July 18, 2014

Symbiotic Spirituality and young peoples identity

I have been thinking a lot about the difference between developing a symbiotic approach to spirituality with young people over an appropriation approach where the emerging spirituality of YP is taken by youth workers and without real dialogue appropriated into a christian paradigm. A bit like how everyday objects (Urinals or Beds) can be used as art when taken out of their usual context and put in a gallery.

Young people are in a constant state of paradox that is all about the discovering their identity, they are making choices, deciding who they are, imprinting and removing imprints all the time. So when we try to appropriate the spirituality we see out on the streets from young people, these young people will just see it as part of their identity formation (everyday life) which I think ties into Mayo, Collins and Nash’s Happy midi narrative. Further more as they are in the midst of identity forming that when we appropriate we are seen as “other” and perhaps part of the adult world being rejected in the turmoil of the moment. So the spirituality may be written off, or the effects of globalistion kick in and so young people see spirituality as something unobtainable. BUT in the context of relational youth work symbiotic approaches mean we change as we encounter their spirituality which fosters the space for identity construction and part of the identity search is thier search for uniqueness, which may kick in and create the conditions to mutually foster the emergent spirituality.

This item was posted by Richard Passmore

posted to Uncategorized @ 10:50 am

June 19, 2014

It is stories that count…..

It is stories that count but at StreetSpace we have just been completed our annual impact study and so maybe have another read of the post below and try to imagine those stories duplicated across the whole country, when you take a look at THIS

This item was posted by Richard Passmore

posted to Uncategorized @ 12:48 pm

April 4, 2014

Stories to get excited about and Praxis

There is some crazy stuff bubbling up on the ground with young people across the country that are in touch with StreetSpace work. Our context is very much a praxis approach to youth work, where we carry and work out of a values systems (professional youth work and a kingdom shalom wholeness ethic) but do not talk explicitly about these values. We want to embrace and hear the values the young people bring, so together we can find a new way of being. For more on Symbiotic youth work check out Here be Dragons.

So I know the stories below (and the others like them that spring up) are not forced, but self determined by the young people themselves.

“Don’t tell anyone, but we started meeting up to tell God about all the stuff that stresses us out – it might sounds weird, but it totally makes us feel better afterwards” Turns out they had been recommended to pray about their troubles by another friend who “is really naughty and used to smoke weed until two weeks ago”. Yet another friend, a few weeks ago, went round telling her friends that she’d started praying and didn’t want to cut herself so much now and they should try praying too.

( from a recent drugs work project happening locally) One YP said “do you think it is ok to sign my name the rollerblader of faith ….” Then he looks on iPad for a Jesus outfit to come to the sk8 jam as Jesus ,,, J then says “did Jesus have a brother I could come as his brother …”

Three tweets on praxis.
When we engage in genuine (values informed) praxis a web of relationships evolves around us where yP appropriate with us the kingdom.
This is what, I think, is going on in the StreetSpace community on the ground, young people appropriate the parts that connect with their real lived experiences, and try to make sense of that in the every day.

Missional praxis engenders a community that facilitates dissent but still embraces the dissenter as a co-conspirator towards wholeness
I am not sure why he wants to dress up as jesus, in part it is identification, in part for a laugh, but it is dissent, both from his peers, and tradition. The good part is that the web of relationships around him will be fine with it and if not we will work that out as we go, and all move towards wholeness.

As a group tell their story they learn & engage from the web of beliefs around them, mission strategies hinder this but mission praxis doesn’t.

There is something in the telling of the story (you started praying or calling yourself blader of faith) that enables and frees people to engage and make sense of the web of beliefs emerging around them. If we have fixed strategies I am not sure they would happen in the same way and if our ideas or strategies about where this goes next are fixed, we will break the fragile strands of the web evolving.

If fancy supporting our work on the ground you can give online

This item was posted by Richard Passmore

posted to Uncategorized @ 9:31 am

March 4, 2014

Oppression, detached work, young women and Friere

Okay so a long title but I have long been trying to outwork some of Friere’s philosophy around liberation since the early 1990s, and was thinking about this after last nights detached session. Particularly I was reflecting on this as the primary issues concerned a small group of young women we engaged as two male detached youthworkers. My twitter feed then came up with a great set of notes on Pedagogy of the Oppressed by God Loves Women. If you have never read Friere or read it and got stuck go read her notes HERE

For most of the session last night liberation was running through my mind as we encountered the group. Two young women started chatting with us about some of the issues they were facing, and you could tell from the off it would be one of those conversations that deepened quickly. We move from hello, to engaging issues of relationships and drug use within five minutes (we previously had worked with the group). They raised issues of isolation, hope, and powerlessness, as we talked around these issues. Desperate for a lighter, one girl, let’s call her Charlie shouted across to her friend, “got a lighter?” The negative response proved a response of “slag” from Charlie and although jokey in manner, I challenged this with “where’s the sisterhood? just cos she doesn’t have a lighter, you call her names” We explored this for a while, before being invited by the now larger group to sit with them.

