Reflections on Post-Truth, Brexit and Trump as signs of pain and disappointment in our humanity in a post-Christian age

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Whether we like to face it or not, but both the vote for Brexit and Trump are a sign not just in the sense of disenfranchisement, but there is also a palpable sense of disappointment with life particularly the ongoing struggle with the pain of life.  I do think this situation is largely due to the reduction of religion and in particularly a healthy sense of a hopeful spiritual disposition, and in our largely western post-secular culture, we have turned to consumerism and materialism to fill this pain and disappointment, which actually never works.

Religion and Spirituality have worldviews that take us away from escape and avoidance or distraction, to having to face this pain and sense of disappointment.  Those who are having to deal with mental illness and addiction will tell you that we do a lot of things that are not healthy to try and quell the pain and disappointment of life, and they can lead to illness and for some the taking of their own life.

Religion and Spirituality tell us that actually we will only find peace and times of happiness if we face ourselves, face our pain and face our fragility and the truth that we only have a short time to live well in this life.  We have made this so hard by becoming so individualised and atomised that many of us feel a deep sense of loneliness and isolation even when we live in Cities.

Some have described Trump and Farage as adult children, and there is so much truth in this.  They are men who I would say have not faced the need to deal with their ego, the false-self, their pains and disappointment, and instead have got by using materialism and wealth, and importantly here, projected their pains and hurts onto others such as immigrants, Europeans and the European Union, the establishment, experts, women, Mexicans, the list is endless.  They are both infantilised by the post-religion culture we have created, and are adult children because basically they have not faced their humanity, and therefore their need of God. All of us if we are to deal with pain and disappointment have to face these ultimate existential questions of existence, and decide how we will deal with them.

This is also why we will in what is called a post-truth era, why?  Because in an infantlised world, the truth is whatever we want it to be, so that we don’t have to take responsibility for our actions and to existentially project it at others, again the great sign of the false-self. Both Trump and Farage psychologically must never take responsibility for their actions to be able to maintain such a worldview, have you ever heard reported any of these two ever saying sorry?

Ultimately religion and spirituality require each of us to face our pains, our disappointment our fragility and our humanity.  We have to make peace with ourselves and not project this at others, we need to face the calling to a form of self-control and discipline that gets beyond an eternal adolescence and face ourselves.  Otherwise we become narcissistic Peter Pans who are dangerous to ourselves and dangerous to others.  This is why Trump and Farage are dangerous.

The central truth of the Abrahamic faiths is a challenge to this unhealthy state of affairs.  Central to the three is the Shemah, adapted into the New Commandment in Christian.  Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is One, you are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with your mind and with all your strength…. and you are to love your neighbour as your self.  Or as Abbot Jamieson has said(former Abbot of Worth Abbey) Love God, Love yourself and Love Others. You cannot do this without facing yourself and the pain of life and disappointment, that our culture tries to avoid…..

So what is a Christian, a personal of faith or spirituality to do in this age?  Well firstly we need to live the walk and be disciplined about facing ourselves, and the second, in a faith and spiritual groups, I think we called to be communities of resistance, to challenge those social, economic and political forces that threaten to take our individual and collective life away from us, and we should not underestimate the power of resistance, hope keeping, and seekers of the common good.  Faith traditions and communities are essential to this.

The danger for us is, as in Nazi Germany, is that some Christians and Churches collude with these distorting and dehumanising forces – for example the number of conservative evangelicals that voted for Trump?  I cannot understand this…. so we need to be careful to, as there will be Christians and Churches which will collude with the unhealthy culture and political rhetoric that promote a spirituality of hate, jealousy, greed and selfishness.  The way we resist this is by sticking close to Jesus of the Gospels, and not define ourselves in opposition to various people groups, and most of all, do not lash out of a spirituality of ‘victimhood’.  When we are all victims, no one takes responsibility for their words or actions.

So let us hold onto the truths of our situation and not avoid it, let us as spiritual and faith communities be resistant to the forces that divide and dehumanises, and let us do all we can for the love of God and to seek the common good.

