Thursday 2 February 2012

So I've been thinking!

So I've been thinking - we have another SC service on Sunday and it looks like it might dump a massive load of snow on Kings Lynn on Saturday. People keep asking me how many people I think will come to the event, something that I always have difficulty answering; and so that gets me thinking.

The whole bums on seats thing seems inherently unhelpful. Surely the number of people at a service can't be the only thing that has a bearing on its 'success'. At the moment however, there feels like there is a pressure on SC to attract large numbers of people to services and that if and when we manage to achieve these large numbers we know then that we are 'successful'. But of course the large numbers, if they happen at all, are going to take time - it's not going to happen on Sunday or maybe even for a few years. But the pressure is still there, we are somehow not saying or doing anything worthwhile for many people until we achieve the quantifiable goal of large numbers of people attending our services.

And so I'm wondering just how much energy we are expelling playing someone else's game? Maybe we need to focus in other places of connection. I am starting to wonder what other ways there are in 2012 to see the Holy Spirit move through a community. As a questionable Anglo Catholic I'm not suggesting that we dump our wonderful liturgical past, that has and does carry out so effectively and with such beauty Jesus' command to 'do this in remembrance of me' - to perform certain acts. I'm am however, wondering, just how radical we might need to be in a (post) post-modern society in carrying out that command today.

There are so many ways in which technology affects our lives, so many ways in which we are using that technology to communicate with each other and also to express ourselves. And I'm not just talking about Facebook, Twitter etc but at the ways in which artists and people involved in all the media streams are finding ways to express themselves. But at the moment it seems to me that 'Church' is focused in two places; its buildings and what goes on in them and its mission initiatives (stuff going on in the community or the wider world that has a agenda around social justice or gaining more bums on seats/lives turned to Christ.) It's not that there's anything wrong per se, with that outlook, it's just that if its the only place our attention is, we become out of step with everyone else around us - the vast swath of British society that doesn't come and join us on Sunday.

So, how can we use more effectively the various mediums modern culture chooses to expresses itself, communicate etc.? We can't ignore the fact that we all live in a world that goes shopping in huge shopping malls, that likes to cook and eat food from around the world, that loves to watch people dance, sing, make fools of them selves. We live in rich and diverse society and for the main part we don't as Church/Christians get involved in it. In fact much of the Church would like to see itself as 'counter cultural'.

There are so many ways in which we could become a visible presence in modern culture and society, the only boundaries are the limits of our own imaginations. We need to start to explore those possibilities. We need to exist outside the church walls and the boundaries that other people would make for us. Modern culture belongs to and is created by all of us. The problem is that presently the contribution church/Christianity makes to culture either goes unseen and unnoticed or is so at odds with where everyone else is that it becomes even more redundant as a presence to be taken seriously.

We have a lot of work to do. There are so many people, committed to living lives that follow Christ, that are talented and have something important to say and offer. We need however to make ourselves heard.

So shall we see what we can come up with then?

Monday 12 December 2011

It's a strange feeling - being ASC (after Soul Circus) in the Cathedral for 2011 at least. A disquieting mixture of sadness, relief and apprehension. Sadness, because it's over and I'm a little at a loss; relief, because it went as well as, if not much better than we could have expected and apprehension at the thought that we have to somehow match what we achieved on Saturday night the next time. However, all in all I am thrilled with how it went, although I feel we/I can't afford to rest on our laurels, SC has another gig on 5th February, which isn't that far away and I/we have to start thinking about that, planning it, wondering how different it needs to be, wondering what Soul Circus is, wondering how much needs to change and how much doesn't, what stays in, what doesn't, wondering how much of what we created on Saturday might be what we are about in the longer term. To get to where we got to in the Cathedral, Robin and I spent many hours talking about the concepts behind the end product. Now to many people that would seem to be a waste of time, but I think that as far as SC is concerned, this attempt to really get to the bottom of what we are trying to achieve, or not, or question, or get away from, or deconstruct helps us to have a clearer understanding of what gets included in that end product. Well that's the theory anyway! I think/hope that because Robin and I come, seemingly, from such differing ends of the churchmanship scale we can challenge each other in some particularly creative ways and I hope that this might be one of the things that makes SC unique. (I have to say, however, that this hole exercise is increasingly making me question the extent to which our apparently differing theologies are actually that different - and I think this sympathy (?) isn't peculiar to Robin and I, it extends to many people who might have considered themselves to reside predominately in one camp or the other, theologically that is.)

