Have been watching the news tonight which has been full of Trevor Phillips’ talk about racial divisions running deep within our cities throughout the UK. His arguments that many inner city areas are becoming ghettos of various ethnic minorities, engulfed in their own inner politics, language, values and rapidly creating a gulf between themselves and mainstream Britain.
Looking around where we live in Waterloo, and having lived in various SE London locations I can see exactly what he is talking about. Areas of London feel like ghettos, where due to a lack of foresight by the government when an influx of immigrants occurred after the 2nd world war. Whole areas are dominated by a few ethnic groups resulting in massive social tensions and resulting in communities that are severely isolated from each other. It is difficult to see how this can change in the short term.
This fragmentation in society, most pronounced in the cities, and perhaps most of all in London, is something that is on the very doorstep of moot. Where within 100 yards you have the riches and white upper class MP’s and people of power and influence right next to council estates full of ethnic minorities, which have massive unemployment and social issues. Yards apart, yet worlds apart.
One of the many challenges facing the emerging church is that it confronts this problem and becomes something truly ‘other’ within society. An image of community where all are welcome, and all are invited regardless of creed, colour, ideology, age or race. Where the ideology of the self is confronted by the reality of the other, the outsider, the have not’s, the fringe, the uncool, the technofobes, the eldery, the young forcing a reconfiguration of the self, the self deconstructed and reconstructed on transcendent principles.
The eucharist is a central act in the self’s reconstruction. It is a surrender of self to the way of Christ; a desire to follow Christ into the same table-fellowshipping that got him in so much trouble. Where prostitutes sat with the rich ruling classes, invading their private space with their perfumes, love language and femininity. Forcing boundaries to be torn up, old binaries collapsing into a new humanity, a resurrected humanity. Formed on the basis of loving God and loving your neighbour as yourself.
At the moment the emerging church is accused by some quarters of being a white, middle-class, and male. A response to boredom with the traditional church; a place full of ipods, vj’s and a penchant for all things mac. Although this is an unfair caricature it does contain elements of truth. My hope and dream for moot is that it would truly be a community of a resurrected humanity, perhaps not a perfect representation of the breadth, width and depth of humanity but at least a glimpse of it.