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Shane Claibourne's The Irresistible Revolution

Every now and then you read a book that transforms your imagination, and challenges you with new directions. Those who know me, know that this happened with Mike Riddell’s book ‘Threshold to the Future”, Pete Ward’s “Liquid Church”, “Seeking Sanctuary” and Jamieson’s “A Churchless Faith” and more recently Bolgers book “Emerging Church”.

Well, this book by Claibourne has really challenged me on lots of fronts, with a number of themes – which I will be taking as individual items as the Claibourne’s challenge over the next weeks… And Yes – I will be buying a job lot of these too…

Claibourne Challenge 1: Living Like a Lover in Community
Although not raised as a Christian within the Evangelical Tradition, I recognise the themes of Shane’s experience of Church teaching you much about what to believe, but very little about how you should live. It is only recently, with Moot’s Rhythm of Life that I have really come to understand the need for deep community, and God’s call to aspiring to live in love to the world by practicising presence, creativity, hospitality, acceptance, balance and accountability. But Shane’s challenge goes further – how can we live as lovers of God, expressing love in all sorts of situations. Shane’s view is that new monasticism, and seeking to be an ordinary radical – where you have a love for social, economic and ecological justice – is not only desirable – but crucial to an understanding of real discipleship. Interestingly he is critical of some forms of emerging church that dumb down on the cost of discipleship – because in his view – choosing to be a Christian should stuff up your life – as just getting by and being individualistic and seeking money are together a life strategy that takes you away from real and rooted Christianity. So how we live is crucial – because we are Christian by how we live just as much as what we believe – particularly in how we express love as seeking social transformation.

I have been challenged by the way that I often don’t express love getting to work and interacting with people in public space. I have been challenged by Shane’s view that how we live in such situations is more important than what we believe – because in living this way – we open ourselves up to meeting Christ in the lives of ordinary people. I have again been challenged by his openness to Christianity and the cost of discipleship:

We wanted to live deliberately, to breathe deeply, and to suck the marrow out of life. We went to the ghetto. We narrowed our vision to this: love God, love people, and follow Jesus. And we began calling our little experiment the Simple Way In January 1997 Six of us moved into a little row house in Kensington, one of Pennsylvania’s poorest neighbourhoods… We hang out with kids and help them with homework in our living room, and jump in open hydrants on hot summer days. We share food with folks who need it, and eat the beans and rice our neighbour Ms Sunshine makes for us. Folks drop in all day to say Hi, have a safe space to cry, or get seom water or a blanket… We reclaim abandoned lots and make gardens amid concrete wreckage around us. We plant flowers inside old TV screens and computer monitors on our roof… We fight terrorism – the terrorism within each of us, the terrorism of corporate greed, of American consumerism, of war. We are not pacifist hippies but passionate lovers who abhor passivity and violence. We spend our lives actively resisting everything that destroys life, whether that be terrorism or the war on terrorism…We have described the layers of our common life as an onion, at the core of which are the partners who covenant to love and cherish each other (the hardest and most beautiful thing we do), and each of us shares healthy responsbilities and expectations… We have created a statement of our practices, which range from simplicity and nonviolence to beauty and play.

It is my hunch, that God is calling us this way. We saw a glimpse of it through the playfulness of the Cabaret, and it is my hunch that God is challenging the Moot Community to live this way is some form – and to rethink its relationship – particularly to the poor. I will blog about that next, as I have been very challenged by this….

POSTED 26.10.07 BY: paulabbott | Comments (2)

Shane Claibourne’s The Irresistible Revolution

Every now and then you read a book that transforms your imagination, and challenges you with new directions. Those who know me, know that this happened with Mike Riddell’s book ‘Threshold to the Future”, Pete Ward’s “Liquid Church”, “Seeking Sanctuary” and Jamieson’s “A Churchless Faith” and more recently Bolgers book “Emerging Church”.

Well, this book by Claibourne has really challenged me on lots of fronts, with a number of themes – which I will be taking as individual items as the Claibourne’s challenge over the next weeks… And Yes – I will be buying a job lot of these too…

Claibourne Challenge 1: Living Like a Lover in Community
Although not raised as a Christian within the Evangelical Tradition, I recognise the themes of Shane’s experience of Church teaching you much about what to believe, but very little about how you should live. It is only recently, with Moot’s Rhythm of Life that I have really come to understand the need for deep community, and God’s call to aspiring to live in love to the world by practicising presence, creativity, hospitality, acceptance, balance and accountability. But Shane’s challenge goes further – how can we live as lovers of God, expressing love in all sorts of situations. Shane’s view is that new monasticism, and seeking to be an ordinary radical – where you have a love for social, economic and ecological justice – is not only desirable – but crucial to an understanding of real discipleship. Interestingly he is critical of some forms of emerging church that dumb down on the cost of discipleship – because in his view – choosing to be a Christian should stuff up your life – as just getting by and being individualistic and seeking money are together a life strategy that takes you away from real and rooted Christianity. So how we live is crucial – because we are Christian by how we live just as much as what we believe – particularly in how we express love as seeking social transformation.

