Over the next few weeks I am going to post 10 thoughts that I believe require some reflection about the way things are and the potential for change in the future. I hope these will promote some deep searching and engagement. The first will begin in a few minutes
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.
Tonight I had the good fortune to go to the first live world premiere with a full choir and orchestral accompaniment with this great film at the South Bank Centre in London. I have come back very moved. The original story by Arthur C Clarke was a short story, that was rewritten and lengthened encouraged by Kubrick. The story is mystical and fascinatingly mixes up science and spirituality.
I used to think this film was the ultimate expression of modernity, but I had forgotten how it is laced with postmodern existential awe. The original story relates aliens as beckoning humans to evolve (the black obelisk encouraged humanity to reimagine what is possible) resulting in humanities evolving into star children – children of the light.
I am fascinated how this holds deep premodern transcendence – spiritual searching – and the sense of human becoming. For me what the book expresses as aliens, the film seems to be more mystical – more about encountering the divine rather than an other species. The almost total lack of dialogue makes this sense of transcendence deeply felt.
The ending of the film used to confuse me. Seeing it live – it now not only expresses a sense of evolution, but a sense of theosis – that humanity is transformed into an inseparable connection with the divine, following birth, life death and resurrection.
Really recommend going to see it – check it out here
I am pleased to say that I have now submitted my first draft to Paraclete Press for my draft book “The New Monastics: Building Ecclesial communities out of contextual mission in the third millennium. I have also submitted a chapter in the Book Andrew Walker leads with Continuum about Spirituality in the City.
Somewhat Ironically, both these chapters resonate with the film I have just watched with my friend David, ‘The Miles North of Molkom’, which is a docu-film expressing the stories and lives of a number of spiritual seekers, at a summer festival in Sweden. It was an amusing, sad and moving account of people attempting to make sense of their lives in our painful overly-individualistic and consumptive world. This resonated with some work I did today, for the Diocese of Rochester where I supported Graham Cray of Fresh Expressions, where the Suffrogen Bishop talked of “Politics being defeated by Shopping”. Too true. So I commend the film if you doubt that our culture is spiritually seeking.
A new friend I have made recently by the name of Tim, noticed that I love the American TV programme Alias. He also intuitively made the connection between my sense of the need of Christians to abide more by a disposition of openness to the Spirit and therefore mystery, with my love of the programme, (sounds crazy but I think it is right). He pointed me to a podcast of JJ Abrams, the Director of Alias, on the whole subject of mystery. So please see a really interesting podcast on mystery below.
Well, its been a while since I have done this, but I am now looking forward to going back to Australia and New Zealand. This will be probably the most complex and challenging speaking tour I have done yet. Most will be exploring the challenge of new ways of being church for various denominations, and some exploring specifically alternative worship, forms of emerging church and my new focus, new monasticism. So it does tie into my books, just the most varied groups of people I will have worked with yet.
These trips always help me to go deeper with the subjects that we explore together, and hope this year will help me in my writing of a new book on new monasticism I am writing for Paraclete Press, which is a real privilege.
So I will keep blogging here what I am up to, do check out the speaking tab if you are interested in attending elements of the tour, or to see what I am up to. So goodbye Blighty until April…
I and the Moot Community have been conducting a little survey to explore what people’s perceptions of spirituality are, who reach my blog or the moot sites. So please do help us by adding your thoughts.
One of the most important books I have read this year, is Barry Taylor’s “Entertainment Theology”. This book really engages with context, exploring the developing new forms of mysticism. I like what he says a great deal. One of the key ideas, is the re-sacralisation of culture. That religious symbolism has been reapprproated into culture, but where its meaning is subverted to the new world of mysticism. Rightly Taylor states that we the church need to catch up with what is going on, and that is that the challenge to faih is not atheism and agnosticism as it was within modernity. No, the new challenge is that people believe something else, an alternative spirituality, where religion is seen as outdated and controlling , where spirituality is perceived as the new freedom.
So the challenge then is for us to rise the challenge of seeking an alternative imagination, seeking to live and point to a God that is increasingly difficult to discern in our complex world. The challenge is for us to seek this more artistic approach to mission, to seek God in the complexity of a world driven by new forms of mysticism. The Emerging Church has been somewhat involved in this contextual endeavour. The truth is, we are not quite sure where all this ls leading!!