Flow, TAZ and relational continuity

In the light of Apple 7 happening tmw and Jonny and Kesters posts that have been swilling around in the back of mind for a while, I thought I would stick my nose in here as I cant be in London.

The notion of TAZ (temporary autonoumus zone – in a regime of power people find gaps in the maps away from the authorities to create something short lived, temporary, that dissolves before the authorities can latch on to it and it dissolves to re-emerge elsewhere. the rave scene, festivals, flash mobs and so might be examples.) is appealing and TAZ fits quite well to describe our community experiences of Flow. It has been hard for me to reconcile the idea of temporary church but instinctively the temporary nature has felt okay and that was before I found the TAZ phrase or had chance to reflect on Jonny and Kesters musings.

Part of the okayness is because we often fail to notice in our selfish search for belonging that people belong in different ways (see Myers work), so in forming community we need to accept (although we may challenge) this selfishness and recognise that relationship is beyond the confines of a time and space because it is so core to G-D. So whilst Flow might represent a TAZ, it is in it’s connection with the DNA of relationship (G-D) that these relationships supersede the physical/time limits, I can easily imagine a young person looking me up in a few years to chat, or out of need and this has often been part of my experience as 20 yr plus youth worker.

Embracing the temporary possibility of teh Flow group has also been a key in my missional thinking, leading me to seek out ways that will enable individuals to connect or be reminded of Flow that can last beyond the TAZ. In the past I called this corrupting worldviews with Christ and it is the very everyday possibilities of this, that give TAZ a kind of permanence beyond the getting together. If church exists to be missional then TAZ could be a key part of the future landscape, and whilst people may come together in TAZ type contexts because of what is going on at specific time (or out of selfishness), if it is to be an authentic expression of church (and begin a move beyond selfishness) it needs to maintain that attitude and action (see here) in its development. For us we are now experimenting with Harmony as a new engagement with the younger group coming through, whilst the older Flow group is transitioning on/moving away.

One of Jonny’s key issues was linking to Bauman and how individualism wins out over community, and can the temporary be anything like as effective as the continuity of long term engagement. Myself, I am left wondering if we ever can change community in that broad way (or even if that is our role) but by maintaining presence and through a series of TAZ adventures, enable a new type of community to emerge that is self defining as it goes. I can see this at a local level but here is also where I think it connects into Apple 7’s question. TAZ will only ever remain flash in the pan as the institution is so crippled by either looking back to tradition, or in a broader way will engage beyond its mode- to quote Aquinus (pretty out of context) for the thing known is in the knower according to the mode of the knower. The struggle is to look to the other for definition, and in the other find G-D anew.

Smarter working

I wanted to try and work a bit smarter with traveling etc for StreetSpace/FYT and catch up on several projects at once

So here are few dates I will be traveling if you are in the area or and hour or so away and want to hook up give me a ring or email me.

27/28 Sept London
1st Oct Salisbury
4/5 Oct Oxford/Reading
11-15 Oct South west
18-22 North
27-29 Oct Birmingham/Midlands
1st Nov Bristol
10-12 Nov North east of London, Cambridge, Colchester
also wondering about Scotland sometime around last week Nov/fist week dec

Tee Shirt

Tall skinny Kiwi has some great festival tee shirt on his site which reminded me that At greenbelt I saw someone wearing a tee shirt with

“So many Christians” on the front


“So few lions” on the back

sadly I missed the photo opp as they were walking through about 1000 people meditating at the time, which just added to the moment

Conservative Greenbelt?

Back from Greenbelt and as ever there was a great range of music, art and talks. However at the festival and on coming away I couldn’t help feeling it was all rather theologically conservative. After posting this on FB I thought I needed to think out loud a bit more about this to help me understand my feelings, so apologies if this becomes a stream of consciousness rather than a coherent post.

23 years of attending and I am hearing the same (great) speakers that inspired me when I was 17 to give up life plans and change tack. The content remains great, but culture, and I have shifted but not sure the theological content has. This obviously begs the question of should it shift and for many new people coming and hearing this stuff for the first of third time I know John Smith or Dave Andrews thoughts could turn their world upside down towards a kingdom reorientation. So what has changed or needs to be said. The love and acting out of compassion and justice remains, those values are timeless, but in the cultural shifts that have taken place over the past 20 years how do we rethink the missiology that needs to accompany the missio dei in those acts of love and justice, so we can go with God effectively.

The theme of looking sideways raised my expectations about Greenbelt this year, but the sideways looks I heard were safe glances back to tradition (although playing with this) Richard Rohr, glance back mediation (although with hat tip to worship as a whole of life experience) Laurence Freeman. Don’t get me wrong it was all good stuff but it was all stuff that was been part of my missional thinking 15 years ago.

Missionally it felt quite milky, the questions I wanted to ask were, who is genuinely taking a sideways look at the world, how do we do this and here the stories about the missional journey that starts when we do. When I was chatting with Andy Turner about this he was asked who do we need to get and I am afraid I was at a bit of loss. I certainly missed Pete Rollins. The themes that came to mind however different stuff I would like to hear or talk about would be:
Living with the corner stone and the stumbling block, going with Christ beyond the christ we know in mission
The role of Powerlessness in mission and going with G-D in this.
How the when we join up Greenbelt christian thinking and start to try and live it, it takes us beyond, Yet when one section rises in popularity (currently meditation and new monastic forms) due the consumerist culture and deep rooted individualism and selfishness it takes us away from Christ and detracts from the deeper theological work that is needed in our lives and communities.
How do we deny Jesus in order to look sideways and discover G-D in our neighborhood and can we begin that dangerous journey with the tentative courage that comes from a community like Greenbelt behind us?

So was Greenbelt Conservative? – not really because the social gospel shone through the justice and love discussions.
Was greenbelt policitally conservative? – you certainly cant give that label.
Was Greenbelt missionally conservative? – ABSOLUTELY.
Where do we go from here? – Haven’t a clue except we need the artists and activists (theologians who may not have that label but can articulate their thinking) who can genuinely help us take a sideways look at the world and see the Kingdom within!