Blog

Tag: christianity

The Rapture that Didn’t Come

Well, it’s May 22nd. And as you may have noticed, despite the hopes and expectations of Harold Camping and his followers, the world did not end yesterday.

Yesterday, sceptics across the U.S. organised “Rapture parties”, and talk-show hosts joked about Judgment Day. At the restaurant where my sister and I had lunch, the end of the world was *the* topic of (lighthearted) conversation among our servers and fellow diners. Thousands of people even RSVPed to the facebook event “Post-Rapture Looting”. It’s easy to mock Harold Camping. After all, he already predicted the world would end once before, in 1994. This time, he calculated the date of the Apocalypse based on the belief that Noah’s flood began exactly 7,000 years ago, and that Christ died on 1 April 33CE. Hmmm.

But dig a little deeper into the media coverage, and Camping’s prophecy begins to hit closer to home. The New York Times reported yesterday that relationships are strained in families divided by belief. One teenager (whose parents stopped saving for university in light of the coming Apocalypse) states, “My mom has told me directly that I’m not getting into heaven.” Conversely, one believer who had just said goodbye to his unbelieving family expressed his deep sorrow that they wouldn’t be with him in heaven. Both of these sentiments are painfully familiar to those of us who have strayed from our childhood religion, or who have embraced new expressions of faith alone, later in life.

It’s also difficult to read about the man who spent his life’s savings on publicity materials to spread the word about the Apocalypse, the woman who fled an abusive relationship and found meaning through Camping’s teachings, or the man who said he planned to euthanize his beloved pets before the Rapture. Where are these people now? What are they thinking? Now that they’ve lost everything chasing a lie, will they lose their faith altogether? Will they be able to trust again?

Ultimately, I have to believe that Camping’s followers were driven by love—love of the divine and of humanity. Only this, I hope, could have empowered them to endure apathy and mockery as they bade farewell to family and friends and attempted to convert unbelievers before it was too late. Likewise, the only legitimate response to the “crazies” is love—by recognising that their extreme behaviour stems from the same profoundly human search for truth and significance that drives our own faith.

POSTED 22.05.11 BY: Moot Archive | Comments (3)

Podcast: The Challenge of Mission and Formation to Fresh Expressions of the Church of the Catholic and Contemplative Traditions

In October 2010, Ian Mobsby gave this recorded paper to the gathered Fresh Expressions Roundtable Number 5 for the promotion of Fresh Expressions of the Catholic and Contemplative Traditions at Lambeth Palace. This paper addresses the subject of the Challenge of Mission and Formation with Fresh Expressions of the Church.

moot podcast archive | subscribe to podcasts in itunessubscribing to podcasts through RSS feedother podcast subscribingpodcast player for your site

POSTED 01.11.10 BY: ianmobsby | Comments Off on Podcast: The Challenge of Mission and Formation to Fresh Expressions of the Church of the Catholic and Contemplative Traditions

“Slow to anger, abounding in love”

Since Aaron’s post about how transformative he’s been finding the virtues postures and practices, and the discussion it started about anger, I’ve been doing a bit of research. I’m troubled by Old Testament wrath / New Testament mercy ‘flip-side of God’ theology. I don’t believe God changed, ‘like shifting shadows’ as James says, nor that God has moods or gets provoked and vindictive.

So I looked up some Hebrew words for ‘anger’ used in the bible last week, and found that physical imagery is inherent in many – aph depicts flaring nostrils; charah and chemah are about heated indignation. God is often described (about forty instances across the Old Testament) roused to wrath of the nostril-flaring variety. This troubles me.

But something that puts God’s wrathful moments in context for me is the as-frequent phrase ‘slow to anger’, also written as ‘long-suffering’, and to me that deliberately illustrates exactly how I’d aspire to see myself deal with anger when it flares in me, in my true, most whole or healthy self, just as with moments of gluttony, selfishness, pride or apathy. Hence ‘be still and know’, ‘wait on the Lord’, and ‘flee from anger and bitterness’.

I think Jesus was doing this when he crouched and drew in the dust, instead of reacting at once to the people ready to stone the woman they’d caught in the middle of adulterous sex. I think he was asserting space for momentary, flared-up anger to diffuse, both theirs and possibly his own.

