QR Reader – Testing the future

15 06 2011


I was having a conversation with my District Chair last night and we were talking about QR codes. So I decided to make my own!!

basically if you download a QR reader on to your smart phone and then scan the picture above it will take you to my website (which is still not working properly) – how cool is that!

you can also do other things like the one below


Impressed? – I was!! Now I’m wondering …. In what ways can I use QR Codes in my project. Any ideas?


EXPO CHURCH flier – 14th June 2011

5 06 2011

Click here for an Expo Church flier

hope you can make it!

For now

29 06 2010

I’ve decided to pause on the blogging till after the summer. Partly, because I’ve got a very hectic summer coming up; I’m working in Ghana, taking a wedding in Ireland, speaking at Greenbelt and moving house!!! But also because I have so much going on in my head that I’m struggling to crystallise it in written form (a common problem for a dyslexic!). So I’ve decided to give myself July and August off and return in September.

Have a good summer!

To let each impression and each germ of a feeling come to completion wholly in itself, in the dark, in the inexpressible, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one’s own intelligence, and await with deep humility and patience the birth-hour of a new clarity…. not reckoning and counting, but ripening like the tree which does not force its sap and stands confident in the storms of spring without the fear that after them may come no summer. It does come. But it comes only to the patient, who are there as though eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly still and wide.

From Rilke, Rainer Maria and Herter Norton M.D. (trs) (1954) Letters to a Young Poet

Chasing Francis [Part 6]: Meaning

15 04 2010

This is the last post on Cron (for now!). It’s taken a while but I’m getting there

Cron’s final theme is meaning. I have no better words than the ones he uses

My Uncle Kenny made me read an author named Wendell Berry. Here’s what he says:’The significance – and ultimately the quality – of the work we do is determined bu our understanding of the story in which we are taking part.’ For years I thought of the Bible not as a story but as a black-and-white photograph, something you could use in a court of law to prove that our doctrines and propositions were rational and true. … Now I see the Story more like a painting filled with glory, poetry and even blurry lines…. open to a wide variety of interpretation, depending on who’s looking… and the situation those viewers live in. Seeing the bible this way could lead to things getting messy from time to time – but the Word is living, not static. Our job is to invite people to inhabit our story, to be part of what God’s doing in history. And we don’t need to feel constant pressure to defend it against its critics.

I know that Cron is concentrating mainly on the biblical story, but I love the sense of narrative; that each of us participates in a story that is bigger than our own. My own experience is that my sense of identity develops when I come to appreciate more fully a larger picture (Karl Marx (if I understand him right) recognised that the proletariat were exploited when they were seen as cogs in a machine rather than given an appreciation of a larger machine. It was this lack of narrative that dehumanised the working class)

I’ve set myself a target  – my job, for 12 months, is to discern and articulate the narrative of Hanley. I will know when my discernment is coming close to reality when it begins to resonate with those from Hanley to whom I articulate it. (this, for those who like such things, is a primary condition within ethnography).

Enough blogging about Cron – it’s time for me to get on living those things I found transformational within it. Anyone up for the journey?

Chasing Francis [Part 5]: Dignity

14 04 2010

Sorry for not blogging for a while. I’ve been away for a week and have only just got back.

Anyway – I continue with Cron’s book Chasing Francis.

When I was in South Africa I learnt two new words. The first was Ubuntu. It’s a difficult word to define in English. It means something like humaness. It’s the art of being able to live on the earth fully human in partnership with creation (as opposed to lording over it).

Another word closely related to Ubuntu is Istunzi. It literally means shadow. However, if you said that a man or woman ‘walked with their Istunzi’ it meant they had dignity. I love that idea. The idea that my shadow , my visible presence, my mark on creation, my Istunzi – is my dignity.

I also love the idea that my dignity is directly related to my humaness. It seems that ancient tribes of Africa understood only too well what it was to be human – an understanding I suspect we forget all too readily in our post modern world.

Dignity is the fourth theme that Cron identifies as a principle for the emerging church. He asks the question ‘how do we give dignity back to others?’ he suggests that the messy business of loving people for who they are rather than for what they might become is a good start. He also makes it clear that this isn’t simply hospitality. This is radical hospitality amongst people who are very different to us.

I was chatting to Anthony, a homeless guy in Hanley, recently. He said to me ‘the one thing I hate the most, the thing that really pisses me off … Is when people don’t even look at you!’ then, almost under his breath, he said, ‘especially when I can’t look at myself’.

My heart bled.

One last thing – Cron reminds us that we also have a responsibilty to give dignity back to creation.

