Friday, 26 February 2010

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Let me through, I'm an Anglican...

If, like me, you are NOT a member of the Anglican / C of E clergy, a fairly stalwart church goer, even serving on various committees, then I expect you are pretty fed-up with most of what is going on in Anglican world. Part of the trouble is that it all seems so inward looking and therefore exactly opposite to how we are supposed to be as followers of Jesus, caring for the poor and challenging the status quo... I, along with many others, simply don't get what's happening!

Today I heard a friend recite the famous poem, 'The Vicar of Bray' which implies that fickleness has been around for a while amongst clergyfolk and I will return to that later.

I am now struggling to recall the innocence of my faith... at the moment so much of what has just transpired in the recent Synod seems to bear little relationship to real church. Additionally, the recent research which revealed the sermon is the 'best bit' of a church service even skirts the point that church services, generally, are very, very naff!

I know there are some churches that are exploring new ways of enhancing worship (Fresh Expressions being one such initiative) and I think that is brilliant, however, where the church is really part of (or becomes) the surrounding community that is what really encourages me to think all hope is not lost. Ok, there was a Synod presentation about Mission covering Fresh Expressions and there was Revd David Gamble's interesting 'offer' from the Methodists, which actually hid both a reproach and a challenge of priorities.

But whilst endless debates continue about all the current obsessions (whichever way you look) then us 'lay' folk lose more faith, both in the established church and the clergy. The trouble is the whole system is run by differing strata of... yet more clergy, ranging from humble deacons to Archbishops. That immediately means there are issues to deal with including:
  • Inequality: This is usually manifest in the clergy / non clergy divide.
  • Superiority: Why do C of E clergy give out the impression they are 'above' other ordained clergy/pastors in other denominations (except, maybe, Catholics priests?!!)?
And there is the theology! I am an avid reader and love listening to audiobooks. I have enjoyed many great talks at Greenbelt and at other 'thin places'. Those talks capture you within the first few minutes, frankly the 'sermon' style in most churches, regardless of Biblical content, simply does not challenge or inspire and is a mixture of platitudes and anecdotes.

At the risk of sounding old (rather than mature, of course!) I used to love going to conferences and gatherings where we listened to a proper preacher and sang our hearts out! I now learn the evangelical nature of those meetings is seriously frowned upon by Anglo-Catholics and Liberals... it seems faith has to be liberalised, have more doubt, more skepticism, no longer enjoyed, kept to one denomination and it seems we are not even allowed to describe ourselves as a 'Christian' anymore. Don't completely dis the evangelicals, though, they come in many shapes and sizes!

This leads me to my final point: why is the church so demonstrably partisan? It seems the C of E thinks it is different to 'free' churches and the mounting divide between those declaring Catholic 'tendencies' and steadfast C of E communicants is hardly new? The Vicar of Bray actually kept his post through a series of major varieties of governance, perhaps, after all, he was more of a servant to his flock than the humour in the poem implies as he 'cheerfully' reversed his principles?

I have never felt I was one denomination or another, despite worshipping in various denominations as geography dictated. I cannot understand why some folk filling forms with 'C of E' in the 'Religion' field? Surely we are simply Christians? So why does it feel as though I have to declare I am Anglican / C of E? Nope, that is never going to happen!!!


Saturday, 20 February 2010

Street Child World Cup... Lent 1

A noble initiative from the Amos Trust, the Deloitte Street Child World Cup takes place Between the 14th and the 23rd of March 2010 in Durban, South Africa, with endorsements from footballers David Beckham and Theo Walcott.

Check out the video on the Street Child website here and also Simon Mayo's excellent Telegraph article. Do get involved, people power and donations welcomed...


Friday, 19 February 2010

Christendom or Christianity...?

So I've read the Book, watched the video, now I can even order the T-Shirt! Ok, part of me would be a lot more comfortable if this said 'Christendom'...