Also, the very fact that these are physical words presents their illustrative quality to me. I am not massively into turning everything into metaphor, but I do think it’s safe to say God is not being described to us as a being with actual nostrils to flare, or blood pressure to rise. Nor, I want to suggest, is angry action innate to God’s being – God is love. God is not justice, – God holds and wields all justice. But he does not simply hold and wield love. He is love.

I happen to agree with Christopher Jamison and the Desert Fathers he cites, that anger isn’t really a good sign of anything. I don’t think getting angry is ever really just about the thing that we think, in the moment, that it’s about. I think I, and all of us to a greater or lesser degree, are sitting on a big old keg of old hurts and injustices. And when we get angry about things in a particular instant, I think that keg of anger comes into play.

A couple of mooters pointed out to me the danger here of getting into dualistic territory: ‘anger = bad’; ‘getting frustrated = bad’. I’m glad to have the community round me to navigate this territory.

And righteous energy for a cause is true and a good thing – I’m a bit of a cause-carrier sometimes – but when it’s provoked by anger, I have to take time to think and to still that, until it has aired and become something more calm and constructive.

To stay in my anger is to sit in the murkier bits of my psychology. To feel it, acknowledge it, but to be slow to it and patient with it when it comes – these I think reflect a God of love – healthy care of myself and exploration of all my feelings and their roots, but also therefore enabling my outward actions to be wholly love.

This is ‘slow to anger’ – taking the space to consider both my own reaction, and also to consider whoever has provoked me as a whole human being, with more going on than I can justifiably feel irritated with. Love is not only for some human beings, according to what they’ve done. “To know all is to forgive all”. Even love for one person, a victim, I don’t believe should ever provoke us to retribution towards another. And that pause to bring us back to a place of complete love, I think, is what Jesus was doing when he wrote in the sand for a while.

POSTED 24.06.10 BY: Moot Archive | Comments (5)

Podcast: Dave Tomlinson and re-enchanting Christianity

dave.jpg

In the second of two events, Dave Tomlinson leads a Moot Wednesday evening gathering to discuss his new book Re-enchanting Christianity. Dave explored the idea of a ‘second innocence’ developed by a number theologians, to explore the reconstruction of a faith that can engage with the reality of the twenty first century. For more information on Dave’s book, click here. Dave has been a major support to the Moot Community. We hope to develop greater links between St Lukes Church Holloway and the Moot Community.  Click here to listen to the podcast.

People are no less spiritual today than they were in the past, but they are a lot less religious – at least, in a formal sense. A disconnect has ocurred between religion and spirituality: people no longer see religion or Church as the natural setting in which to explore or express their spiritual aspirations. So they are drifting away from churches in droves. However, they are not doing so because they no longer believe in God, or because they have no hunger or interest in the spiritual aspect of life, but because, in their experience of Church, they are neither finding a faith they can believe in, not an existential spirituality that can sustain their souls in an age of anxiety and estrangement.

POSTED 11.02.10 BY: ianmobsby | Comments Off on Podcast: Dave Tomlinson and re-enchanting Christianity

Podcast interview with a Christian activist

In this month’s podcast, Ian Mobsby interviews Martin Sewell, who is an ordained member of the Catholic Worker Movement, and a political activist. Martin talks about his sense of vocation, identifying with a monastic rhythm of life, where going to prison can be seen as an extended version of a monastery cell. Martin talks with passion about the cost of this form of discipleship, particularly around the area of just resistance, and shares his hopes for what might be. To listen to the podcast, click here

POSTED 22.10.09 BY: paulabbott | Comments (1)

Pete Thomas’ material at Moot Compline on Sunday on the theme of Vulnerability

By popular request, please find material that Pete used for Sunday. It is worth going through this as a point of spiritual reflection….

Story telling

Once upon a time a long time ago in a kingdom far away, there lived a king and queen who had only one child: their son and heir. From his earliest days the prince was a fighter, adept – as a great poet once said – at ‘all the arts of hurting’: hunting, fishing, sword-play and the joust. And from his parents’ earliest memories he put on armour. To protect himself. From being hurt. When he grew up to be a man and – after his parents’ passing – to become king he was nearly always at war. He became a mighty warrior, occasionally chivalrous, but fierce in battle and feared in the land: gallant, brave, some might say with a blood-lust. And as time went on, he grew slowly distant from his new wife, the queen, acquired from a neighbouring kingdom he had conquered, and yet a serene and beautiful woman who loved him nonetheless.


