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Kester
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2004 6:35 pm      - Welcome to the discussion... ReadMe first.  Post subject: Welcome to the discussion... ReadMe first. Reply with quote

1. First you'll need to register by following the link above. To begin posting you'll have to activate your account once you've received a confirmation email, which shouldn't take too long!

2. The topic areas outlined on the board are there to help, not hinder. If you want to post something, try to work out which area it would fit best into, but don't worry if it crosses boundaries... it's a dirty board in that sense!

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4. Remember, we're here to move things on, not beat each other up, so keep it polite!

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Kester
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2004 6:54 am      - The Neophiliacs -Revolution in English Life in the 50s &  Post subject: The Neophiliacs -Revolution in English Life in the 50s & Reply with quote

What a surprising gem this book is. Having started it simply out of interest in the history of the period, I ended up gripped by Christopher Booker's analysis.

Released in 1969 it is fascinating in being so near after the event, and yet unaware of Punk coming around the corner. Rather than simply list and comment on the events, he proposes that at the time, as has happened before, we were under the influence of a huge group fantasy. Booker then analyses very carefully the various stages of the fantasy cycle, and links the relevant events to these stages. Thus the advent of The Beatles, the demise of Macmillan and the rise of Harold Wilson, the beginnings of celebrity with Bailey, Shrimpton and Snowdon, the building froth of the media and the events of Suez, JFK's assination and the Profumo affair are all presented in a unique context.

I won't spoil the ending, but suffice to say this turns out to be a much braver and more interesting book than I had ever expected, and has left me full of interesting thoughts with regards the church. It is currently out of print, but there are a few 2nd hand copies hanging around online, so snap them up. You won't be disappointed.

< k.>
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Kester
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2004 9:45 am      - The Hidden Connections - Fritjof Capra  Post subject: The Hidden Connections - Fritjof Capra Reply with quote

I have to admit, I haven't actually read this yet, but it just feels right from the outset: recommended by Jonathan Rabagliati, who just knows, authored by the guy who wrote 'The Web of Life' and 'The Tao of Physics', and hailed by the Guardian as a book 'offering a penetrating analysis of what it means to be a system... a cool and rational analysis for those feeling confused or helpless in the face of an unpredicatable future.'

Just need to find some time to read it now...[/b]
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Frank



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PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2004 10:16 am      - Dirt vs Purity  Post subject: Dirt vs Purity Reply with quote

Very interesting thesis... but just wondering where Paul's stuff about 'whatever is good...' etc. comes into this? Does Christ REALLY want us to be involved in dirt? I'm still thinking on it.

Funny, I was shopping the other day and saw a young mum going on at her kid about 'no that's dirty' - and it did make me realise that 'dirty and clean' are some of the first things we teach our kids, so there is that social aspect.
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Kester
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2004 4:08 pm      - Dirt vs Purity  Post subject: Reply with quote

Exactly. Societies have to construct boundaries to define themselves, and teaching children where those boundaries are is a big thing for parents, as I'm finding out! What's interesting is that perhaps things are going too far. There are so many products on the shelves claiming to make our work-surfaces and bathrooms as sterile as operating theatres... but ironically, all that does is stop children building up healthy defenses against germs. Perhaps that has something to do with Paul's stuff on 'Whatever is good...' that you mentioned. If we totally move away from dirt, we actually end up lowering our defenses. Metaphors getting mixed up perhaps, but an interesting thought...
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steve collins



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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2004 10:51 pm      - 10 years  Post subject: 10 years Reply with quote

on p.72 kester quotes a line from 'mission shaped church':
'it is a cause of major celebration when an alt worship community lasts ten years'

which set me thinking:
a lot happens in ten years
many cultural expressions don't last ten years [pop groups, magazines, art movements, tv series, protest groups etc]

it's only institutions which last longer, and alt worship is not an institution or in the business of making institutions

the important thing is that the possibility continues, not any one expression of it
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steve collins



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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2004 10:53 pm      - punk  Post subject: punk Reply with quote

kester writes about the punk movement of 1976-77 as cultural permission-giver - you don't have to be skilled, beautiful or rich, anybody can do something - and thinks alternative worship may have a similar function - and short creative life before exhaustion or co-option.

and i thought:
punk gave permission at the time, but continues to give permission to this day. it's constantly cited when people do their own creative thing. you don't have to last to be lasting.
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steve collins



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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2004 10:59 pm      - jacques ellul  Post subject: jacques ellul Reply with quote

i'm surprised you don't reference or quote 'the meaning of the city' by jacques ellul, since your arguments about christ and the city are clearly very similar.

i know you've read it because i lent you my copy two or three years ago and you still haven't given it back! Smile
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Kester
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2004 11:48 am      - punk  Post subject: Reply with quote

I feel strongly about this one. Just come back from Greenbelt, where I spoke about the book. One of the things I wanted to mention there, but didn't get time, was about permission giving and how it might connect with leadership.

I agree that punk still gives people permission, and there continue to be movements in music that do the same with the advent of home production technology etc., though none of these have the raw energy that (purportedly, and I know I wasn't there and you were Steve!) punk had.

But why do people still need to seek permission? What is it that stops people from feeling they can just go ahead? As I quoted Huxley as saying: 'So long as men worship the Caesars and Napoleons, Caesars and Napoleons will duly rise and make them miserable'... it seems perhaps we have this inbuilt desire to just hand over responsibility.

Linking this with my post on Revolution / Evolution, it seems that punk's permission giving is still needed because we tend to do nothing until given permission - and this means we so often lack drive to change and act unless whipped up into it by some revolutionary leader that we can through our lot with.

Perhaps it all boils down to the need for the father... we want to be patronised, told what to do, shirk responisibility for our own evolution, deny the freedom that we have been given, the divine spark within us... Hmmm...
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Kester
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2004 11:59 am      - Revolution vs Evolution - post Greenbelt talk thoughts!  Post subject: Revolution vs Evolution - post Greenbelt talk thoughts! Reply with quote

Asked a few good questions after the seminar at the 'belt, mostly along the lines of 'hold on a minute, isn't revolution good some of the time?'

As I mentioned there, it's perhaps a bit unfortunate that (purely for rhyme, not reason) I chose to use the words rev- and ev-. What I really want to distinguish between is bottom-up change and top-down.

Mulling over some of this stuff though made me think: are we keen on revolution because it's actually easier? I wonder if our holding on to examples such as ML King and Ghandi actually prevent us from engaging in change? It worries me that relying on such figures means we tend to rely on them turning up and sweeping us into their revolution, and thus end up abdicating responsibility for getting on with change ourselves.

We need to change our attitude. Rather than waiting for the Jackie Pullingers and Mother Theresas to revolutionise us, we need to take our god-given freedom and responsibility seriously and get on with small things ourselves. A hundred thousand small acts by a hundred thousand individuals will always make a bigger difference than a few huge acts by one revolutionary. And what's more, this mode of change will be sustainable, not burn out.
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Frank



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2004 12:06 pm      - Patience is a virtue?  Post subject: Patience is a virtue? Reply with quote

Interesting stuff at G-belt that reminded me of this bit in the book. Rowan Williams talked about hating email Rolling Eyes because it was too quick and stuff. Made me ponder about waiting. If we did go seriously into a persiod of 'advent' what might we miss in the silence? Would we be letting people down and not being faithfuL?

Not sure what to make of this. It seems like a big risk, just stopping everything, but maybe it has to be doen to pay dividends for the future... Like Fergie rebuilding his United side!! Laughing
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Jackson



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2004 2:20 pm      - punk  Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd agree with that. I think maybe it links with the stuff in the book about stages of faith... Maybe if you're at sage 3 or below, you're still looking for external permission givers, but as you go to the latter stages you can begin to see that it's not about some authority figure giving you the go ahead, but about making tough decisions and taking responsibility yourself... Not dissimilar from growing up is it? As a child you have to wait for permission, but it'd be unhealthy to still be doing that when you are adult, and there's always those complex transitions between the two when you're a teenager!
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Jackson



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2004 3:22 pm      - Revolution vs Evolution - post Greenbelt talk thoughts!  Post subject: Reply with quote

Just been listening to FiveLive, talking about Jury service.... Made me think about this stuff. Some would argue that juries give dodgy verdicts because they are 'thick' and not professional legal minds... Exactly. That's the whole point surely! It's a bottom-up, peer-led process that requires people to take responsibility, to engage with their communities (and the dirt in them). To hand that over to the pro's Twisted Evil would be a travesty, even though it seems tempting to do so.

They were also talking about people - particularly in the middle classes - trying to squeeze out of jury service, thereby leaving it increasingly mono-cultural, which is dangerous. We have to get involved for the system to work, and that's a bottom-up, evolutionary justice, isn't it?
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Beki



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2004 5:09 pm      - Gender issues etc.  Post subject: Gender issues etc. Reply with quote

I know Jonny was planning on getting something like this going at Greenbelt recently, but just wondering how 'emergent' or 'alternative' so many of these new expressions of church are if they are so heavily dominated by 'techy' men with gadgets and goaties. I don't think alt.worship can be genuine good future of the church unless it sorts some of these things out, which may mean working out its relationship to technology better, cos so many geeks seem to want to get involved to get their hands on more 'kit'.

What I like about the emergent stuff in the book is that it seems to be trying to give people permission to just get on and express church in their own way, and seeing as women make up such a large part of it, if we can just start expressing ourselves, without even getting hung up about stuff tod o with women priests and bishops and stuff that's got to be a good thing.
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Jon Kuhrt
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2004 12:23 pm      - Revolution vs Evolution - post Greenbelt talk thoughts!  Post subject: Reply with quote

I was at the 'belt and was one of those who asked you about rev/ev question.

Reflecting on it, I think it was a shame that the questions picked up on this issue because the important thing is a bottom up approach. It has a lot of similarities with the principles of community development which always have tensions with a 'preaching based we have the truth' approach.

But... words have significant power and especially these two have highly political connotations. One of my concerns among middle class British Christians is that we do not lose sight of the deep sin we are already a part of - and we do not soften the call for repentance and a passion for justice. Whatever the 'form' of our religious activity and whether it takes a more evolutionary approach has to be linked to our function: to witness to a kingdom radically different to the world's values.

It is dangerous to project onto figures like King, Mother Teresa and Pullinger our hopes for revolutionary change. But when you read stuff by these people they don't say 'do it like this' or 'here's a program'. If we listen properly instead of making idols of them we can hear a challenge to listen to God and follow a more radical path, whether that be political or personal (or hopefully both). The problem comes with the promotional machine that surrounds them which elevates them (unbiblically) into mythical heroes. Its a massive danger for Christian leaders and the lures of platform culture.

PS: I was also born in a vicarage in 1972
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Kester
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2004 8:05 pm      - Revolution vs Evolution - post Greenbelt talk thoughts!  Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey - another vicar kid! There's just TOO many of us around in these circles for it to be a coincidence... Someone should really do some proper research about the effect growing up in those circumstances has on your beliefs / life-chances etc.!

I think I agree with what you say on function, and definitely about the dangers of putting these people on pedestals. I'm quite sure they wouldn't want to be there, but that doesn't stop people / the Xn press doing so. What worries about that is that it can have the reverse effect of inspiring people... The 'trickle down' of radical lifestyle and action doesn't seem to work. Rather, people perhaps live vicariously off their stories and get their kicks out of the amazing testimonies they here... but aren't empowered to do anything.

One example I mention in the book is about 'revival'. I've heard so many preachers go on about it, but the general feeling people are left with, I think, is 'hey, cool, this revival's going to happen, let's hang around and see the show' - ie expecting others to do this amazing thing, but taking very little responsibility themselves.

As you say, it's the bottom-up approach that is needed. And I'm sure this was the battle Christ fought in the desert: forget the celebrity miracles and stunts and 'amazing testimony' stuff - get on with the real thing bit by bit, person by person. So many people were told to be quiet about what they'd experienced... and this seemed to temper their pedestaling notions, but make their infection of the Spirit stronger...

Be interested to know what your thoughts are on the 'promo machine' culture are, and any other thoughts about community development, which a few people have mentioned, but isn't an area I know a lot about.

Cheers,
K
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Jon Kuhrt



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PostPosted: Tue Sep 07, 2004 12:31 pm      - Revolution vs Evolution - post Greenbelt talk thoughts!  Post subject: Reply with quote

I work at Shaftesbury, and in seeking to help congregations engage effectively in their local communities, the importance of bottom up, organic ways of working are always so important. Development theory has grown out of learning around the world about what actually brings change and makes a significant difference over a long term rather than simply constantly doing 'relief' work which does not empower people but can actually keep them where they are.

Obviously politics is closely linked to this - philantrophy is far more poular to the powerful because it allows them to remain in control, dishing out the goodies to beneficiaries they expect to be grateful.

Also our theology is often in either concious or sub-concious alliance with top-down ways of working. A purely preaching agenda - 'we have the truth that you need to hear' - fits in with this sort of power control and I think this is one of the reasons (among many others) for conservative Christianity fitting in quite snugly with the agenda of the powerful e.g. in the USA today. The fact that conservative theology often means conservative in everything else is a big give away.

On the other hand development really means empowerment of people, positive action to combat discrimination, community organising and participation and involvement. There can be real connection with kingdom-building approach - where Christians are looking to allign themselves with what God is already doing in a community rather than thinking they bring God in, and where we look to build relationships, network and partner with others without losing our Christian distinctiveness. In fact, the irony is that our Christian distinctiveness is more at risk when we think that packaged formulas delivered by super-hero's on platforms are the answer to society's deepest questions. Too much Christian social action seeks to use these types of methods - it bigs up the leaders but minimizes the hard graft of real transformation.
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Welsh_Beard



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PostPosted: Thu Sep 09, 2004 8:24 pm      - Dirt and Terrorism  Post subject: Dirt and Terrorism Reply with quote

After the recent horrors in Russia, Putin said: 'You can't expect me to sit down and talk with those bastards. Why don't you invite Osama Bin Laden over and talk about giving him what he wants. If you do that, I'll talk to the Chechens.' Twisted Evil

Exactly. If only.

Maybe there's something in this whole dirt stuff from the book - which I have enjoyed a lot - that goes beyonf the church bit. MAybe terrorism is what evolves when people are made to feel like 'dirt' and given no voice, are pushed out of 'the temple' and excluded from any power processes... So the only way back into peoples consciousness is to shit on everyone. Terrorism is all about the spectacle, it's lurid, tabloid, media savvy action for the sound-bite generation.... It's dirty, basicallly.

But what would happen if we really faced our dirt and sat down with it? It's always going to be uncomfortable - but in the end, like in Northern Ireland, you have to speak with 'terrorists' and compromise. What would happen if Bush and Bin Laden (the Osama one, cos he's already been with the other brothers) sat down together and really talked? And Arafat and Sharon.... There would surely be a defusing and the fanstasy, candy floss construction of the terrorists' hyper-reality would fizzle out...


War on terror? Forget it. Embrace the terrorist instead. It's much harder to shoot someone when you're being embraced.
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Frank



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PostPosted: Thu Sep 09, 2004 8:30 pm      - Revolution vs Evolution - post Greenbelt talk thoughts!  Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
our Christian distinctiveness is more at risk when we think that packaged formulas delivered by super-hero's on platforms are the answer to society's deepest questions. Too much Christian social action seeks to use these types of methods - it bigs up the leaders but minimizes the hard graft of real transformation.