I have been challenged by the way that I often don’t express love getting to work and interacting with people in public space. I have been challenged by Shane’s view that how we live in such situations is more important than what we believe – because in living this way – we open ourselves up to meeting Christ in the lives of ordinary people. I have again been challenged by his openness to Christianity and the cost of discipleship:

We wanted to live deliberately, to breathe deeply, and to suck the marrow out of life. We went to the ghetto. We narrowed our vision to this: love God, love people, and follow Jesus. And we began calling our little experiment the Simple Way In January 1997 Six of us moved into a little row house in Kensington, one of Pennsylvania’s poorest neighbourhoods… We hang out with kids and help them with homework in our living room, and jump in open hydrants on hot summer days. We share food with folks who need it, and eat the beans and rice our neighbour Ms Sunshine makes for us. Folks drop in all day to say Hi, have a safe space to cry, or get seom water or a blanket… We reclaim abandoned lots and make gardens amid concrete wreckage around us. We plant flowers inside old TV screens and computer monitors on our roof… We fight terrorism – the terrorism within each of us, the terrorism of corporate greed, of American consumerism, of war. We are not pacifist hippies but passionate lovers who abhor passivity and violence. We spend our lives actively resisting everything that destroys life, whether that be terrorism or the war on terrorism…We have described the layers of our common life as an onion, at the core of which are the partners who covenant to love and cherish each other (the hardest and most beautiful thing we do), and each of us shares healthy responsbilities and expectations… We have created a statement of our practices, which range from simplicity and nonviolence to beauty and play.

It is my hunch, that God is calling us this way. We saw a glimpse of it through the playfulness of the Cabaret, and it is my hunch that God is challenging the Moot Community to live this way is some form – and to rethink its relationship – particularly to the poor. I will blog about that next, as I have been very challenged by this….

POSTED 26.10.07 BY: paulabbott | Comments (2)

Richard Sudworth's Book – Distinctly Welcoming

I am really pleased that my good friend Richard Sudworth’s book Distinctly Welcoming has been published this month. This book is a gem, bringing a lot of Richard Sudworth’s humorous and self-depreciating humour with a weath of wisdom on the whole issue of pluralism and multifaith context. I have to say this is the best book I have read this year, and there are many connections between’s Richard’s world view and the book I wrote on the trinity as our starting place.

I love the way Richard’ outs the problems of an overly exclusive Christian world view, and the inadequacy of inclusivist and pluralist models of understanding the Christian faith – and I love his idea of the distinctive faith – reflecting an approach modelled in the identity and nature of God the Trinity. Go on buy it, you know you want to.

For those who saw Moot’s Service at Greenbelt 2007 and the Birmingham crew’s service – you would have seen how similar the thinking was between the two groups. Encouraging that there is so much synergy.


POSTED 18.10.07 BY: paulabbott | Comments Off on Richard Sudworth's Book – Distinctly Welcoming

Richard Sudworth’s Book – Distinctly Welcoming

I am really pleased that my good friend Richard Sudworth’s book Distinctly Welcoming has been published this month. This book is a gem, bringing a lot of Richard Sudworth’s humorous and self-depreciating humour with a weath of wisdom on the whole issue of pluralism and multifaith context. I have to say this is the best book I have read this year, and there are many connections between’s Richard’s world view and the book I wrote on the trinity as our starting place.

I love the way Richard’ outs the problems of an overly exclusive Christian world view, and the inadequacy of inclusivist and pluralist models of understanding the Christian faith – and I love his idea of the distinctive faith – reflecting an approach modelled in the identity and nature of God the Trinity. Go on buy it, you know you want to.

For those who saw Moot’s Service at Greenbelt 2007 and the Birmingham crew’s service – you would have seen how similar the thinking was between the two groups. Encouraging that there is so much synergy.


POSTED 18.10.07 BY: paulabbott | Comments Off on Richard Sudworth’s Book – Distinctly Welcoming

More thoughts on presence and community …

Drawing again on the wise traveller resources I blogged about earlier, I have been struck by the writings of Kester Brewin and Kathy Galloway Pages 15-17 of the ‘relationships’ book.

