Space for newness

Following up on the last post and subsequent comments here and Pete’s post around radicals and conservatives and Kester’s on Newness I wanted to explore some issues around creating a space for newness.
I would be with James that very little new has emerged in the last few years and Petes post seeking definition on the terms highlighted for me that finding newness within our current context was highly problematic, due to the strength of the christian cultural context we find ourselves in. As I commented I am unsure if radical theology can emerge in such a context and as such maybe defining terms such as radical and conservative is a red herring as it reinforces the place of this cultural context, and thus hinders new voices from emerging. How many teenagers or children, people not coming from a faith tradition would want to part of that discussion?
Community organising suggests all action is in the reaction, and I wonder if this one of the things that has shifted. In the early experimental days there was plenty for people to react to, as people in community developed new forms of connection through the Alt worship ect it created an experience that people could react to, discuss and dialogue. As such there was far more equity, and I remember great conversations with children and young people or faith or none that I took to Greenbelt events, and their comments greatly informed my ecclesiology.

(I recognise the irony of continuing to write in the light of what I have said so far but want to pursue another reason about creating space for reason.)

Bourdieu who builds on an earlier ideas of Habitus – cultures way of behaving and norms making society possible, which we are socialised into. Bourdieu suggests that habitus was more than this and that through our participation we contribute to the unfolding “habitus” i.e. it is a two way dialogical or iterative process. Is part of our problem is that as we have moved from experience/activity to dialogue and discussion that not a wide enough people demographic are participating to allow something new to unfold. More than this as I explored in Reconnected that if as Elaine Graham argues “the task of rebuilding Christian theology in a more authentic fashion requires a critique of the points at which tradition has misrepresented the spirit of the gospel; and then a reconstruction of theology according to emancipatory principles”. It can equally be argued that when these emancipatory principles are told, or the tradition critiqued, that it must be accompanied by the liberatory story, and voices of those outside that initially gave rise to the need for change, if it is to have any hope of getting through the layers of misrepresentation that have accumulated over the years.
I think there is model for this- the russian concept of Sobornost, “Spiritual community of many jointly living people” or one that is rooted in practice, action, dialogue and community but that is for another post.

3 thoughts on “Space for newness

  1. one example -a church being planted (by C of S)and a man/ a minister callls out looking, listening, needing a response hoping for a response for someone to come alongside and I excited by the call the expression of newness of what could be a new build part of the body, a blank canvas listening, then an invite to be a ‘creative services assistant’ (voluntary) experimenting, engaging in ways which can relate to people … care/ education/ worship a heart desire to celebrate… reach. Alan Roxburgh in his book The Missiona Leader, equipping your church to reach a changing world on page 41 describes the zones or stages you are speaking about in second paragraph. Eleven years (voluntary) in starting up ‘engagements’ (4) in church settings previous to that fifteen years of starting up engagement (5) in (paid) different set ups.
    Another example – a safe space and yet a church in a re-generation area a small core keeping going under extreme circumstances, the schools have razor barbed wire round the perimeters, so does the Dr’s practice, the dentist and the nursery. An armed robery in the post office a few weeks back and yet through the Lord’s grace a new space is cleared at the entrance to the church for a praise and thanks wall with the emblem of the burning bush standing two foot from the floor and the children and adults writing stories drawing pictures, saying praise of how they have been comforted. A living word interctive display or wayside pulpit emerged… a deep desire from within by me to serve, engage, teach/care and worship as one to celebrate and appreciate and notice/ coming alongside. The unexpectedness for them of someone wanting to come alongside/ help. Everything prayerful action… No imposing , prayerfully listening, noticing and being led through the Lord’s grace someone/ me in the system but not in the system in order to help in the Church. A new found freedom in Christ developed and each occasion I have not pre planned my action/engagement but it has unfolded always in the most unexpected of ways. Which have also been sustaing ways… unbelievable joy and celebration but also such dependance on our Lord. experiencing trials… Constantly learning and listening

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