Well, there is, I am sure, much more to say, however, it is getting late and I have a full day tomorrow - but remind me to tell you about the V & A exhibition I went to today on Post Modernism, it was a trip down memory lane and very thought provoking.

Friday 9 December 2011

As Robin put it today - "one more sleep till Soul Circus"! Nearly all the problems are sorted out, insurance is sorted, Love Hearts are sorted, drums are sorted, screens are sorted - so we are very nearly all systems go. It feels a lot easier to be nearly upon the event than horribly close to it but not quite there yet.

Caitlin is in heaven because we picked up the djembe drums today and have been playing with them at every given opportunity. We've been talking a lot today about the importance of getting 'rhythm' into church. Now I want to say that I am NOT a musician but I was watching a programme on the blues recently that said the blues is based on poly-rhythms, whereas european music is based on melody. I am not suggesting there is anything wrong with music based on melody - however, the information was for me an interesting confirmation of something that I had been thinking for a while - that there is an omission in a traditional western church music tradition - and the omission is RHYTHM. As huge swaths of popular music are dominated by black music, music that is driven by its beat, I believe we have to ask ourselves some serious questions about what this kind of music could bring to our own church tradition. It is my belief that music that has a strong rhythm is potentially more 'embodied' than music without it - and so we could ask what has happened to a church tradition that has been without music with the ability to carry this embodied element? This is definitely something that Soul Circus will explore and question - we shall certainly see how it will feel to accompany the Eucharist Prayer with live djembe drums for instance. I will let you know how it all goes.

Wednesday 7 December 2011

Well exhausting day today - blowing a complete hooley out there - which drives everyone around the bend, horses, children, grown ups. Saturday looms every closer and have got to the stage where I will be very happy to get on with it!

In our Wednesday morning Eucharist this morning I wanted to share with everyone something of how the process has been for us over the last few days; the stress of the radio thing on Sunday morning and now the problems with the insurance. The point that I tried to end up making was that although the higher you climb the further you have to fall - if we really want to tell people just how much God can achieve in your life then sometimes we have to put ourselves on the line. Now anyone who knows me knows that standing in the middle of Norwich with a 'Street Pastor' sign on my back or proclaiming the 'Good News' on a beach mission - really isn't my thing; just the thought of the 99 out of 100 people who would walk past thinking I was some kind of looney is too much for my obviously fragile ego! However, what I do feel called to do is in some small way start to change the way people perceive the Church of England. I know that many people out there think of the Church as some kind of slightly musty smelling maiden Aunt - I want to make even the smallest contribution to changing that perception .

Maybe Soul Circus can do that maybe it can't but whatever the outcome no one will be able to say we didn't try.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Hello out there!

So - what to write?!! It's hard to image that the random stuff that goes on in my head could be remotely interesting to anyone other than me - but I realised this morning that as I am meant to be writing a journal for my next Masters module an easy way to get the work done might be to write a Soul Circus blog.

So what will I write - well I suppose longer versions of the random stuff that I might otherwise post onto Facebook. I could tell you about the books that I am reading (or not reading as the case may be) thoughts that I've had, conversations that have sparked thoughts, etc etc. So thought for today - Hmmmmmm.........

Actually I'm pretty overwhelmed with thoughts and planning for Saturday and Soul Circus' opening service. Epic studios, are causing problems with regards to the stuff they were supposed to be lending us - so at the very last minute I am now worrying about whether we are going to have to take out special insurance to cover the equipment we are borrowing. And apparently it's the borrowing part that is the problem if we were hiring it we would be covered by their insurance. Ha Ha he he - it's all good fun. Let you know how it transpires.