding initiatives. Instead it is seeking endorsement of its fixed agenda which, as we know from the protests over the possibility of allotment sales and other local issues, does not have the support of the local community.

As a result, I appeal to the Cabinet, in considering the issue of a static library for Seven Kings and other issues within the borough, to begin engaging in genuine consultation and partnership with the local community and community organisations."

This letter has been used to create a second article about the Library on the 'Faiths Page' of this weeks edition.

For me, this report and the Council's response to TASK's request seem to be a test case of the Council's willingness or otherwise to genuinely engage in consultation and partnership with the local community and its community organisations and to do so not solely on its own terms but by actively responding to the concerns and issues of the community it seeks to serve.


Lou Reed & John Cale - Open House.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Praying through the everyday

Praying through the Everyday is a Quiet Day to be held at St John's Seven Kings (St John's Road, Ilford IG2 7BB) on Saturday 13th September from 10.00am to 3.00pm.

I will be leading this day of reflection and prayer using everyday objects, tasks and emotions. All are welcome to attend.

Please either bring a packed lunch or come prepared to buy lunch from the local shops. Morning Prayer is at 9.00am for those able come early.

For more information contact the St John's Parish Office on 020 8598 1536 or email to


Paul Weller - Stanley Road.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Windows on the world (12)

The Vendee, 2006


Shawn McDonald - Beautiful.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

From the papers

Angus Ritchie, Director of the Contextual Theology Centre, has an interesting comment column in this week's Church Times. Titled 'Social capital can be built by the people,' Angus describes the cross-party support secured by London CITIZENS for a striking array of policies.

Also in the Church Times, Margaret Sentamu describes the input to the spouses conference at Lambeth from Mugisa Isingoma, who visited St John's shortly before the conference and who shared her story with our Mothers' Union.

The Times published a letter today from 19 bishops supporting Rowan Williams following the publication just after the Lambeth Conference of correspondence from eight years ago by Williams on the issue of homosexuality. Their letter states that one can only wonder at the motives of those behind the releasing, and highlighting, of these letters at this precise moment – and at the way in which some churchmen are seeking to make capital of them as though they were ‘news’. One example of attempts to make capital of them can be viewed here while for a much more balanced view click here.

Finally, in responding to the comment by Libby Purves, which I highlighted in Thursday's post, Richard Dawkins, in his letter to the Times, once again reveals his complete inability to recognise the extent to which many Christians are able to engage creatively and constructively with both science and belief.


Woody Guthrie - Jesus Christ.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Visual Dialogue 2

Visual Dialogue 2 is a group art exhibition at St John’s Seven Kings arranged for the church's Patronal Festival from Friday 3rd to Sunday 5th October 2008. The exhibition includes established and local artists including Henry Shelton, Alan Stewart, Rodney Bailey, Bob, Dennis & Liz Keenan, Jonathan Evens, Doreen Gullett, Peggy Hull and others.
Henry Shelton has had a successful career as a designer and fine artist. He has received commissions to design for clients such as the Science Museum, Borough Councils, private and corporate bodies. In more recent years Henry has worked designing in studios across the world, including Hong Kong and the USA. His commissions include a large oil painting of the Ascension installed as an Altar piece in the Church of the Saviour, Chell Heath; the Millennium Christian clock tower in Goodmayes and, most recently, the memorial etched glass windows in All Saints Goodmayes, depicting events in the life of Jesus. In Visual Dialogue 2 Henry will exhibit several of his most recent works and a Stations of the Cross that was exhibited in 2007 at York Minster.

Alan Stewart is a Church of England minister and a fine artist. Following his BA (Hons) in Fashion Design & Textiles at the Central St Martins School of Art, Alan has produced work in a variety of media (including charcoal, collage, pastel and emulsion) and exhibited at London Bible College, London Institute of Contemporary Christianity, and Intermission. In 2005 his painting Early one morning was dedicated by the Bishop of Barking in the Youth Chapel of St Margaret's Barking. His most recent project was Hertford stns: A stations of the cross for Hertford which was the subject of a feature article in the Church Times.

Rodney Bailey studied Design and Public Art at Chelsea College. His work is concerned with identity, communication, and having a visual dialogue with nature. He responds to the difficulties that we may face as people in communicating our identity and nature to each other in a respectful and sincere way. He uses a variety of styles to execute his work and draws on his family background and childhood memories for ideas as well as his Buddhist practice for inspiration and guidance. Last year Rodney exhibited in Eye Play at the Bankside Gallery and the inaugural Visual Dialogue exhibition at St John's Seven Kings. He currently has an exhibition at the Orsini Restaurant.

Visual Dialogue 2 begins with an opening night reception from 7.30pm on Friday 3rd October to which all are welcome. In addition to viewing the exhibition and refreshments, the evening with feature a public conversation between myself and several of the exhibiting artists. The exhibition will continue on Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th October from 10.00am to 4.00pm. An art workshop will be held on Saturday 4th October from 11.00am to 3.00pm. Details can be found by clicking here.

As part of Visual Dialogue 2 we also hope to be able to exhibit for the first time the art installation that will tour Redbridge churches during Advent 2008.


Paul Weller - Broken Stones.