Let us take the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and others, to guide the Church into a healthy positive alternative living out the dreams and hopes of the Kingdom of God, and follow Jesus who’s way of Love as Light challenges all the forces of darkness…… May God be with us in these difficult times, and let us not sleep walk into the dangerous situation of the 1930s when the Church did nothing to resist facism……  May God be with us all. Amen.

Outcomes from the New Monasticism Conference October 2016

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Following the success of the convention weekend, please find below some of the outcomes and resources coming out of the 14-16th October 2016.

Feedback form for those attending the weekend

We are keen to hear your feedback ONLY FROM THOSE WHO ATTENDED, so please do complete the link to let us know what you thought and to help us plan for the next time here

Summary Report from the Facilitators for the questions and issues identified 

Please find the link to the report presented on Sunday morning at the convention, which identifies key issues and questions that we in the network need to consider. closingsummaryreport

Results from the completed Questionnaire 

The results from the questionnaire completed by attendees of the Convention can be found here.

Address from Phil Potter, Archbishop’s Missioner & Lead for Fresh Expressions & Bp Jonathan Clark, the Bp of Croydon.

Address from Phil Potter, Archbishops Missioner,  philpotteraddress and link to Facebook Group that includes Video Recordings from Bp Jonathan Clark, the Facilitators reflections and the prayer and some of the times of prayer and worship sessions here.

Handouts for Stream 2  

The link to download the handouts for the three sessions for Saturday in .pdf form click the link here. These are available also for anyone in Stream 1 who may find them helpful

Schedule and Menu for the Gathering/Conference

Please find linked here, a pdf of the current draft plan for the conference with details.  We need people to attend all of this to maximise our time together, so click here for the    conferencefacilitatorsplan    participantlist     conferencemenu

Group participation in Streams 1 and 2 

For those already involved in NM groups you will be in Steam 1, and we have divided you into 3 dialogue groups A-C.  For those who are interested in setting up a NM groups then you will be in Stream 2, and you will be in 6 working groups.  Please download the following document for both Stream 1 and Stream 2 and note which room you are in for the Saturday: participantlist

Position Papers for the Conference to read before you come

1. Paper compiled by Ned Lunn (York) anunderstandingofreligiouslife

2. Charism & institution: What defines a religious community by Tim Watson (Chemin Neuf)
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Papers from Previous Gatherings that are important

1. Renewal of the Religious Life by Etienne Veto, Lambeth Palace Gathering
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2. New Monasticism and other new religious movements by Ian Mobsby (St Lukes) Chris Neal (CMS)(1)Acknowledged Religious Communities, Briefing Paper

3. Acknowledgment Process in the CofE
(2)The Advisory Council Acknowledgement Document

Menu for Lunch and Dinner for Fri & Sat

All here: conferencemenu

Relevant Book Resources UK Context

1. New Monastic Handbook by Ian Mobsby & Mark Berry

2. New Monasticism as Fresh Expressions of Church Eds Graham Cray, Aaron Kennedy & Ian Mobsby

3. Totally Devoted, the challenge of New Monasticism by Simon Cross 

4. Punk Monk by Pete Greig and Andy Freeman

5. Embracing Solitude: Women and New Monasticism by Bernadette Flanagan

6. Cave Refectory Road by Ian Adams

7. God Unknown, the Holy Spirit in contemporary spirituality and mission by Ian Mobsby

 

 

 

First Anglican UK New Monastic Convention

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This weekend gathering in Southwark South London from Friday 14 to Sunday 16th October, is the first gathering of those involved in new monastic communities with some relationship to the Anglican and the Church of Scotland – coming from Wales, Scotland, Ireland, USA and England. The event has been facilitated by the working group of the New Monastic Network UK.  Over the last couple of years, sponsored by the charitable group Anglican Religous Communities (ARC) have sponsored dialogue between the leaders of emerging and traditional religious communities.  It was Archbishop Justin’s Chaplain Jo Bailey-Wells, now the Bishop of Dorking encouraged the need for a gathering for new monastics to talk to new monastics.

So at the weekend 90 representatives will engage in dialogue from communities such as the St Anselm Community in Lambeth Palace, the Iona and Northumbria Communities, as well as those small missional communities such as the St Lukes Community Peckham.  Further, a number of people interested in starting new monastic communities will spend some time reflecting on what, how and why this can be done.  We are very pleased that Phil Potter, the Archbishop’s Missioner and Leader for Fresh Expressions will be joining us on the Saturday, and Bishop Jonathan Clark, the Bishop of Croydon will be joining us on the Sunday.