If you require a more in depth look then I recommend Jonathan Bartley's book: Faith and Politics After Christendom: The Church as a Movement for Anarchy.


Thursday, 18 February 2010

Re-inventing and Re-imagining Culture...

The incomparable Show of Hands, one of my fave bands, at their cheeky best assisted by the Spooky Men's Chorale re inventing THE 80's classic from the Human League... prompted by SOH recent Folk Award success with the stonking song 'AIG'.


Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Fundamentalism versus Curiosity...

A beautifully shot black and white film of one of my Blog heroes Seth Godin talking so much more sense than churchy types tend to pontificate on at such length and mediocrity... I have learned so much from this man's thoughts and writings. h/t Mike Todd


Saturday, 13 February 2010

All the small things... really matter

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction... however, the wonderful 2009 BBC drama series 'All The Small Things' represents fiction which so closely matches Mersea truth it's uncanny.

This song is a choral version of American popular teen combo Blink 182, one of many excellent musical pieces on the DVD which should be watched by every church choir, pastor and congregation. The plot covers an comprehensive array of social, religious and family issues that touch the spirit deeply... it is a tragedy that plans for a new series have been dropped... buy this gem on DVD.


Seth Godin nails it... yet again!

This isn't the first time I've clicked through to Seth Godin's blog to find profound truth leap out at me that is so applicable to a(ny) person of faith...
I was talking to a religious leader, someone who runs a congregation. She made it clear to me that on many days, it's just a job. A job like any other, you show up, you go through the motions, you get paid.

I guess we find this disturbing because spiritual work should be real, not faked.

But isn't your work spiritual?

I know doctors, lawyers, waiters and insurance brokers who are honestly and truly passionate about what they do. They view it as an art form, a calling, and an important (no, an essential) thing worth doing.
Read the full post here.
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Wednesday, 10 February 2010

To go or to be... that is the question

Whilst the General Synod rolls on... the sense of thinking 'outside the church' gets stronger. Last night in our Home Group we debated the question: "How would you answer someone who said: 'I can be a Christian without being a part of a church'?". My immediate thought was one of enormous sympathy! Overnight I mused that it is actually the question that is wrong, it should be about 'being church' rather than being 'part of', then I would field a completely different and affirming response. Then this morning I was intrigued to read David Keen's blog which had a link to 'Don't Go To Church Sunday', the content with which I obviously concur.

Earlier in my blog I drew attention to Walthamstow's Farmers Market run by a church, they moved their regular Sunday service to a different day to enable them to serve their community better. recently Joe Haward picked up the BBC story about a church buying the local ten pin bowling alley.

Above all this over the last year I have met and shared fellowship with committed Christians who simply don't attend church... the scary thing was that even though I am a regular churchgoer (a Church Warden has little choice!) I am possibly more cynical than they are... shame on me, in a way, but while the C of E and the Anglican Communion seem intent on beating themselves up, what would anyone expect?!
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Monday, 8 February 2010

Why modern worship songs are crap...

Last weekend had a fascinating conversation with another musician about Worship Music:
Yeah...worship songs are "shipped in" to many churches... every now and again they get a new delivery. All the way from California or Australia (and Sussex!). Like crates of CocaCola being delivered. Now Cola is nice to drink once in a while, theoretically I've got nothing against it... but what about local ale... or beautifully matured wine from the local vineyard, real food that we all cook together, here and now? Where are the songs of THAT church? THAT town? THEIR hearts? How good would it be for people to find THEIR song, not the x-factor, big screen, 'every song sounds the same' song.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Digital Economy Bill - Oxymoronic...

This little video (which has no sound, btw) brings to light more than one issue about the absurd Bill that Peter Mandelson is championing at the moment. First of all it is clearly impossible to police and, as has already been proven with some court cases, inconclusive as to who the actual culprit is.