That is very neatly said, Jon. Can't agree with that more. I used to think everything would be ok if only someone like (here we go, exposing my self!) Freddie Mercury became a Christian, or some big writer and then everyone would surely have to listen up. I can see now what a load of crap that is, and it boils down to me getting on with it, not waiting for evertone else, or some big figure to catalyse it all for me.

Don't know much about Shaftsbury - do you have 'emergent' stuff going on there that might be applicable?
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jonathan



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 12, 2004 12:00 pm      - Public Ownership  Post subject: Public Ownership Reply with quote

Kester,

On reading your chapter concerning the city, it stuck me that you are addressing very much a middle class and generally upwardly mobile readership. Being from that constituency myself, it strikes me that within this group there is a grave danger in externalising contemporary urban problems. Of seeing other people as the culprits, or urban systems as failing because they do not conform to the pattern of our internal cravings. Often what is moaned about in the city is precisely what we ourselves are either generating though our daily activities or destroying through our own short-shrift habits and lifestyles.

Richard Sennet, who you also quote, wrote: "Only when we have come to acknowledge the fractures, self-destructiveness, and irresolvable conflicts of desires within ourselves will we be prompted to turn outward…to cross boundaries, to care for others unlike ourselves"

We need to acknowledge that we are the problem as much as the solution. It seems hard to face when we are used to framing the potential terrorist, the opportunist mugger, the allegedly unsafe streets, road congestion, traffic pollution, break-up of local communities, drunk drivers and dangerous estates for our society's ills.

Yet it is us (yes you Kester and me) who have shared in the creation of these dangers that have seeded our imaginations and bread the urban societies of distrust in which we currently live. And we continue to contribute to this each day though our own free choices. As much through what we have done as what we haven't. And equally through knowing actions as our unknowing decisions.

Alexander Solzenitsyn observed that "The line between good and evil is not between people. The line runs though every human heart, and it shifts back and forth."

He was aware that we, too, are capable of acts that violate others. We cannot always conjure up or blame the inhuman others. We must be willing to admit that for the best as well for the worst motives our desires attitudes and actions contribute to, fuel and perpetuate what we ourselves claim to stand against or try to flee from.

We are the split, divided and incomplete subjects of today's relational antagonism. We either take responsibility for this or to run away from ourselves.

Jonathan[/quote]
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jonathan



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PostPosted: Mon Sep 13, 2004 3:38 pm      - ¿The Complex God?  Post subject: ¿The Complex God? Reply with quote

Kester,

You have done the useful work of crossing boundaries in order to apply the new sciences of complexity and emergence to the organisational model of the church. You have also convincingly re-imagined the story of Jesus as the emergent, or complex Christ. My question is what of the emergence of 'The Beyond in our midst'?

You refer to Jack Miles' book "God: a Biography" which explores the development of the character of God through the Bible. You also make the suggestion that we might invert this character-study to look at this development through adolescence into maturity from the perspective of humanity's view of (or relationship with) the 'Unchanging One'.

In exploring the emergence of 'Our Great Question Mark' we can equally take a different path.

It is possible to trace the emergence of Yahweh from a local tribal god amongst others, 'who had credit in the mountains and none at all in the valleys' to federating superpower. For a long time this local deity, with an animal-head, was married, with his partner and spouse the goddess Asherah. I am no expert on this but I gather it is possible to trace the annexation, leakage and dynastic alliances between local ethnic gods in teh Middle East over time. The evolution over generations, with presumably less successful deities being cast aside. Until fusion of Elohists and Yahwist and the recombining and splicing of traditions attributed to David (the north) and Moses (the south); a pact which gave us 'Our Father who art in Heaven'. Our Father who over the course of more than a millennium climbed the rungs of the hierarchical ladder to become the One God we Europeans have built our Cathedrals to.

This deity emerged from polytheism at best six thousand year ago. We could go further back, fifty thousand years to the emergence of Homo Sapiens. Or further back, over five billion years, to the start of the big bang, or rather the now preferred term 'the primal singularity,' If we now see the world, not in the primitive formulations of Darwin's' evolution, but as a complex self-organising system, do we still hold onto a notion of creation ex nihilo or the concept of a deus ex machina? Self-organising seems to imply no outside assistance. It's something we find almost impossible to grasp. It demands such a paradigm shift. Maybe it needs new forms of language to talk about or express. I notice, Kester, you still use the language of creation. (raw creation even.)

Given that we now view the world with its emergent life, how or where do we configure our relationship to the divine? And how do we deal with our universe in which: 'The relentless chomping through time of this force of life, this power of life, seems to be indifferent to the creatures it creates and consumes in the process.' In which 'Nature is not cruel, or kind, only pitilessly indifferent.'

Is it the case that, as Rowan Williams wrote, 'God is in the connections we cannot make?' Is what we have up till now called 'The Invisible One', actually the complex connections in the system still beyond our grasp or understanding. Is it a way of trying to connect with 'The Other'—that which we are not? Or is 'The Friend', a 'A myth that tells a truth. A truth that we cannot do without.'

Perhaps the notion of 'God' is in fact a stage 3 (or stage 2-5) concept, and letting go of the support of this concept is what lies in the transition beyond stage 5. Sufis talk about religion akin to a stage on the journey one must go through.

Maybe we should follow Meister Eckhart in saying ‘I pray to God to rid me of God’.

Jonathan
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Kester
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 14, 2004 3:51 pm      - ¿The Complex God?  Post subject: Reply with quote

I like a lot of what you’re saying here Jonathan, but have some doubts about the conclusions.

You say that ‘this deity emerged from polytheism at best 6000 years ago. We could go further back to the emergence of Homo Sapiens… or to the primal singularity.’ My initial response to your thoughts is that however far we go back, there is still some sense of ‘the other’ that has given us some thrust, some momentum, some impulse, some fuel to fire us on from this place that we know is not ‘it’. Indeed, I think that this momentum must come from ‘elsewhere’; it would appear to serve no purpose if it was simply internal or communal. In this sense, I think self-organisation may actually imply some outside assistance. As you know from your reading, all systems that do self-organise are ones that are prepared to exist at the edge of chaos, and I think it is this aching for ‘the other’ that keeps us on that edge and stops us slipping into purely selfish isolationism or Nietzschean anarchy.

For the moment at least – and I’m happy to admit an emerging position, needing time to digest stuff and reflect on it – I want to hold onto a form of creation ex nihilo and yet see emergence as perhaps God’s inbuilt system to lead us toward communality and interdependence, bringing us eventually back to reunion. I wouldn’t want to discard creation at this point either, because it’s important for me to believe in genuine newness. I appreciate that much of what we describe as ‘creativity’ is really just ‘reconfiguration’, but the ability to bring some radical newness out of nothing, to do something ‘impossible’ is something that gives me great hope. ‘The Impossible’ is effectively what John Caputo concludes as he tries to answer Augustine’s question ‘what do I love when I love my God?’ He writes: “The religious sense of life has to do with exposing oneself to the radical uncertainty and the open-endedness of life… It kicks in when we are solicited by the voices of the impossible, by the possibility of the impossible, provoked by an unforeseeable and absolute future.’

It is this I want to hold on to: that the emergence of self-organising systems has done so at the bidding of the Impossible, the Other, in order to lead us out of ourselves, out of our small worlds and into the great unknown, where we can be fully known. For it all to end up as a genetic replication scam, with nothing beyond, and my sense of spirit just a fuzz to keep me replicating would leave me feeling a little cheated, and sorry I didn’t concentrate more during The Matrix.

Get back to me on this though. It’s sparking good thoughts!
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rumple



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PostPosted: Fri Sep 17, 2004 1:51 pm      - Dirt and Terrorism  Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting thoughts... Wondering how this works out with the recent stuff going on with the Commons and Buck Palace.

Robin Cook made a good point in today's Independent - would we have been happier if the intruders had been shot at the entrance to the Chamber? Would the day's business have been completed then? Similarly, would the royals have been better served to have a dead Batman sprawling on their gravel?

In a world of terrorism - which by definition will spring up anywhere, and as you say, always be about 'spectacle' - it will be impossible to eliminate it. Or, by eliminating it, you create such a sterile parliament and monarchy that they will wither and die... As the book mentions in relation to the church. Probably the high-water mark for the royals in terms of popularity has to be when dirt did get into Buck Palace and it was the victim of terror - in the Blitz. They perhaps then enjoyed the Trickster way - being sullied and yet brought closer to the people.

If the Lobby is shut off, and the whole Commons surrounded by a Ring of Steel, what will we be protecting? Whatever it is, by such radical protectionism we'll kill it... we have to run the risk of allowing the dirty in.
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Kester
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 17, 2004 2:21 pm      - Watchmen - Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons  Post subject: Watchmen - Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons Reply with quote

Just love this graphic novel... an absolute classic, and still has so much to say... amazingly prophetic about the whole 9/11 effect, and at the same time offering a critique of the violent redemption ideology.

"Watchmen is the first great humane act in superhero comics."
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Kester
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 17, 2004 3:59 pm      - Public Ownership  Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
On reading your chapter concerning the city, it stuck me that you are addressing very much a middle class and generally upwardly mobile readership. Being from that constituency myself, it strikes me that within this group there is a grave danger in externalising contemporary urban problems.


I accept the readership issue - and have become less abashed about it. I cannot be someone else... I'm white, middle-class, British, male and Christian - probably the most guilty person on earth! Everyone is onto us for every ill in history!

However, while I accept that there is this 'grave danger of externalising', what I have sincerely tried to argue in the book - unsuccessfully perhaps - is precisely what you say - that we need to be involved, need to recognise ourselves as integral to the problem and solution. More and more of our friends are upping and leaving London in order to live 'safer' lives - better schools, less threats from the streets. They appear to have sucked all they can from the city - good wages, housing capital gains etc. - and are now escaping to bring up their young. This will only leave the city poorer - in every sense of the word. Of course schools will not improve unless people like 'us' are prepared to engage with them and put our resources into them. [And if you don't like that attitude, read 'How not to be a hypocrite - school choices for the morally perplexed parent' by Adam Swift, Oxford political philosopher who puts the case brilliantly] It is this practical sense of engagement that I want people to get into... practical and bloody difficult.

Yes the line of good and evil runs right through us. There are genuine problems that we have leverage on, and our commitment to staying put will help. That said, not everything is our direct fault. That is to take responsibility away from the mugger and let them continue mugging, happy that they are the guiltless oppressed who can't help it, who is bound to prey on the un-street-wise... If we are to take responsiblity, we must all do it - and this corporate act will require us all to meet and engage with eachother... A meeting point the church may well be well place to provide.
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Jon Kuhrt



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2004 6:05 pm      - Revolution vs Evolution - post Greenbelt talk thoughts!  Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry not to reply sooner.

Yes, we have had quite a bit of contact with the 'emerging church' scene - recently we co-hosted an event with Tom Wright - it was aimed to bring his thinking and theology into a conversation with the new and emerging ways of being church. And Wright's biblical theology and emphasis on kingdom has been so very enriching for Christian social/political activists. There are loads of great books he has written but I would really recomend The Challenge of Jesus (SPCK).

I think Shaftesbury's questioning of which direction the church is moving in has meant that there has been a lot of 'value-connection' with new ways of being church. The thing is though that we do not want to see 'the next new thing' happen - what time, where and singing what songs does not matter as much what connection and impact is being made for God's kingdom. We are running a campaign called Challenging Church starting in November which is focussing on issues of duplication and competition between churches - and challenging them to work together. Its one of the biggest barriers we see to Christian witness. But I better stop this ad and leave space to discuss the issues...
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Tracey D



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2004 8:24 pm      - Patience is a virtue?  Post subject: Reply with quote

Agreed - seems a massive thing to just stop... That said, I've heard of a couple of places actually doing that. Didn't Pioneer do something like this recently? Like to know if so, and how it went... Anyone else got experiences of this?
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Kester
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2004 8:41 pm      - Complex, Dirty Gifts on the Beach  Post subject: Complex, Dirty Gifts on the Beach Reply with quote

Been speaking to a lot of people who say they're really enjoying the book, but having to read slow because there's a lot of new stuff to digest... I wonder if the complexity issues are part of that; as someone said at a party last night, 'the complex Christ is pretty damn complicated!' But as Harvey Peckar would say in American Splendour 'ordinary life is pretty complex stuff'...

All I can advise is, pursue it, because it's worth it. The more time I've spent letting these things mull over, the more I've begun to see that issues of complexity and emergence spring up everywhere.... And most recently, on the beach, as raised in an article in 'Prospect'.

Beaches are part of every nation's 'gift'. They are common ground, swept by the tides each day, so not able to be owned in the classic sense by anyone, and not able to be permanently inhabited by anyone. Each day people must re-take their places. Each day, the crowds must re-organise themselves.

What the evidence shows is that the way people begin to take their places follows beautiful patterns similar to crystals forming... everyone calculating the space available and the distribution of people around them...

What is also interesting about beaches is that they, as boundary places, are places where 'dirt' is negotiated. People eat strange foods, wear strange clothes, watch strange shows. They expose more skin than would be proper elsewhere. Are happy to try things they wouldn't normally try. As the 'end of the pier shows' have shown in pantomime and satire, beaches are complex, places offering dirty gifts...
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2004 8:10 am      - Wikipedia  Post subject: Wikipedia Reply with quote

If you haven't already heard about it, Wikipedia is an on-line encyclopedia. The difference is, it is totally bottom-up. You can look up information on a topic, and if you think it needs amending, you go right ahead and amend it.

Sound like a recipe for anarchy? Yes. But incredibly, it works. Because there are enough 'positive' users who care about the project, it self-heals quickly when 'negative' users post silly stuff.

For an excellent article on it from last week's Observer, click here.

To try it out for yourself, click here.

I think this is the closest I've come to seeing something that fits the model of an 'emergent truth' that I mentioned in the book. Very exciting.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 04, 2004 4:32 pm      - Complex Culture  Post subject: Complex Culture Reply with quote

Listening to Tessa Jowell on the radio this morning, discussing the history of arts funding in the UK. She made an interesting differentiation between what she called 'entertainment' and 'complex culture'.

Complex culture, she said, was often 'dirty' - this was in a section which had also discussed Blunkett's faux-pas over Arts Council funding for 'Shopping and Fucking' - but this dirty complexity left people 'transformed in a way that entertainment simply could not. People leave different.'

So are we involved in entertainment, or complex culture?
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Jackson



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PostPosted: Tue Oct 05, 2004 8:16 pm      - On Religion - Jon Caputo  Post subject: On Religion - Jon Caputo Reply with quote

Quite simply, a lovely book, from a lovely series. Anything that takes Nietzche head on and wins is pretty good in my book. Begins with a delightful meditation on Augustine's question "What do I love when I love my God?", and goes to some wonderful philosophical places... Highly recommended.
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Welsh_Beard



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PostPosted: Tue Oct 05, 2004 8:23 pm      - Complex Culture  Post subject: Reply with quote

Unf. I think we are mostly involved in entertainment. We're interested in attracting an audience, rather than starting a community. Thinking back to the book, I thnk the stuff on the desert, and Jesus rejecting the celebrity, easy miracle angle is poignant here. As Brewin seems to suggest, he rejected entertainment for something more complex, but I'm not sure we're doing the same. This worries me particularly about 'worship leading'. What is going on here? Are people really getting close to God, or just happy that their favourite chorus has been played? Perhaps entertainment is less about gift, and more about the soap that might be sold on the back of the opera...
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Frank



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PostPosted: Tue Oct 05, 2004 8:27 pm      - Nice article on 'total worship' from Vaux...  Post subject: Nice article on 'total worship' from Vaux... Reply with quote

Could be relevant here. See it (beautifully designed) at...
http://www.emergingchurch.info/stories/vaux/index.htm
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dealingwith



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2004 5:23 pm      - Complex, Dirty Gifts on the Beach  Post subject: Reply with quote

My experience of the beach in SoFL is that much of the beach is literally owned. Walking on those sections of private beach makes one very much dirt.