This has been a dream coming together, and we look forward to catching up with what God is doing through this first gathering in the UK.

For more information on the New Monasticism Network UK See the Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1420721808180123/

 

Healing, grace and inclusion in the way of Jesus by Ian Mobsby

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In this podcast on Sunday 9th October 2016 Ian Mobsby explores the implication of the healing of the ten lepers in Luke 17.11-19 regarding grace and the celebration of God’s blessing.  It is significant  that the only individual who was grateful to Jesus for being healed was a Samaritan, hated and excluded by the Jews.  This story not only speaks of GOd’s love but also of the restoration of all peoples as the children of God.  For more information on St Luke’s Church please see www.stlukespeckham.co.uk

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A theological approach to human sexuality to inform the Church in a globalised pluralistic culture of the 21st Century

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One of the great problems at the moment, is that the Christian Church has a polarised debate on understanding human sexuality.  The Church for centuries has had a dis-ease with the human body as a source of sin and sexual immorality, rather than made in the image of God if we trust the writings of the Hebrew Scriptures of the bible.  This problem has largely been the achilles heal of the Church because of the heresy of gnosticism that haunts the church, which saw all flesh as evil, as something we should escape from.

What we need is a better theology of human sexuality, and that there is a difference between sexual identity and sexual behaviour.

I therefore post this important paper which I think gives an important broad background and deals with the contention of the interpretation of certain biblical texts.

The Church needs to stop calling this issues around doctrine and the creeds, or heresy, and engage with the fact that we are taking about issues of biblical interpretation.  Then I hope drawing on texts like this we can draw on a sense of unity in diversity rather than the damaging debate where the two sides try to out-bible each other, and can’t accept that maybe we need to get to a place to politely disagree BUT remain brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore a model of the Church to hold into a unity in diversity rather than unity in conformity. See the link below.

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St Luke’s Church seeking an Artist in Residence

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Thurs 19th November 2015

SEEKING A MISSIONAL ARTIST IN RESIDENCE

We are seeking a proficient artist who is interested in getting involved with a parish church in transition to becoming a mixed economy of church with a number of fresh expressions initiatives.

We are seeking an artist to get involved in our nascent new monastic community with its gatherings on Tuesday eventing’s, Sunday evening service and other gatherings. With the Photographer in residence we are seeking an artist to explore contemporary iconography to use in worship and mission, as well as creating content for exhibitions and events. In exchange for this the Church is offering a substantial studio space with separate office space to join in with an emerging new church team.

For more information do see the Church Facebook Page and website currently being redesigned at www.stlukespeckham.co.uk and/or speak to Ian Mobsby our Mission Priest or Marc Gascoigne the Photographer in residence.

Email: stlukespeckham@gmail.com

Great opportunity for Pioneer from Catholic & Sacramental traditions

Really interesting job has come up for a Pioneer Minister of the Catholic Anglican Tradition to work in a new housing estate in the Diocese of Oxford. This looks really good, and a partnership of Catholic and Evangelical Anglicans working together – see the attached info.

Vicar of St Mary’s Headington in the City of Oxford

An exciting new partnership is being set up between this open catholic Anglican church ministering in a diverse local community, and the evangelical city centre church of St. Aldates. St. Mary’s will be welcoming at least about 2000 new people into the parish in the coming years which has encouraged us to consider an innovative approach to this mission opportunity.

We are seeking a priest who will:

  • encourage the congregation to grow in faith with God through preaching, worship, teaching, prayer and service to the community.
  • work strategically and innovatively to engage with the residents of the new homes.
  • value working creatively with the support of the St. Aldates staff team
  • have a heart for community ministry in an urban priority area

Parish Profile and Application Form from:

www.oxford.anglican.org/vacancies

or from:

The Archdeacon of Oxford, Diocesan Church House, Oxford OX2 0NB

archdeacon.oxford@oxford.anglican.org

Closing date: 26 October

Shortlisting: 3 November

Interviews: in Oxford on 10 and 11 November

This post is subject to enhanced DBS disclosure.