The Barking Art Project

The Barking Art Project is an art workshop providing a great opportunity to spend some time thinking about abstract art and developing your creative side as much of the day will be spent in creating your own piece of art on a religious theme. We will provide artistic materials for you to come and explore this God given side to humanity. There will also be the opportunity to see an art exhibition and an Advent art installation. All are welcome.

The art workshop will be held on Saturday 4th October from 11.00 am – 3.00 pm at St John’s Church, St John’s Road/Aldborough Road South Seven Kings. Full costs for the day are £10.00. Booking can be made through Revd John Brown, The Barking Programme, St. Luke’s Vicarage,
1A Baxter Road, Ilford, Essex IG1 2HN. Tel: 0208 553-7606. Email:


Zbigniew Preisner - Les Marionettes.

Former atheist takes Dawkins to task

Following on from yesterday's post about Richard Dawkins comes this from the Bible Society's Newswatch emailing:

"A renowned atheistic philosopher, who stunned his peers four years ago by abandoning atheism, has accused the atheist scientist Richard Dawkins of becoming ‘a secularist bigot’. Prof Anthony Flew, emeritus professor at Reading University, chides Dawkins in a review of The God Delusion. Dawkins’ omission of Albert Einstein’s belief that a divine intelligence must lie behind the complexity of physics leads Flew to accuse Prof Dawkins of ‘insincerity of purpose’. He says Dawkins’ examination of Albert Einstein’s views on religion is selective and designed to support his own position."

Flew's review can be found be clicking here.


Martyn Joseph - Just Like The Man Said.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

The naive Professor

Libby Purves has an interesting column in the Times today on the naivity of Richard Dawkins following the first episode of his Channel 4 series, The Genius of Charles Darwin. Her argument is well summed up in her punchy conclusion: "A subtle and well-evolved species like us can accept both ammonites and Alleluias. Live with it, Prof."


Bruce Cockburn - Creation Dream.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Henry Shelton interview

Yesterday I interviewed the artist Henry Shelton for a future article in The Month.
Henry Shelton was born and grew up in Stratford, East London. He joined West Ham church as a choir boy where he first became aware of the importance of Christian art.
After leaving school he joined a London studio as an apprentice draughtsman developing his drawing skills in lettering and fine art. After 15 years of service he set up his own studio receiving many commissions to design for such clients as the Science Museum, Borough Councils, private and corporate bodies.
During this time he continued painting Christian art and after meeting Bishop Trevor Huddleston he completed a series of portraits of him which were exhibited in St Dunstan's Church, Stepney, where he was also confirmed by the Bishop.
In more recent years Henry has worked designing in studios across the world, including Hong Kong and the USA. His commissions include a large oil painting of the Ascension installed as an Altar piece in the Church of the Saviour, Chell Heath; the Millennium Christian clock tower in Goodmayes and, most recently, the memorial etched glass windows in All Saints Goodmayes, depicting events in the life of Jesus.
In the interview, Henry spoke about his exhibition last year at York Minister, the dedication earlier this year by the Bishop of Barking of the memorial windows at All Saints Goodmayes and of his current plans to form a Christian Art Society that will both encourage the commissioning of modern Christian Art and raise funds for charity.
Henry will be exhibiting his most recent works and the Stations of the Cross which were exhibited in York Minister in Visual Dialogue 2, the Patronal Festival exhibition at St John's Seven Kings from Friday 3rd to Sunday 5th October. He will also speak about Christian Art during the exhibition's Opening Night Reception from 7.30pm on Friday 3rd October. There is an open invitation to this event.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Windows on the world (11)

Little Gidding, 2008


River City People - Say Something Good.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn RIP

The biography of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn included on the Templeton Prize website gives a helpful indication of the significance of the novelist who died today:

"A living symbol of freedom of thought and conscience, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's struggle for open expression makes him one of the world's most respected men. Under the repressive Soviet regimes, he held on to his beliefs and shared his worldview through his powerful writings and devastating critiques of the Soviet Union. His work renewed vitality in the Orthodox tradition of spirituality and evidenced profound Christian faith, expressing a spiritual dimension long neglected by most novelists, and delivering a message of the unique and indestructible quality of the soul."

In an interview which can be found by clicking here, Solzhenitsyn commented that he was unafraid of death, said that faith was the foundation and support of his life and discussed the place of the Orthodox Church in Russia. A BBC obituary can be found here.


Henyrk Górecki - Symphony No. 3

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Community BBQ


John Coltrane - My Favourite Things.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Champion's Challenge (4)


Stacie Orrico - More To Life.

'Art & Christianity' No.55

'Art & Christianity' No.55 is out next week. In the forthcoming issue, you will find ...
  • Stephen Laird reflects on 50 years since the Tate's exhibition 'The Religious Theme'
  • Stephen Bann reviews 'Traces du Sacré', the blockbuster exhibition at Centre Pompidou, Paris
  • Other reviews include Laura Moffatt on Shirazeh Houshiary; Jonathan Evens on Gwen John; Ann Wickham on Treasures of the English Church; and Donald Orr on Alison Watt.
  • Book reviews include Ben Quash on Aidan Nichols OP and Richard Harries on 'The Lion Companion to Christian Art'.
  • Plus a letter from Sydney and Tom Devonshire Jones meets Ben Quash in his new position as Professor of Christianity and the Arts at King's College London.
  • Listings, information, editorial and more.
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John Tavener - The Bridegroom.