And on the public beaches I would say there is definately a hierarchy of in/out of place matter; one you hint at even in your description of 'dirt' ("people wear strange clothes"). It's all about how 'well' you wear those 'strange' clothes.

Just finished TCC by the way, great work Kester! I'm going to post my few critiques and many praises on my blog over the course of a few days...probly next week sometime.
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dealingwith



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2004 6:12 pm      - 10 years  Post subject: Reply with quote

Back to complexity: why do we try and measure the meaningfulness of a fad/expression/"institution" in terms of its longevity? How many obscure authors, obscure in their time and still so, have inspired a solitary creative, who then inspired another, who then inspired a movement? The layers or circles of influence are too subtle to measure. The easier thing to measure is what doesn't have such influence...back to ev- vs. rev- olution (rev has little or short-run influence, even though it is what ends up in the history books).

Speaking of longevity...who finds the Stones' longevity admirable and who finds it kind of sick and thinks they need to just stay home? Why do old, fat Pixies get &uuml;berindierespect when they go out on tour again but the Stones get the old Rolling Eyes ....What is the fundamental differences between the influences of longevity vs. martyrdom? Stones and Pixies (Souxie, Halen, gawd I've seen 100's of them come through town this summer) vs. Nivana, Pistols, etc. Or even Joy Division vs. New Order or Tripping Daisy vs. The Polyphonic Spree. Or what about the Beatles repackaging their catalog 3x's a year?

All these observations piled on top of TCC's observations make for an interesting critique of how we value culture and legacy as a society. I've been taking comfort in 1 Thes 4:11 lately, knowing that one's legacy may never been seen, but felt anonymously for generations. I've actually taken 1 Thes 4:10-13 to mean more than the obvious metaphor most might read, but as a cultural/legacy metaphor, v.13 as a compare/contrast b/w two groups of seekers, those who grieve those who have "fallen asleep" (pomo stage 3 consumers maybe? "how many units has alt.worship moved?!") and those who have a peace and hope about their work and its legacy.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2004 1:14 pm      - 10 years  Post subject: Reply with quote

Good to have you with us D - hope Steve delivered the goods ok!

Have to agree with you... Sometimes you wish things would admit defeat and curl up and die, yet sometimes things are taken from you too young. Have to say - I'm gutted about John Peel dying the other day. At 65 he was still the most avant-guarde (in the best sense) DJ and presenter we had, and the world is a worse place without him.

I still want to strongly recommend 'The Neophiliacs' - in the further reading section - as an amazing discourse on newness, history, music, theatre, politics and, surprisingly, faith. For those of us obsessed with the new, and those romantic about the past, it has very real lessons. Best thing I've read all year.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2004 1:40 pm      - Crime and Loving the Unknown  Post subject: Crime and Loving the Unknown Reply with quote

Vaux met last night at the RFH, and Helen sparked some debate on ideas about the city, crime etc, which I wanted to share.

The city, as I try to explain in the book, is the place above all others where we are forced to engage with the Other. Where we interact with the Known and the Unknown, the familiar (part of our family our comfort zone) and un-familiar.

Part of the problem of crime and anti-social behaviour is that it is easier in the city because of the anonymity that this 'unknown' aspect of the city provides. In the main, criminals don't know the people they burgle or aggrieve, and know that too - just as the victims know that they are unknown too, which leads to feelings of powerlessness and anger.

One might hypothesise then that how one deals with the unknown other is a key indicator of social adjustment. Some of the children I deal with at school are incredibly loyal to their families - you hear their parents declaring the mantra "I love me kids" and it is this that is easy for any of us to say. But it is love for the unknown, not the known that shows true love.

Perhaps one of the problems with urban criminality is a failure to see the interconnectedness of things: stealing from strangers somehow has no effect on the stealer. It is simply stealing from the unknowable mass out there, from the system that is too big for me to have any impact.

Ben mentioned the idea of reciprocity - which links well with ideas of gift. Individual reciprocity - I buy you a drink because I know you are going to buy me one back - is simple. What is more difficult, and yet has a more profound impact on society, is 'general reciprocity' - where I buy you a drink, not expecting you to buy me one back, but simply hoping that someone, somewhere, not necessarily you, will do something good and generous to me in the future.

Applying this to the above, it seems one of the root problems with crime is that people have a distorted view of both sorts of reciprocity: a fierce loyalty which demands an eye for an eye, yet no sense that crime has a reciprocal impact on fear, security and well being in general. What they do has no bearing on the wider society: they are individuals, with no interconnection or responsibility.

I feel this boils down to parenting (again). We begin our lives as totally self-obsessed infants... me, me, me, and it is the role of the parent to help us negotiate the realisation that we are part of a wider social framework: family, community, city, nation, humanity... Parents need to help us to come to love the Unknown, and to see our intrinsic interconnection with our fellow humanity and environment.

The question that faces the Church is: how does its ministry facilitate this? Or is it pedalling a religion of individual reciprocity and escapist salvation that secures our place in heaven and disconnects us from our responsibilities to each other as an urban community 'in it together'?

Hmmmm[/i]
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dealingwith



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PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2004 7:45 pm      - 10 years  Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes Steve sent the goods successfully. Already read the book, will comment on it soon on the ol' blog. First "christian" book I've read for a long time that interested me at all. Lots of good stuff.

I agree about John Peel. We have Nic Harcort (another brit) over here in LA at least.

I will check out The Neophiliacs, thanks for the rec. I still have to read the Gift though!!
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Heidi Sue



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2004 9:37 pm      - Belonging  Post subject: Belonging Reply with quote

I have been overcome to the point neccessitating speaking out as a result of reading this engaging book. Overcome with belonging, though to what or to whom I haven't figured out entirely. I am sure I don't fit any reasonable profile of your readership, being an upper middle class suburbian housewife in the US, not well educated, not given to philosophical wanderings in general, and while giving in to the occassional deep thoughts, not capable of speaking more than pure horsesense at best. Still, I feel I belong here somehow. I am in exile from my local church currently, as I seem to have offended my pastor while pointing out gossip he was engaged in that was false and harmful to my family. For some time I have been fed up with the Christianizing of God's gifts, Christian rock, Christian art, Christian breathmints (I swear there is such a thing here). Your writing on Gift is still soaking into my parched and hardened heart, and I will be writing more when I become coherent. I've been pondering for awhile how belonging to God's family, Christ's body, must be, has to be, different than the maffia imagery we so commonly encounter. Being part of the "Family" in that sense is all about protecting and advancing the interests of our own kind. If you are outside that "Family", we have little resource and care available to you. We spend our energy filling ourselves with the holy ghost to better position our rank and file in the family. In affluent America, "belonging" is more about innoculating than embracing. We vaccinate ourselves from all that is dirty in order to redeem what is dirty? It makes no sense. When obtaining eternal life is the supreme goal, we can afford to love less and contribute less to the time and space we inhabit. I don't fully comprehend the ways that I step over Dirt in my daily life, (unless you count not eating in my Grandma's kitchen) but I am obliged to find out and reverse the trend. I have little poignant to say right now (probably never, who am I fooling), but wanted to offer a big thank-you for the unique perspective that is "The Complex Christ" and my hopes that it will do it's "dirty" work in my own heart.
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Kester
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 09, 2004 7:51 pm      - Moot debate cont'd: Is TCC actually a top-down directive?  Post subject: Moot debate cont'd: Is TCC actually a top-down directive? Reply with quote

This is a copy of a post I put up in reply to some debate on Moot's blog, which you can read here

In that debate, Mike writes: “This issue of "bottom up" theology seems to be being put forward in a very "top down" manner! If people really believe in bottom up why write a book? Isn't this the most top down way of doing it? The underlying suggestion here is: "I have put things together like this, now go ye and do likewise!"”

I said I’d like to offer a defense of the book on this…

As I hope I communicated in the book, bottom-up systems may work in nature, but don’t work in human societies, basically because of our essential free will. An ant may not have much choice but follow its instincts and do as it is ‘programmed’, but we have the choice to be lazy, participate or pull out of stuff. And this makes a big difference: it means that some sort of organization and leadership is required. In other words, in emergent societies, there is always a good mixture of the top-down and the bottom-up – and successful cities can be seen to be exhibiting this.

For this reason, I am not trying to get the church to become entirely bottom-up, but to at least try to regain some balance in what is currently a hugely top-down structure. However, this doesn’t quite answer what Mike seems to be arguing, that putting out a book is a top-down ‘go ye and do likewise’ affair.

I’d strongly disagree with this. I don’t think the book is at all dictatorial – if others do, I’d like to hear why and release a 2nd edition! What it tries to do is release some ideas, and offer people freedom and permission to go and experiment with them. I hoped that the postscript made this clear, but perhaps it didn’t.

It is ridiculous to suggest that putting forward ideas is ‘top down’ and dictatorial, unless people feel that the ideas are being forced on them. Again, as I tried to put over in the postscript, the book is a way of releasing the ideas into the public domain so that people can argue them out (as I’m glad we are doing here) and beat them into something conjunctive.

The discussion board for the book is one way that this can happen – this comments section may be getting too jammed for this, so I’ll post this on thecomplexchrist.com too and if people want to come back at me – as I believe Ian is preparing to do, we can debate further.

<.k/>
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Kester
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 09, 2004 8:03 pm      - Belonging  Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks so much for diving in. You are too harsh on yourself - you write very well, and have expressed things very coherently. I look forward to hearing more!

You say that "in affluent America, "belonging" is more about innoculating than embracing. We vaccinate ourselves from all that is dirty in order to redeem what is dirty"... And I'd love to say that this was not all true here in the UK, but it's not. Thankfully, in Vaux I've managed to find some soul-mates to journey with. What surprised me when I finally had had enough of 'normal' church was just how many people were feeling the same - but had not thought anyone else did. I hope you have the same experience.

I'm glad you feel at home - and that you've discovered that you are not alone internationally, even if your church situation at home is tough and excluding you.

Thanks for your kind comments - and I really hope that your thirst is quenched in all the right ways soon.

Look forward to hearing more from your perspective in your situation!

<.k/>

PS - could I be rude and ask how you got hold of the book? Ta!
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 11, 2004 6:47 pm      - Moot debate cont'd: Is TCC actually a top-down directive?  Post subject: Continuing debate Reply with quote

Hello everybody!

I'm new to this blog (sorry, my wife has just informed me that this is a discussion forum, and not a blog. I'm not sure what the difference is..!), so bear with me if I say anything that has already been said or discussed, or step on anyone's toes inadvertently.

This posting relates to a lengthy and heated discussion on ecclesiology on MOOT's blog, should you feel inclined to go there....

Anyway, my original comments were made within the context of a school of thought rather than specifically relating to Kester's book.

I don't ever recall using the term "dictatorial" and I'm sorry if you think that that was what I was saying or implying.

I was making the point that it feels like a bit of a contradiction to me to be talking about bottom-up stuff, through the medium of a book/giving talks/etc.

I think that a really trickster-ish things to do would be to make a lot of the source material of all these things available on the net - it would break the intellectual monopoly of authorship, piss-off the publishers, and is very democratic. A discussion whereby the internet community works through these things - that to me would be real bottom-up stuff.

Do you equate top down stuff with being dictatorial Kester?
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 11, 2004 8:04 pm      - Moot debate cont'd: Is TCC actually a top-down directive?  Post subject: Reply with quote

This actually raises some pretty interesting issues - both personally and professionally.

To start with, at it's most extreme my definition of top-down would equate to being dictatorial, but of course, real life is never like that. Even the most hierarchical of leaders are consultative in some way.

What I dislike about some of the church structures I've been a part of, or under, is that they worked like a chain of command, with those at the top having more leverage and power - and their words being taken as 'more true' than those 'below' them. This strikes me as totally against what Christ was about, and what I like about 'bottom up' systems as applied to social structures is that they seem to open the possibility of truth being far more networked and power far less in the hands of the few... A proper 'body', functioning as it should.

What would worry me is if people took me saying that in the book as 'dictating' to them what they should do. I'd rather see it as a release of some concepts for people to play with and do as they please with.

Problem is, how to release... To be honest, I'd love to be in the position of being able to just release the stuff 'for free' as downloads or whatever, but - as those of you who've read Lewis Hyde's brilliant book 'The Gift' will know - transactions with created work are rarely that simple, and as Hyde explores, the creative must find some way to feed and clothe themselves...

Put bluntly, I couldn't afford to just release for free. Writing takes time, and I chose to go 4-days a week teaching to get some. On top of the lower income to do that, using poems, quotes etc., needs to be done honestly for other creatives to get something back from their work, so I had to pay for their inclusion. This itself all cost about a grand, which is money I don't just have lying about...

Perhaps this ought to be discussed in the 'gift' section - I'll copy the post and put a link in there - but it is a vital question... Don't get me wrong, I'd love to do the stuff you suggest, but if people are going to do serious thinking on stuff, they need serious time, and somehow that has to be afforded.

What I wanted this space to be is a democratic, free space to rip the book apart and put some practical flesh on it... To get back to top/bottom stuff, I'd like a space like Wikipedia where 'truth' could become emergent. But like Wiki, someone needs to write the first post, get the constituent materials together, throw in some catalyst and get evolution cooking...


[PS - I haven't made a cent back yet Wink ]
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 11, 2004 8:05 pm      - Dollars and Sense... Should we cut out the publishers?  Post subject: Dollars and Sense... Should we cut out the publishers? Reply with quote

This springs from a post in the 'rants' section from the Moot debate here...

This actually raises some pretty interesting issues - both personally and professionally.

To start with, at it's most extreme my definition of top-down would equate to being dictatorial, but of course, real life is never like that. Even the most hierarchical of leaders are consultative in some way.

What I dislike about some of the church structures I've been a part of, or under, is that they worked like a chain of command, with those at the top having more leverage and power - and their words being taken as 'more true' than those 'below' them. This strikes me as totally against what Christ was about, and what I like about 'bottom up' systems as applied to social structures is that they seem to open the possibility of truth being far more networked and power far less in the hands of the few... A proper 'body', functioning as it should.

What would worry me is if people took me saying that in the book as 'dictating' to them what they should do. I'd rather see it as a release of some concepts for people to play with and do as they please with.

Problem is, how to release... To be honest, I'd love to be in the position of being able to just release the stuff 'for free' as downloads or whatever, but - as those of you who've read Lewis Hyde's brilliant book 'The Gift' will know - transactions with created work are rarely that simple, and as Hyde explores, the creative must find some way to feed and clothe themselves...

Put bluntly, I couldn't afford to just release for free. Writing takes time, and I chose to go 4-days a week teaching to get some. On top of the lower income to do that, using poems, quotes etc., needs to be done honestly for other creatives to get something back from their work, so I had to pay for their inclusion. This itself all cost about a grand, which is money I don't just have lying about...