In this country there is a huge amount of mistrust whilst in Canada, for example, even high profile folk do not have fences or hedges around their properties. Their WiFi connections are usually unprotected and therefore a subscriber could be open to abuse by a passer by, however, my impression was that Canadian people are simply more interested in being real world, i.e. outside and enjoying themselves!

However, in the UK it makes a lot of sense to protect your WiFi router as someone could piggy back and exceed your monthly allowance or, if you have an uncapped service, get it restricted. Now I think that to abuse an openness of an unprotected WiFi like that does amount to stealing, however, when it comes to the thorny matter of royalties from uploaded videos and other matters the Digital Economy Bill seeks to address it is a very different matter.

I very much take the view that has been eloquently explained on Steve Lawson's blog and the reference to Danny Barnes' blog here, we are living in a new era for music generation where the revenue is returning to performance rather than sales of media that has an enormous mark-up on it. Despite the plethora of seriously crap output and the promotion of 'celebrity' above talent there are many new ways to be heard and work within reasonable means to be an artist.

Ironically, for me, as a bit of a 'has been', my music is tied up by worldwide rights such that I cannot use the very wonderful Bandcamp to sell new recordings of my own 'legacy' material, the very pieces that former followers of After The Fire do want to buy. We are restricted to any brand new material that would have a limited market. However, there is no doubt that this is the way ahead for all but a tiny slither of folk trying to make their way in music. Alternatively trying to shoehorn the old music business ways into the new Digital economy is a complete non starter.


Monday, 1 February 2010

Voting by your views...

I know some Bloggers despise stats but as a relative newbie I couldn't resist!

Top viewed BanksyBoy Briefings January 2010:

1 Great tidings of joy in the Brit film Nativity!
2 After The Fire becomes International Rescue as ATF ring tone finds mobile in snow drift
3Whilst we allow poverty through inequality we are culpable for disasters like Haiti
4 Angels from the realms of... er, Norway! Breathtaking and truly wonderful music
5 Art and Christianity - made in the image of God - Antony Gormley's love for his art
6 Mumford & Sons, music to mend and inspire!
7 Art and Christianity - using Biblical texts to be subversive in poetry
8 Art and Christianity - can music really be sacred? Yours truly reckons this is
9 One of After The Fire's youngest fans comes up with a brilliant CD design
10 This is how the world will end... The Elms video shows Haiti poverty pre-earthquake

All Time top views (since Dec 2009)

1 Ashamed Anglican? Bravo Father Tim and shame on you Archdeacon of York - should have stood by your man
2 One of After The Fire's youngest fans comes up with a brilliant CD design
3 Great tidings of joy in the Brit film Nativity!
4 Angels from the realms of... er, Norway! Breathtaking and truly wonderful music
5 After The Fire becomes International Rescue as ATF ring tone finds mobile in snow drift
6 Brilliant article in blokes mag Esquire by Greenbelt Festival speaker Shane Claiborne
7 Whilst we allow poverty through inequality we are culpable for disasters like Haiti
8 Made in the image of God - Antony Gormley's love for his art
9 Paloma Faith sings 'Do you want the truth or something beautiful?' Bit like the Christmas story
10 Jackson Browne's moving song which should be a regular Christmas anthem

Top referring blogs January 2010

1 (James & Maggie)
2 (Revd Sam)
3 (Graham Peacock)
4 (Phil Ritchie)
5 (Jonathan Evens)
6 (Jonny Baker)
7 (Dave Walker)
8 (Archdruid Eileen)
9 (Madpriest)
10 (Joe Haward)


From Candleford with Love...

From the ASBOJesus Blog, inspired by the very wonderful latest BBC series of Lark Rise to Candleford. Last night's edition was quite emotionally draining yet remaining uplifting. The demonstration of the folk from socially and economically upmarket Candleford showing compassion to their neighbours and family in the adjacent hamlet of Lark Rise is a challenging example of what the church should be doing for the relative poor. It means getting our hands dirty and moving outside our comfort zones... even outside our churches, perhaps?