My first reflection is ‘Can I as a man dialogue with these young women towards sisterhood?’ and this is a critical question because of how the conversation later develops. I am aware of my Conscientization role, but as the evening moves we have clearly created a good dialogue space and begin to hit about 50% of the points for the correct method of addressing oppression that lies in dialogue that God Loves Woman identifies from Friere.

The conversation continues around being made to go places by parents, threats, and a long conversation around stop and search, both in school and out of school. I do some problem posing with them, and move between concrete to abstract ideas, building in some organising and empowerment stuff. For example we discussed the issue of their feelings of victimization by a teacher as they were being regularly searched. We discussed their rights, responsibilities, and conditions under which searching may be appropriate and strategies by which the process could be challenged. My second reflection is all about the power, the positional power of the teacher, the powerless of the student and the lack of sisterhood that makes consolidating the power the young women have as a group problematic, as well as my own power in the conversation and process.

One of the solutions hypothesised was to identify the ten most regularly searched women and agree to challenge the system through direct action. The young women stated they often refused searches by teachers but are met with the response that the police will be called to do the search. We discussed community organising, principles of deliberately ensuring they had no contraband, warning teachers that if they called the police they would be wasting police time. We problematised this as a possible solution, and came full circle to the lack of sisterhood, and the question ‘why call her a slag?’ and what is your role in liberating yourself from this. I am pretty aware of the ethical and legal issues of this discussion, but the feeling of oppression, powerlessness and lack of hope in these young women was palpable. So my final reflection is a mixture of the first two, what is my role as a male in this context, my rights to speak, the value of anything I say? and what can be done towards liberation with these young women, as we are way beyond the make over pampering sessions to build esteem?

If interested in more conversation check out www.fyt.org.uk who are hosting a day with Worth Unlimited on work with young women on May 8th in Manchester.

This item was posted by Richard Passmore

posted to Uncategorized @ 9:51 am

February 15, 2014

Hope dashed and an out of touch regime

My role involves speaking to a myriad of youth workers, church leaders and young people and a consistent theme of the conversations I have recently (at least 15 that spring to mind) are of young people being committed to faith, exploration but struggling with the church of England’s response to sexuality and in particular their treatment of people in loving, committed same sex relationships. So I was hopeful when I saw the arch bishop noting a rejection of same sex blessings will be seen by many as akin to racism
I was then disappointed to see the church of England’s pastoral announcement from the house of bishops on Valentines day
“The House is not, therefore, willing for those who are in a same sex marriage to be ordained to any of the three orders of ministry. In addition it considers that it would not be appropriate conduct for someone in holy orders to enter into a same sex marriage, given the need for clergy to model the Church’s teaching in their lives.”

When I read the AbC I thought at last a leader with his ear to the ground, maybe he had heard the stories I had, like three young people refusing at the last minute to be confirmed as they would not aline themselves with an oppressive regime of the church, or the whole youth group who rejoiced over the women bishops but mourned over the coming death of the church that they saw coming due to its treatment of LGBT people.

Then there’s the committed core of a young outreach project wanting to get political at a major Christian youth festivals that they feel give one sided teaching on LGBT issues that excludes and hurts their friends, Christ and the church. These are some of the stories from within the Church of England regime, and that’s without the tens of thousands of young people for whom this simply continues to reinforce that the church is judgemental, unloving, critical and irrelevant. That is why I have used the word regime with all the negative connotations this word brings, because that is what issued the supposed pastoral statement a regime devoid of grace not the church, the bride of Christ full of love entering into relationship with the world and one another.

This item was posted by Richard Passmore

posted to Uncategorized @ 1:04 pm

January 1, 2014

Alternative New Years honours list

Here is my alternative New Years honours list

Teachers committed to their vocation and students that continue to creatively engage despite Goves ineptitude.
Checkout staff that don’t try to redirect you to the self service tills
Foodbank volunteers
The army of little old ladies that keep so many small charities, church’s, volunteer coffee shops, etc sustainable giving their time and talents freely and with such grace
Those working in the benefit system that choose to ignore directives to save money and penalise people, and help people get the support they need.
The people who pass you in the street with their eyes up and give a simple hello, good morning or hi to their fellow passer by.