Perhaps this ought to be discussed in the 'gift' section - I'll copy the post and put a links in there - but it is a vital question... Don't get me wrong, I'd love to do the stuff you suggest, but if people are going to do serious thinking on stuff, they need serious time, and somehow that has to be afforded.

What I wanted this space to be is a democratic, free space to rip the book apart and put some practical flesh on it... To get back to top/bottom stuff, I'd like a space like Wikipedia where 'truth' could become emergent. But like Wiki, someone needs to write the first post, get the constituent materials together, throw in some catalyst and get evolution cooking...


[PS - I haven't made a cent back yet Wink ]
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Welsh_Beard



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PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2004 10:02 am      - Moot debate cont'd: Is TCC actually a top-down directive?  Post subject: Reply with quote

As the great artist and writer J Rabagliati said,

Quote:
'Where there is no money, there is no art'


and

Quote:
'Words are objects too'


I think he is talking about how a book is, in itself, a work of art. The medium is the message etc., so needs formatting, designing and setting right... Not just printing out in Arial 12 on Ryman's 80gsm.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2004 10:03 am      - Dollars and Sense... Should we cut out the publishers?  Post subject: Reply with quote

As the great artist and writer J Rabagliati said,

Quote:
'Where there is no money, there is no art'


and

Quote:
'Words are objects too'


I think he is talking about how a book is, in itself, a work of art. The medium is the message etc., so needs formatting, designing and setting right... Not just printing out in Arial 12 on Ryman's 80gsm.[/i]
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2004 7:20 pm      - punk  Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with all of above, and I do find it interesting to thnk that many of us still need permision before we are willing to exercise our creative sparks.

I have another thought to go with this; could our motivation for permision be based in the fear of condemnation? We can be so afraid in evangelical circles of being labelled 'liberal' or 'heretical' that we want that safety net of permissdion before we even start to venture out of the security.

That, though, seems mad as in my experience the permission is given but if things start to be 'too' creative for the permission giver control is taken back so that the staus quo is maintained.
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dealingwith



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PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2004 9:49 pm      - Belonging  Post subject: Christian breathmints Reply with quote

Heidi, I don't have much to add other than to affirm your observations and connection with Kester's concepts in The Complex Christ. Your writing is rather profound...don't try and deny it!

I'm also trying to figure out how to create environments for true gift exchange in the US, and specifically in the metroplex. It's difficult when most of the Christian experience on offer is that of consumer church. The "lazy spirituality" of a "feed me" Chrisitian culture here is very much at odds with what we desire from community, specifically w/in the context of worship and gatherings. I'm still at a loss as to how to address it here in the States. I wish I could get everyone to read TCC, but then for most people, w/o the context of about 10 other books, it wouldn't make any sense. Sad
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2004 8:28 am      - Belonging  Post subject: Kester Reply with quote

Quote:
I'm also trying to figure out how to create environments for true gift exchange in the US, and specifically in the metroplex.


Daniel, I really interested in this. What sort of forms do you think this could take? From what I've read of your blog there seeems to be stuff you're involved in that is hinting at exactly that. We at Vaux are really trying to tackle this very question, so be interested in any ideas...
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2004 8:58 am      - punk  Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
could our motivation for permision be based in the fear of condemnation?


Good point Rob. I think this is a problem of leadership. Leaders need to create cultures within which people can flourish and be encouraged... But too often (in my experience) leaders have been afraid of losing control, so they stifle freedom. I think this is rarely malicious, and often unconscious, but it's been going on for SO long that it's almost expected behaviour. It's taken on it's own spiritual vocab too, so we're told stuff about 'in keeping with God's will' and stuff.

I like the way the book uses the parable of the sower in a new light on this.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 17, 2004 12:45 am      - Moot debate cont'd: Is TCC actually a top-down directive?  Post subject: Reply with quote

Looked for the thread on Moot but could not find it. But...

To say that writing a book is 'top-down' is just bad logic.

Ideas ARE free. However, as Kester pointed out, the time he took to compile TCC is not, nor is the ink and paper they are printed on, nor is the time of publishers, distributors, and retailers. Nor, for that matter, is webserver space, bandwidth, or the time spent in site administration.

These issues are more complex than can be assessed by a simple deconstruction of "he wrote a BOOK about bottom-up organization--har har!" and require a more nuanced and mature understanding of gift, commerce, and the relationship between the two.

Will be continuing this thought in the near future under the Gift thread...
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 17, 2004 4:58 am      - Dollars and Sense... Should we cut out the publishers?  Post subject: Reply with quote

...as a continuation of this thread, where Kester inquires

Quote:
What sort of forms do you think this could take? From what I've read of your blog there seeems to be stuff you're involved in that is hinting at exactly that. We at Vaux are really trying to tackle this very question, so be interested in any ideas...


I'm going to reply with several quotes from TCC and by narrating conflict--the conflicts that we have come out of and the conflicts we now find ourselves in. A more positive word would be 'challenges'...but I'm not feeling particularly positive ATM. First, the past:

Quote:
Were we simply part of the 'service industry' that has grown up alongside the alternative worship movement, supplying liturgies and video loops and ambient sounds to furnish the spiritual bed-sits of thos who wandered our way from the traditional...?


Quote:
People...spoke about 'enjoying' a time of worship and getting a lot out of it...Did they just mean they liked the songs and it made them feel warm inside? And were we just offering the same core product in a different style of packaging?


Is very much like what I was saying in '01:

Quote:
Praise and worship music, even just by its intentions, is the most presumptuous and inauthentic art in existence today.


Kester says:

Quote:
True art presents itself to us as a gift that can aid transformation, an antidote to the restless daeth of the commodity civilization; but it is a delicate gift, whose power can be destroyed very easily if it is turned into pure commodity.


...and contrasts this 'true art' to church worship by observing of the latter:

Quote:
...it was judged on a subjective level by what people go out of it, not what they put in.


...and in reference to the xian culture's co-option of 'true art':

Quote:
...as if it could be re-marketed and re-branded through some surface pick-and-mix of popular culture.


...and he envisions:

Quote:
...one of the key places in a community where gifts can be exchanged and, as always when gifts are shared, relationships will flourish around these places. ...it could be 'messy' and that it may not always be clear who is in control--but we must remember that this is where life exists. We also know that accusations will come that activities like this are a 'waste of time' and not focused on the main goal of getting everyone saved.


All well and good? Of course Kester could have written an entire book taking Hyde's ideas about Gift and narrating he and his community's journey and challenges within the context of Gift, but I still would have appreciated some such context. And that is all I have to offer in response to his query about our efforts here Stateside.

My experience with these frustrations with worship-as-commerce, what I call the 'feed me' mentality of popular xian culture, is one of retreat. Seeing the abortion that is 99% of church experience in America and the dissonance it created in our hearts, many of us have simply left. We're still tacidly involved in some of the conversations, but mostly find them circular navel-gazing sessions.

So instead we went to where we were seeing 'authentic' gift exchange: the 'real' arts community. In my case, I started Integration Research, 'a cultural and technological incubator in the form of art collective, publisher and software developer.' I've also enacted my art within the context of 'typical' culture industries. But what I have found 'out here', in both my fellow exiles and those who have been here all along, is that many of the same problems exist.

The main problem is one not of, as you quote Hyde, 'a work of art can survive without the market, but where there is no gift there is no art', but closer to what 'Welsh_Beard' quoted of Rabagliati in this thread, 'Where there is no money, there is no art'. Or what I think might be more accurate: Where there is no gift exchange there is no art.

In other words, the 'feed me' mentality persists (sometimes literally!). As evidenced in this thread, there is an inherit conflict between the two states of art as both gift and commodity, one Kester is experiencing through the publication of his work. And while the 'exchange' need not be monetary, there does need to be some balance. Kester points out Hyde's example of the Maori as a complex system, the 'circle of gift', and even earlier uses 'having people round for dinner' as example:

Quote:
[gift] has created a momentum, a disequilibrium, and it would be expected - although never demanded - that the guest might in the future reciprocate the gift in some way.


This expectation comes from the need for balance; but what I have found is that as a generation (or two) into a gift-devoid society, we do not honor this requirement; we do not honor Gifts. They aren't gifts anymore, they are just free commodities. Our gifts quickly get degraded to the level of trade-show swag--grab as much as you can.

More later...maybe...let's see what gets thrown back at me for this.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 26, 2004 12:43 pm      - Gender issues etc.  Post subject: Reply with quote

One thing that always depresses me when I go to Alt W* gatherings is just how white, middle class male dominated the whole thing is. Not much different from Spring Harvest really – only the participants are better dressed and with nicer haircuts.

My usual social strategy at places where I don’t know many people is to find another woman on her own and get chatting. Doesn’t really work at London Zoo. It only works if you go with a friend and cling like limpet.

Given alt w* emphasis on relationships, communities, collaboration etc, I would expect alt to be more attractive to (and more open) to women than other expressions of church. But actually it seems more closed. If alt w truly wants to be something different, then it needs to start asking itself difficult questions about leadership, power and status.

The thing is, there are loads of women involved in alt – but mostly at group, local or supportive level:

Group - as participants / contributors to the planning process.

Local - leading groups that seek serve their communities rather than looking to minister to the wider church (as well as serving their communities).

Supportive – acting as “alternative clergy wives”.

All valuable (and valid) but mostly invisible contributions. I suspect that many would love to be asked to contribute on a wider scale – but because people think we’ve got something valuable to say rather than because we’re women.

Elmer
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2004 10:00 am      - Gender issues etc.  Post subject: Reply with quote

Elmer wrote:
Given alt w* emphasis on relationships, communities, collaboration etc, I would expect alt to be more attractive to (and more open) to women than other expressions of church. But actually it seems more closed. If alt w truly wants to be something different, then it needs to start asking itself difficult questions about leadership, power and status.

Elmer


Totally agree with this Elmer! Not really sure where the solution lies - do we need to be more forthright, or do the men in these groups (and their inevitable iPods, technology fetishes and improbable beards) need to open the door more.

Come on - where's the other women out there to debate this properly!
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2004 10:16 pm      - Gender issues etc.  Post subject: Reply with quote

There are probably a number of things at work. Some of them have already been mentioned – the reliance on technology, the expectations about who leads etc. But the biggest thing that’s affected my church involvement is my child. As well as severely reducing the amount of time I’ve got available to participate in emergent church activities, it’s changed the priority I give them. (And I’m fairly lucky as we do have access to babysitters!)

The friend I mentioned in my earlier post and I have talked at great length about this and we’re still not sure what the answer is. Most of it has nothing to do with emergent and everything to do with life-stages, priorities, time management, the way men and women relate to each other etc.

We did consider putting together a proposal to do some sort of seminar at Greenbelt about the joys and challenges of doing alt w* / emergence in the ‘burbs when you’ve got children of various ages. It isn’t something that gets talked about much and we thought that others may find it encouraging and helpful. (We abandoned the idea once we’d sobered up)

Elmer
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2004 12:30 pm      - Gender issues etc.  Post subject: Reply with quote

This issue has been discussed in other places as well, and I thought I’d share this here as it changed the way I looked at things:

Jengie Jon wrote:
Quote:
What I am wondering is if the male part is not in the actual doing but in the philosophising about it. Women do it, maybe even do it better than men, basically because thinking of multiple levels is what women have always historically had to do, but expressing in coherent monolevel way, which is what is needed if theological elite are to listen to you, is not part of the culture women inhabit.

The theoretical discussions seem to be dominated by men, but when you get down to the nitty gritty of doing it, women seem to be in greater preponderance and often in leadership roles.


And that’s the core issue … Alt w* / Emergent has embraced the same leadership culture as the wider church – that leaders are the ones who write, lead seminars, attend meetings and do all the “public up front face” stuff.

In the same post, Jengie Jon also wrote:

Quote:
There is a great cartoon by Jacky Flemming which is entitled "Why there have been on great women artists". It shows a woman heavily pregnant standing at an easel, with a pan on her head and a toddler pulling at her skirts.


That life doesn’t lend itself easily to writing, seminar going etc. The process of creation and participation tends to get fitted around everything else.

But, if you go back to some of the original ideas within alt w* - where some of emergent is rooted - the leaders were the ones who created and participated in the services at local group level. If you look at leadership in that way, then the picture is much more balanced – and positive. I know loads of women working and serving in that way. Emergent isn’t crying out for female leaders, it needs to change its way of seeing so it notices the ones it has.

Elmer
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 24, 2004 12:41 pm      - Recent coverage  Post subject: Recent coverage Reply with quote

The book has recently been reviewed in The Church of England Newspaper. A copy is posted here.

There is also an article in Jan/Febuary's Third Way magazine on 'The Virus of God', looking at issues behind Dirt and its connection to terrorism.

Ian Mobsby from Moot has posted his very comprehensive thoughts on the book here. His comments about the book 'not containing much theology' caused quite a debate on various blogs, for example:

here (scroll about half way down and check the comments on the article "An Ecclesiology of the Body of Christ..."

and here (scroll about half way down and look for Jonny's comment on "Theology, resentment, education and inclusion"

If you would like to review the book and need a review copy, call Corinne at SPCK on +44 20 7643 0311
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 24, 2004 12:45 pm      - Dirt and Terrorism  Post subject: Reply with quote

The ideas we have been discussing here have been expanded into a full article in Jan | Feb's Third Way magazine. Be good to see any responses here...
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2005 10:59 am      - ACT Movement - worth checking out  Post subject: ACT Movement - worth checking out Reply with quote

ACT is a movement of people on the ground trying to transform society but bypassing Westminster. Not sure what will come of it, but the ideas are really sound and the site is worth checking out.

Quote:
ACT stands for Active Citizens Transform: a new non-party political movement that aims to mobilise citizens, to transform Britain into a vibrant, participatory and sustainable society.


From their manifesto:
Quote:
To the despair of people everywhere, governments are failing to address fundamental faults in the way countries are run and political choices are made. At home, and across the world, stark inequalities and democratic deficits are fracturing society, pushing communities apart. But too many short-sighted politicians ignore the threats. The result is a growing range of interrelated and increasingly intolerable stresses on the economy, on our shared environment, on relations between nations, and on democracy itself. All of us feel the impacts, more or less sharply, in our daily lives.

In Britain, executive government lacks sufficient will to implement tested solutions to these problems – and is becoming increasingly detached, while gathering ever more control to itself. Parliament is being marginalized in fact, and in the public mind.

Companies cannot sensibly be given formal responsibility to empower people, nor engage with communities to draw up strong public interest agendas. They are engines to create employment, decent returns on capital and other forms of sustainable wealth. They are not political solutions. The populist media – particularly the printed page – screams out increasingly rabid, partisan views, which shed little light or intelligence on the dangerous, complex events that engulf us. Fairly or unfairly, the invasion of Iraq, the Hutton report and the introduction of GM technology have fuelled an open and fundamental mistrust of our leaders and the means by which they are held to account.

Public concern is not enough to change matters. But public action can be.


Seems to be similar to some of the ideas put forward in the book about de-centralised power structures. Nice.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2005 12:12 pm      - Freecycle  Post subject: Freecycle Reply with quote

An excellent example of gift cycles - and community enrichment - in action.

