Caricatures and youth worker Spirituality

Since the Ann Widecombe encounter I have been reflecting on a conversation about how people become a caricature of themselves. That is, as people see one thing in themselves that others like, comment on or creates some some positive reward, that part becomes exaggerated.

As youth workers we swim in the semiotic fluid of culture, engaging young people on their terms and using their language etc. We appropriate the culture we are engaging, critic it, challenge it, and in a worst case scenario it is easy to lose yourself in the process. As youth workers we constantly work with and engage the he more we engage the culture, through newspapers, friends, film and the creators of culture. We live in an outward way making it harder to hear from inward selves. Recently, when I have been speaking around mission and the importance of culture as a source for the divine. The conversations keep returning to the themes of personal spiritual disciplines. This is the source to hear from the inward and brings balance, helping us avoid slipping into syncretism and hopefully avoid becoming a caricature of ourselves.

Henry Thoreau say “when our life ceases to be inward and private, conversation degenerates into mere gossip. We rarely meet a man who can tell us any news which he has not read in a newspaper or been told by a neighbor; and for the most part the only difference between us and our fellow is that he has seen the newspaper or been out to tea and we have not. In proportion as our inward life fails we go more constantly and desperately to the post office. You may depend on it that the poor fellow who walks away with the greatest number of letters proud of his extensive correspondence has not heard from himself in a long while.”

Fresh Expressions Changing the landscape

The FE day on Friday was an interesting experience. I have been quite critical about some of the institutional issues that come with FE, but agreed to be on the new DVD. The people involved are great, but the PR machine was in full swing as the Arch bishop was given a copy of the DVD, and a lunch put on for contributors, then sales and resources were pushed, and the pain of birthing something new was conspicuous by its absence.

Several of the questions from the floor related to the institutional control and the need for space. A good example was a question to Bishop Graham Cray about licensing communion to a gathering a of a number of youth groups who were coming together as an expression of church. The bishops response asked if the group existed for itself or for others and if the latter there was no issue. On one level this seemed fine but everything in me was screaming about the who were we to deny their right to work out their expression, if it was adults would they even be having the conversation, in a post christian world how could the group not be a witness to the other, and would the bishops ever have the courage to de-license all those groups up and down the country that seem to exist just for themselves and seem to call themselves church.

It was incredibly encouraging to see the call to follow the missio-dei and the closing of the gap between mission and church. The arch bishops address was excellent and summed up StreetSpaces approach to ecclesiology brilliantly. He talked about church begins where Jesus is with other, Jonny has pretty much got the whole thing down here.

I still have questions about if FE can change the landscape but they are certainly cutting down a few trees, but I am unsure if there would ever root out all the issues.