I struggle to cope when Im honest with myself…

Earlier I tweeted…

Why were we captivated by the kids in the cave in Thailand but not the 1000s who die crossing the Med – is it the smaller number, that they were a footie team, we’ve been caving but not fled a warzone, or its simply a good story and we are lying to ourselves that we care?

Im impotent with compassion fatigue
i tend to turn off the news
I feel I need to do more, do differently, and sometimes I do and often I don’t. Each time a see a lifejacket wether on the news or canoeing in the lake, I see a Syrian child.
I squash the images to survive, I glimpse moments of joy and hold my daughter close, and each time pray I wrestle.

The 80’s and the teens

When I grew up in the late 70s and early 80’s people friends had written off God because of science, I felt like people had written faith off and weren’t even seeking truth other than through technology and the sciences. The known and concrete was what my friends were after, growing up in family vaguely connected to church I knew what they meant, and so we didn’t really give faith much serious thought till 86. But I remember we knocked stuff around before that at school, probably a fledgling gen x’ers wondering but disillusioned. I certainly remember that having faith conversations with my peers was non existent or difficult, until the 90s when the disillusioned wonderers wanted to wonder even more and hyper modernity really kicked in as institutions became more distrusted, including the institution of science, and people recognised that perhaps there were more mysterious things that couldn’t be explained easily and everyting could be questioned and deconstructed.

Now I feel I am back full circle where it’s much harder talking about faith once again, not because people aren’t seeking but because the truths they have uncovered so far about about love and life, (perhaps encountering the God who is love beyond the walls of church) don’t match up with the judgemental insistution they perceive the church to be. Recently I was trying to find a venue for this, and people were very hesitant to be involved in something perceived to be by organised religion, saying work for the church for problematic even when you see how much this event is telling a very different story.

The excellent sermon that the neighbours didn’t hear, but all my friends raved about

There’s no doubt Rev Micheal Curry preached a blinder at the royal wedding. Quickly Twitter and my social media echo chamber was buzzing with how brilliant it was, friends were explaining how it showed that preaching wasn’t dead. Now I’m not a fan of the royals but I caught the talk, but I wasn’t convinced that the body language of the congregation suggested they were as taken with the sermon as my echo chamber was. Don’t get me wrong it was one of the best things I have ever heard from a pulpit, and I am a huge fan of Michael Curry and blogged about him a few times, but I asked a few people outside my echo chamber and to be honest they weren’t that bothered, some thought it went on too long, others couldn’t remember the key point.
So let’s not carried away with the idea that preaching is a lost art and if only we did it well it would work.

A new way of being Christian and/or the ancient future faith (Leadership)

In the previous post I suggested we needed to find a new way of being christian at all levels sociologically, functionally, eccesiologically, culturally etc. Today I am in a reflective mood as it has just been made public that John Wheatley is the new community leader with Frontier Youth Trust. I love John and having worked alongside him for several years am delighted he has taken on this new role. But more than that I love the way the FYT board, Team and John went about re-examining what kind of leadership was needed. I love that the board have been courageous enough to listen to the team and to move away from the traditional CEO type role, and start the journey towards a new way of being.
When the legend that is Dave Wiles, the enigma that is Andy Turner and I interviewed John it was clear John was a gifted young man, I think we even said that one day he would lead FYT. And fast forward 6 years John continues to inspire me as Im pretty confident that if it had been a standard CEO role in FYT he wouldn’t have applied for the role.

I think theres two really important lessons we can learn from this. Firstly there is deep level of vulnerabilty shown on all sides. The organisation/board of FYT is open and vulnerable, it knows the risk of moving away from traditional organisational processes, and equally recognises that as people caught up in the dance of the relational trinity and a desire to see shalom we are called to be something else. Likewise the journey of the team showed amazing vulnerability, jobs were on the line, change was afoot, and livelihoods at stake. Finally there was massive individual vulnerability, Debbie Garden (interim CEO) and John did an amazing job of helping both sides navigate this process, and I think that the open handed grace that Debbie always demonstrates cannot be underestimated, she’s a gem. I love it, and I love that in an age of institutional anxiety, there are still organisations and individuals that demonstrate the way of the vulnerable christ and are finding ways to root this in how they operate.

Secondly is was really hard for me to leave FYT, and whilst many organisations go on about giving over leadership to younger generations its never going to happen unless people like me in their 30s embrace, nurture and release younger leaders, and recognise in that they can go further, faster, deeper and eclipse us, and know that like Richard Rohr success can teach us very little, consequentially making sure we are hand over before its too late. So again I think the second lesson whilst still rooted in vulnerability to individual leaders and to leadership groups is pretty obvious GET OUT OF THE BLOODY WAY!

Everything’s commodified

Everything is commodified. The idea that happiness is just around the corner is so deeply embedded in our capitalist society and psyche, we seek the next thing and commodify not just stuff, but also ways of being. It’s so embedded that even the idea of living simply has been commodified. For me I often think if I could just shed this stuff, get rid of the clutter, live more simply then I would have the time do x or y. So in the end we commodify x or y and even time itself.