Forget eBay, Freecycle it!
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 28, 2005 1:13 pm      - Ian Mobsby's Review  Post subject: Ian Mobsby's Review Reply with quote

This important and in some ways unique book, in the now growing library on emergent/emerging church comes out of the experiences of Kester as a member of the Vaux Alternative worship community. As such it is a momentous achievement. The purpose of this brief review is to explore how Kester’s book approaches the complex issue of being ‘church’ in the future.

The Church is and always will be something of a paradox; Martyn Percy puts this better than I can when he said:

Ecclesiologically speaking, the Church stands in the gap between power and the powerless, between strength and weakness, between absolutism and outright vacuity. As the social transcendent community, a particular kind of body, it has knowledge but not certainty, boundaries but not limits, is discerning but open, is for other and others but not for itself. It is allowed boundaries and borders, but not barriers.
(M Percy, Power & the Church, 1998)

Much of Kester Brewin’s book “The Complex Christ” resonates with this bizarre calling for being the church in a fluid post-modern age. He wrestles with exploring the role and form of ‘church’, particularly the ‘body of Christ’ and how it relates to recent advances in knowledge. He artistically explores the organisational and social opportunities born out of developments in technology, socio-anthropological enquiry, systems theory and the study of animal organisational behaviour.

At times the writing is narrative and sometimes argument. As narrative it is poetic, prophetic, extremely challenging, hard, gentle and always persuasive. Initially I struggled to interpret such a book. There was a lot I agreed with strongly and bits of it I disagreed with strongly – Why did it evoke such a strong reaction either way? I am sure that at times the writing is polemical, but in a way that focuses the mind on facing the very real issues of our times. Rightly, it is never an easy read.

Andrew Jones, or tall-skinny-kiwi helped me with this when he presented his thoughts at a conference in Sheffield, backing up his post-modern poetic narrative by making connections with biblical wisdom literature quotes. It dawned on me that Kester’s book was drawing on this genre of a form of wisdom literature for our current times. Wisdom literature of the Old Testament is an ancient form of writing and thinking written to supplement the scriptures of the day for a people group displaced from the land they were used to and therefore disorientated or ‘liminal’, who then sought to make sense of their faith in the new culture as ‘resident aliens’. This was essential, as the new context had distanced the sacred scriptures requiring a different approach of interpretation to make them meaningful. In many ways we in the ‘post-Christian’ west are in such a liminal situation, where technology, the speed of life and socio-cultural change has rendered us ‘strangers in a new land’.

Taken as such, Kester’s book reframes our contemporary situation. It helps us approach the scriptures and church tradition in a more meaningful way for the context of our current times. Rightly it promotes connection with the true Christian faith narrative that we have inherited and are charged to pass on to the next generation in a very new context.

The truth is, that in the last 2000 years the Church has changed continually through every period of history. However, our current situation is pretty unique due to the speed of change and the affect of the global market. Our current crisis is more to do with the gap between contemporary culture and the church, which continues to widen. It is a gap or rather a growing ravine that goes as deep as paradigm, language, social organisation and hope. The church is not just out of step, it is often a museum for a past way of life. Kester rightly calls for this to end – as a sign of repentance for such a failure.

Here, like prophetic writing, Kester’s book is an artistic and prophetic interpretation of the potential views for the future. You don’t have to take it all literally, with all wisdom tradition texts, the individual and faith communities must interpret what they hold to be truth from false through discernment.

I recognise in this book the journey of people like me who have come from a Charismatic Evangelical background who have changed through the experience of alternative worship, who now seek a more culturally inclusive way of being the ‘body of Christ’ in reaction to a church that is often irrelevant, out dated and in retreat. It’s passion has become incarnational and en-cultured.

There is with all change, the potential danger of promoting a designer religion that lacks authenticity if we move to close to secular culture and away from the central truths of the Christian faith. However, in Kester’s book, his focus on generosity, gift giving, openness to the Spirit, participation in the Kingdom of God and Christ in the city, are all evidence of authentic Christian spirituality. It unfolds a form of living born out of praxis of a particular alternative worship community in London.

My only criticism, is that there isn’t much theology, a matter that Kester and I have debated on various blogs!! and I know we continue to healthily disagree. Both Andrew Walker and Martyn Percy have been critical of new forms of church coming out of the ‘charismatic movement’ for the lack of exploration of the theology of church – which they predict has the following implication:

It has no way of preventing schism, lacks depth of discernment, always puts experience over knowledge, colludes with social abrogation, and may well be a spent force in a new millennium. (M Percy, 1998)

For a western world that is increasingly privatised and individualistic, a post modern…form of religion has no guarantee of longevity…it becomes fashion-conscious, short term and culturally relative. (M Percy, 1998)

These are real problems if ‘fresh expressions’ or as Kester puts it ‘emergent church’ is really going to flourish. The major mistake of Protestantism is that they saw getting on with mission as a priority and that church just happens. This is the view that Pete Ward often puts when talking about ‘Liquid Church’. It is my experience that healthy church never ‘just happens’ but needs to be carefully built. Dave Tomlinson began the new pursuit for theology with ‘the post-evangelical’, which other than Pete Ward’s book, are the few that engage with some form of ecclesiology. We need more theological and explicitly ecclesiological exploration for emergent forms of church seeking to be authentically Christian and citizens of a post-modern world.

It is my hope that Kesters’ book stimulates dialogue in the fresh expressions of church to explore an authentic ecclesiology to root this progression of the Church into authentically Christian experimental forms, otherwise this new venture is in danger of becoming a fad or having insufficient substance to sustain the body of Christ in all the complexity of life.

Kester’s work on ‘trickster’ is important in its playful connection with the many forms of the more established or solid forms of current church. Again, it is prophetic in its playfulness which brings a well-needed correction to much of the drudgery and unnecessary clutter. A well-needed spring-cleaning. However, as with the ancient myth, trickster left to its own devices can have cult tendencies and represent a negative force if not checked with a sense of responsibility, generosity, and meekness.

Lastly, I confess to being uncomfortable about change ‘always’ needing to be bottom up. This again is the narrow view of Protestantism. Change is change whether it is ‘side ways’, ‘top down’ or ‘bottom up’. It has more to do with context, particularly church context. I will be the first to say that change in church terms is painfully and frustratingly slow. In my own context this remains the number one debilitating issue, so again Kester is right to say that prevention of change or innovation is a major problem.

Kester’s book is a brave book, not unalike Dave Tomlinson’s and Pete Ward’s books in it’s ‘raising the head above the parapet’. Not unsurprisingly it has received major criticism from the more conservative and solid parts of the church, but I stand by Kester and the central message of this book. Like the comments on the ‘Complex Christ blog’, I commend this book that gives me hope and resonates with much of my own thoughts and feelings, and hope that the issues I raise regarding ecclesiology, help to give us the tools that we need…

Ian Mobsby
Moot Project Worker and CofE Curate.
Jan 05.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 28, 2005 1:19 pm      - Church of England Newspaper Review  Post subject: Church of England Newspaper Review Reply with quote

Anyone familiar with Kester Brewin’s contribution to Greenbelt or with the alternative worship of the Vaux group in which he has been involved will have high expectations of this new work despite the author’s own description of it as ‘a short book by an amateur’.

It is a short book but it is packed with stimulating ideas. The author may be an ‘amateur’ (though I am not sure what this term means in this context) but he is a dedicated Christian who has reflected deeply on both the future of the Church and the meaning of scripture.

At the heart of his vision for the future is ‘conjunctivity’. The church that is emerging will not be imposed from above; it will grow from below, a complex, bottom-up affair that will neither be chaotic nor controlled from the centre but a self-organising ‘body of Christ’ rather than a ‘machine of Christ’.

Commenting on Mission-Shaped Church, Brewin argues that while it gives us stories of what he terms ‘genuine emergence’ they are really only ‘small pockets of fresh practice in a non-emergent whole’. Instead of merely trying to make the church ‘cool’ we need to become ‘wombs of the divine’ and bring a new church to birth.

In the opening pages Brewin repeats an illustration he heard as a student that has stayed with him. ‘If the people who built the railroads in America’, the lecturer pointed out, ‘were really interested in transporting people they would by now own the airlines’. The reason they didn’t move into airlines was that they were more focused on the means than the end, more interested in running rail services than helping people get to their destination. The lesson for the church is that we can get so hung up on structures and styles that we forget the purpose they are meant to serve.
Like all illustrations it has its flaws. Railways have retained their uselfulness in an era of air travel. A journey in a clean and comfortable Amtrak ‘quiet coach’ on a train from Washington to New York that reached its destination on time reminded me just how convenient rail travel can be if it is better organised than it is here in Britain. In the church old styles retain their usefulness and even safeguard elements of faith that might otherwise disappear. As well as Vaux we need the Book of Common Prayer and Mozart masses.

Brewin emphasises ‘servant leadership’, oversight that facilitates ‘informed choices’, a background role rather than a foreground role. It sounds great. The problem is that often either the rhetoric either covers up leadership that is really inadequate or serves as a smokescreen for a good deal of manipulation. We do need leaders who genuinely conform to the model Brewin describes but we also need leaders able to offer fresh vision, raise unwelcome questions, prod us in prophetic direction – precisely the type of thing Brewin himself is attempting in this book.

Discussing worship, he argues we should not look to it to inspire us but see it as the occasion when we offer our gifts. Since there are many people who lack enough self-confidence to see they have any gifts, we need a church without firm boundaries to keep out the ‘dirt’. Like Judas, we need to realise that when Christ shared out among the disciples his body and blood he was sharing power and authority with them as well. Judas recoiled from the idea. Do we find it easier to accept?

Brewin doesn’t seek to offer a blueprint for the future but to start a dialogue. This book is a stimulating contribution to a discussion that must continue. Read it and join the debate.

Bishop Paul Richardson
24th December 2004
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 28, 2005 6:36 pm      - Steve Collins' Review for Small Ritual  Post subject: Steve Collins' Review for Small Ritual Reply with quote

Find Steve on: SmallRitual

'The Complex Christ is a book about changing the church, but it digs deeper than most of the current postmodern makeover and resource books. Brewin is a member of London alt-worship group Vaux, but he sees alternative worship as like punk - a ground-clearing explosion that leaves space and permission for new things, rather than the long-term future itself.


He draws on the new science of emergence to argue that the Church must become ‘emergent’ not ‘emerging’ - a self-organising, open system built on bottom-up change, with distributed knowledge and servant leadership. The Church must be part of urban culture, yet subvert and bring change with the stratagems of the trickster. But God prefers evolution to revolution, and we must learn to wait for God’s new thing to be born as so many did in the Bible.


Large slices of Biblical exploration and new science give a theological depth missing from much ‘emerging church’ writing. The Complex Christ is a complex book, yet Brewin's engaging and witty prose guides us through, with reference to the likes of Rolf Harris, the Sex Pistols and Ofsted. This is a rich and original book which makes most church futurology look shallow.'


Brewin's book is about emergent church rather than emerging church, and the difference is important. he sees most of what is currently happening under that label or as alternative worship as at worst window dressing for the old structures, and at best a ground clearing exercise which he likens to punk - an explosive moment that leaves space and permission for future newness.


The book is a challenge to those who hope that a 'postmodern' makeover will save the church. [it's about ]the necessity of a much more radical transformation than that, based in god's own example of radical incarnation into the unexpected form of a baby.


A key theme is evolution not revolution, and the necessity of waiting for god's new birth. one of the best parts of the book is the chapter called 'advent', in which brewin considers the times of waiting we pass over in the bible, between old and new testaments, between annunciation and birth, and takes them as the model for our situation now - that we need to drop our programmes and business, learn to grieve and be patient - that the kingdom is brought in by evolution not revolution.


I can only say - THIS BOOK IS SIGNIFICANT. READ IT - especially you program-driven 'postmodern' church people out there!
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2005 9:42 am      - Is it theology? - Response to Ian's review  Post subject: Is it theology? - Response to Ian's review Reply with quote

I like Ian's review alot - particularly the idea that the book fits into the genre of 'Wisdom literature'.

Off the back of that, I'm then left (still - I know this has been debated elsewhere) wondering why he feels that it lacks theology.

I wonder if there's some way forward in the admission 'struggled to interpret'... Perhaps this is theology, Jim, but not as we know it! In other words, because we are not really used to this genre - and I personally loved the mixture of poetry, prose, allusion etc - then we are not really used to interpreting theologically.

It is certainly theological for me: tells me about God, about how God interacts with us, about how the church might model this... And I'm not exactly sure what else theology can be, unless it's some archaic study of dusty books that were written a very long time ago...
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2005 9:44 am      - Ian Mobsby's Review  Post subject: Reply with quote

Great review Ian...

Posted some discussion starter theo-ughts on this on a new thread here
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ianmobsby



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PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2005 10:53 pm      - Is it theology? - Response to Ian's review  Post subject: following the review Reply with quote

Thanks for the kind words about the review.

My reflections concerning Kesters and my discussions about the theology comment goes as follows.

Kesters book, as a form of wisdom literature - is about reframing how we approach God and how we deal with difficult questions of our own times.. The old testament wisdom literature is about tackling difficult philosophical questions - such as why is their suffering, why are the Hebrews oppressed. The answer is often "shit happens" but draws on this reframing. It is about hermeneutics, and likewise Kester's book asks the questions - why does church fail? why is there a gap between church and culture? what is solid or liquid about how we do church? why do we have to have leaders? These are socio-cultural questions - which as I have said Kester draws on sociology and the humanities to answer....

The theological questions that are not pursued are - what is legitimate church? what is commonwealth or the people of God about now? What and how are the stories of the disciples modelling for us now about how and what we are supposed to be ekklesia? What is ekklesia in the 21st century?, what is being church in a post-modern society. As children of God, what are we supposed to be doing? What is a healthy church for the now that can resource and sustain us, and help us to be more deeply human? How does what we do relate to the kingdom of God? How does what we do fit with the God driven vision of shalom in the hebrew scriptures and grace in the new testament in terms of cosmic re-ordering and the place of the church?

These are a few questions that relate to 'body of Christ' which need some soul searching. In the review I was trying to say that flying light on this sort of engagement risks producing something that is en-cultured and cool but maybe not sustaining - and for me the sustaining is the key bit if what we do is actually going to play its part in transformation.

I hope that answers the query. I am not saying God is not in Kester's book - quite the contrary - I am saying we have not sort theological or ecclesiological questions about the 'church' part of 'emergent/ing church'

Cheers, Ian
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2005 9:18 am      - Is it theology? - Response to Ian's review  Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd prety much agree with that Ian - thanks for your thoughts in the review too!

