It has just dawned on me that this blog is near enough 5 years old. Not sure quite when in May 2004 I started.
Once upon a time blogging was great fun, and it felt like quite a tight community of people exploring something of a post-Modern view of being in the Anglican Church. We loved The Matrix and Losing My Religion and almost everything we read or saw inspired some deep insight into Church or faith.
We've come a long way (baby) since then, and it didn't take long for the detractors to chip in and the shine came off as comments and posts got a bit ugly. I sense much of that was behind the withdrawal from blogging by several people I knew and really respected and valued.
I started out also because of some worship I was leading with teenagers, and I realised they loved being able to read stuff about next Sunday in their ICT lessons (that was the plan, at least). More recently this has become a place where I can vent my spleen or share a laugh whilst still trying to do some thinking and liturgy. From time to time what I have written has caused a bit of distress locally, but in my defence (m'lud) I feel I was read out of context or various theological ideas were not understood and so exploratory thinking was mistaken for criticism.
Just a few days ago somebody I knew said that they had read something on here that had really helped them in a difficult time. I hadn't intended anything of the sort, but nice to help.
As I write this I realise that some stuff I've been reading in the last couple of days is bubbling under. Giles Fraser rightly points to the venom sometimes expressed in lazy writing and lack of thinking.
Part of the problem is that too many contributors do not recognise that they are being unpleasant because they believe themselves to be justified by some higher cause.
That's a universal problem, its just that blogging provides nothing in the way of a filter or time delay to allow the writer to reconsider.
Elsewhere Bishop Alan writes about the use of blogs and social networks as a communication tool. I think he is confusing motives in what he writes. I do from time to time post sermons as podcasts - not out of any misplaced desire to be picked up as an international speaker, but precisely because I think on that particular day I have said something directly relevant to the community I serve - if anybody else listens, well more fool them.
I tend now to post fewer items here and put more stuff on Facebook and twitter. It is incredible how much more appreciative of roles, boundaries and humour people tend to be there (at least for the moment - tee hee).
We have been enjoying the fruits of my labours persuading our Area Bishop and two local Archdeacons to set up a blog. Its great to see them developing their individual blogging voice.
One of the questions they asked me was "how long do you spend blogging each day?". The answer I gave was actually very little. Now clearly I do spend time blogging, but what I meant was not a fib, but by blogging I am trying to force my brain to put ideas into the public domain which would otherwise remain half-formed and even more ill thought through. This reminded me of the posts I have been reading about other people's view of why they blog (e.g. here and here for starters).
When I started blogging my intention was to communicate stuff for the teenagers I was working with at the time. I thrilled to the idea that they could access a site during an ICT lesson that they were part of (and also provided a guaranteed safe space on-line). Times have changed, as has my role. I find myself viewing blogging in a similar way to that which I imagine Thomas Cranmer corresponding with the embryonic ideas of his fellow Reformers across Europe in the 16th Century; people trying to connect with others of similar outlooks and trying to work out what the new world looks like (and a bit of mutual encouragement along the way). Not that a lot of what I write is of any particular quality like that. I also like being able to put stuff into the public domain for others to use and make better.
So no real conversations are expected, but comments usually received with grateful thanks for stopping by.
I've found a weblog (gee), but this one belongs to somebody I know. He's a very clever person and so I'm in a quandary as to whether to mail him and say "I've got a blog too!" (and then get panned for making stupid jokes instead of proper theology) or just to leave it.
I will say that if he does look at this and complains then I'll tell everybody about the time he used the word "plonker" in Church...
I love the immediacy and the interactiveness. I love the way a thread can develop as comments are added and, Ideally, ideas are shaped and improved. Long may that continue.
But there are also frustrations. The downside of the immediacy is that only the last couple of posts get read (unless somebody actually goes looking) and the fact that we are all pretty busy and use a newsreader to skim through everybody else's daily output means we often sort of "soundbite" things. In addition the idea that the most recent post is the most relevant doesn't always work, how do you see how an idea or an argument develops?
This is a long winded way of saying that I am NOT stopping this blog (my steam valve and my ideas filter) but that I am also trying to develop a dynamic website that I can use to address some of these issues. This is at www.gatheringgrace.org, but I can't decide whether to use Wordpress, Movable Type or SWIM. If you know about these things drop a comment to recommend an option, but I hope you won't mind me mailing you asking for advice sometimes...
I found Jonny's blog from his book Alternative Worship by SPCK, although others have recommended it before. I have also been reading Richard Lyall's blog. Its always challenging to read the passion of others, when so often organising a different style of worship can take so much time and effort that you can forget that love of the moment when Jesus walks into the room and he takes over (especially as it usually ends up with me at the front).
Am also considering changing from blogger to something like typepad, as all I have here are words. Any thoughts or suggestions?
