Archive for the ‘General’ Category


Sunday, May 31st, 2009

Today we took the historical step of visiting the church that we used to attend 25 years ago. It is very hard to sum how we found it. We are talking here about a church that was in the vanguard of the Restoration movement of the 80’s and one of the first churches to spin off from Church House Bradford and we have had the intervening time to rethink our faith and come to some very different opinions.The first thing I was surprised at was how free I was from the control that was exerted in the old days. You always worry in these situations that you might end up feeling like a naughty schoolboy. Secondly, I really enjoyed their ecstatic worship. The songs were contentless and repeated endlessly, but that is actually the point of that kind of worship. The whole purpose is to free your mind and enter either a receptive state where God can meet with you and speak to you, or where your creative self can suggest concepts and solutions to your conscious mind depending on your point of view. Sadly, the dark side is still there: unity through paranoia,  simplistic passivity and triumphalism all raised their ugly head. But the people are still great and the fact that so many are together after all these years definitely counts for something.

Back to Leeds

Friday, February 6th, 2009

Our big news is our relocation back to Leeds, which is where my wife and I grew up, after 18 years in Scotland.

Decision factors were: the termination of some long standing contracts, the age of our children, family health and the undefinable one: a sense of calling backed by some prophetic words of 14 years standing.

The prophetic side is what confuses some of my friends as they don’t know what to do with someone who refuses to fit the fundamentalist evangelical framework but still follows leadings.

For me it makes sense and I am sure that there are Quakers and Catholic or Orthodox mystics who would understand as well.

What this means for small voices, I don’t know. The concept never really translated into a group, though I do get feedback sometimes when a group elsewhere has used the materials. Maybe this is an opportunity fo the format to find a home.

Emerging Argument

Friday, January 30th, 2009

TallSkinnyKiwi has been trying out some argument software here I had a go myself but it is really difficult to decide what to put. There is not a lot of space for text. Also, no argument appears in a vacuum: I doubt I would have formulated it the way I did except in response to the other arguments. For example, though I pretty much agree with Andrews argument as a response to the sola scriptura argument, I saw his own argument as interpretable as a history free gnosticism. To be fair, Andrew put a lot of riders on his own submission and I’m pretty sure that you could not guess my theology from mine.I felt the lack of a ‘however’ clause as I would never write with such certainty normally. I also wonder if the argument is in itself the wrong form for emergent church in a medium=message sort of a way.

The Great Charismatic Hijack

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Some time ago, I mentioned to some old friends that I would love to write a book with this title. They loved the title and felt immediately that they knew what I would write. So far so good: an instant positive response and a sense that the title was self-explanatory. Maybe I had a new ‘Post-Evangelical’ or ‘A Churchless Faith’ on my hands. Unfortunately the story that they instantly felt that the proposed book would tell was not the same one that I was espousing. In their scenario, the Evangelical Church was taken over by mad Fundamentalist Charismatics who ruined it.This surprised me at first. After all “The Great Train Robbery” was not a robbery carried out by a train. “The Great Rock and Roll Swindle” was not a swindle perpetrated by Rock and Roll. I was clearly referring to the hijacking of the Charismatic movement by something or someone else.It seems as if (I actually wrote, ‘just seems as if’, then noticed and edited it out) the word ‘Charismatic’ has become such an evil word amongst post-Restoration refugees that if you put it next to any accusation, it is automatically perceived as the villain.Which is a huge pity, because an exploration of the whole area of charisms with your inerrantist literalist glasses off reveals a whole wealth of understanding that we who experience sychronicity in our lives and call it ‘divine intervention’ and seem to receive extra information from the ether and call it ‘a word from God’, can usefully apply. It also sheds light on the sticky problem of unfolding revelation and dovetails well with post-modern understanding of media. More in a year or two….. 

The BNP, the Oford Union and Protest

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

The recent news story about the BNP visit to the Oxford Union illustrated to me something that I have said before.On watching the news report describing how some people were protesting about the time and soapbox given to the BNP, while the Oxford Union felt that it was better to engage in debate with them and demolish their arguments, my wife Lidia said, “that is the way that it should be”.In other words, both positions are valid and both contribute to a full response to the situation. But the positions are not agreed. They tackle the problem in opposite ways.This illustrates my idea that the diversity of the church can extend as far as being opposite and disagreed without necessarily failing to reflect God in some way and that that opposing diversity may indeed reflect God most clearly.

The Rite Before Christmas

Sunday, October 21st, 2007

I had an idea for an alternative worship midnight mass that I named ‘The Rite Before Christmas’. Obviously it is a joke, but equally obviously it is not. Unfortunately, there are Christians to whom the term ‘rite’ is like a red rag to a bull. If they are not assuming that the term refers to a satanist black mass, then they are railing at Roman Catholics and other liturgical churches for their ’empty rituals’. What they fail to recognise is that they have rituals of their own. Because these rituals are unexamined, they run a very strong risk of being as empty as any others. That is not to say that every traditional rite is authentic though they may be for someone.

Scotlands New Start

Tuesday, March 28th, 2006

I spent the last few days of last week wandering around the New Start Scotland exhibition at the SEC in Glasgow. This was an event sponsored by Scottish Enterprise to encourage new business starts. The exhibition was designed to encourage new-start companies to begin and grow by bringing them together to network, introducing them to suppliers and potential partners, and running seminars on business. The idea is to get initiative moving and stimulate economic activity.

All this got me thinking about the Scottish spiritual economy and the stimulating effect the Dreamday Edinburgh has had, at least from the reports I have read. Activity has been stimulated in a similar way to the exhibition I attended: through networking in order to link up with partners, resourcers, others with relevant experience and those who wish to consume the ‘product’.

If spiritual activity is to increase in Scotland, there must be spaces for this sort of networking. A lot of the attendees at the exhibition were not ready to start businesses. They are just browsing and dreaming: fantasising about the day when they break free of their current wage-slavery and build something more suitable for themselves. It starts with a dream, then you realise that it can be a reality. Others have taken the step before you. Then one day the decision is made and you begin to make your dream real.

It is time we began networking and dreaming those dreams. Mine are tiny at the moment, but I remember how it was when I dreamed of running my own business. Fantasies do become realities.