I'm not sure about 'flying lite on this sort of engagement' though... One of the things I really liked about the book was thatit refused to give all the answers, or pretend to have them... Its working a stage back from that, encourageing people to see that rather than expecting to be able to read the answers in some book written by some great omniscient sage, they are going to have to work out the answers to the theological/ecclesiological questions about theemerging church within their own communities... And I personally find that more exciting and releasing. I think it has some message of hope in it that we are getting beyond the 'wise vicar/leader/author knows all and tells us what to do'

I guess that's what Moot is trying to achieve on your site - I followed the link and saw it was described as 'an experiment in communiuty thinking'... Like someone says somewhere else on here, the thinking will be new and interesting when it's Wikipedia style and totlaly open source.
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James



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PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2005 11:09 am      - A complexity based review (!)  Post subject: A complexity based review (!) Reply with quote

It seems to me that few people have come to the book from a complexity based point of view -- which seems to me its most significant characteristic so here below is my initial reflections on reading the book

The Complex Christ -- some responses

It is very good to find Christians beginning to develop a complexity based account of contemporary Christianity and the church. Having become interested in complexity theory four or five years ago I have become convinced that it provides us with the best available means of understanding our world and so was both encouraged and not surprised to discover your book. Congratulations for actually getting it written! It reinforces my feeling that there is a lot of wisdom within complexity theory which it is crucial for us to engage with. There's a lot of really interesting stuff in your book which both broadened and deepened my understanding of complexity. In the spirit of continuing to develop a debate around complexity and Christianity I'd like to make the following observations

Fowler's stages of faith. I find these interesting but also slightly worrying. I'm not at all sure that there is the progression from one stage of faith to another. It seems to me that we tend to go back and forth between different stages of faith -- sometimes absolutely convinced, sometimes full of doubts and sometimes achieving a conjunctive insight into 'what it's all about'. Maybe the different stages of faith are in fact appropriate in different phases of our life -- the Confessing Church in Germany during Nazism seems to me to have needed to be in a stage three faith in order to survive the immense pressure that it was under. It is all a matter of context and what the context requires. Maybe stage five is just what is required in our contemporary society and is not necessarily better than stage three or stage four? This does at least move us beyond the distasteful situation of viewing ourselves as stage five initiates whilst others languish in stage three and stage four!

Connections between emergence, evolution and capitalism. It struck me forcibly when you were describing emergence and evolution that it sounded very like a panegyric for capitalism. We mustn't try and change anything but just let change naturally evolve -- like the market. I don't think this is what you are trying to say by the tone of the rest of your book but there does seem to me to be and important issue here which is worth exploring. For sure complexity can be played many different ways. And it is this issue that I want to explore further.

Strange attractors and patterns needed to balance the 'edge of chaos' perspective on complexity. The most obvious absence from your discussion of complexity theory was the lack of any reference to strange attractors which I'm sure you must have come across in your reading and I wondered why you didn't mention them. What I have discovered in reading around complexity theory is that people seem to focus on different aspects of theory. Some people tend to focus on the disruptive, challenging aspects of the theory and are fascinated by the idea of being 'on the edge of chaos'. They are looking for complexity theory to break down institutions and create a more human society where people relate through networks and informal structures. Others however concentrate more on the way in which complexity theory talks about patterns which emerge and focus around strange attractors -- thus creating new forms of human structures. Both are talking about exactly the same processes they are just looking at it from a different perspective -- one more radical and one more conservative. It seems to me that the great challenge is to bring together these radical and conservative approaches to complexity theory. I think you tend towards the radical perspective on complexity theory and sometimes this makes you sound very revolutionary even whilst advocating evolutionary change and this seems to me a paradox in your book which is worth exploring. In particular it caused me to reflect that what we really need are more complexity based accounts of the contemporary church -- which indeed you seem to be pointing towards in your postscript. I think what is going on in the contemporary church is more complex than the account you give in your book. My work in urban mission brings me into contact with many different forms of the urban church and though there are many problems I couldn't really identify with the picture you paint which seems to be coming out is of an essentially evangelical/charismatic Anglican environment. As liberation theology has taught us it's all a matter of context.

Finally I was fascinated by your account of tricksters. I also have been reflecting on this phenomenon -- particularly through work I've been doing on Judges. I however have more reservations about tricksters. Yes they are important they can bring what I call a Holy Chaos -- Samson is an excellent example of this as is Ehud but they don't deliver lasting change. It needs a trickster like David who can transform himself into a leader and organiser for real change to emerge. I believe this is perfectly expressed in Jesus -- yes he was a bringer of Holy Chaos upsetting the purity based religious system but he was also an effective organiser gathering together his disciple band. I have become more a more convinced of the need for institutions. What we need is a complexity based understanding of institutions which enables them to both provide continuity and the space for new things to emerge. I call these Grassroots Urban Institutions and it seems to me that they are the engine that can actually make a complexity based account solid and real in the urban scene. They are how these ideas can actually be incarnated.

So thanks for your work. I will be very interested in how the debate continues and look forward to perhaps meeting at some time to work over these ideas!

James Ashdown
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Kester
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2005 8:15 pm      - A complexity based review (!)  Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for this James - a really interesting perspective.

As you say, "It is very good to find Christians beginning to develop a complexity based account of contemporary Christianity..." - and I'm aware that I've done little else but try to provide some sort of beginning! What is exciting for me is people like yourselves - who probably have a deeper understanding - being able to jump on the back of this and provide some greater depth.

With that in mind, I'd really like to hear more from you - particularly about the 'strange attractors', which I have managed to miss in all my reading! I'd also like to hear more about your experiences in your urban context... You are quite right to say that a lot depends on context - and as I tried to say in the PS, I'm keenly aware that without other people's input the book cannot make a solid case.

Glad you like the Trickster stuff, and like the idea of Holy Chaos. I'd probably agree that tricksters in themselves don't bring change, but they are the catalysts, the conductors through which change can occur. I actually [i]don't[i/] think it could be said that the disciples make a good case for strong leadership. As far as I can read, the Church very nearly didn't make it and was genuinely on the brink of being snuffed out before it even got going: some disciples dispersing, others going back to work, others in hiding... But all this turned around with the release of some holy chaos in the virus of Pentecost. Leadership [i]is[i/] important of course, but Jesus' leading of the disciples needs some real re-evaluation: very 'free to fail', very close to the edge of chaos, very distributed and very risky.

You say:
Quote:
What we need is a complexity based understanding of institutions which enables them to both provide continuity and the space for new things to emerge. I call these Grassroots Urban Institutions and it seems to me that they are the engine that can actually make a complexity based account solid and real in the urban scene.


I say: I want to hear more about that! Sounds exciting.

Looking forward to hearing back from you - and perhaps a meeting some time would be good... Indeed, perhaps we will reach a point when a day's open discussion forum might be a good idea for everyone who's got perspectives on the book and beyond. Sound like a good idea anyone?
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2005 1:32 pm      - Is it theology? - Response to Ian's review  Post subject: Study Day on Emerging Church & Theology/Ecclesiology Reply with quote

For those who are interested, Moot in partnership with Blah are holding a study day on the theme of Emerging Church & theology on 12th March - see www.moot.uk.net for info. This will be coming from a more philosophical/mystic perspective than complexity theory. But may be helpful never the less, led by Dr Pete Rollins involved in Ikon.
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James



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PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2005 12:29 pm      - A complexity based review (!)  Post subject: Strange attractors etc Reply with quote

Thanks for your response. Your reflections on the disciples are interesting using Complexity language I would say that Jesus had created some particular initial conditions with the disciples and he didn't know exactly how things were going to emerge but particularly because of their continuing dependence on their memory of him and the continuing influence of the holy spirit he knew that particular patterns based around the strange attractor of his presence would emerge in different contexts. Which gets us back to strange attractors! With all this Complexity stuff I always have a feeling I don't really understand it but this is what I have previously written about strange attractors
Chaos
Chaos theory has been a companion to complexity thinking but it is a somewhat misleading term. It doesn't mean complete randomness but it is rather a state in between complete randomness and complete predictability. It is a tool which has enabled scientists to develop some understanding of complex systems rather than just give them up as too complicated to engage with - it is a kind of scientific third way.

John Van Eenwyk looks at the similarities between Jungian thought and Chaos theory. He makes a distinction between entropic chaos and deterministic chaos. Entropic chaos threatens death and destruction and causes us fear but it is only when it is embraced that we can see that in fact chaos is a way to bring about change and liberation.
Strange attractors
A key to chaos theory's usefulness in understanding complex systems has been the discovery of strange attractors. An attractor is a point to which a moving object, such as a pendulum, is inevitably attracted - as it gradually slows down it comes to a stop in a mid point between its furthest swings on either side. A pendulum is a simple system so it's attractor is relatively obvious but now with the use of computers scientists have been able to see that sometimes complex systems (e.g. the flow of fluids) have strange attractors i.e. attractors which are not a single point but a infinite multiplicity of varying points which create a pattern (such as the Lorenz butterfly).

Thus we can begin to see how complexity thinking doesn't just leave us with a wholly random world but one where attractors give it a geometric shape. I find this gives me a language which is suggestive of how churches and community projects develop. Good preaching does tend to attract people to a church and good pastoral care tends to keep them their - these are attractors. But they are shifting, for what exactly is good preaching? What an African might think is good preaching perhaps differs from what a Cockney relates to. Even the nature of preaching might need to change in a society where hypertext is replacing the printed word. Another attractor is funding. Community projects tend to develop in ways which is determined by the funding available. For sometime employment training was the easiest way to get government money, now, perhaps, with Sure Start initiatives and the Children's Fund the emphasis will shift towards work with children. The funding available doesn't completely determine how projects develop but it does tend to attract towards certain priorities. In fact churches themselves are strange attractors developing subtly different but recognisable patterns in many different situations.
Fractals
Chaotic (i.e. strange) attractors create patterns which are known as fractals. In chaotic systems the elements tend to diverge but when a chaotic attractor is operating this divergence gets to a certain point then folds back on itself in the same way that kneaded bread is continuously folded back on to itself. This creates the infinitely complex fractal patterns of ever evolving shapes and colours which computers can generate. These fractal patterns are observable in nature, such as in a mountain ridge or coastline which is neither completely predictable but neither is it completely random - it has a certain pattern which it is easier to feel than exactly analyse.

Thinking about patterns is very suggestive for trying to understand communities. It is not often possible to exactly analyse what is going on in a project or congregation but after awhile you do begin to pick up patterns e.g. the minister who likes to keep everything informal as a way of maintaining control or the recurrent pattern of a congregation scapegoating a minister and getting a new one every few years. These patterns undoubtedly exist, they don't give predictive power because initial conditions are always different but they do, over the years, give us the ability to build up a wisdom about how different kinds of communities tend to work. Research methods such as naturalistic research (Dave Erlandson Doing Naturalistic Research) give us some tools to recognise these patterns and techniques such as family therapy (Edwin Friedman Generation to Generation) provide us with methods to work which them. None have a linear simplicity but they do give us an opportunity to navigate a way through complex systems.

In terms of my perception of the urban context some of my writing is available on my work web site www.Barnardos.org.uk/CANDL -- particularly a paper on models of urban church social involvement. We will be publishing my work on Grassroots Urban Institutions on this web site eventually, as well, but I could e-mail the paper to anyone who's interested. Also have the full paper from which the above is taken

I will also try to post some further reading on the resources page of this web site

I like the idea of an open forum. I know a few people who are interested in this stuff -- particularly a doctor who knows a group of Christians involved in the Complexity debating healthcare (which seems to be a growing area of interest with its own conference etc)
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 13, 2005 11:38 am      - Some ideas for further reading on complexity theory  Post subject: Some ideas for further reading on complexity theory Reply with quote

David Byrne. Understanding the City Routledge 2000 which is undergirded by his earlier work Complexity Theory and the Social Sciences Routledge 1998
A left orientated sociology who is concerned to combat post-modern ideas that there is nothing that could be done about the modern city. He uses complexity theory to argue for a more modest and humble urban planning. Not particularly easy to read but well worth it.

Robert Russell, Nancy Murphy, Arthur Peacocke eds Chaos and Complexity. Vatican Observatory 1995. A heavyweight theological contribution seeking to explore whether complexity theory provides us with a better way of understanding how God works in the world. Pretty specialist.

John Van Eenwyk Symbols and Strange Attractors Inner City Books 1997. An interesting Jungian take on complexity theory

Ziauddin Sardar and Iwona Abrams Introducing Chaos Icon Books ISBN 1-84046-581-6 previously published as Chaos for Beginners. Excellent accessible introduction to the science

Alison Gilchrist The well-connected community: networking to the 'edge of chaos' Community Development Journal Vol 35 No 3 Jul 2000 pp 264-275. Alison has also written a number of other articles and pamphlets on this subject well worth reading for anyone interested in community work

Howard Snyder Decoding the Church: Mapping the DNA of Christ's Body Baker Books 2001. I haven't read this but Snyder makes use of complexity theory for understanding the Church. He is a well-respected radical thinker on the Church
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 2005 10:12 pm      - A complexity based review (!)  Post subject: Reply with quote

I really like this concept of strange attractors. A couple of initial responses to the idea:

Would it hold with the theory that in the past it might have been said that people were under the influence of fewer, or even singular attractors? I’m wondering about the different ‘dimensions’ that we have in our lives: our work, our family and friends, our spiritual lives… Perhaps for a long time we have been under the influence of a smaller number of attractors in one or more of these dimensions, thus creating patterns in our lives that were more ‘simplex’. But now, with more complex work patterns, the disintegration of the traditional family unit model, mobile populations… and with more openness in spiritual matters, we are seeing many more attractors functioning – and doing so in all of these dimensions, thus creating extremely ‘fractal existences’. Does this make sense with your writing/research?!

The other thing that struck me reading your post was the resonances (and I choose that word deliberately) with some work we did at Vaux a couple of years back around sine waves. Our thinking was a direct progression from the ‘dirt season’ that I mention in the book; an attempt to go beyond just dirt and investigate the cyclical nature of faith that we were experiencing. It was typical Vaux stuff: one of our designers had become interested in sinusoids, almost as graphic representations of the prodigal. This was picked up on by Jen, who does a lot of our sounds, and we subsequently discussed ideas around the ‘ison’ – the eternity note in Orthodox Christianity – as a pure sine tone. As a mathematician, I was then able to bring to this some of the stuff I have teach at A-Level Mechanics, about simple harmonic motions, and the sine wave as a ‘centre-seeking’ function. In other words, the further away from the centre it is displaced, the greater the attraction back to the centre: it is this property that keeps the pendulum swinging nicely in sinusoidal form.

We then drew some of these things together and used them to reflect on our faith experience: God as the ison, the eternity note, the attractor that keeps drawing us back to the centre, no matter how far we go. We also explored how the sine might be a graphical representation of the stages of faith: initial highs as we experience the confidence of Stage 3, followed by the difficulties of Stage 4 – often experienced as a very dark trough for people, but pulling out into a new ‘second innocence’ of Stage 5 (we hope, one day!).

Now I see that we need to do some more reflection on this based on this idea of multiple attractors, producing more complex functions, and thus more rich tones and more intricate patterns… Not completely random, but not simple either. Not ‘just God’, but a rich interrelation between faith, community and society, producing something strange and complex.

It would be great to have your doctor friend to through some perspectives in too… I’m very interested in how different institutions – education, health, politics, law and order – are dealing with these same issues. Do link your forthcoming paper, and look forward to further discussion.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 2005 10:24 pm      - Bishop of London's Review  Post subject: Bishop of London's Review Reply with quote

The following is taken from an email to all Clergy in Bishop Richard's area which was forwarded to us by a number of people - Hope he doesn't mind it being quoted here!


To All Clergy on Email

The Complex Christ – Signs of Emergence in the Urban Church by Kester Brewin has a properly puzzling title for a book concerned to promote change by the route of de-familiarisation and exile.

The relationship between complexity and simplicity is well expressed in a useful quotation from Oliver Wendell Holmes the American jurist. “For the simplicity on this side of complexity, I wouldn’t give you a fig. But for the simplicity on the other side of complexity, for that I would give you anything I have.”