And it so came about that the armour the young king wore when in battle, he began to wear when at home, at court, and at the castle. His armour was thick, and heavy, made from folded metal. It covered him from head to foot, his face often hidden behind a visor, his bearing and carriage hidden behind breastplate and chain-mail, sword and shield. Some wanted to laugh as he passed by, but daren’t, less they should incite the king’s wrath. Some began to forget what he actually looked like, they so very seldom saw his face. Some grew sad as they lost sight of the king they held in due regard and esteem, even though they would see him clunk and clank from room to room about the castle corridors and keep. People were afraid, or uncertain around him.


One day, his wife came to him. “Why, my king, do you insist on wearing your armour when not in battle? Why do you spend day after day in your courtly duties trussed up in the heavy, burdensome clothing of war?”. “I’m a soldier, a knight, a warrior. I wear armour to protect myself. From being hurt. You never know, even when at home if some madman or saboteur will try to take your life. In any case, it’s saved my life in battle. It’s part of me”. “It’s not part of you”, his wife retorted, “It hides you”. “My men love me, and that’s all that matters”, he said. “Your men love the idea of you” his wife replied, “they don’t know you. Anymore.”

“This is preposterous”, said the king. “Let me see your eyes”, said his wife. “What?!” said the king. “I want to see your eyes”, she insisted. “Oh very well”, and reluctantly the king lifted his visor. The queen looked into the eyes of the king. Eyes she’d not seen up close for such a long time. “They’re so blue”, she said. “Like the sky”. I want to feel your hands. The king protested, but his wife was defiant and he at last acquiesced. “You have such strong, slender hands” she said. “Now let me see you just in your doublet, with all your armour off”. Eventually, after much

persuasion and beseeching, the king slowly took off all his armour until it lay in a pile at his feet. “There”, the queen said, as she held a mirror in front of the king, “That’s you”. The king gazed at his reflection for a while, then said, “I don’t recognize me”. The queen turned to him and looked straight into his deep blue eyes. “I do”, she said. “I do”.


Conclusion

Ronald Rolheiser in The Restless Heart writes

It is because of the refusal to be vulnerable that, far too often, instead of enjoying friendship and intimacy with those around us, we find ourselves fencing with each other, using our talents, achievements, and strengths as weapons.

To be vulnerable in the true sense does not mean that someone must become a doormat, a weakling, devoid of all pride, going out of his way to let others know all his faults and weaknesses. Nor is vulnerability to be confused with the idea of ‘letting-it-all-hang-out’, to be vulnerable is to be strong enough to be able to present ourselves without false props, without an artificial display of our credentials. In brief, to be vulnerable is to be strong enough to be honest and tender. Like Jesus, the person who is vulnerable is a person who cares enough to let himself be weak, precisely because he does care. (Ronald Rolheiser)


In Arthur Miller’s play ‘A View From a Bridge’ the character of the narrator speaks of the protagonist, Eddie Carbone in these terms, ‘Something perversely pure calls to me from his memory. Not purely good, but himself purely. For he allowed himself to be wholly known…


I often reflect on the fact that in our modern, pacey, image-conscious city-living the temptation to be ‘cool’ is overwhelming. Perhaps Moot suffers from this too? Probably I do. Who knows. The problem with it of course is that it presents a spurious, bootlegged version of ourselves, and keeps what we really feel or think shackled beneath sangfroid, bravura or a stolid silence or indifference. And what others experience is not the real me, or you.

By the way, Ghandi said ‘happiness is: when what we think, say, and do are the same thing.’


I suggest the opposite of ‘cool’ is often vulnerability.


Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t mean to give us all a hard time or find fault where there is none, and I’m not suggesting we deceive each other in Moot constantly and live lies 24/7, of course I’m not; I’m sure there is a significant degree of authenticity amongst us. But it would be fascinating to know what else lies beneath and what benefits might come from bringing more of our true selves to the surface.


The problem, I suggest, is sometimes this: we’re afraid we’re not as clever, as funny or charming as others, and that if we’re found wanting in these respects we won’t be accepted or popular. Ergo, I propose, the press to practice vulnerability is aided by the like-wise effort of all involved to be accepting of each other.


Though neither, echoing Ronald Rolheiser, am I suggesting we lay bare our souls and wear our hearts on our sleeves to the extent that we become self-humiliating or indulgent. Perhaps the recipe for vulnerability includes a seasoning of discretion. And as Rolheiser reminds us, the quest for vulnerability is rooted in concern for others. Vulnerability: to be brave enough to risk feeling inadequate or inferior by being open and honest while in the pursuit of something beneficial, perhaps to ourselves, but often to others.