# posted by gathering @ 10:56 AM
Saturday, May 22, 2004
Another blog I am enjoying using, another Richard, another curate, another ex-Trinity person too!
Watched this film last night, and have to say we quite enjoyed it. It is fairly typical for the genre (girl meets boy, culture clashes, parental disagreements etc) but quite funny none the less. The film handles the culture issues quite neatly, in that Tula doesn’t find true happiness by rejecting her Greek heritage lock, stock and barrel.
Interesting scene? Chapter 13 has Tula talking to her brother before the wedding. He says “Don’t let your past dictate who you are, but let it be part of who you will become”.
Could I use it? I think it could be useful to show the sense in which we all have a story and a background (even if Ian’s background is not really explored), which is part of who we are, not just something for us to reject or cast off.
# posted by gathering @ 9:09 AM
Saturday, May 15, 2004
Friday, May 14, 2004
The May Celebration was postponed, so I have a little more time to think about which clips to use, but in the mean time I am doing a presentation to Deanery Chapter using clips. At the moments I am considering the following DVD excerpts
Red Hot Chilis from Slane Castle to convey the importance of celebration.
The last few scenes from The Truman Show to demonstrate the perception of Christianity ("Christof") as repressive.
U2 singing Sunday Bloody Sunday (also from Slane Castle) to show the desire to protest and lament.
The "smug marrieds" dinner party scene from Bridget Jones' Diary to represent the fear of those who like to give the impression of having their lives all sorted out.
I was also going to talk a little about the values of post-Modernity, and have been finding quite a bit of useful information in "A new kind of Christian" by Brian Maclaren (thanks to those who have recommended it to me).
# posted by gathering @ 1:02 PM
Wednesday, May 05, 2004
Planning for Celebration 8th May 2004
In January we used video clips to demonstrate some of the facets of the spirituality of those in their 20s and 30s. In May we are going to look at how we can make connections between some of the facets of youth spirituality.
In “Threshold of the future” Michael Riddell identifies several characteristics of this spirituality. In the time available we will not be able to think about all of these, but it is intended to consider some of them as follows.
Closing scene from “About a boy” demonstrating a desire for community.
Smug Marrieds scene from “Bridget Jones Diary” demonstrating the desire to be loved.
U2 singing “Sunday Bloody Sunday” showing the desire to protest and lament.
The mayor in the shop window scene from “Chocolat” for the idea of grace crossing boundaries.
It would be useful to show something about the desire for celebration as well, but some work needs to be done finding a suitable clip.
# posted by gathering @ 9:40 PM
Saturday, May 01, 2004
Initial thoughts for the GATHERING 23rd May 2004
Have chosen the idea of "Be Yourself", encouraging us to think about who we are before God.
# posted by gathering @ 6:54 PM
Thursday, April 29, 2004
As a response to hearing the story of God's promises in the Old Testament, followed by the reading of the Passion narrative, we held a quiet act of creative worship on 7th April.
We read the Passover story (I used an extract from Tom Wright’s little book about communion "The meal that Jesus gave") emphasizing the sense of belonging.
We passed round broken pieces of Ryvita (yeastless bread). I put three pieces on a plate on a central table with the middle piece broken symbolizing Jesus broken member of Trinity. There are various Jewish websites that explain some of this.
Silent prayer for our selves "still in slavery" . Slave to...
Fear for future
Concerns for someone we love
Way we let God down again and again
Reading from Romans 5:1-6
Invite people to come and get a piece of rocket or watercress and dip it into a bowl of salty water (the tears of the slaves). Some music was played during this.
Lament ...but doesn't make suffering easy!
Reading from Romans 6:1-4
We then had the opportunity to renew Baptism vows and taste some Honey (as in Eastern tradition after baptism) to recall the sweetness of God's promise, and we played a long piece of quiet music.
Reading from Ephesians 5:1-2
We finished with the Grace
Playlist: "Strange place for snow" by E.S.T. and "Solo piano" by Phillip Glass
# posted by gathering @ 9:17 AM
the GATHERING 25/4/04
the GATHERING met for the second time on April 25th. The theme was prayer, and different ways in which we could pray.
We started with some worship, and reading 1 Peter 5:17. We then thought about issues, fears, anxieties, with time to write them on a piece of paper. After some quiet people had the opportunity to offer their individual prayers up to God, casting their anxieties upon Him by putting the paper through a shredder. We all joined in Amen each time.
We then thought about hopes and dreams, similarly offering them to God, but this time by sprinkling a pinch of incense onto some charcoal.
We prayed for others, and sent them a txt or a postcard when we had finished, and we prayed for ourselves.
Playlist: "In a beautiful place out in the country" by boards of canada and "Play" by Moby.