“Emergence” is one of the leading ideas which appears to be not unlike Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand” and to be preferred to any superimposed rational schemes. “Emergence” is of course only possible after the grieving which accompanies the recognition that Christendom has passed and at best we are, as Christians, resident aliens. This sense of exile can be creative as long as we allow ourselves an Advent season of expectant waiting rather than rushing to conclusions. God himself had to be silent for a while in the caesura between the two testaments in order to emerge anew in Jesus Christ.

Also significant in Kester’s book is the kind of evolutionary scheme of different stages of consciousness and understanding. There are references to J. Fowler’s book Stages of Faith: The psychology of human development and the quest for meaning. New York 1995. There are of course other attempts to describe such an evolutionary scheme notably the complex patterns elaborated by Ken Wilber.

In my own rather simple mind, we are still preoccupied locally by the conflict between the Church of Churchill’s Britain in the blue corner and the Church of the Sensitive Self in the red corner. The difficulty with both these combatants tends to be that they are absolutist in their claims and unwilling to see the truth in their opponents’ position.

We have reached the point therefore where we need to transcend both positions to find a way of being as a Church which does justice to what is health giving in the previous stages of organisation, while being open to fresh and unexpected gifts of the Holy Spirit.

For a system to survive it cannot rely on introspection and closure. It must be open to the environment, sensing it, responding to it and then shaping it. Disequilibrium provides the impulse for the search for new life.

The leadership in such a church is described helpfully by Kester as “conjunctive”, a leadership which lets people breathe, which does not believe that we stand at the very pinnacle of enlightenment and acts not as a fat controller but as a knot in a net.

Without a memory, however, the Christian community cannot see the possibilities. It is the ethos of “connectivity” which creates the conditions in which conjunctive leadership can be effective.

Along the way of the “Complex Christ” there are some suggestive meditations on scripture informed by patterns and images drawn from the natural sciences. This is conjunctive bible study at a point in which we are finding the compartmentalising of the intellectual universe, regarded by Weber as the essence of modernity, increasingly unsatisfactory.

I found the chapter on Christ in the City especially helpful. The city founded by Cain and built by the architects of Babel begins by being a declaration of independence from God but by the time of Revelation, it is the city that expresses divine and human co-habitation. The city becomes the conjunction of God’s creation with our creativity. Christ begins his ministry in the desert tempted to be an old style prophet like John the Baptist but he turns his face to go up to Jerusalem and becomes the prophet of the City of God.

There is much else in this rich book which is well worth reading but I found its blind spots as illuminating as its insights. It is not fair of course to expect a summa and I hope that the author will write more as the Vaux Community to which he belongs, itself develops.

I do not dissent much from the picture of the contemporary church given in the book as sterile and largely unable to deal with the dirt involved in any profound transformation of human life. I do indeed pray for a church that is “held in the place of life on the edge of chaos” but I do not think that the difficulty and complexity of attaining and maintaining that perilous place is adequately expressed. How are new Christians to be initiated into the depth of the conversation between scripture and experience available to the author? It is all very well if one has a matrix to break and a grammar to subvert but it seems to me that there is a danger of ignorantly preferring immediate experience over the memory and knowledge which the author himself says is necessary before we can discern opportunity. Returning to the ravine from the point of partial vision, which the author says is the way the church must go, risks engendering Christians who opt out of the social struggle and come to regard the sheltered ravine as their natural habitat.

Actually secession from the “hierarchical top down church” has a long history. To some extent we are following a well worn path in this book to a proliferation of fellowships which tend to be as Sir Thomas Brown once pointed out, “complexionally propense to schism” and “will by degrees mince themselves into atoms”.

I also wonder how “conjunctive leaders” are developed equal to the delicate task of steering between rigor mortis and random movement. I have no doubt that we need such leaders and I am struggling with the question of how I can contribute to their emergence while serving as a galley slave in the Titanic.

None of this diminishes my gratitude to Kester Brewin for his book and for raising so helpfully the questions which we must address if the aspiration of being a “Mission Shaped Church” is to go beyond rhetoric. I look forward to discussing some of these ideas tonight with those who are enrolled on our Towards Ordination Course. Please pray for me as I pray for you.

+Richard
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 2005 7:03 am      - Is it theology? - Response to Ian's review  Post subject: Reply with quote

The Bishop of London's review makes pretty interesting reading, and I'm glad he's recommending it to new ordinands (I think) - seems just the sort of thing that they shoudl be reading. I guess it makes him your boss Ian?!

I particularly liked this:

Quote:
Along the way of the “Complex Christ” there are some suggestive meditations on scripture informed by patterns and images drawn from the natural sciences. This is conjunctive bible study at a point in which we are finding the compartmentalising of the intellectual universe, regarded by Weber as the essence of modernity, increasingly unsatisfactory.


And am now wondering if this has some connection with Ian's worry about the lack of theology, and my original thought that 'it's theology, but not as we know it'. The use of scripture, and images from the natural sciences being brought to bear on it, [i]is[/is] conjunctive - and perhaps we need to get used to the fact that, in our post-modern world, we cann't compartmentalise things into theology/not theology as we might want to... I'm with the Bish, and find an attempt to retain such a view 'increasingly unsatisfactory'.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 19, 2005 9:43 pm      - Is it theology? - Response to Ian's review  Post subject: Bishop of London's review Reply with quote

I think the Bishop's review has parallels with what I have written - other than his correct criticism of the compartmentalism of modernity. I don't think the Bishop is saying what you having interpreted as saying 'theology/not theology' - that is reading too much into it. THe comment of not holding onto a memory or by implications holding or stewarding the inherited story is his strongest criticism. It is this story of the people of God as ekklesia that I am talking about - which is about theology & ecclesiology - the story about the church - so this links in with what I have said I think in earlier postings.

Again to be clear - I am not saying there isn't theology in Kester's writing - quite the contrary - I make reference to everything that I have raised so far, it is the questions of ecclesiology that need further writings - I am hoping that Kester will do more writing on this next important area.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 5:43 pm      - Emergence reading list  Post subject: Emergence reading list Reply with quote

¯¯¯¯EMERGENCE


____Steven Johnson, 'Emergence- The connected lives of ants, brains, cities and software'

____Mitchell M. Waldrop, 'Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos'

____Manuel DeLanda 'A Thousand Years of Non-linear History'

____John H. Holland, 'Emergence: From Chaos to Order'

____D.C.Ince (ed), 'The Collected Works of Alan Turing - vol. 3 Mechanical Intelligence'

____Gareth Morgan, 'Toward Self-Organization, Images of Organization'

____Prigogine and I. Stengers, 'Order out of Chaos'

____F.Eugene Yates (ed), 'Self-Organizing Systems:The Emergence of Order'

____Margaret J. Wheatley and Myron Kellner-Rogers. 'A simpler way'

____Margaret J. Wheatley. 'Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World.'



. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 6:06 pm      - Emergence:::two definitions:::  Post subject: Emergence:::two definitions::: Reply with quote

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Emergence: The initial will of chaotic systems to reach coherence.

-— Cecil Balmond



. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

'Emergent' is defined, in general science, as that which is produced by
multiple causes, but which cannot be said to be the sum of their
individual effects. It has been an important concept in biology and
mathematics, in artificial intelligence, information theory and
computers, and in the newer domains of weather and climatic studies, the
material sciences, and in particular 'Biomimetics' engineering.
Commonplace terms such as 'self organising structures' and 'bottom-up
systems' have their origin in (and perhaps their deepest meaning) in the
science of Emergence, and are encountered in fields as disparate as
economics and urbanism, 'chaos' and 'complexity'.

It is generally agreed that the origin of Emergence lies in Turing's
work on cryptographic analysis in World War 2, and his 1952 paper on the
mathematics of biological development, 'Morphogenesis'. Turing also
undoubtedly played a contributory role in the work of Shannon at Bell,
who published with Weaver the book 'The Mathematical Theory of
Communication', acknowledged to be the foundation of Information Theory.

Weaver also made another extraordinarily significant contribution by
publishing what is described as the founding text of Complexity Theory,
based on his 1948 paper 'Science and Complexity', in which the first
bottom up analysis of Biology is proposed. Weiner's 1949 publication of
'Cybernetics' and the work of Selfridge and Minsky at MIT on Artificial
Intelligence brought together ideas of self regulation through feedback
and systems that could learn and evolve into the paradigmatic
distributed, bottom intelligence.

Holland, a student of Weiner, further developed these ideas at IBM by
bringing the logic of natural selection to software, creating the first genetic
algorythm.

The earlier work of Prigogine on nonequilibrium Theromodynamics in
which he determined the emergence of higher level order emerge out of
chaotic thermal environments, completes the set of the distributed
foundations of Emergence.


-— Michael Weinstock



. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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jonathan



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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 6:28 pm      - ‹‹‹«« informal »»›››  Post subject: ‹‹‹«« informal »»››› Reply with quote

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



The ‹‹«Informal»›› is opportunistic in approach to design that seizes a local
movement and makes something of it.

Ignoring preconceptions or formal layering and repetitive rhythm, the
‹‹«informal»›› keeps one guessing. Ideas are not based on principles of
rigid hierarchy but on an intense exploration of the immediate.

It is not ad hocism, which is collage, but a methodology of evolving start
points that, by emergence, creates its own series of orders.

When we attempt to trap chaos and convert it to our preconceptions,
Order! becomes an enormous effort. We try to eliminate fault or error. We
try hard but the effort turns to dullness and the heavy formal.

The more subtle approach is to seek the notion that chaos is s mix of
several states of order. What is an improvisation is in fact a kernal of
stability, which in turn sets sequences that reach equilibrium.

Several equilibriums coexist. Simultaneity matters; not hierarchy.

The ‹‹«informal»›› has three principal characteristics: local, hybrid and
juxtaposition. They are active ingredients of an animate geometry that
embraces the linear and the non-linear. Both cartesian and post Einsteinian
geometry are encompassed by it.

The ‹‹«informal»›› gives rise to ambiguity. This means interpretation and
experiment as a natural course of events.


______Cecil Balmond | Manifesto | Berlin | June 1995


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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Nancy



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2005 1:35 pm      - Patience is a virtue?  Post subject: Reply with quote

I can recommend stopping- it provides the space to dream and wait, to get reconnected with 'real' life, to work out what is needed for faith to grow and people to mature, to put God into everyday life because that is now all you have.

Stopping is not 'backsliding' - that ultimate evangelical sin. It's daring to allow the breath of the Holy Spirit to flow through all of life away from the packages that we've known. It's not without some cost- I particularly get concerned about the effect on my children. but the time that I've now released to invest in them...
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2005 12:26 pm      - Spirited Exchanges Review  Post subject: Spirited Exchanges Review Reply with quote

Review from issue 31 of the Spirited Exchanges newsletter.


First, a disclaimer. This is not a review or an evaluation, still less a critique, but an introduction. I found this book stimulating, disturbing, poetic, sad and hopeful.

I came to this book with no preconceptions or expectations of what I might find in it.

I’d never heard of Kester Brewin, nor of the Vaux Community to which he refers. He is British – I know nothing about the church scene in Britain and less about the Church of England.

So I began reading simply because I liked the title. Two words intrigued me: complex and urban. On opening the book the chapter headings further intrigued me: Advent; Incarnation; Emergence; the City; Gift; Dirt.

‘This is a book about change’. So begins the introduction. Brewin looks at the church of today and is scathing. He quotes thinkers who conclude the church is dying and doesn’t refute them. At the same time he is hopeful. If the church is willing to change, to learn, to adapt, to be re-born it may emerge ´as a totally new organism, one that is adapted to the complex and evolving environment of the city; one operating with a spirituality that rejects simplistic, monochrome, flat answers and embraces the multi-dimensional full-colour complexity of our situation…’ (p. 64)

Change begins with waiting. There must be a pause before the new can be born, and when it does it will be incomplete and immature. It will also be very specific to the culture and place where it is born. Brewin argues, that as God became incarnate in Christ, dependent on Mary, learning from his elders, taking his place in society, so the church must be the body of Christ incarnate in its own time and culture.

In the chapter concerning gift I was fascinated to read an extended description of Maori hunting rituals. This leads into a thoughtful exploration of the economy of gift and the economy of the market. How can the church become a space for people to offer their gifts?

The chapter on dirt is equally intriguing. Brewin points out that over the centuries in most societies, religion has set the boundaries for what is ‘clean’ and what is ‘dirty’. Having lived in a Muslim society where ‘pollution’ was a pre-eminent concern, the factor which most impacted health and well-being I’ve long been aware of how Jesus stepped over, disregarded, or eliminated so many of the dirt boundaries – touching the leper, taking the hand of a corpse, allowing a bleeding woman to touch him. Brewin goes further and shows how in doing this Jesus subverts all the power and authority of organised religion. The priests no longer control cleansing. Anyone can come to God. Sadly, the church has continued to label things as dirty and become a place where the dirt is excluded rather than the place where the dirty can find cleansing.

The repeated theme of the book is the city. If the city is to be the place where God will finally dwell with people, we must look now for signs of God in the city. We learn from and in cities. ‘Christ’s attitude to the emerging city was not one of antagonism or annihilation. Quite the opposite. Christ approached the city in order to become part of it, to infect it, to plant some seed within it that he hoped would take root and grow, drawing the city toward its fulfilled state: that of the place of divine and human cohabitation.( p114.)

To try to summarise the book further would be to do it an injustice. Enough to say that it’s rich in ideas, inviting reflection and action. This is a book that draws on the Bible, church history, philosophy, theology, fiction, poetry, art, and disciplines of science and the social sciences. If for nothing else I’d be grateful to Brewin for quoting authors and ideas new to me. I will certainly be exploring his list of books for further reading.

[Adrienne Thompson]
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2005 12:57 pm      - Review in 'The Church of England Reader'  Post subject: Review in 'The Church of England Reader' Reply with quote

The Reader is a quarterly publication aimed at resourcing the 10000 'Readers' in the Church of England.


This book is about change. It is neither for the faint-hearted nor for those unwilling to have their minds changed.

The reader is asked to ‘explore the possibility of adopting an evolutionary, rather than a revolutionary approach to change ’.

A chapter is devoted to ‘the emergent church ’ which is involved with church growth as distinct from ‘the emerging church ’which tries to update itself by ‘train spotting some aspect of culture and making the church fit’. The ‘emergent church ’by comparison is concerned instead with ‘being the train ’.

There are copious notes to each chapter and a list of books for further reading. A challenging book full of uncomfortable reading but highly recommended in spite of its title.

[Colin Nicholls]
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2005 7:40 am      - Inner City Life... Is the Emerging Church Copping Out?  Post subject: Inner City Life... Is the Emerging Church Copping Out? Reply with quote

Very interesting post from Mike Radcliffe about the harsh realities of living on a (mainly) council estate in London. Read it here.

I'll be posting further thoughts in response here shortly, but seems like an important seam to explore.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2005 5:23 pm      - Inner City Life... Is the Emerging Church Copping Out?  Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike's original post:

In a recent blog, I mentioned the fact that the alternative worship movement prides itself on it's urbanity.

This is an idea I've had dating back some months. The book "The Complex Christ" by Kester Brewin, particularly chapter 5 "Christ in the City", is very thorough in outlining that idea.

