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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)

Underground Prayer Beads

[UPDATE] This post has been altered – just to clarify, we’re looking at the use of prayer beads generally, rather than just the Rosary specifically. Prayer beads have a rich tradition seen in many faiths (not just Christianity) and it is their use as a means to aid concentration in prayer that we shall be focusing on. We look forward to seeing you then!

One of the curious things about the tube is that, despite generally being crushed up with a whole pile of other people, it’s very easy to be on your own and find some inner space. Or at least its easy to look half asleep and no-one will bother you.

Moot are having an evening looking at the use of prayer beads at the end of the month. Being a good methodist by upbringing all I know about are Charles Wesley hymns. As such I’m fairly unfamiliar with bead type practices though it has stuck me that aspects of everyday life might be appropriated in a prayer-bead-like manner. Just as beads are different sizes and shapes and have different significance so different stations come and go, sometimes the journey is quick, sometimes delayed, sometimes aborted and we have to find another line. People get on, people get off and we are sat in the midst of it. Mike seemed to be thinking about similar things in one of his poems.

I’ve only tried it once or twice with varying success. Geoff Ryman’s 253 always seems to enter my thoughts. Ryman’s novel was 253 pages long, each page containing a description of a passenger on a Bakerloo line train. It details their outward appearance, inward information and what they are doing or thinking. As such it provides a cross section of the brief community that ‘share’ part of their day together. The reader is left to discover connections.

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POSTED 22.10.07 BY: paulabbott | Comments Off on Underground Prayer Beads

Understanding Transformation

In June 07 I & Aaron had the good fortune to meet Will Scott and Mary Haddad who work at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco on the infamous ‘Nob Hill’. Now Grace Cathedral have something called the forum to explore issues, and this week it is Transformation. I was inspired by Mary’s reflections. To download the mp3 or subscribe to the podcast click here

POSTED 18.09.07 BY: paulabbott | Comments Off on Understanding Transformation

Reframing Leadership

Pleased to say that the Blah Learning Day with Doug Gay and Maggi Dawn was excellent. Info on this will be available from the Mootique shortly, once mp3s and written documents are compiled.

It was a shame that Maggi was ill because the thinking behind their different positions was thought through and excellent.

Doug shared some of his thoughts related to an understanding of the emerging church as being an ecumenical gathering of shared sensibilities influenced by a postmodern culture. He helpfully explored leadership in the context of ministry – and shared ministry at that. He talked of a weariness of the word leadership because it carries with it suspicions of power, and that gospel imperative being about service and ministry – not of the power if individuals. He also articulated an understanding of leadership out of the reformed Christian tradition.

Maggi – helpfully looked at how the early church took on the function of ministry by the appointing of people – initially of apostles and deacons in the context of being Christian community – and that these were tasks of function – not of status or power, and a lot more fluild than people can imagine…. unfortunately Maggi’s unwellness prevented her from developing her thinking, but kindly, Maggi is writing up what she wanted to have said, drawing on an Anglican Christian tradition….. so more to follow on this….

The thing I cam away with was an affirmed understanding of the significance of the emerging church – as a mission driven ecumenical grouping – that are drawing on a breadth of tradition – and a re-appropriation of more catholic practice and inheritance, but importantly – in a process which Doug alikened to ‘unbundling software’ – that the emerging church is unbundling practice – weary of power and hierarchy and things that are less helpful, but taking on things such as the Eucharist reframed into a new context. In the same way – leadership and order are being reframed – that’s reframed and not done-away-with – as there was a consensus about the need for church order…. A good day, check out the mootique….

POSTED 17.09.07 BY: paulabbott | Comments (1)

Blah Learning Day Reframing Leadership with Maggi Dawn and Doug Gay

Pleased to say the Blah Learning Day on Reframing Leadership was excellent. Maggi and Doug covered a lot of ground, rethinking how the emerging church, as a form of sensibilities, reframes and reforms approaches to church polity. Holding onto to old but reframed into the present. There was much wisdom from Maggi and Doug.. To get hold of the talks link here to to the Mootique.


POSTED 15.09.07 BY: paulabbott | Comments Off on Blah Learning Day Reframing Leadership with Maggi Dawn and Doug Gay