Category Archives: Politics

Monday of Holy Week: Messianic Challenge to the Market Society & The Religious Temple

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Monday in Holy Week, the day after Palm Sunday, is when Jesus returns to the temple after staying the night in Bethany, where he curses the Fig Tree and literally throws out the money changers in the Temple.  Traditionally this is interpreted as Jesus asserting his Messianic authority and the importance of actual faith in practice, and not on religious privilege.  We remember Jesus’ challenge to the Pharisees and Sadducees – that living the faith was important – not just relying on being God’s people – it needed the orientation of the heart and action rather than just in the head and not impacting on the way they were living. It is interesting that the moneychangers were in the outer courts assigned for people like me – the Gentiles.  But at the same time, Jesus has compassion on the sick who gather around him after he throws out the market stalls.

What are we to make of this in Holy Week? 

There is something here about Jesus challenging a purely market society when it denigrates God and the poor and needy, and boy is that an issue right now.  The Poor, in particular, are treated like Lepers in our current culture – where often there is little compassion or support – even from some Christians!   So Monday week is a reminder then to engage with the question how are we IN a modern culture but also NOT OF our modern culture. The balance of affirming what is God, and challenging that what distorts.  Or Jesus puts it far better than I can – Give to Caesar what is Caesars and give to Gog what is Gods.

So as we enter Holy Week, think about your life, your priorities, your sense of where God is and calling you, to step up to what Jesus is saying here – around a practical outworking of the Christian life – not to exist out of a sense of privilege or even wealth, but the calling to follow Jesus as he demonstrates his Messiahship, after he has entered Jerusalem the first time on Palm Sunday, and comes the second day to challenge the Authority of the Temple and the power of the Market.

And so in the context of Jesus challenging the Powers of the Religious Temple and the power of the Market, we remember that Jesus anointed and healed those in need, as the new authority is centred on the Kingdom of God, or rather – the Kin-dom of God as a New Zealander friend once called it.

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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.

Christmas Eve: We are a people of the Incarnation by Ian Mobsby

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In this podcast Ian Mobsby explores lectionary texts for Christmas Eve to explore the significance of Jesus coming as a human being, as an incarnate God man.  The texts speak to us of justice, and the call of Jesus as the God-with-us means that God is serious about our humanity, and also about our salvation.  Further, we are called to participate in this incarnational mission of God, of joining in with a God concerned about restoration, transformation and love.

You can subscribe to this podcast for free by iTunes by clicking here.

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Book Launches – please do come if you can in London and Manchester

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The Holy Trinity is the central reality and concept that makes Christianity a distinct faith and not a jewish cult. As such God is a missionary God that challenges the Church and all Christians to participate in this mission and ministry of reconciliation, as God seeks to restore all things into renewed relationship with the divine.  In our increasingly post-secular context where people are more interested in spirituality than religion, it is the reality of the Trinity that gives us hope and opens up the spiritual landscape of the faith to those who are un-or-dechurched.

To Register for the Manchester Event 3rd Oct, click here at Manchester Cathedral
To Register for the London Event 11th Oct, click here at the London Centre for Spirituality
Canterbury Press Flyer click here

Ian Mobsby is the Priest-in-Charge and Missioner of the Guild Church of St Mary Aldermary, the home of the Moot Community in the heart of the City of London is a New Monastic Community engaged with pioneering and creative approaches to mission and evangelism in an urban context. Ian became a Christian through a very early alternative worship community from a background in socialist Atheism.  He has written and edited a number of books on mission and contemporary society, and lectured and spoken widely across the UK, Europe, USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Ian is a member of the College of Evangelists of the Church of England, an Associate Missioner of the Fresh Expressions Team, a national selector for pioneer ministry, and the co-opted New Monastic member of the Advisory Council on the relationships between Religious Communities and Diocesan Bishops in the Church of England.

This book can be ordered from Canterbury Press here

Post Secular Religion and Politics

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Just read a really interesting Article in the Australian Newspaper which interviews Tony Blair about politics and religion.  It is an interesting reading about the rise of a global post-secular culture, and the dangers of religious radicalisation.  Although I don’t agree with Tony Blair about a few things, I think he is right to point out these issues.  To read the article see here.

Nomad Interview

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Back in the Spring I met up with Tim Nash to explore the whole emerging and fresh expressions of church initiative in the UK, and to explore more deeply my book the Becoming of G-d.  They have made a great podcast out of the discussions and included a book review, so do check this out here.

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Three Miles North of Molkom

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.

New Books in Preparation – New Monasticism & Spirituality in the City

Well its now a new year, and I am now well on the way to completing the manuscript for my next book exploring New Monasticism, which I am writing for Paraclete to be submitted by the end of February 2010.

Writing  this book has really helped me think quite deeply about this important model of church, and I have enjoyed interviewing a number of people including a Benedictine Abbot, a Franciscan Friar and a number of new monastics including Shane Claiborne, Mark Berry, Ian Adams and others.

I have also written a chapter in a book exploring spirituality in the city, which is a multi-authored book which I think is being published by Continuum.  In this chapter I explore the increasing phenomena  of post secular spiritual tourism, and in particularly that evidenced by the many flower shrines you see where people have died.  It names something very important symbolically. So I hope that contribution assists people to explore the subject.

I am also pleased to let people know, that I am involved in three other books. All three are all multi-authored books in the Ancient Faith Future Mission series published with Canterbury Press.  These will cover Fresh Expressions and New Monasticism, the Kingdom of God and Small Missional Communities.

So I seem to have become involved in a number writing projects!

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