To conclude, the road to vulnerability might not be a pretty one, and we will stumble, we may even get egg on our face, but it must surely be a journey worth taking, otherwise: let’s just be cool.



Closing Prayer

Heavenly Father, we are reminded tonight that you look on the heart, not on the outward appearance. We are reminded that you desire truth in the inner parts. Show us Father any husks, any shells, any masks, we put on that we needn’t. Lord Jesus, give us time and inclination to sit and think about whether we wear any armour which we need to take off so that people can experience us with all our glorious strengths and weaknesses and in all our beautiful vulnerability, so that like Eddie Carbone we might have a perverse purity because we allow ourselves to be wholly known.

Amen

POSTED 17.08.09 BY: paulabbott | Comments Off on Pete Thomas’ material at Moot Compline on Sunday on the theme of Vulnerability

Pete Thomas' material at Moot Compline on Sunday on the theme of Vulnerability

By popular request, please find material that Pete used for Sunday. It is worth going through this as a point of spiritual reflection….

Story telling

Once upon a time a long time ago in a kingdom far away, there lived a king and queen who had only one child: their son and heir. From his earliest days the prince was a fighter, adept – as a great poet once said – at ‘all the arts of hurting’: hunting, fishing, sword-play and the joust. And from his parents’ earliest memories he put on armour. To protect himself. From being hurt. When he grew up to be a man and – after his parents’ passing – to become king he was nearly always at war. He became a mighty warrior, occasionally chivalrous, but fierce in battle and feared in the land: gallant, brave, some might say with a blood-lust. And as time went on, he grew slowly distant from his new wife, the queen, acquired from a neighbouring kingdom he had conquered, and yet a serene and beautiful woman who loved him nonetheless.


And it so came about that the armour the young king wore when in battle, he began to wear when at home, at court, and at the castle. His armour was thick, and heavy, made from folded metal. It covered him from head to foot, his face often hidden behind a visor, his bearing and carriage hidden behind breastplate and chain-mail, sword and shield. Some wanted to laugh as he passed by, but daren’t, less they should incite the king’s wrath. Some began to forget what he actually looked like, they so very seldom saw his face. Some grew sad as they lost sight of the king they held in due regard and esteem, even though they would see him clunk and clank from room to room about the castle corridors and keep. People were afraid, or uncertain around him.


One day, his wife came to him. “Why, my king, do you insist on wearing your armour when not in battle? Why do you spend day after day in your courtly duties trussed up in the heavy, burdensome clothing of war?”. “I’m a soldier, a knight, a warrior. I wear armour to protect myself. From being hurt. You never know, even when at home if some madman or saboteur will try to take your life. In any case, it’s saved my life in battle. It’s part of me”. “It’s not part of you”, his wife retorted, “It hides you”. “My men love me, and that’s all that matters”, he said. “Your men love the idea of you” his wife replied, “they don’t know you. Anymore.”

“This is preposterous”, said the king. “Let me see your eyes”, said his wife. “What?!” said the king. “I want to see your eyes”, she insisted. “Oh very well”, and reluctantly the king lifted his visor. The queen looked into the eyes of the king. Eyes she’d not seen up close for such a long time. “They’re so blue”, she said. “Like the sky”. I want to feel your hands. The king protested, but his wife was defiant and he at last acquiesced. “You have such strong, slender hands” she said. “Now let me see you just in your doublet, with all your armour off”. Eventually, after much

persuasion and beseeching, the king slowly took off all his armour until it lay in a pile at his feet. “There”, the queen said, as she held a mirror in front of the king, “That’s you”. The king gazed at his reflection for a while, then said, “I don’t recognize me”. The queen turned to him and looked straight into his deep blue eyes. “I do”, she said. “I do”.


Conclusion

Ronald Rolheiser in The Restless Heart writes

It is because of the refusal to be vulnerable that, far too often, instead of enjoying friendship and intimacy with those around us, we find ourselves fencing with each other, using our talents, achievements, and strengths as weapons.