The importance of the example of St Brendan for Pioneer Ministers

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St Brendan was an early Christian pioneer from Ireland, who contributed to the re-evangelisation of the United Kingdom from Ireland in the Saxon Period.  He is known as Brendan the Navigator, and I think he has a part to play in our shared sense of vocation to pioneering.

Please hear, that I am one of those type of Christians who bulks slightly at the 19th Century romanticism of ‘Celtic Christianity’, but do honour the importance of key figures like Brendan.

Whilst on a retreat with the Northumbria Community,  (which was a crucial time for me after I stopped a few weeks ago of being the Leader of the Moot Community, and before I and a few mooters move to Peckham to set up a new monastic community and serve the needs of the Parish of St Luke’s North Peckham), the figure of Brendan was an important source for encouragement.

The sea in early Christian writings, reflected the space like the desert for the desert mothers and fathers.  It is dangerous, wild, uncertain, unpredictable, and life threatening.  But facing the desert and the sea, is about discipleship, where they act as a metaphor for the spiritual journey of life.

 

I like many others have got older, now 47, so pioneering seems to get harder, taking risks, as you get older.  So I have had a lot of fears about starting out again, partly because pioneering has cost me a lot emotionally and financially let alone socially and personally.  But Brendan and the creative writing around his vocation, really helped me to focus on what God was calling me into next, and to find peace in uncertainty.

In the Northumbria Community’s Daily Celtic Prayer, Part XVI for Brendan, I found the following prayer absolutely spot on.  I am now trying to pray this every day as part of my prayer time, that it can in me incarnate hope when I hold onto much fear. So this is a quote of that prayer and I highly recommend getting hold of their Daily Celtic Prayer:

Lord I will trust you
help me to journey beyond the familiar
and into the unknown.
Give me the faith to leave old ways
and break fresh ground with You.
Christ of the mysteries, can I trust you?
to be stronger that each storm in me?

Do I still yearn for Your glory in lighten on me?
I will show others the care You have shown me.
I determine amidst all uncertainty always to trust.

I choose to live beyond regret, and let You recreate my life.
I believe You will make a way for me and provide for me,
If only I trust You, and obey.

I will trust in the darkness and know
that my times are still in Your hands.

I will believe You for my future,
chapter by chapter, until all the story is written.

Focus my mind and my heart upon You,
my attention always on You without alteration.

Strengthen me with Your blessing,
and appoint to me the task.

Teach me to live with eternity in view,
Tune my spirit into the music of heaven,
Feed me, and, somehow,
make my obedience count for You.

The Simplicity of the Benedictine Way

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I have been really struck by the Prologue to the Rule of St Benedict:

Listen carefully, my child, to your master’s precepts, and incline the ear of your heart (Prov 4:20).  Receive willingly and carry out effectively your loving father’s advice, that by the labour of obedience you may return to God from whom you have departed by the sloth of disobedience. 

In essence Benedict is opening up the idea that Christianity is about a way of life. This is an important corrective to the reformation which puts the emphasis of belief on thinking.  Benedict’s Rule is an attempt to help people grow a distinctive Christian faith which is less ‘What should I believe’ and more ‘How should I live’ which is a crucial question then and now.  How do we LIVE the Christian life which is about prayerful action.

The opening sentence of Benedict’s Prologue make this very simple, that involves four elements:

1. Listen – to the masters instructions who calls us daughter and sons.
2. Receive – the grace of receiving the love of God that brings health and transends defensiveness and encourages honest loving vulnerability.
3. Labour – put what you have heard and received from God into practice in the way you live. Prayer must lead to action.
4. Return – that even though we stuff up a lot, God always receives us back.

These four are one of simplest but most profound summary of what discipleship is all about.  Benedict was trying to ensure that monasteries focused on Christian discipleship.

The prologue also emphasises urgency, the need to get on with it.  ‘Run while you have the light of life, lest the darkness of death overtake you.’

But with the full assurance of the love of God: ‘What can be sweeter to us, dear ones, that this voice of the Lord inviting us?  Behold in God’s loving kindness the Lord shows us the way of life.’

This is incredibly beautiful.  TO see the whole of the prologue for yourself click here

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