This is one way that I have tried – I have got rid of my car! I gave it up for lent and have decided to try for the whole year (I’ll blog more about it later). I know it’s not much and I know it won’t change the world; but it’s an attempt to become the change I long for the world.

So what does dignity for individuals and creation look like in Hanley? Do people already walk with their shadow or is their a role for me to help them restore their Istunzi? What is Ubuntu in Hanley?

Chasing Francis [Part 4]: Beauty

2 04 2010

I love walking! I remember walking in Snowdonia when, walking round llyn gwynant, I saw a full rainbow span the lake. I looked round the Lake and couldn’t see anyone else (it was chucking it down so nobody else would be mad enough to be there) and suddenly realised that I may have been the only person in the world that saw that rainbow. It was as if it was mine, painted for me.

Cron’s third principle to guide an emerging church is beauty.

I wish I knew more about the arts … but I do know this: Beauty can break a heart and make it think about something more spiritual than the mindless routine we go through day after day to get by. (Cron pg 198)

I too wish I knew more about the arts. I am the least arty person I know. The closest I get to art is writing sermons and doing theology. However, I do know that lot’s of folk who are capable of the arts often struggle in the church. Church does not easily offer space to express yourself (unless you are the preacher) and yet faith, as I have said before, is of the heart and the mind. Somehow, we have to find ways of allowing others to express their faith, their sense of otherness, their alterity.

But more than that, I need to seek out beauty. I need to go to art galleries, museums, watch films and theatre, go and see shows I’d never normally watch, walk mountains, find quaint villages, and walk canals.

But more than that, I need to find ways to express myself.

But more than that, I need to seek beauty, not just in the galleries and the fields, but in the places that I’d least expect to find it.

What does Beauty look like in Hanley? And for the folk of Hanley? How do I help the folk of Hanley express themselves?

You can make art about the Light, or you can make art that shows what the Light reveals about the world. I think the latter is what we want to do. In a fallen world beauty is a form of protest, a way to push back the darkness. (Cron pg 198ff)

Chasing Francis [Part 3]: Community

31 03 2010

The second principle Cron holds before us for an emerging church is community. And here, I think, I’m struggling. It’s not so much that I don’t understand it … it’s more that I can’t do it – or at least it costs me so much to do it properly. I have often preached at baptisms of children whose families barely darken the door of a church. It is a difficult context. Do you offer something that will attract them to come again? Or do you offer something that will feed the regular worshippers and reassure the baptism party of all their prejudices? (I know that the dynamics are far more complicated, but you get my jist). I usually end up saying something like this

If you are searching for a way through life, money problems, relationship problems, lack of self confidence, worry about kids, stress at work – anything that makes life a long, hard haul rather than a Fabreze advert. Then come and journey with us. We too are trying to figure out the best way to live, we too are struggling through life (desperately trying to move from survival to living) and we too are engaged in the messy business of being.

It never works. They see through it straight away. I think they know that if they came to church and proclaimed their stuff (‘me and the wife had an argument yesterday because she caught me looking at porn!’ – kind of stuff) then the church would blush, then get very defensive (or offensive – attack is always the best form of defence), then begin to quote scripture (or something like that!). I once heard a minister recounting a session she had led with other women on faith development. As she turned to write something on the whiteboard, she heard a woman say ‘the problem is, there just isn’t any love in the Church’. She said that she felt her heart had just been crushed.

Cron wants us to consider other aspects of kingdom community. He suggests that we are peacemakers and that we reject any notion of just war theory. He wants us to be very wary of the money we have and to ask ourselves if we buy into the ‘I shop therefore I am’ philosophy. I was a t a conference recently where Bishop Graham Cray suggested that if the church doesn’t make disciples then the world will through consumerism. We were all nodding in a kind of ‘he’s-right-thank-God-I’m-different’ kind of way. He then said ‘let he or she who hasn’t bought themselves something to make themselves feel better cast the first stone’. I felt like I’d just being caught lying by my dad! Cron goes onto ask if we can live radically generous lives. To give away all we can both in physical and personal resource. To give to others in such a way that it is clearly a radical alternative to the predominant way of living.

I know this stuff. I want to belong to a radically generous, peacemaking, journeying community. A group of people that can be so honest with one another and love one another into being. A community that loves people for who they are rather than for what they might be But I can’t! Why? My theology gets in the way, my ethics get in the way, my own fragile self gets in the way.

But that’s no reason for me to stop trying or longing for it. There are Christian communities out there that live such radical lives, and I yearn to be part of one in Hanley. Whether I pioneer it or find it already nestled in the mud and thorns of life.

So I keep journeying … always attentive … finding others who are travelling in a similar direction.

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