As I type, the sound of 2 children charging up and down the length of the flat above mine is making it very hard to concentrate. At the risk of sounding like a right-wing Daily Mail reader, ignorant of political histories, this sound has been going on since 7am this morning, usually goes on to 8pm, and has done so 7 days a week (yes, 7am on a Sun. & Sat. too), everyday since we moved here 3 years ago.

In addition to that, the surly teenager in the flat below has the "The Emancipation of Mimi" by Mariah Carey on heavy rotation. I've never really liked R&B, but again, after 3 years of it coming through the poorly constructed walls & floors, and all the other **** I'm having to deal with (See "The Estate I'm In" posting below), I've had to go to the Doctor for stress related illnesses.

Any attempt to deal with these problems has resulted in either a door shut in my face, or an indifferent local council.

Now, without wishing to quote Kester out of context (and I do recommend that you read the book, especially pp.97-116), I think this passage is relevant.

"There are those of us... where everything in the city is new and exciting and right - and... those who live silk-cushioned and air-conditioned lives in the sterilised 'nice' parts of our cities who will never go beyond that. But for most of us who have lived in the city for a while, we go through a (stage) where perhaps we are a victim of crime, and the realities of the difficulties come crashing in on us. We either have the option to escape all together, or cocoon ourselves deeper into 'nice' ghettos... Or we refuse to let go and refuse to let the city remain unchanged. It takes a long time to commit to a city, but a conjunctive,... view of it does come, where we see beyond the mean streets and bad areas and inequality to the deeper issues and the essential goodness. It is only in doing this that the city space can become a spiritual resource for us."

Bearing in mind the experiences I have outlined about where I live, this passage seemed bizarre to me. Trying to see the city I know as good or even resourcing felt like a strange form of sado-masochism!

I agree with the critique in principle, of course. But there is a real danger that we can romanticise the urban. I'm not a social worker or a therapist, just a christian, so that is all that I have to make sense of my environment. Yet my problem is not with "them out there". but with trying to keep my spiritual head above the water in a city that is crushing for me, and I suspect for the underclass who live here too. When I look out from my balcony, I see people who, if you gave them enough money, would be out of here like a shot.

Without getting into the rights and wrongs of addiction, sometimes the act of rolling and smoking a cigarette is my only moment of peace, switching off and transcendence that my situation can allow. Smoking thus becomes a prayer and a moment with God. Little surprise that our estate has a poor health record well beyond the national average, if the figures are to be believed.

It is much easier to live the urban life with a door to shut on the problems, a bed to sleep in after the mugging, and flat to escape to that is quiet, calm and (relatively) secure. Which is why I worry that successful emerging churches come on the back of a degree of middle class wealth. I'm not suggesting that emergent church emerges as social work, nor am I trying to close the discourse.

What I would like is to open the discourse, to allow the underclass to participate in what we do, which, I think is incredibly helpful and resourcing.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2005 5:26 pm      - Inner City Life... Is the Emerging Church Copping Out?  Post subject: Reply with quote

Reply to Mike on the blog:

Let me play devil’s advocate for a minute...

You mention that it’s easy to romanticise the city. Agreed. But it’s also easy to romanticise about the poor in different ways. I teach in a pretty rough inner city comp, and day in day out I am just so frustrated by the complete lack of motivation of these ‘chavs’ to do anything about their situation. I agreed – as soon as any of them got any money I’m sure they’d move out. But the routes to getting money are typically becoming football stars or gangster rappers. What many many of these children, and their parents, fail to grasp is the unique and incredible opportunity put in front of them by their education: a real and accessible route out of poverty. So few of them take it. Why? They are certainly not stupid. I just wonder if they are bone idle.

Compare this with Malawi – where I’ve just spent 2 weeks. Now that’s REAL poverty. Only 5% of those who actually manage to pay their way through ‘primary’ school can get places at secondary school, let alone afford them. The government have a full interest in keeping people poor and uneducated. This is systemic poverty, and I just wish I could take my classes of lazy, rude, abusive, petty criminal, violent, racist kids – and their equally rude parents - out of their school into which the government has poured tens of millions and show them just how much they do have, and just how much they are taking the piss.

Let’s not keep beating ourselves up for being ‘middle class’. Yes we have a duty to reach out and try to make things better for everyone. But if people insist on throwing it back in your face one wonders if a principle of ‘pearls before swine’ kicks in and people ought to be respected for making the shite decisions that keep them where they are.

Devil's Advocation over!
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2005 5:28 pm      - Inner City Life... Is the Emerging Church Copping Out?  Post subject: Reply with quote

To which Mike says...

Quote:
Yes, I think as any therapist will tell you, people act out of, and put stuff into their subconscious for a reason -
No-one will throw their hands up and say "Well Hurrah! I wish I'd thought of that, and thank you for pointing it out to me!" just because little old us has pointed out where they're going wrong. Whether that be spiritual help, educational help, or financial help.

I think socio-economic factors play a huge part in this situation, but in terms of opening up the discourse, I am at a loss to know where to start, and as I said, it's not about "Them out there" so much as struggling to keep my own head above water, let alone impacting my surroundings in a positive way.

And yes, I agree, you can't stop yourself being middle-class if that's what you are, but you can choose whether or not to align yourself with that discourse.

Or is that what Jesus had in mind when he suggested that we need to deny ourselves? Wink
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2005 5:44 pm      - Inner City Life... Is the Emerging Church Copping Out?  Post subject: Reply with quote

In terms of the eternal question 'where the hell do I start' - that's really what I was trying to answer with the complexity/bottom up change stuff in the book. What I hoped it communicated was that when faced by the challenge of something like changing the life of an estate, people can effect massive change by working together from the inside, rather than declaring that all is hopeless until some outside agency come in and sort it all out.

Of course, in reality things are always going to be a mixture of the two, but I wonder if there is a forum for people on your esate to meet? Not a committee, but a place without minutes, agendae, nominations, chairmen... Where people can raise issues and discuss what's going, rather than waiting til it boils over with a party upstairs at 3am.

I'd be interested in whether people have had experiences of situations where this has worked. My own personal gripe has been with the guys who congregate at one guy's house directly opposite ours to ride and wheelie their hair-dryers, sorry, scooters, up and down the road. It's bloody noisy, can wake our boy up, and just unpleasant. It got me really wound up one evening, and I got as far as getting advice from the local cops... Who told me there was little they could do. The very next day I saw our neighbour chatting to the guy who lived opposite (he's about 16) and so I went out to join them, holding the baby too... We ended up having a good 3 way chat about it, and he was receptive - in a way he surely wouldn't have been had the police got involved. It's not stopped completely, but it's become less of 'them and us' - less of an unknown 'enemy', less threatening, and I now feel I can go down and ask them to stop politely. It's just one very small thing, but it feels the right way to approach stuff in the future...
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 15, 2005 12:48 pm      - Wikipedia  Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting to note the rise of Theopedia - which is basically a Wiki for theology.

Interesting because I touched on this within the book: making the case for such a site to be enabled to allow an open source theological conversation to emerge.

What makes it more interesting is that it is not truly 'open source' - all contributors have to make sure they can sign up to a 'statement of faith' that makes sure all contributions are from a 'reformed, evangelical point of view'. In other words, no room for dirt. No room for doubt. No space for cross-fertilization or crossed boundaries.

Shame.
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Bjoern



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PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2005 8:25 am      - We are giving it a try...  Post subject: We are giving it a try... Reply with quote

Hi there,

currently we here in Karlsruhe, germany are experimental at long for a reemergence. Kesters book sparked a whole bunch of ideas, but it really is a patience process, waiting. The idea of pregnacy helped a lot in thinking and preparing which is currently not, but hopefully will be.
We have a culturally rich city, where art and music is held in high esteem, people respond to this very strongly, still we as christ followers are not into art. I just wanted to say thank you for the book and I hope it will be translated soon and if you have more advise to give we would be grateful - it's our first child....Yours Bjoern
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 2005 11:48 am      - We are giving it a try...  Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for posting Bjoern - and all the best with the project. Patience is exactly what's needed... Move slowly but surely! Remember, it took Jesus around 30 years to decide the time was right. Why not 18 / 21 / 25 years? We don't know, but we do know that things don't always work best when done quickly!

...And on that point, yes the book has been bought by a German publisher and is currently being translated. But my publishers tell me they will be releasing it in around Winter 2006! Patience needed again!

Please don't hesitate to get back in touch, and all the best again.

Peace,
K
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Bjoern



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2005 7:47 am      - We are giving it a try...  Post subject: Waiting... Reply with quote

I'm really impressed by the way you at vaux or better vaux-gone handle this reemergance-thing. The closing of the vaux services has brought many of us here thinking on how church should be and that it's ok to close down and reemerge. But how do you cope with the pressure applied or is there no one who urges you and the community on?
Beeing part of a YMCA Stucture here in Karlsruhe brings with it the fact of a hierarchy which we can't change anytime soon - of course leaders ask questions an apply pressure, time is short to wiat and think and be patient, when the guys above ant plans, rules and concepts.
It is a question I have been pondering for some time now if a real reemergence can take place in old wineskins and my answer tends to be no - partly because of the example of kubik church here in Karlsruhe, which I am part of and this was a startup, completly new. No traditions expect those in the hearts of the people involved.
Church is all about beeing, I discover, beeing instead of play-acting and beeing means this side of heaven, becoming.
I will be looking foreward to see what your own reemergence will be (Steve Collins will portrait it, I presume) thanks for your reply I'm grateful for advise and encouragement - keep on writing books - this really helps....
Blessings

Bjoern
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Kester
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2005 1:00 pm      - We are giving it a try...  Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess we have been lucky in that Vaux has been to a large extent 'independent'. However, we did have relationship with the church we used, and had to meet with them to explain why we were stopping... Which was difficult in some ways.

You are right - the whole point of the wineskins analogy is that you can't put new wine into old skins. However, we also have to be sensitive to the structures we are a part of... And sometimes we have to accept their authority, or step out from under it and do something totally new. Which makes Kubik sound really exciting!

And you are also right church IS about being... The Church will always be, even if small expressions of church do die and close. Vaux may be finished, but we continue to 'be' and therefore, as it has infected us, it continues to live too... So nothing of its spirit is lost - it just seeks a new expressive form.... Somewhere, sometime, somehow!!
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DAMNFLANDRZ



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2005 3:47 pm      - Inner City Life... Is the Emerging Church Copping Out?  Post subject: tru, tru Reply with quote

So I live in Pompey, Portsmouth. Which is basically an overcrowded island city off the bottom of England.

I teach Art and Design in a Secondary School just out of Special Measures. Living in this city is noisy and I hear what you're saying about getting stressed by kids and stuff... I have 3 kids so the noise don't really bother me!!! Bt the local students are way over loud - has been funny meeting the nieghbours at 3AM to go mob their house!!

So, our Church melted and decided to hang our meetings and do whatever. Some of the cells meet and do like mini-church-meetings, we just meet a couple of times a month in a bar and do arty stuff with mates. This works but costs a fortune in hot chocolate for all my kids and my mates I bring along!!! And it's a bit middle-class, I suppose.

Personally, I love my City. She frustates me and all that, and my pupils are a nightmare, but essentially I am where I am because it seems right. If something does not seem right, do something else or go somewhere else. That would be my perspective. But I don't mean if something is depressing, difficult or boring - that's just life.

I never feel particularly comfortable anywhere - especially not church meetings - but what makes me feel something is right is my mates. My art department and Pompey artists I meet and live with, my 'church', my family. If I'm depressed or peed off, it's cos I ain't talking to my people. I know God will be God whatever, but it's my mates who connect me to my City and remind me it is right for me to serve her.

Sorry if this is a rambling mess. I'm hoping to read th book this week as my Churchy mates are discussing it tomorrow... best get a shift on.

Will promise to be more coherent in the future!!

DamnFlandrz - sorry, I run a gaming Clan, but my gaming name seemed appropriate!!!!
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Kester
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2005 5:37 pm      - Inner City Life... Is the Emerging Church Copping Out?  Post subject: Reply with quote

Gaming names are good with me!
For some reason I always log in as KEF in Hypersports... NO idea why!

And please don't feel the need for any more coherence! Interested in what you guys in Pompey make of things... Do post here, or on the blog.

Particularly interested in what happens when you do jump in feet first and 'dissolve' a church like you guys seem to have done...
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bonh0effer (Mike)



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2005 11:25 pm      - Dollars and Sense... Should we cut out the publishers?  Post subject: A Gift Economy Reply with quote

If I may be permitted to re-open an old conversation - I should like to explore this concept of the Gift as it pertains to creative work.

Having not read TCC yet, and not being familiar with the sources behind your discussion regarding the gift economy, I hope you will allow me the lattitude to introduce some of my own thoughts on the matter - which are informed mainly by the Free Software movement, certain Anarchist thinkers, scripture, as well as some aquaintance with the Counter Culture here in Minneapolis.

It seems to me that the problem of the struggling artist is an systemic problem that will naturally arise in any monetary system that does not take active measures to preserve and promote its artistic heritage.

Jacques Ellul makes the observation that "powers" are not neutral this is true of technology (see - The Technological Society) - it is also true of money (see - Money and Power). Along with any such "power" comes a set of values that shape those in its wake. Consider how the function of a room and the relationship of its inhabitants changes with the introduction of a television set. The advantage of a system of currency over, say, bartering - is its flexibility, portability, and consistancy (my money does not become less valuable to you the more of it you get - like eggs would for instance). Money however, also teaches us a certain set of values. How do we use our time, who do we spend it with? People who do not give us a return on our investment become liabilities. Therefore, we cease to value them as God does and start to value them according to their ability to give us something in return. If this is true of people how much more so of fine art, good thougtful writing and other things of beauty.

Under these conditions Art/Creativity will definitely suffer - the enobling qualities of the artists work are nearly always being undervalued by society - she is forced to sacrifice either productive time, or artistic integrity for the sake of mere survival.

It would seem to me, that under the current economic system the assertion that an artist should consider giving her creative work as a gift is somewhat misguided. One cannot expect gifts from those who cannot meet their basic needs. And given the choice between meeting basic needs and creative expression we can easily predict who will be the winner.

There are at least two things we can learn from the GNU-Open Source community.

1. Monetary compensation is a lousy metaphor for incentive. Most artists are looking for the time and space to persue their calling - not seeking monetary compensation for their work. Money is only a means to that end - sometimes a hinderance to that same end, and tragically often a destructive force to one's nobler aims.

2. There are other ways to support creativity without the commodification of art. A gift economy can work. Intelligently given gifts can create pockets of time and space that liberate artists for creative work. Rather than thinking of gifts as pure gratis, why not think communally about what we can do to free up our creative members to produce works of cultural value.

Well that is all for now.
Grace and Peace,
Mike
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bonh0effer (Mike)



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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2005 11:26 pm      - Toward and Emergent Ecclesiology  Post subject: Toward and Emergent Ecclesiology Reply with quote

Hello all,

As my profile states, I am a student at Bethel Seminary - last year I became interested in emergence (complexity,) while working on a project for Systematic Theology 103. All of my recent encounters with various blogs have encouraged me to put one up as well. http://fivecolumns.blogspot.com/ The first couple of entries will be from my class project - inviting response to some of my thoughts. I will explore the concept of emergence as a model of dynamic life in the church.

It is my contention that by adopting a more dynamic ecclesiological structure modeled after living organisms, we can facilitate the church’s natural adaptability to its ever-changing social context.
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