How do we break this circle, can we defend ourselves against idea that happiness is just around the corner? For many faith is the answer, it helps us debunk the societital myths around us. Yet for many faith itself is rooted in this commodification process, (at one level it’s what Nitchze was saying), we think we have replaced the capitialist system with a faith system, but we have not replaced the desire and myth that happiness is just around the corner, if we just pray more, if we just get deeper into the bible, or even at a more basic level; it will be okay in the end in heaven. That sort faith is rooted in capitalist desire and with a transaction at its core.

So now I’m stuck, as I’m thinking, is even the desire to break the notion of desire a problem….

Here’s everything

Who do you hang out with? Who knows you? whose door can you knock on and say here’s everything? Here’s the joy here’s the crap, here’s behind the scene, here’s my heart on my sleeve. If you have that person, or maybe a few people that you share different stuff with, do they have the permission to ask about everything that’s behind the everything, the desires that have shaped the everything? Who helps you unpack the roots of your desires, your place in a system that promises more, (and if of certain faith traditions how they play into that) and even that maybe even the desire to be free is a product shaped by that system that says happiness is just around the corner if you just do this or that.

Does G-d exist outside relationships?

Every now and then someone reports on if young people are interested in God, or spirituality, or something of that ilk. Good reports like Buried Treasure, in depth stuff like Faith of Generation Y, and recently a small scale research piece called No questions asked.

One of the questions I always come back to in this sort of research is where is relationship within the context of the research, and what role does relationship play in asking these sort of questions? I often test out the questions used with young people I have an ongoing connection with, and without fail get into great discussions around faith, spirituality and life. Often for obvious research reasons, the research is conducted outside of the context of ongoing relational youth work. So whilst I could argue about research paradigms and the role of researchers, the question I really want to ask is; does God exist outside of the context of relationship?

I am always fascinated by the communal nature of the trinity, the relational and incarnational aspect of God. It also seems from reading the various documents that more often than not when relationship is excluded as a variable, the god talk doesnt happen, but when included it does. What is going on here? Is it as simple as people need to feel comfortable or known to talk, or is it more?

It’s natural that young people don’t talk about about God in a vacuum, as for most people the natural evidence is that God doesn’t exist. So is it supernatural that people do talk about God in the context of ongoing relationship? Is God being made more manifest in those conversations? Are miracles occurring in the lives of young people, as despite the natural everyday evidence that God isn’t real, they want to talk?

Does G-d exist outside the context of relationship?

Every now and then someone reports on if young people are interested in God, or spirituality, or something of that ilk. Good reports like Buried Treasure, in depth stuff like Faith of Generation Y, and recently a small scale research piece called No questions asked.

One of the questions I always come back to in this sort of research is where is relationship within the context of the research, and what role does relationship play in asking these sort of questions? I often test out the questions used with young people I have an ongoing connection with, and without fail get into great discussions around faith, spirituality and life. Often for obvious research reasons, the research is conducted outside of the context of ongoing relational youth work. So whilst I could argue about research paradigms and the role of researchers, the question I really want to ask is; does God exist outside of the context of relationship?

I am always fascinated by the communal nature of the trinity, the relational and incarnational aspect of God. It also seems from reading the various documents that more often than not when relationship is excluded as a variable, the god talk doesnt happen, but when included it does. What is going on here? Is it as simple as people need to feel comfortable or known to talk, or is it more?

It’s natural that young people don’t talk about about God in a vacuum, as for most people the natural evidence is that God doesn’t exist. So is it supernatural that people do talk about God in the context of ongoing relationship? Is God being made more manifest in those conversations? Are miracles occurring in the lives of young people, as despite the natural everyday evidence that God isn’t real, they want to talk?

Learning from the other side of Alcoholism

Who do share the rail with? As you kneel to meet your maker in the bread and wine who kneels beside you? The ragamuffin Brennan Manning asks ‘Do you believe that God loves you in the morning sun & in the evening rain- when your intellect denies it, your emotions refuse it, your whole being rejects it. Do you believe that God loves you this moment as you are & not as you should be.’
If you don’t then maybe it’s time to find a few ragamuffins to share the rail with.

Brennans writing was so helpful to me in my early faith and as I came to terms with the alcoholism of my father. If you haven’t read his stuff read it. Meeting in the 90s is etched in my memory.

My mate saw an angel and ignored it..

I remember a friend telling me he was driving one wet and windy night and he saw an angel. Which he describes as a full on angel, big and bright type thing. The angel told him not to carry on this road but go a different way. Anyway he ignored the angels advice —-How what, Why, WHO THE HELL IGNORES A FRICKING ANGEL?—- anyway he does carried and crashed the car on a slippery patch!!! Serves him bloody right!

We were discussing participation a while back and I was struck by the voluntary participative nature of a lot of the bible stories. It seems people were never forced by God to take on the roles that go on to be described in the bible. It made me wonder, were there are whole raft of people who got asked by God to do something and basically said no so never made into the bible. The big bright angel shows up and people ignore it.

How many Marys did the angel approach before he found a Mary that was willing to say “I am the Lord’s servant, May your word to me be fulfilled.”