To be vulnerable in the true sense does not mean that someone must become a doormat, a weakling, devoid of all pride, going out of his way to let others know all his faults and weaknesses. Nor is vulnerability to be confused with the idea of ‘letting-it-all-hang-out’, to be vulnerable is to be strong enough to be able to present ourselves without false props, without an artificial display of our credentials. In brief, to be vulnerable is to be strong enough to be honest and tender. Like Jesus, the person who is vulnerable is a person who cares enough to let himself be weak, precisely because he does care. (Ronald Rolheiser)


In Arthur Miller’s play ‘A View From a Bridge’ the character of the narrator speaks of the protagonist, Eddie Carbone in these terms, ‘Something perversely pure calls to me from his memory. Not purely good, but himself purely. For he allowed himself to be wholly known…


I often reflect on the fact that in our modern, pacey, image-conscious city-living the temptation to be ‘cool’ is overwhelming. Perhaps Moot suffers from this too? Probably I do. Who knows. The problem with it of course is that it presents a spurious, bootlegged version of ourselves, and keeps what we really feel or think shackled beneath sangfroid, bravura or a stolid silence or indifference. And what others experience is not the real me, or you.

By the way, Ghandi said ‘happiness is: when what we think, say, and do are the same thing.’


I suggest the opposite of ‘cool’ is often vulnerability.


Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t mean to give us all a hard time or find fault where there is none, and I’m not suggesting we deceive each other in Moot constantly and live lies 24/7, of course I’m not; I’m sure there is a significant degree of authenticity amongst us. But it would be fascinating to know what else lies beneath and what benefits might come from bringing more of our true selves to the surface.


The problem, I suggest, is sometimes this: we’re afraid we’re not as clever, as funny or charming as others, and that if we’re found wanting in these respects we won’t be accepted or popular. Ergo, I propose, the press to practice vulnerability is aided by the like-wise effort of all involved to be accepting of each other.


Though neither, echoing Ronald Rolheiser, am I suggesting we lay bare our souls and wear our hearts on our sleeves to the extent that we become self-humiliating or indulgent. Perhaps the recipe for vulnerability includes a seasoning of discretion. And as Rolheiser reminds us, the quest for vulnerability is rooted in concern for others. Vulnerability: to be brave enough to risk feeling inadequate or inferior by being open and honest while in the pursuit of something beneficial, perhaps to ourselves, but often to others.


To conclude, the road to vulnerability might not be a pretty one, and we will stumble, we may even get egg on our face, but it must surely be a journey worth taking, otherwise: let’s just be cool.



Closing Prayer

Heavenly Father, we are reminded tonight that you look on the heart, not on the outward appearance. We are reminded that you desire truth in the inner parts. Show us Father any husks, any shells, any masks, we put on that we needn’t. Lord Jesus, give us time and inclination to sit and think about whether we wear any armour which we need to take off so that people can experience us with all our glorious strengths and weaknesses and in all our beautiful vulnerability, so that like Eddie Carbone we might have a perverse purity because we allow ourselves to be wholly known.

Amen

POSTED 17.08.09 BY: paulabbott | Comments Off on Pete Thomas' material at Moot Compline on Sunday on the theme of Vulnerability

Abundance in the Kingdom Scarcity in the World

For those interested, the homily from this Sunday’s Eucharist is now on our podcasting site. Click here to listen.

POSTED 15.06.09 BY: paulabbott | Comments Off on Abundance in the Kingdom Scarcity in the World

Christmas reflection

It may of course just be me, but the traditional time of Christmas seems to fit less this year than ever. There is an awkwardness and difficulty about these times we are now in that is very tangible.

So the focus then on hope and the intentions of God to bring restoration and justice are never more relevant. Listen to the moot podast on this theme by following the link.

Well, a lot has happened in Moot this year. We are now in a temporary new home in the City, and we hope that next year we may begin in our final home, (what increasingly feelings like the promised land) next year (we hope).

Moot will be publishing a new monthly newsletter, info on this to follow in January, and our programme of activities will go up online between Christmas and New Year.

But we do not see you before then… have a restful and spiritual festival to celebrate the blessing of the Incarnation of God.

POSTED 20.12.08 BY: paulabbott | Comments Off on Christmas reflection

Revealing the God-Lie of the Market

For those who are interested, I have posted an item on the above subject reflecting on the credit crunch and some other observations of the free market system. Thought people may be interested before we move to the middle of it, next week. Click here to read

I appreciate that I am being provocative, so hopefully it will create a good comment conversation.

POSTED 14.11.08 BY: paulabbott | Comments (1)