For Jesus, there was no such thing as the single person. there was only community, and those who, for some reason, had been excluded or isolated from the community – foreigners, outcasts of every kind, destitute and homeless people, those in mental distress, “harlots”. These he brought back into relationship within the community, in a series of exchanges which transformed people’s consciousness about themselves, about others, and about God. Exclusion against one’s will was wrong relationship for Jesus. All, whether giver or receiver, gain. And the integration of the excluded and wider community, back into relationship, is the context of the exchange. The exchange is redemptive. Kathy Galloway

Once when traveling on the underground across London, I sort of met someone. My train, rattling and wheel-grinding, had come to a halt somewhere along the Victoria line, I think, and I was sat looking at nothing through the window opposite. Another train pulled in the other way, the slowing windows flashing by like the gate of a projector, flickering frames of real faces, belonging to real people, lost in translation. The reel of glass stopped; I was surprised to find myself confronted by an old acquaintance sitting looking at me from the other train. The doors on my train hissed – any meeting was going to be impossible, and no sound could penetrate the quadruple panes between us. So we both waved, and made exaggerated facial expressions, and then grew nervous and didn’t know where to look as the trains inexplicably paused. Our gazes wouldn’t hold.

I expect he laughed about it, as I did, but later this cold truth hit me: this was a perfect urban encounter. My hard and busy heart hadn’t really wanted its equilibrium to be disturbed. We had waved and seemed glad, but only once the dafety of our separate shores had been established. And now I wonder how many other people I nearly meet each day. How many other lonely gazes do I refuse to hold, how many other pleas for love do I deflect away with the calloused defenses of my iPod-bubbled world?

And I wonder about the one who turned in the midst of a crowded street and could divine this simple question: who touched me? His senses stretched right to the hem of his garment; I clothe myself in labels and close my ears with music and enclose myself in a steel shell to hurtle beneath still-hurting streets afraid that anyone might touch me, irony lurking in my ache for someone to break through my brittle shell and make contact. Kester Brewin

POSTED 16.10.07 BY: paulabbott | Comments Off on More thoughts on presence and community …

Wise Traveller Resources


New book resources for spiritual searchers
I am pleased to say that a new series of books have been created through the ideas and writings of a number of people involved in the emerging church for people who are spiritually searching, creating a modern wisdom literature for spiritual pilgrims. The Series have been called wise traveller and include books on:

– Happiness

– Relationships
– Loss
The books do draw on the language and style of the Christian Faith, and wisdom relates to Trinitarian language, but generally these are accessible and helpful.
Contributors include: Kester Brewin, Bruce Stanley, Martin Wroe, Sue Wallace and Steve Hollinghurst.

POSTED 26.09.07 BY: paulabbott | Comments Off on Wise Traveller Resources

How to Pray



Last night in our prayer group, I used some simple meditations to aid and direct our prayers.

I used a form of the Ignatian Examen from a book called “How to Pray” by John Pritchard. Ian blogged about this book about a year ago. It’s a great resource – if you’re anything like me, then every time it comes to leading a prayer group/homily, I usually end up short of ideas and scratching my head. This book is full of great ideas in the catholic tradition that are not only useful for last-minute preparation, but also for injecting a bit of vim into a flagging prayer life.

As the Examen was so successful last night, I’m going to type it up here for you to use at your leisure. It’s basically a brilliant way to end your day with prayer. Just remember to get yourself in a comfortable and quiet position before you dive in. Take your time, and leave lots of space for silence.

  • First, be still and remember God. He is present, right now.
  • Ask his God to shine a light over the day and into your heart, so you can see clearly what’s been going on.
  • Think through the day, but more than the events, be aware of your feelings. Were you joyful, sad, fearful, angry, bewildered? Why might that be? God guides us through our moods and feelings. Normally his way is peaceful and consoling, so if you were disturbed, can you tell where that unease was coming from? Feelings are surface emotions; moods lie just under the surface, like tides under the waves. Where are the tides coming from, and why?
  • Think positively about what you did well today (there will always be something!) and give thanks. But also, think if you turned away from the way of God at particular points, and ask for forgiveness and new strength.
  • Look forward to tomorrow with hope, because God will be with you all through the day, and it will be full of possibilities

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POSTED 20.09.07 BY: paulabbott | Comments (1)

Books Coming Up

There are two books coming up that I would strongly recommend people read when they shortly become available.

The first, by Kester Brewin, entitled “the complex Christ” is an exploration of the meaning of Christ in our contemporary culture. Kester of Vaux and involvement in alternative worship for a little while, draws on these experiences in a prevocative yet devotional exploration of the subject. Those who attended a recent ‘blah’ on the subject were impressed.

The second, by Dave Tomlinson of Post-evangelical fame, has compiled a book of sermons and talks into a book called “Running into God”, which is an excellent image of what has been an experience of many of encountering an un-expected God, in our journeys of faith. Again another great book. Dave is one of the ‘grandees’ of alt worship and experimental forms of Church, so there is a lot fo wisdom here.

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POSTED 04.08.04 BY: paulabbott | Comments Off on Books Coming Up