This item was posted by Richard Passmore

posted to Life @ 9:45 am

December 21, 2013

The expectation is building

Pregnant with expectation, fear, joy, hope, trepidation. This advent may we find the balance we need to journey on.

The angels relayed a message of hope, they saturated it with their own light this advent what will your personality bring the story of hope?

This advent we know the nativity scene on the card may not match the reality but we can choose to be part of the social inclusion depicted

This advent we are reminded the wise men did not arrive at the stable but much later, continuing a story that stretches well beyond the crib

As Christ became one with humanity this advent may we know oneness with the creation.

As Christ became one with humanity this advent may we know oneness with one another.

As Christ became one with humanity this advent may we know oneness with our creator.

As Christ became one with humanity this advent may we know oneness with ourselves.

At advent when there’s no room at the inn, we may doubt our call but the reality of the situation means we must persevere till we find rest

This item was posted by Richard Passmore

posted to Christmas @ 8:33 am

December 20, 2013

Community isn’t dead it’s just different

Sociologically community has been defined as about shared interest or shared space. Over the years particularly for youth workers, Christians, activists, and in general society community has also become a word associated with closeness, sharing life, positive warm fuzziness etc. It is the demise of this type community that people often lament as gone, because they equate commitment with attendance, regularity, and cohesiveness.

At first I bought into this lamenting, but I have been observing a shift, and think that actually the sharing life aspects of community are not less prevalent than they were before but just different and in many ways more real, and perhaps more mature.

With the young people I work with, and the adults around the fringes of StreetSpace, I am beginning to see community emerge as an attitude that is carried by individuals, that whilst they may not share space very often, or share the same interests, there is recognition of a shared humanity. A commitment and attitude of support, openness, warm fuzziness and solidarity.

I wonder if post modern fragmentation is helping us mature as people, moving beyond a forced community that grows from shared space or interest, to an attitude of being community in the myriad of relationships you find yourself in. A greater openness and honesty that is fostered quickly and community grows from this (sometimes fleetingly but no less community) and where the need space and interest become secondary, rather than primary.

I think we have a lot learn form the type of community I see emerging and fading, ebbing and flowing amongst the young people and ourselves, and it would be too easy to underestimate its power, sacredness, and authenticity, because it no longer fits the old models.

This item was posted by Richard Passmore

posted to Community,Emerging,StreetSpace @ 9:58 am

December 12, 2013

Half way there

I have been trying to take time to do a simple advent reflection each day. So far I have
1 To prepare for the beginning of the new in advent we must also recognise the new to come is an end &reshaping of ALL we have known before.
2 At advent we prepare to be caught up in the dance towards the redemption & renewal of all things, on earth, in heaven & under the earth.
3 In advent we can choose to see, like the wise men the creators signs, and continue our journey towards redemption.
4 In advent we remember whilst Joseph may have been floored by confusion and angst at Mary’s news he accepted the journey ahead.
5 Those on the edge were open to the change coming, like the shepherds let us travel light this advent.
6 In advent Marys journey recalls our need to experience the restless discomfort of a journey that seeks to give birth to the new.

7 Zac the religious man, performing duties in the temple doubted, will we let our religion blur our vision of the kingdom coming this advent?

8 In advent a new equality was birthed at the stable, heaven joined earth, different strata of society, animals?&angels gathered in solidarity

9 The advent story is enriched by the diversity of culture through the Magi, this advent may we open to the voice of the other

10 The census was an exertion of control, and power, In advent we remember the subtle ways Jesus’ birth demonstrated resistance, and change.

11 The wise men approached Herod first to find the newborn king, this advent let us prepare for the upside down kingdom the baby introduced.

12 The angels announcement to Zachariah connected the past, present and future, this advent we remember we are caught up in the ongoing story.

This item was posted by Richard Passmore

posted to Uncategorized @ 4:08 pm

December 6, 2013

Advent reflections

I have been trying to take time to do a simple advent reflection each day. So far I have
1 To prepare for the beginning of the new in advent we must also recognise the new to come is an end &reshaping of ALL we have known before.
2 At advent we prepare to be caught up in the dance towards the redemption & renewal of all things, on earth, in heaven & under the earth.
3 In advent we can choose to see, like the wise men the creators signs, and continue our journey towards redemption.
4 In advent we remember whilst Joseph may have been floored by confusion and angst at Mary’s news he accepted the journey ahead.
5 Those on the edge were open to the change coming, like the shepherds let us travel light this advent.
6 In advent Marys journey recalls our need to experience the restless discomfort of a journey that seeks to give birth to the new.

This item was posted by Richard Passmore

posted to Christmas @ 6:02 pm

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